December 2nd 2008; days 14-15 of 18 of filming

Days 14 and 15 of 18
On Sunday evening, Amelie, our script supervisor, took me through all the shots that we filmed at the cafe. I was aware of a couple of shots and one major scene that we hadn’t had the chance to film at the cafe during those six days of the night shoot.

With her great attention to detail and suggestion of solutions to potential difficulties in the edit room, Amelie guided me through the parts of the cafe scenes that we can not live without. As it turned out, we had almost everything we needed from the interior of the cafe, barring a couple of short sequences at the counter and the all important end scene outside the cafe.

On Monday morning, we arrived at location 8am sharp and we were already filming by 9.30. We were only allowed five hours at the location; the cafe owner had been given such a hard time by the landlord and by a complaining neighbour during our week of night shoot that she was adamant that we would not be allowed to return. It was only thanks to Arij and Kawa that she compromised and allowed us half a day. Kawa had resorted to a line from his character in the script, when he promised her that all her conditions would be met- “I swear by my mother’s soul”- bless him.

We filmed a couple of exterior scenes; went indoors for the counter sequence and then we were back out for the last scene in the film. This required the cast of six characters to greet one another outside the cafe on a busy Monday morning. Again, the goddess of celluloid smiled upon this group of dreamers and allowed us two clean takes- even those passers-by who ignored the polite requests of Gabriella and Alice to wait for a minute and actually walked through frame- even they didn’t look at the lens and thus added a layer of realism to the story.

The night before the shoot, it had occurred to me that the location we used on November the 11th for auditions and a reading session [see below] would be very useful indeed as the offices of Ziyad and Suad. Arij managed to book us the location for a wonderfully reasonable fee.

Having covered a few setups on Monday, we were back at the same location on Tuesday for more office scenes. Andy, Houda, Nasri and Julian Boote were in for the shoot. Julian has been particularly patient with us; we have not been giving him sufficient notice before his days on set. This has been exasperated during this last week, as we didn’t really have a schedule for Monday until late on Sunday, due to various factors, but mainly the fact that I hadn’t had the chance to formally agree locations for this week.

My feelings at the end of day 15 of the shoot can be summed up as an emotional nadir. I have serious concerns as to whether we will be able to put all the film in the can by the end of Friday night. As Houda told me on Monday, trying to shoot a feature film in 18 days and with professional cast and crew is very ambitious. I am worried that I may have been too ambitious.

My options are quite limited. Should we not get the whole film into the can by Friday evening, then it would take me months before I am able to afford to get a small crew, hire the kit, get the insurance, get catering, transport and arrange for locations etc. That said, I am more than happy to leave to January or February all the TV news interviews that feature in the film. All these interviews can be filmed on HD, as they appear on TV sets in the film. The one interview that we can’t postpone is Yusif’s. Nasri heads back to Beirut this Saturday, and we need to complete all the voiceover material and his TV interview before we wish him a safe journey.

I am sorry to end today’s update on a low point.

Huggs and kisses.

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