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People in Film: The Tahaddi Graduates

Sep 24, 2013

With the fourth edition of the Tahaddi 7-Day Filmmaking Challenge underway, we asked three grads of the Tahaddi workshop to tell us about their filmmaking inspiration and experiences. Here’s what they had to say:


Ali Mahdi, 28 years old

Ali Mahdi

Who is your top cinematic inspiration?
When I bring up the topic of movies that have been particularly important, film buffs immediately think of movies that have been culturally and historically significant, like ‘Seven Pounds’, ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Troy’. I definitely enjoy watching a movie that features my favourite actors. For example, if a new movie stars Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise or George Clooney, I would love to watch it as I’m sure these actors won’t let the audience down. Their acting is brilliant and the stories they work on are inspiring and meaningful.

Your biggest inspiration is…
My biggest inspiration would be James Cameron, who brought us consistent blockbusters such as ‘Avatar’, ‘Terminator’, and ‘Titanic’. I am really a big fan of his work.

Why did you decide to pursue the Tahaddi 7-Day Film Challenge?
I wanted the chance to share my film with a cast, crew, my family and friends and I loved it. We only had one week to write, shoot and edit a short film with a team, and then compete for the honour of best 7-Day Filmmaking.

Who do you think is making cinematic tracks in the region, and why?
In my opinion, Mohammed Hassan and Ziad Doueiri are making cinematic tracks because they have a different style of making stories and films.


Nora Al-Subai, 27 years old

Nora Al-Subai

Who is your top cinematic inspiration?
My inspirations include Tim Burton, Baz Luhrmann and other legends like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.

What excites you about the film industry?
The beauty of storytelling in various forms, from musicals to drama, thrillers to comedy. It’s impressive, the amount of time and effort and the number of people it takes to make a movie come to life.

Why did you decide to pursue the Tahaddi 7-Day Film Challenge?
I’ve always been interested in movies and I knew that taking part in Tahaddi would be quite demanding. However, I knew as well that if I ever want to get serious about making films, I need to make that commitment. I also wanted to meet other eager filmmakers so we could learn and work together, and encourage each other.

What were the most surprising or unexpected elements of completing a film from start to finish?
Every step of the filmmaking process has its ups and downs – from writing the script to the time it takes to edit, which was very surprising. I knew that it would take time but I never really realised how long cutting footage, synching audio, adding music actually takes.

Who do you think is making cinematic tracks regionally, and why?
I would say Mohammed Saeed Hareb has revamped things by mixing the regional culture with aspects of the modern changing world, such as in ‘Freej’. His success with the TV series has allowed him to embark on even more interesting projects.

If you were allowed to watch only one film for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
If I could watch only one movie, I would say ‘The Great Gatsby’ – I’ve read the book and seen the 1974 version. However, Luhrmann’s film completely took my breath away. The directing, cinematography and music are simply amazing. Moreover, the story is at once simple and complicated; it’s hopeful and has a magical feel, without being unrealistic.

What would be your ultimate achievement in cinema?
Making movies that are entertaining, but that matter and can make a difference.


Dana An Natsheh, 26 years old

Dana An Natsheh

Who is your top cinematic inspiration ?
Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

What excites you about the film industry ?
The ability to create an imaginary world and to manipulate reality.

Your biggest inspiration is…
True stories of people around the world.

Why did you decide to pursue the 7-Day Film Challenge, Tahaddi?
It was always my dream to see how I can transform my ideas to reality and Tahaddi offered an overview of filmmaking in one week, which helped me understand the process of filmmaking and let me get involved in it.

What were the most surprising, or unexpected elements of completing a film, from start to finish?
They always say, ‘Don’t make movies with kids or animals’, but for my first film I chose to work with children. The hardest part is making them give you the actions you want and express the feelings you are looking for.

What would be your ultimate achievement in cinema?
Directing was a very interesting experience for me. However, I’m more into storytelling and scriptwriting and I wish that one day I will see my stories coming to life on the big screen.

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