Monday, October 19, 2009

Doha Tribeca Film Festival Blog #1

In the lead up to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, I've been asked to write a blog focusing on the position of my film in this new rise of cinema in the Arab world.

Well, it's been some time now that Captain Abu Raed has been circulating from festivals to cinemas, and now DVD and television. Looking back, as the film has played in over 70 countries, here are some things that I can share (I'm going to jump all over the place, but there's so much to touch on and discuss)...

There have been various differing claims: "the first Jordanian film, the first film out of Jordan in 50 years, the first film ever exported from Jordan to the world's cinemas..." etc. There are a million ways to interpret it, but what honestly matters most to me is that I made a film that I loved and nurtured and felt the rewards of sharing with audiences across cultures. That was my biggest goal. The rest is just hype and marketing. I think that any filmmaker who gets distracted with the idea of writing history, and takes their eyes off the ball of actually making a good film that is honest to its own self-contained heart, will be in trouble. What was most important to me while prepping, filming, and editing was that I make a film that affected me personally, for as the director, I am the ambassador for the audience.

In our business plan from the beginning, as we approached investors, the strategy was very simple. There are elements that are within your control, and elements outside of your control when trying to make a film and send it out into the world. Half the battle is actually making the film. The other half is the seemingly impossible struggle to get it distributed out to the world. Something like 80 to 90% of independent films never get picked up for distribution. So our only hope was to simply make the best film we can make, minimize the risk variables, and hope for the best. I don't think a bank would trust such a simple strategy with a loan. Thank God for our amazing Jordanian investors who believed in this film. It all goes back to one simple concept: heart.

Is your heart in your film? Are you doing it for love or for glory? I can't imagine anyone making a good or great film if they're doing it for the glory. You make a film because you care about the characters. You care about their trials and tribulations. Their struggle for survival. Their comedic behavior. The way they deal with their challenges. In the world of independent film, especially in the Arab world, we're far behind on CGI technology. Special effects are expensive, and big set pieces are a long ways away down the road. What we do have, that no special effects can ever replace, is the gift of storytelling. Storytelling is in our blood and culture. That is the special effect that we have the power to cultivate. Nurture good stories with strong characters. That's the foundation for this art. The rest is a combination of art and craft that gets improved with training and collaborating. We'll talk more about that in a separate blog about building a film.

Next blog I think I'll write about the new rise of Arabic cinema.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

10:41 AM  

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