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A Black Gold Diary

Mar 08, 2011

Welcome to my blog! I’m working as a Production Assistant on the set of “Black Gold”, the upcoming Arabian blockbuster that’s currently filming scenes in Qatar, and I thought you might like to know how it’s been going! Read on to find out…

Day 21:

Explosion… Explosion… Explosion!

That was the only thing everyone on set was waiting for the entire day, including me! When I arrived at the base camp, there was a power supply problem in my tent, so the coffee had to be done elsewhere. I didn’t know where so all I did was supply the other ingredients – sugar, milk, etc. They didn’t need much help, maybe because it was the last day of the shoot, so I decided to AT LAST clean up my ‘department’. Haha! I cleared up all the junk, and arranged everything in boxes and placed them on the table. Hopefully it was a help and will make shifting it later easier for them! :)

I was on set by 8.30am, the earliest I have ever been! The weather was a little chilly though. They took some shots before the special effect shots came in. (Nope!…Not the explosion everyone was waiting for, haha!) The effect was the pigeon cage shot. I saw them preparing the shot for nearly an hour, but when it was taken it only took seconds! From what I saw, I liked the effect; I think it came out well. Then they told me that I could be on the set the whole day as they were not making coffee anymore. So YEAH!!!….today was like a holiday for me!

A few DFI members came to visit the set today, so I had a good time catching up with friends and also hanging out with them while watching the final shoot. We also got a chance to meet and greet the director, who we were introduced to, and he recognised me when I shook his hand. It was rather surprising but lovely! He spoke about the shot they took earlier and said he is very happy with the way it has come out, then he excused himself and left for the next shot. Happy!

The shot involving the camel with the pigeon cage on it was a tedious task for all the men involved. The camel was not cooperating and it started to move vigorously, which scared us a little. I just hoped no one would get hurt! Around six men had to calm it down and fix it for the shot. It stayed calm but once it heard the sound of the buggy car (which the camera was in), it became scared and uncontrollable again. Somehow they managed to take the shot, but with some exceptions and make-dos.

Sometimes, when some serious things are happening all around, something hilarious takes place too! While the camel was struggling with the men for its freedom, the pigeon flew away from the cage! Everyone on set was trying to catch the pigeon – it was a group effort, and when it was finally caught everyone clapped, because they were trying for quite some time! The whole thing was indeed a funny sight :) They took that shot and some other shots too, then broke for lunch.

During lunch, they had a HUGE cake as a celebration for the conclusion of the shooting. Using this opportunity, everyone got a chance to take a picture with the director, and so did I, yay! It will definitely be a picture for my remembrance. I was also talking with some crew members, and they were really feeling sad about leaving as they had become like a family in the last six months. I really, really hope to meet some of them in the near future, in more projects to come.

Finally, what we had all been waiting for since the morning – the explosion!! The preparation took about two hours and then finally it started. It began with a small fire…then slowly……….. BOOM…BOOM…BOOM!!! I felt like a kid watching fireworks, it was so cool! With that shot, it was all over: the “Black Gold” shooting ended and everyone hugged and kissed each other goodbye…. :(

As for me….although I have known them for only about three weeks, I sure will miss some of them, especially those who have been so kind and generous with their knowledge :)

So, in the manner of awards shows, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the “Black Gold” cast and crew for sharing their wonderful experiences with me. bows. Hahaha!

And finally – IT IS A WRAP!!! :)

Day 20:
For me, the entire day went by with me saying “Maafi sukkar, maafi chaai, maafi cake”!!! They weren’t supplied today and therefore I had to be the one answering each and every person that came in for their important morning routine – coffee, tea and cakes!

I wanted to head to the set but everyone said there were only wide shots being taken today and everything that was happening was far away, but eventually I went anyway.

On set, most of us were just sitting and watching. Setting up a shot took a long time today as lots of different things were happening at the same time, meaning they had to coordinate everything very well before they actually took the shoot. Meanwhile, the makeup guy, costume lady, the special effects guy and I were sitting down and drawing on the sand. The make-up guy was so good at it – he didn’t have to think at all before he started drawing. We just named random things to him and he drew them in seconds. It was pretty cool!

