A Black Gold Diary – 3

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 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 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 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!



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