November 19th 2008; day 3 of 18 of filming

Day 3 of 18:
After completing the shoot for day two, I arrived home and received the call sheet for day three. Mahmoud and Alex Niakaris, our first and second ADs, spend two to three hours after each long night on location to fine-tune the call sheets for the next day. In the call sheet was a mention of the “painting”. Originally, I had planned to continue working with the owner of an Iraqi art gallery in London who had generously agreed to lend us, gratis, a collection of paintings from different generations of Iraqi artists. Due to other demands of pre-production, I didn’t get the opportunity to invest the time to carry out the admin work involved in borrowing original works of art- insurance, transport, storage etc. Daniel and Arij had, in the meantime, found simple paintings from my neck of the woods and used them to ad some flavour to the walls of the cafe. However, I’d always wanted to include the Faisal La’aibi Sahi painting that he so generously allowed me to use at the top of the home page of the website and on postcards for the film. On receiving the callsheet, I called the artist, and after some uncertainty as to whether the painting is in his possession or lent to an exhibition, he agreed without a second’s hesitation to lend me the painting, gratis. Arranging insurance cover for the 10,000 work of art didn’t take long.

At 5pm, I was knocking at the door of Mr Sahi’s apartment close to Russell Square. Wrapped in plastic sheets, the painting was waiting patiently for this dreamer to take her on a journey across London to the film set.

We arrived at location about an hour early; thought it best to take advantage of the extra time my date had afforded me by taking her out to dinner.

I think a couple of the regulars were quite jealous- she was the perfect date, allowed me to gaze into her eyes for the duration of dinner:-)

The shoot for tonight went remarkably well. There was a great deal of choreography involved- due to the earlier practical decision of shooting all the cafe counter scenes together, all table 1 scenes together etc., the choreography is that bit more challenging as you’re trying to follow through on blocking carried out at a different parts of the cafe at an earlier day in the week, and also make sure that this would flow into the next day’s blocking. Khalid Laith, the talented British actor of Arab origin, has been making some really instructive and helpful suggestions on how his character would move within the space and in relation to other characters. I love Khalid’s voice and enunciation- assertive and clear.

We didn’t get the chance to film the magical scene when Zaynab, the cafe owner, is left alone at the end of the working day. Will film it tomorrow.

My dinner date spent the night protected by the costume department, watching the actors go through dresses and suits from the comfort of a couple of linen covered chairs. She didn’t get her close-up tonight. Tomorrow:-)

Ja’far

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