December 5th 2008; day 18 of 18 of filming

We started the day with a bit of a downer; due to a confusion- probably caused by my answering a question instead of forwarding it to the relevant department- we ended up spending valuable time on costume and make-up for one actor only to find that we needed to start with the other actor. This delay played havoc with our plans for filming all the day-light set car scenes. Andy Lucas turned up on time and after three hours of waiting had to return home; I apologized to him for the confusion. He was ever so kind and magnanimous about it.

The car scenes that we did film involved sayyid ‘Aziz al-Na’ib, in the role of Hussayn, and Houda Echouafni, in the role of Suad, the PR executive.

Alessio was behind the camera in the back seat, while I sat next to sayyid Aziz in the passenger front seat. We drove through Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill Gate, Hyde Park Corner and Fulham. I was quite flustered as I had to keep track of the locations where particular takes of different scenes were filmed aboard the car; we need to make them match with the same scenes filmed from the point of view of Yusif and Ziyad tomorrow.

We headed to a radio studio in Hammersmith for the final two set ups of the day. Nasri had made a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago regarding the voice overs in the film; we should record the voice over of Bisan and Yusif at the same time- this would allow the intimacy intended in the script to seep through the process of capturing their voices.

Daniel, Amelie, Nasri, Axle et moi took a taxi from the house in Knightsbridge to make a head start at the studio and record as much as possible of the voice overs before the crew arrived to set up for filming. We arrived quite late; Daphne had arrived on time and was waiting for us outside the studio in the cold.
The kindly owner of the radio studio, Andrew, offered to record the voice overs on his professional equipment; Axle was pleased.

With Axle, Amelie and me in the soundproof booth, Nasri began to read his first impressions of London. As the positive energy worked its way around the room, the voice overs began to take a life of their own. Nasri did really well; his Arabic/French/American and British English added texture and warmth to his interpretation of the text. Daphne was simply sublime. I had to close my eyes and let her voice float around me- she was reading the memoirs of Bisan. The final piece was simply beautiful. I felt privileged to be in the same room with this group of talented and kindly artists.

Once the crew arrived, we filmed the radio interview between Yusif and the newscaster. Monica Kendall had auditioned for Mesocafe back in April 2007. Both her and I were relieved and joyous that we had finally come to shooting the film. Monica was great; while she was reading a news report into the microphone, Axle mouthed to me, “her voice is really good”. Coming from a sound recordist, this is a huge compliment.

I have a bit of great news: we have been allowed an extra day of filming.

Nasri generously agreed to postpone his return to Beirut by a couple of days; the camera hire company allowed us the kit for an extra couple of days and I have been able to find Nasri an alternative hotel room at such a short notice:-)

Tomorrow, we will complete the car scenes; shoot a street protest; watch Bisan and Yusif as they walk in the streets of London; film Bisan as she drives Yusif to the airport and then capture the remaining Robert North- TV journalist- scene.

For Bisan’s drive to the airport, the script said she would drive a Mini. As the date of shooting the scene approached, I had to compromise. Arij asked for the names of a few car models that would work with the character of Bisan. Out of the list, she managed to find a good deal on a Renault Cleo…”Papa!… Nicole!” :- )

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