Today, I learnt more about management skills. I hope the management for production will get better and better, as just one person making the effort will not be enough – it has to be team work! If I am given the chance to do production management again, I will certainly look into ways to keep on improving it :)

The shoot finished early today, so I was home early too. :)

Day 19:
Every morning is similar, but for someone like me, who likes to be systematic, it is hard to keep up with the constant mess and tiny nuisances that are all part of a camp this big. Well, I’m learning!

The weather was not being kind at all today – there was a sand storm, and we were all wrapped up with scarfs covering our heads and faces! I only managed to go to the set at 3.30pm, and I was afraid I might miss some good special effect shots but thankfully nothing was taken yet.

On the set, I got a chance to finish my previous conversation with the assistant script supervisor, who explained more in detail about her job, as well as the jobs of the other assistant script supervisor and the script supervisor. It is a tough job as every single shot, take and script has to be at your fingertips. Salute! I also spoke to the make-up guy who specializes in prosthetics again, and this time he showed me pictures of his past work. He has done skeleton, teeth, inner body parts, monsters and all kinds of things – it was amazing!

Later, when I got a chance to be closer to the shot, I saw the director sitting on the ground and drawing out camera movements and actors positions on the sand and then explaining it to his crew. I found that a little funny! He also had a lens hanging around his neck which allowed him to select the framing for his shot.

Besides the weather, everything else went well. I hope! :)

Day 18:
Today we are back at the old base camp and I’m sticking to my routine at the coffee desk. The rules seem to have changed a little, but eventually everything was back to normal!

There were some issues with the breakfasts and sandwiches today, as it came up in conversation that most of the workers weren’t getting sandwiches – including me! I hope tomorrow things will be better, as I don’t think it’s fair to ask people to work under the sun and not feed them. So it was straight to lunch!

Later, I went to the set and they were shooting a similar shot to yesterdays, but stunts were involved this time. Lauren, from the DFI Education team, came with North Western University students, and I spent some time with them and walking them through the set. I was glad that the crew welcomed them well :)

Today there was a small explosion on top of the dunes for a shot. It was quite far away so we walked up to it to get a closer look. On the way, we saw the assistant script supervisor running down the dune trying to catch papers that were flying everywhere – they must have come loose in the wind, which was also making it harder to grab them! It was a pity that we couldn’t go help as we were on the wrong side and they were still shooting, but thankfully she managed to collect them all.

We finished the day with an ‘explosion’ shot of the sand. Interesting! On the way back, however, there was a car stuck in the sand again! This time though, there were about FOUR cars and about TEN men that came by to help, including us. It was a bit of a disaster really though because another car got stuck while helping, and then the rope broke as it was being pulled. Not only that, but after finally fixing the rope and trying again, the driver didn’t know which gear to be in so it was grinding but not moving! Finally, after a lot of confusion, they managed to get the car out, but what they didn’t realise was that I was standing by the side having a good laugh, and had caught the whole thing on my camera! :)

Day 17:
It is the last day for some of the actors and crew members. It was hard saying goodbye, even though I have only known them only for a few weeks, and I really hope to meet (and work) with them again in the near future!

As for the shoot today, there was nothing much to see because they were doing underwater shots in the sea. We could hardly see what was happening from the shore, so I spent most of my time on the set talking to people. One of the make-up guys told me that he actually specializes in prosthetics! He also gave a rough idea on how it is applied, and how his work differs compared to what he is doing on the set here.

At lunch my colleague Mohanned and I were sitting at a table alone, and I was saying that no one would come and sit with us as everyone has their own groups they sit with, but he disagreed with me. Literally as soon as I said that, the chief make-up artist, the lead actor and THE DIRECTOR came and sat at our table! I must say, we had the best ‘table manners’ EVER, haha! :)

Once the shoot was wrapped, those leaving said their goodbyes and we, who will still remain on set for the next few days, will definitely miss them dearly :(

Day 16:
Back to the new location once more! I like it here, as the set and base are just nearby and I don’t have to wait for someone to take me back and forth between them. All I have to do is walk over – as soon as my chores are done, of course!

