Abdullah Interviews Abdulmohsin Al Hashim
I do not have the ability to THANK all the participants in the interviews section. I honestly cant.
Your courage and presence is so powerful, it inspired alot, you have no idea what amount of emails im getting.
Many people have graced the front page of p0ach.com, from Photographers, Fashion designers, Chocolatiers, Entrepreneurs, Athletes, PHD holders, Architects and today, a freshly squeezed film Director.
Me7sin is what he refers to himself as. Super kind and smart. A total giver for sure. He gave me the EXCLUSIVE on how this short movie was done with alot of behind the scenes footage from the set.
As you all know, we, bloggers, have been fortunate to receive his kind patriotic contribution ” Kuwait Al EIZ “, we all loved it, with goosebumps to back it up. Everybody kept asking questions like, how where and who did this? Im here to tell you, all your questions are answered today.
Well “Me7sin” its your time to shine, so do introduce yourself.
AbdulMohsen Al-Hashem, I’m a 4th year Communications in Media/Advertising Major at the American University of Kuwait, and currently a freelance advertiser & independent filmmaker. My interests include sports, history and of course anything related to the filmmaking world.
How were you as a child ?
I was always an average student in all my classes at school except for two, English and History.
History because of the factual events, places and figures that were endlessly captivating, which captured my attention for every moment. This made me daydream 24/7. Yeah I was one of those kids who’d sit in the back or next to a window and stare endlessly at nothing cause I’d be “in my own world” lol.
English was due to the creative writing assignments and the results I’d receive from my teachers at the end. One of the most inspiring moments of my childhood was when my 5th grade english teacher was handing back out our creative story writing assignments and kept mine at the end, she had the whole class clap for me and then I was handed 5 merits (they usually only hand out one and you’d really have to earn it). I knew then that I was at least good at something.
Fast forward to my graduating year, the 11th grade. We were given the same assignment by our much older, stricter english teacher, and I re-typed the same 5th grade story word for word and handed it in just hoping for a D grade (I was really slacking that year). And then during the handing out he kept mine last, and much to my surprise, I was re-living that moment I had six years earlier, the class was clapping. He then told the class “I can easily imagine him writing fiction, novels..and you know..make money out of it, his story was that good.” It was one of the few academic achievements I had from high school, and it stuck to me.
What brought you to film making ?
First year at college I took this english 102 class when I was considering English as a major. The professor gave us an assignment to write an essay about “Western Media & its stereotyping of Arabs”. For our final we had to use some form of medium and present our projects (be it powerpoint, music, magazines, speeches or *drumroll…..* videos).
I selected the latter since I just got a new Mac and was playing with some editing software which seemed simple. I started early on my project (had to be a 10 min documentary), like 2 months early thinking i could finish it in a week and chill out the rest of the time…. I ended up finishing it the morning of the presentation. *huge dagra I know*
I went first and played my video. The result was tears and cheers in the class, followed by students whom I’d never talked to before walking me to my car expressing how much it moved them. Needless to say this moved me much more. Friends and family all agreed that my first video is still the best I’d ever done.
From there on I started to take video making seriously (first time in my life to do so with anything), and began learning and practicing as much as possible. Project by project I’d feel things coming to me naturally, and I discovered instincts that I never thought were useful. And I still have a long way to go in learning, but enjoying the ride. It’s still a hobby as well at the end of the day.
What About previous projects? Had any ?
Mostly everything from there on were projects for classes, up until the 2008 elections.
To this day I consider it THE most vigorous and challenging experience of my life. Me and my friend (Rakan Al Otaibi) ventured out to make an AD fully on our own with the aim of seeing if we could compete in the real world. The result was 19 hour days for well over a month doing absolutely everything from filming, editing, copyrighting etc. Rakan financed everything for me and helped out where he could (especially with legal contracts etc), and I worked everything I had previously learned.
I learned so much through that experience alone about the legal, creative and official side of filmmaking that no book, forum or word of mouth could ever teach. After completing it we headed to the best person we saw fit for the ad in terms of reputation, social acceptance, political agendas and of course media campaigning.
The ad was the longest one in Mr. Marzouq Al Ghanim’s campaign. And I still have people talking to me about it every now and then.
“Me7sin”, give us the exclusive news on Kuwait Al EiZ, everybody wants to know how this whole project came about.
Well here’s the story behind the production:
In a word, “Guerilla”. There was no real script, no storyboard and only one person who actually knew what the film was about even while shooting it. Everyone who acted infront of the camera had atleast 3-4 different jobs behind it as well. These are all my close friends and I cannot express how proud I was of the way they handled themselves during this production even though it was all their first time.
First of all the group of roughly 12 people involved in the making of the film are mostly students from the American University of Kuwait aging 21-25, some are recent graduates and the rest still got a year to go inshalah.
