By Ben Robinson
With the third Tahaddi: 7-day Filmmaking Challenge workshop starting soon, I thought I would share some anecdotes about the workshops that took place in March and April. Both were a huge success and, so far, the programme has produced 12 original short films, all made by first-time filmmakers who live in Qatar.
‘The 7-day Filmmaking Challenge is a life-changing experience. Most of us came into this workshop thinking we’re all directors but we came out with a far better understanding of what our talent is and will be.’ – AJ Al-Thani, Student
The first Tahaddi: 7-Day Filmmaking Challenge of 2013 took place in February. Tahaddi is an integral part of DFI’s Addasha entry-level training strategy, which also offers aspiring filmmakers these workshops: Qoul Qasa (Creative Writing); Athwaq (Film Appreciation); Montage (Editing); and Akkas (Cinematography). DFI’s objective is to build a highly skilled and creative next generation of filmmakers in Qatar and the GCC region, and these workshops are carefully designed to support this process.
The formula for Tahhadi is simple: 25 participants (selected from more than 160 applications) learn to write, develop, produce, shoot and edit their first short film in seven days. Each participant is chosen on the basis of a compelling story idea they submit, and an application that convinced us they were serious about filmmaking. At the end of the workshop, we select the four best scripts to shoot that weekend (we ended up shooting six films because there were just so many great story ideas!).
‘The 7-Day Film Challenge was a great medium for inspiration. It allowed me to put aside excuses and just focus on developing my movie from an idea to a short movie. It was a challenge, but working alongside equally passionate peers made this journey successful and interesting.’ – Nora Al-Subai, Filmmaker.
In order to train 25 people in seven days, we put together a dynamic team of mentors to cover each aspect of film production:
- Mohammed Hassan Ahmed – Screenwriter of the acclaimed Emirati feature film ‘Sea Shadow’ (2011) and dozens of compelling short films
- Mahdi Ali Ali Sharshani – Manager of Gulf Film Development team and accomplished filmmaker whose short ‘Champs Elysées I Love You’ recently played at the Museum of Islamic Art as part of DFI’s francophone film series
- Stephen Strachan – DFI Development Producer who has more than a decade’s experience in script development and film production
- Ben Robinson – Education Development Producer at DFI and writer-director-producer for over 15 years
- Maryam Al-Sahli – One of DFI Productions’ editors; the short films she has edited have played at festivals all over the world