This morning I went off to the set for about half an hour, and when I came back I got really frustrated at people for being irresponsible. In the box where the supplies were kept people had thrown used tea bags, milk cups, empty packets of sugar and used plastic spoons! :( Others had just flung the spoons on the table or thrown them on the ground after making coffee – I wonder if they do that at home?! There was also rubbish everywhere – they didn’t seem to have looked for the black bin bag / dustbin. I can’t believe they didn’t even think about the consequences before doing this. I decided to just get on with it, so I cleared the mess and stayed to help out around the base. It was a good idea because food was delayed and they needed extra hands around, so I was glad to have been able to help :) I also got the opportunity to serve dessert to the director… and he winked a thank you! :)

Later on I headed to the set again. The shooting crew were in the sea taking their shots, so I just sat and watched them and enjoyed the breeze! :) The actors had to rush towards the sea for the shot, which was a great to watch. At the end they all clapped and cheered, so again I assume it was a good shot! :)

Because of the early start we finished early today, and I was home by 6.30pm!

Day 15:
Today we were at a different location, which is about an hour’s drive from Doha but about two hour’s drive if you’re coming directly from the last location. As I travel from Doha I got to sleep for an extra half an hour, yay! :)

It took us quite some time to get there though, as there were misleading directions and much confusion, but we finally made it and all was fine….until I realized that I had lost my Ipod somewhere along the way! I trailed back to find it but sadly, I couldn’t :(

Never mind, and on with the day! Morning coffee was a little hectic as it was a new location, so everything had to be set up from scratch, including the table, the power cables and the kettles, etc. Everyone was thankfully very patient so it went smoothly and we managed to get them their morning caffeine in peace.

The location itself was a nice place. There were huge rocks by the sea and the weather was good. The cameraman came by the tent during lunch and I said “Good weather, yeah!?” and he replied sadly “Hmmm…..not so good.” I asked him why and he said it would have been better for the camera if the sky was clearer. Aaaah… good for us but bad for the camera. Hehe!

Since it was an early start for the crew, we finished the shoot early too, so surprisingly I was home by 6pm! It seems a little weird after so many late evenings, but I do enjoy arriving home early :)

Day 14:
Every day in the tea and coffee station I deal with hurried, slightly stressed people who need a caffeine shot, but today everyone was especially polite, even the guy who is generally dissatisfied with the coffee arrangements. I tell you….it’s the “Black Gold” magic!

The worker who is normally with me was ill, so today I was working with someone else. I struggled to make him understand our daily chores, but thankfully we had less work so it was somewhat manageable.

Later in the day, Justin (from the Education team at DFI) came to visit the set, and he brought along some students from Doha College. I haven’t seen him for a long time so I was really excited! As always, it is good when someone visits you. I took them on a tour around the tent and to most of the departments. The students seemed really thrilled….well, who wouldn’t be!

Later I went by the set and chatted with the 3rd assistant director, who is really sweet and has been explaining her job to me. She had previously given me a copy of a storyboard for a scene, and I am thankful she did so that I can learn from it. :)

They were shooting by the sea today so I couldn’t be anywhere near the camera, but had to stay where the cars were parked until they changed the camera position. That’s when I realized that the phrase ‘SILENCE PLEASE’ doesn’t mean anything to the drivers. They still continue talking, laughing and even playing games! I really wonder how those who deal with this keep their cool because I was only there for about an hour and it drove me crazy! In my head I was thinking “What is it they don’t understand…. These words are simple… ‘SILENCE PLEASE’!!!”

Thankfully I wasn’t there too long. I moved to the other side where they were taking close-ups, and I saw how they enacted slitting the throat of a camel and getting the blood out. Very cool….but still, yuck!