It started out as a film for 25th & 26th February festival my friends were organizing for AUK, and we began trying to find a sponsor in October. We did have a script with the initial production cost estimate to be a minimum of 10,000 KD (although 15,000 was more likely the case), and a shooting period of 6 weeks. The film would have been 15-17 mins long with many more important and visually appealing scenes + a MUCH richer storyline.
Long story short, we received only 2000 KD (Thanks to Mina Holding Company) eight days before the film had to be screened at AUK. This is when I threw the script out the window, brought my personal camera and most trusted friends to contribute both financially and physically for the film. Once I secured enough money to ensure that the very essential basic needs were provided, we headed out to find the locations and start filming. And for the next 8 days each person would receive only 4 hours of sleep every 2 days, with constant moving around the country in remote areas where we could film without being hassled.
We used everyone we could find, the guys who came with the horses, the electrician who came with the monstrosity of a generator that we rented etc to help out…….compensation for them was much more than what the guys were getting, which were a few snickers/kit kat bars and bottles of warm water lol.
Equipment we used were personal cameras and lenses, and lighting was a range of lights from lawazim il3ayla lol.
Locations included: Nwaiseeb, Chabd, Abdilly, Dewan AlKulaib (Keifan) and Qurain (bait ilgrain museum).
These guys were amazing, no matter how much tension there was or how many times I’d flare at them they kept their smiles on, and my hopes up. each time I said “this film is going nowhere near what I planned, it’s gonna suck, it’s crap”…they just kept saying stuff like “we know you’re gonna make it better than we can imagine”. Overall they made what was supposed to be a violently tense atmosphere into a pleasant one.
And they were exhausted from day one, any one of them could be anywhere at any time dozing off to sleep. Places included trunks of pic-ups, on the floor…absolutely anywhere.
I’d edit the film between takes and we managed to finish the film exactly 2 hours before showtime. I recorded my voiceover in the car on the way to AUK. That version of the film was screened at the AUK “Kuwait il3iz” festival (using music from movies since there was no time for an original score, and since it was just for college/non-beneficial it was well within the “fair use” laws) back in February, the audience reaction was one of the best moments of our lives and a great sense of accomplishment.
We then took our time to relax after the film, then adding some missing scenes we didn’t manage to finish or do very well in time for August 2nd. But our hearts just weren’t in it anymore, it was a grueling experience that we were still recovering from (but had a blast doing it), everyones schedules conflicted and financing was non-existent anymore.
But the most important thing for me was the musical score, we needed our own music in order to publicly show distribute the film. I hired an independent composer from Britain, Mr. Christopher Haigh, to write an original score (write music for the film) the picture and I’m truly happy with the result.
At the end, my precious 3000KD Camera and lens kit was more or less destroyed, the macbook pro we edited on committed suicide and the final version of the film was nowhere near as good as it could, or should have been had we had the right tools and time.
But all in all, all was good, we at least proved to ourselves we could do what everyone said we couldn’t, and the film was enough to get the basic message across.
Ok , insane, you know this is insane right ? Regardless of all the insanity,What other challenges that came along the way ?
Apart from what was previously stated, one of the other challenges was trying to keep the guys from playing around with the horses lol. But seriously, challenges were a plenty but we somehow managed to overcome them one by one. Listing them would take forever.
One of the biggest challenges was finding a location where the horses could dash out from an old jahra wall Door and into an empty plain desert. I needed this scene badly. We found none and so we called up a friend who owned a carpenter shop who said he could build us a wooden one (an entire wall) overnight that resembled an old Jahra fortress wall. And he did.
It was built from 7pm-4am in chabd facing the biggest empty plain we could find, we shot the scenes needed during the day and by 5 pm we started taking it down again.
In your prospective, how do you see the competition out there ?
Well I’m not competing with anyone, I’m still not sure and debating whether or not I’d want to continue in this line of work. But I guess it’s ultimately the people who see our work who would be able to give a better answer as to what makes anyone different from the other. It’s the end result that matters no matter who makes it or how.
One word, Family ?
Massive, that’s the word. My parents have been my financial and critical support who have kept their faith in me throughout all the high and low points of my experiences. My brothers and sister are my most prized critics, little do they know that I take whatever they have to say about what I do and what I show them with more importance than any other opinions I get. They’re always the first to see my work and if their reactions were good, I’d no longer be worried about anyone else’s. And they’re also a sight for sore eyes when I’d come back from days of wondering around the country.
I always ask this question, where do you see yourself 5 years from now ?
God knows, 5 years ago I was applying for flight school thinking I’d be co-pilot by now, where I am today is nowhere near anything I’d imagined.
But inshalah I’d hope to be independent, financially and professionally, and most of all stable with a steady job. I wish I could continue with doing this for a living, but the odds are against it.
Alrighty, throw a line of wisdom to p0ach readers.
Do the thing you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.