On Friday 13th, January 2017, a meeting took place at the Hilton Hotel in Qatar between representatives of Arab Telemedia and Medinah Company. In attendance were Ibrahim Abu-Nimeh, Ahmed Al Baker, and various other parties.
One man sat to Ahmed’s left wearing an earpiece, looking like he was taking directions from someone higher up.
Issues discussed included:-
- The show’s production design, and the absence of any storyboards.
- Changes in directors.
- Avid and the transcoding of material and subsequent loss of material from the unfinished shoot of episode 1.
- Budget and responsibility.
- Production Designers and Directors of Photography.
- Expectations and services rendered / paid for.
- Suspensions of contract being unacceptable.
- Accusations about Chris’s designs and the alleged impact on costs.
- SFX being too demanding.
- Contract variations and timelines.
Here are a few facts:-
PRODUCTION DESIGN COSTS
As evidenced in previous blog entries, if the show had been done in Jordan, Production Design costs would have been nominal. Unfortunately, Talal decided to lie to Ahmed and tell him that a set that would cost $8,000 approx to build would cost $250,000 and as a result, the shoot was moved to Qatar resulting in a 600% increase in costs but not budget. Who was to blame? Both sides. Talal for trying to rip off the Qatari investors, and the Qatari’s for failing to understand that you cannot demand the same results if you then relocate the shoot to a place that costs 600% more. That said, in Ahmed’s defence, ATG had agreed to do the show for $50 million regardless of where it was shot.
But in short, the art department costs were never an issue. The issue was Talal’s attempts to inflate costs by over 3500%, Qatar’s insistence they move to Production to Qatar and expect the same results with a 600% budget increase (both party’s fault because it was ever realistic with ATG running the show), art department crew being forced to hang around for weeks with nothing to do because ATG refused to give them money (see below screenshot from our Twitter banner), or the the resources they need to start work (and let’s not forget the $50,000 workbench blog entry!). The list goes on on…
It’s easy. I know. I’ve done it. So how do you lose rushes? You don’t. Especially on a $50 million show. Conclusion? This is very likely a lie. The rushes are not damaged or lost. They are simply being withheld as a form or blackmail.
BUDGET & RESPONSIBILITY
Once again, both parties are at fault. Neither had a clue what they were doing when it came to the budget and they still don’t. Of course, Arab Telemedia doesn’t need to know if they’re just embezzling the money. But Medinah Company needs to know. The investors need to know. How else are they to prove what is so blindingly obvious to the entire international crew?
PRODUCTION DESIGNERS & DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
There have been a lot. And blaming delays on this and other Art Dept and Camera/Lighting Dept issues is just another way of stalling. Endless changes are irrelevant when Arab Telemedia refused to cooperate with both departments.
EXPECTATIONS & SERVICES RENDERED
I’ve written enough about this already. The fact that, after two years, Arab Telemedia are still arguing with Medinah Company over this is so laughable it has become sad.
SUSPENSION OF CONTRACT
Ibrahim referred to Arab Telemedia’s contract being suspended and that this was unacceptable. Again, laughable, considering they only managed to deliver half an episode (and ‘lost’ some of that) yet managed to spend something like $35 million.
SFX BEING TOO DEMANDING
Hmmm. It’s a producer’s job to control the crew. so it’s the producer’s fault if they don’t bring SFX in line. But again, ATG only shot half an episode and they have made around $35 million disappear! So exactly how demanding was SFX!?!
I could go on, but you get the idea. The meeting was essentially a blame game. Not hostile but certainly argumentative. But most of all, comical. That the above issues are still being discussed after more than two years of pre-production, with only half an episode shot, footage ‘lost’, about $35 million gone, and the only people taking things seriously are the people responsible? To everyone else, this show is a joke and a bad one run by thieves and people who, it increasingly seems, haven’t the faintest clue of what they are doing.
US producers have been brought in. They talk about a clean slate. But they don’t appear to have any real authority. If they did, why weren’t they at this meeting?
Isn’t it time someone who actually knew what they were doing with the authority to make things happen, was brought in to run this show?
That this has all happened and continues to happen, with money supplied by Sheikh Jasim, is an insult to his family’s name.
Oh, one last thing – there was a lot of talk about money but no mention at all regarding the money still owed to the crew. I think that about sums up how the people in this meeting feel about their crew, past and current…