Day 13:
As planned, I arrived at basecamp much earlier this morning, and as soon as the coffee table was settled, I went to the set at about 9.30am. It was at the same location but this time they were shooting at the seashore, which was quite a distance away from where we were standing so it was difficult to actually watch the shot. It seemed like a wide shot and I couldn’t see what was happening really, other than just the camels walking along the sea.

After being there for a bit, I headed back to base camp to prepare some lunch, and then came back to the set. I saw another shot being taken, which was similar to yesterdays, but this time I got to hear what the actors were saying. The shot was quite a long one and also quite far away from where I was, but all of a sudden I saw the director being carried by the extras and actors, and they were celebrating and shouting something which definitely sounded like a victory cheer! It was a great sight, and I assumed the director was very happy with the shot I didn’t manage to get a photo of that but my colleague Vlatka did, and I can’t wait to see it!

Soon afterwards I went back to the base camp, but on the way we saw a car which had somehow become stuck in the sand. Three men were struggling with it, and since our car had the towrope to pull it out, we detoured to help them. The path they were on had already been closed due to similar previous incidents, but there are drivers who still take it and get stuck unnecessarily. We set forth to help, but sadly, in the midst of helping, our car got stuck too! Apparently the rope was too short so instead of pulling the other car out, it pulled our car in. After more struggling by us AND the three men from the first car, who were each giving different directions in different languages, we were all even more confused! Eventually, we called someone from the set to come and rescue us, and it was interesting to watch how our hero first made a path to get the car out, then started pulling the car and eventually freed us. Yeah!

Back to the set and this time I saw them use a track for the camera. The shot was a big one with lots of extras and camels. I sat in one place and observed the director – he uses a whistle for action/cues and variations of the whistle for different cues for different actors/camera. Nice!

Brigitte Lacombe came by to shoot some pictures/videos, so in between takes the director was busy giving interviews. The last shot was the same as previous ones had been, but with just a change of camera position. While watching the things happening around me, I started writing a story – let’s see if my script gets developed or just remains an idea. Haha! :)

At the very end of the shoot, as I was walking around, I noticed one of the camels eating something off the ground. I asked my colleague Muhanned “What is the camel eating?” And he replied, “It’s the herbs from the sea”. I was confused and said “Whaaat???…..Ohh….you mean Seaweed!” We all had a good laugh, and I told Muhanned that’s going to be the new term for seaweed from now on – herbs from the sea. I like it!

Day 12:
Reaching the base camp today was quite a journey. I got into a car with the guy who is doing the “Making Of” for the director and off we went with the driver into the desert. The start itself didn’t seem very promising as he didn’t go the usual way everyone else does, but went up the dunes instead! At 6.45am, the last thing I want is a roller coaster ride, haha! But thankfully, he got us there safely :)

I started off my day with coffee table management and throughout the day I was busy attending to peoples’ needs, such as preparing hot water, unlocking the tent, sending the water guy over to the set and so forth. In between attending to my chores, I had a chat with the guy who does the fake camels and people. He was preparing some fake bodies with some special effects on them. We spoke about moulding the sculpture, how to incorporate mechanics into fake bodies and animals, and also a little about the use of latex, synthetic and other materials. He is yet to show me the process of making the fake camels in pictures, and I can’t wait to see it!

When lunchtime came, everyone on base camp came by to ask me for lunch boxes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any as the lunches were served on the sets today and nothing was left here. After a long wait, I contacted those on set to bring us some food and eventually it came. I felt like a café owner who was waiting for the food supplies to feed my workers! Haha… well, not exactly the same but somewhat similar :)

At 4pm, I finally got to go to the set that I wanted to see so badly because I knew it was in a nice location today. It was soothing to the eye to see some clear blue sea water for a change, rather than just the desert sand. As soon as I arrived, I saw one take of the shot, which was prolonged for about 5 minutes with a 2 camera set-up. Both the cameras were operated from the sea, and the camera guys were in their scuba diving wear!

By the time the second shot was being set-up, the director called it quits and I heard him say to one of the actors, who had just arrived: “I’m sorry, costume took too long!” I don’t know what he meant but it was a wrap anyway, so yay! :)

Day 11:
Another day on “Black Gold”! More of the same stuff in the morning, dealing with workers to get things done and just helping out in whatever way I can.

