The Circle & The Square


This morning before Abdul ambushed me, the UK crew spoke about how this show would probably never happen. The problem is that both sides are guilty. The argument goes like this;

ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.
ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.
ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.

And so on…

And so the point is that the show will never get made.

We did discuss three options however;

  1. The show is made as an ATG+ show – meaning slightly better than their usual rubbish.
  2. It never gets made.
  3. ATG spend $5-10 million on the pilot then hand the rest of the money back.

I agreed that the only logical option was option 3. At least then the investors might be so impressed they bankroll the rest of the show. The ATG get the rest of the money.

But Ahmed allegedly sees a fourth option. He apparently insists they can do it by hiring cheap labour from places like South Africa. Clearly he does not get that cheap labour is unskilled labour and filmmaking is a skilled job. Personally, I’m concerned about a Qatari talking about hiring cheap labour. Their track record for doing this is not great.

So the UK crew is right. Both sides are to blame.

But none of the above had anything to do with the alleged disappearance of the bulk of the money. That is another issue. And the fact that if this show had been placed into the hands of a real production company and shot in Jordan, it *would* have been possible for the money the show had.

For example, (and I figured this out months ago) the fortress set. Cost in UK = £35,000. Cost in Jordan = £7,000. One 1/5th the cost. If you follow that logic through to it’s natural conclusion, that means $40 million in Jordan is equivalent to $200,000 in the UK. Ten episodes of GAME OF THRONES costs £100 million. That’s £10 million each. Cost of one episode of MEDINAH as shot in Jordan equals $2 million which is equivalent to $10 million in the UK. In other words, if shot in Jordan, the cost per episode of MEDINAH was exactly the same as GAME OF THRONES. But we are not shooting in Jordan. We are shooting in Qatar. Why? Because the Qatari investors no longer trust ATG because Talal told Ahmed the fortress set was going to cost $250-500K!

So you can say that it is both sides fault, but we got here because of the kind of company ATG is and the kind of crook Talal is. If they had been a real production company, everything would be fine.

Ergo, Arab Telemedia Group has killed MEDINAH.

Predictable Ambush


Just as I was about to walk out the door to go meet Ahmed, Majid called. Abdul wanted to see me.

I said I was late and would see him when I got back. Moments later, Majid called me again. Except it was Abdul. I met him. He told me I was not allowed to go. He demanded to know why I was seeing Ahmed. Foolishly I was honest and told him I felt Ahmed should appoint me “acting Production Designer” until a new designer was attached as I felt ATG would appoint someone internally and that would be a disaster.

Abdul accused me of spending yesterday running around telling everyone my “ridiculous idea”, which is not true. When I challenged him to tell me who had said this, he could not answer. I asked him to promise me that no-one internal would be appointed. He said he was not 100% sure, so I pointed out that if he was not 100% sure then clearly he did not consider it such a ridiculous idea. He refused to answer that.

He is so transparent and yet he refuses to admit it. Does he believe his own lies? It’s hard to tell.

Bottom line — Abdul has blocked me from seeing Ahmed because Abdul doesn’t want me as acting Production Designer because right now the Art Dept is a rudderless ship and ATG want to seize control.

ATG have made suggestions for new designers to Ahmed. People like Stuart Craig (Harry Potter designer) who would not dream of doing this series in a million years. Are ATG stalling with stupid suggestions? Hard to know. But right now there is no Art Dept and ATG are no doubt glad of it.