Email To Ibrahim re UK CM

I sent the following email to Ibrahim this morning:-

Email To Ibrahim

I have no problem with how ATG makes shoots if what we are making is a low-budget Bedouin drama. But we are not. This is supposed to be Jordan’s and Qatar’s – in fact, the Middle East’s – biggest ever production and yet Talal insists on working as he has always done. Clearly he does not want to build any sets and this is why they do not want a UK CM. Clearly he does not want a studio/stage/workshop space to build sets in because they have never needed one before. But the budget on this show is substantially higher than anything they have done before, so what;s the problem? Why does he refuse to aspire to deliver what he is contractually obliged to deliver?

Anwar expressed concern that they do not have the money to make this show. I like Anwar – I think he’s a good man – but I do have a problem with that statement. ATP has $37.5 million to spend on 20 episodes. That’s $1.875 million per episode. “Game Of Thrones” costs $1o million per episode. Essentially five times more. But Fozan told me that our main set for episode 12, the Fortress – which would cost about $50,000 if built in the UK – could be built in Jordan for under $8,000. That’s less than 1/6th the cost of doing it in the UK! So if you assume that ATP has only 1/5 the budget but they can do things for 1/6 the cost that means that $1.875 million is equivalent to $12 million in the UK. That’s more than “Game Of Thrones”!!!

(Obviously some things won’t translate quite so easily – example: cameras costs the same amount wherever you buy them but it’s not like we need a hundred cameras – but I have been a production manager too and I know how these things work. In short, Anwar’s claim that they cannot afford to do it is wrong. The question is, why does Anwar and ATP believe this?)

The point I’m making is that I’m sceptical at this point they will allow us to have a UK CM because they will insist we do not need one. Why? Because – be it arrogance, ignorance or something else – Talal refuses to listen to his far-more-experienced-at-this-scale-of-show UK advisors. But the real question is, why won’t he listen? What is he hiding?

What is he really up to…?

Taybet Zaman

Taybet Zaman & Misappropriation Of Crew

Fozan and I recced Taybet Zaman today for the Fortress set build and we both agreed – it is far from ideal.

The fortress should be impressive. The Taybet Zaman courtyard is small. Ideally it should be built on a backlot, but ATG has already failed to get a backlot twice and while they claim to be looking at a third one they have not even invited us to see it this time!

It became abundantly clear that Fozan is working on “Malik” today. When I asked Sari about it he sheepishly said, “He is helping out.” But Fozan journeyed to Taybet Zaman in the new “Malik” director’s car today, spent very nearly all of the day with them, and journeyed back with him. I barely saw or spoke to him. This despite Ibrahim promising me that Fozan was now 100% committed to “Medinah”. Clearly, Ibrahim lied.

Meantime, Anwar and Majid journeyed to London today for a week to do some filming on another show – again despite the fact they know – and we know – that their contract with “Medinah’s” investors requires that they commit 100% to “Medinah”.

And while they’re in London not working on “Medinah”, and Fozan is working on at least one other ATG production, Talal has gone to Doha to tell the investors to cough up further payments so ATG can spend more money ‘on’ a show some of its alleged crew aren’t even working on.

Email To Chris Richmond

On way to recce today. I just sent this email to the designer, Chris Richmond. From what I have been told, ATG’s contract with the financiers clearly states “Medinah” crew cannot work on other shows. Hasn’t stopped them though. They do it all the time.

Email as follows:-

Off to do recce today. No scaffolder organised by Fozan despite his saying he would. No plasterer because fibre glass company insistent it is not necessary. So going to let them try it their way this week from high-res photos then tell them it’s not good enough. 

Fozan is working on “Malik” despite Ibrahim promising he would not be. Sari admitted it. It’s also obvious because Fozan is going down to Taybet Zaman in a second minibus with “Malik’s” new director. 

Fozan has enough to get on with while I’m away. Fibre glass moulds should be ready by the time I am back.

Talal and Ibrahim are going to Doha because financiers are allegedly too slow paying up.

Anwar, Majid, etc., are going to London to shoot another show. 

So it would seem that all these people who are meant to only work on “Medinah” according to the terms of ATG’s agreement with the financiers are all busy working on other projects this week.

Shoot date now postponed till July 25th. I assume they mean this year.


Busy Doing Nothing…

Today a recce got cancelled because we didn’t have a scaffolder and plasterer to go with us. To be fair, it’s another company that’s saying it can’t send the plasterer. But if ATG gave me a car and consent to pay them to do it I could organise it. But they don’t give me these things and I’m powerless to get anything done.

Bob is 100% convinced we will never shoot anything. I’m starting to believe he is right.

Meantime Talal and Ibrahim fly to Doha in the next few days because they claim the financiers are taking too long to pay up. I wonder why?

And Anwar is going to London to shoot scenes for a different project despite the fact he is supposed to be working on Medinah.

Meantime, I have not seen Fozan all weekend. What has he been up to?

I should also add that a local person I found who is really good and whom I wanted to hire – Nasser – knows the people I need to build the sets but he won’t tell me who they are because ATP is too cheap to pay him a proper wage. Ironically, I don’t blame him. Within a few weeks of arriving in Jordan, I had already found out that ATG is universally despised as a company that pays badly, demands more than it deserves, and treats locals like dirt.

Audio Recording (of “Meeting Given Go-Ahead. But No Go-Ahead For The $7,000 Set!”)

In case you wanted to hear it yourself, here’s the audio recording of meeting in which Talal dismissed Simon – the director – by calling him a “used car salesman”, accuses the international crew of constantly interrupting him (while constantly interrupting them), storms out the room in a huff, and expresses significant concerns about Ahmed.

In Talal’s defence, I will say that I agree with him that “Medinah” should have stayed in Jordan. Costs are 1/6th that of the UK and Qatar. But that doesn’t mean it would have ever been completed in Jordan. The funds were being bled dry without any visible reason why (even if it is obvious why). The fact is, they were (are) just being bled dry quicker in Qatar.

“Medinah” needed to stay in Jordan. But it also needed a Production company that knew what it was doing and didn’t have other agendas. *I* could have produced “Medinah” n Jordan. I could have delivered the show Ahmed and the investors wanted for the money ATP had been given. It would have been hard work. It would have required meticulous planning. But it would have been done. And I say that after having spent enough time there to rule out cultural differences as potential hurdles.

So why couldn’t ATP?