Today I went off to the set early. It was calm and pleasant as they were not using any extras, so the set had just the crew and one cast member, until later when a few more joined in. They used the airplane for the shot and this time it had crashed! The scene was quiet, but what was interesting was the weather and the height we were at.

For the second shot, we all had to move to the top of the dune. I was standing on the very top, and on the other side was a steep slope. When the wind blew, I thought I was going to fall off the other side and roll down the sand all the way to the bottom! Luckily, I secured myself well. The wind later became more of a sand storm, but it was somehow manageable. I think we were just used to it so it didn’t seem like a big deal!

The script supervisor is so friendly that each time she sees me she greets me with a smile and greetings. I advised her to cover her nose and mouth due to the unhealthy wind and she immediately walked over to get a scarf and wrapped herself up. She then came to me and said ”Good?”… I gave her a thumbs up! After the shoot was wrapped, she waved goodbye – she is so sweet :)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow as it’s a slight shift in location – we’re going to the sea!

Day 10:
Arrived in the morning and now the coffee table is outside. It is much better to control the crowd. Relief! Every day we are learning and improving to serve better :)

Today I saw one of the special effects make-up artists attaching a moustache and beard onto a dummy face, which resembles the real actor. This is for an effect in the film. The hair is actually real hair that he bought from a shop and trimmed, to make it the size he wants. When I heard that, I went… ‘Ewwwww!’

On the set today I also managed to see a wide shot taken from below the dune, while the cast and a huge amount of extras, including the camels, were up on the dune. For the first time I heard quite a lengthy dialogue in the take. A few takes were done as they had to coordinate so many things at once, like the camera, the actor and THE CAMELS! It was tough.

I stayed away from the set as much as I could as I was coughing and I didn’t want the Director to go – ACTION………….Me: cough cough. Hahaha!

Day 9:
By now I have my daily routines down pat, so no need to repeat it – I do the same every morning! Today the only difference was that the Expresso machine was taken away from my area and kept elsewhere. Less of a headache for me – and “thank you” to whomever decided that!

Later on, I got a call from Ben Robinson, who is a member of DFI’s Education Division. While picking up the call, I was wondering if he was just giving me a friendly call, but no… he was actually there on location! Weeee! I came out to greet him and 3 other friends, Umer, Jo and Julius. It was good to see them: it was like family members visiting you on set! My colleague Muhanned said ‘It felt like home’, and he was right. Not long after they arrived they left for the set, and I headed to the containers to put up some Instant Marquees, which are also known as Easy-Ups. With the help of 4 workers and 2 colleagues, the task was completed well. I actually felt proud of myself because I figured out how to put those things up, as the workers I was working with were not the ones that have done this before. So everyone basically was just figuring out how to bring it up or down. It was fun!

From Left to Right: Umer Shabib (DFI student filmmaker), Ben Robinson (DFI Instructor), Tusilya Muthukumar (Black Gold Production Asst.), Julius williams (DFI student actor), Ioana Hartescu (DFI student actor).

Once that was done, lunch with the DFI gang and on to the sets. Today’s set was a huge massive one. They had dead camels, dummies and extras spread all over the place. It was huge! The shot was about an airplane going by and people chasing it. Finally I got to see the airplane used on set. I saw them building it and then flying it, and now I get to see them actually using it in the film! It’s interesting to watch the process unfold slowly.

Once we got the green light to cross the set without disturbing anything, we headed back to the camp and then back home.

Day 8:
Arrived at the tent and TADAAA!!!….the Expresso machine is working! Thankfully everything was normal and there was not as much chaos – it was manageable. Today’s weather wasn’t good at all. Too much wind and sand, and the noise from inside the tent felt as if there was a typhoon outside. I, who only walk out once in a while, felt like I was filling up with sand, so imagine those on sets…such a pity. They all came back looking exhausted and drained from battling the weather.

Also, due to the weather, the director had to change the scenes to be shot today. Apparently they were supposed to shoot the airplane scene but the wind was so strong that the airplane couldn’t take off, so the director used the weather to his benefit – he selected a scene where they needed a sand storm and shot that instead. Even in a big budget movie, sometimes things don’t go as planned, even though everything is thought to be perfect. Quick thinking comes in handy!

I was at the camp the entire day and one of the actors came by for his coffee, so he sat to chit chat with me for a bit. I had met him before and we spoke about his life and how he got into this film. He was eager to know about DFI and DTFF (Doha Tribeca Film Festival). Since I have been to the festival for two consecutive years, I gave him an insight into the festival and he was very interested, but surprised at how much goes on as well. He also mentioned that he was afraid of watching the movie with an audience! But I must say for a man of that stature he is really a shy guy. Even though this is his first film, his performance is just great. He had really prepared for the role and is doing justice to it, from what I have seen. I wish him all the luck in the world, and really hope he continues acting in more and more films.

Day 7:
Morning went as usual, as every day does. But today I was making coffee for such a long time, I wonder why. I never had a chance to even sit or have my breakfast at the time I normally do, but I guess it’s because my colleague had to leave to the set earlier than other days. Well, I gained good experience as a waiter. Weeee! :)

Once everything on the coffee table was kinda settled, I helped change the costume for the dummies. I thought it was easy, but no…the dummies are so heavy and to lift them and change their tops were very difficult! Luckily, the person in charge came to the rescue when I was struggling with one of the dummies :)

During lunch, I had a chance to talk to the guy who is doing the “Making Of” and “Documentary” for the director. He’s a nice guy, although we had to communicate mostly in sign language, with a bit of English and French here and there. Later on we were joined by the steady cam operator, who explained how he collaborates with the director to take the shots and the film roles. He also said he had just finished the camerawork for Woody Allen’s latest film. Excited!

After lunch, I went on to the sets and mingled with many different people, including some actors and the costumes people, and the guys who make the bullets and guns and other stuff. I even got a picture taken by one of the guys who was with the gun. He didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand him and it was funny that suddenly he took out the gun, removed the bullets, hung it around my neck, took my camera and CLICKED! Haha…that was fun! My head got cut off a little as his main focus was the gun and not me of course. Hehe…but still, I love the picture.

I witnessed some shots and special effects, such as some fire bursting on set and actors running and gun shots. Overall, the set today was interesting and many cool shots were taken. One of the assistants was explaining about her job: that she keeps track of the shots taken, the timings and the reels. There is more to her job, but we had to stop talking….. SILENCE PLEASE (in French!!)…Hah ha….so more to continue in the coming days.

Fire on set.

Back to camp and ooops…..Expresso coffee machine was having a problem. OH OH… I wonder what is going to happen tomorrow!

Day 6:
First day after the rearrangement of the coffee table and there were less chaos. As soon as I arrived I helped in making the coffees and teas. Morning till afternoon I was busy with the cleaning and clearing of coffee table, making coffee and then checking the bathrooms – whether it is cleaned, water filled or sewage cleared. After lunch, I went on set and this time the set was slightly different from before. This place had lots of stones, and big huge ones too. I also got to see how the director was explaining the shot to the actors and the crew. I could barely hear as the wind was so strong and I couldn’t go nearer. As soon as he finished enacting the scene, I saw how he blocked the shot with his actors and also did a rehearsal. I manage to see one take of it. Amazing! :)

The Director Jean-Jacques Annaud explaining the shot.

Once again off to camp to charge batteries and then the same nightly routine!

Day 5:
It was early in the morning and the guys started arguing over coffee at the coffee making area. We then decided: there won’t be chaos every morning in that small area where everyone fights to make themselves their cup of coffee, so we rearranged the tables later so it is now blocked and only the one in charge can make the coffee and serve the rest! Then off to the set for lunch – it was fun because, while eating lunch, the tent started flying off in the wind, and as we were the last few people there we had to leave our food and each one of us grabbed the tent and hung on it, to give it weight. This was when the director was sitting and having his lunch! Haha…good fun! The director looked up to the clouds and said something in French, which must have been funny as he looked funny and the rest laughed :)

I headed back to the camp and a good chat with the SFX make up guy again. This time I saw how he made cracked lips. Then one of the guy, who makes the fake camels, were now dealing with real pieces of camel meat such as leg and chests which was needed for a particular scene. He sewed fake camel skin to the real camel meat! It was fun to watch and I volunteered to help a little… and this time I got to! :) Yes!

SFX make-up artist making fake cracked lips.

After they have wrapped the shooting for the day, we wait for pick up and then back home!

Day 4:
It’s the first day that I stayed in the camp and not head out to the sets at all! Well, managing in the camp was what I was doing and I had to make sure the guys did their job and wait for the water guys and stuff. I helped out with the catering because the weather didn’t permit them to have lunch on location, so they shifted the lunch venue to the camp where the camels were. The cleaning was massive!

Day 3:
Today we had to be there early, so we left Doha at 5am, which means we woke up at 3.30-ish. While writing this I am actually dozing off. In the morning I helped out with the coffee table, cleaning and clearing and generally helping out. Later, went on to fix the red cones (indicators) from the camp to Sealine and back, then again back to Sealine to get some chairs.

Later I went on sets. I saw one shot being taken and that was the first time I saw the fake camels being used on set. They looked super real! They were doing an action scene and the one in charge of the fake bodies and mechanism of it was very happy that the shot came out well. She came to me and excitedly asked me if I saw it as it came out good. She is such a sweet person and I love to see how she cares so much about her work. I saw 2 more shots taken and then a little chat with Waheed, a DFI Producer. He was explaining to me about how to go about writing your story/script/screenplay :)

Fake camels used on set.

And then back to the same old routine! Wait for someone to take us back to base camp, and wait for someone to take us from basecamp to Doha, and then from Doha back to home. By the time I reach home, it was nearly 8.30pm.

It’s an early start tomorrow too, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world :)

Day 2:
Mornings are the same but the weather was rather colder than yesterday. Went on to the camp base and nothing much but clearing and cleaning. Went on sets for a bit and the weather was hot so I had to take off layers of my jackets. Once I was back from the set, I visited the SFX make-up artist, who is a Japanese living in Paris. He explained to me the kind of effects he is doing and has done. I saw some ear piece extensions and some scars that he had fixed on an actor. It was an interesting conversation and he is another friendly person I’ve met.

Day 1:
First day on the sets of Black Gold which is also my first day on a feature film set, excitement kicks in! I am glad I could be a part of it even though it is as small as a Production Assistant. It was just bizarre to see about 10 camels lying on the ground dead looking so real. But somewhere in a corner of my heart, I still doubted if they were real until I took the courage to touch it..haha…that confirmed it – fake! But REAL fake!

Fake camel

After arranging the coffee table and cleaning up the stuff there, the floor manager came by and asked if we wanted to visit the set. Well…who would say “No”!? So he took me to the set, and at first I was so afraid to talk to anybody and I didn’t know French nor Arabic, only English for me! But he was so sweet to introduce me around and finally I ended up chit chatting quite a bit with the 2nd unit assistant, Hana. She is so pleasant and friendly. I asked her on average how many shots a day they would take and she said it depends, but on shoots before they would take on average take 15 – 20 shots, and in Qatar it was about 8 or 9.

But for a set that huge, with 30+ camels and 50+ people… 8 or 9 shots were good for me. :) The entire time I spent on the set, I managed to see only 2 shots. Each took about an hour to prep…well, it was a huge cast including camels and tankers! Everyone there were practically battling with the sand that was constantly filling our stomachs or making us cry. The art-effect department is what I call the department who make the fake camel, human, blood and what-not. They came by and started dressing up about 8 fake humans to be taken to the set. It was fascinating to watch them work – sadly I couldn’t help, but hopefully tomorrow I’ll try and get them to allow me to help them. Anyhow I didn’t stand doing nothing, I did what I do best, take pictures!!! Can’t wait to post them later :)

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