Days We Have Been Ready To Build & ATG’s Lies

The situation so far…

Days We Have Been Ready To Build...

So 52 days ready to build and no money to pay for anything. Nada. Zilch.

Specifics are as follows;

Build caves – told Production 7 weeks and 3 days ago we were ready to build. Submitted quote for scaffolding. Scaffolding is needed to build the platforms the caves will sit on. Until we have scaffolding, we cannot begin building the caves. After 52 days, still no scaffolding.

Build rocket launch control room – told Production 7 weeks and 3 days ago we were ready to build. Submitted quote for scaffolding (the same quote as the caves as it was all part of one quote). Until we have scaffolding, we cannot build the ‘RLCR’ because it is needed to build the roof which needs to go in first. After 52 weeks, still no scaffolding. By the way — here’s the design for the RCLR.

Rocket Launch Control Room - 1st Floor (Emergency Mode) - 02 Nov 2015

Rocket Launch Control Room – 1st Floor (Emergency Mode) – 02 Nov 2015

Rocket Launch Control Room - Grd Floor (Emergency Mode) - 02 Nov 2015

Rocket Launch Control Room – Grd Floor (Emergency Mode) – 02 Nov 2015

Buses – we need five buses modified to look new and to be suitable for crashing. We had a contractor lined up to do the work. We were told it would take them about six weeks ago. We submitted their quote to Production five weeks ago. They promised to action it immediately. They didn’t. We still have no buses.

Buy Patrol Wagon vehicles – we need two. Production told us they will be bought tomorrow. That was four weeks ago. That’s a lot of tomorrows.

Oasis – Maysaa did a ton of work to get the quote and scope of works ready in time (totally professional as she is a full-qualified architect). Ahmed promised it would be approved by the end of the week. That was three weeks ago. It still has not been approved.

Range Rovers – this is priceless. Literally. Ahmed wants two Range Rovers so he can crash one of them. Total cost just under $250K. This despite the fact the pilot episode Art Dept budget should really be $500K. He said we would get them through Product Placement. That was five weeks ago. Fadi – head of PP – has been emailed by Ray around 10 times about this over the last four weeks. Total number of replies. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Since arriving in Qatar, ATP has been emphasizing how we are all a team. And yet I have heard from numerous sources that despite the fact ATP has provided us with zero funds to build anything, they have been quietly blaming the Art Dept for not building anything. Even Ahmed has been extremely abusive about the Art Dept.

The only money we have had access to is petty cash which has had to come out of Majid’s own bank account. That’s right. ATP has no legal or financial presence in Qatar — even now — so it depends upon passing petty cash through an employee to pay for trinkets!!! (Is this further proof they are embezzling funds???)

This all seems to reinforce the rumour that ATP has no intention of shooting in Qatar. That it is doing whatever it can to force the shoot back to Jordan. And that it will blame anyone it can (easiest target — Art Dept) to achieve this goal.

What it does not explain is Ahmed. Why is he also blaming the Art Dept? Is he stupid? Is he in on whatever ATP is up to? Has he an alternate plan? Whatever it is, alienating the Art Dept is achieving nothing.

I had a chat with (local unnamed crew member) yesterday. He was appalled about what is going on. He reminded me of a site meeting a few weeks ago about the buses where Ibrahim promised to take responsibility for the buses after our contractor pulled out due to their having been messed about too much by ATP. He made the promise in front of Azmi, Ray, Rita, Hamad, myself, and several other people. When I wrote an email of the minutes of this site meeting, he denied saying it. Everyone was appalled by his bald-faced lie but (local unnamed crew member) was livid. He said that is when it sank in what a complete liar Ibrahim is.

Jordan or Qatar

Do The Right Thing!

Yesterday’s meeting lasted over two-and-a-half hours.

It revolved around two things;

  1. Ahmed’s decision to move to Qatar.
  2. Where we shoot episode 12 and why.

Ahmed has apparently insisted the whole production be moved to Qatar with the intention of filming episode 12 in October. He does not seem to understand that this is not possible.
What he is forgetting is that we have no locations there, we have not recced them (and since Qatar’s oldest building dates back only 65 years it is doubtful we will find a suitable courtyard for episode 12), that we have no crew ready there, that if we move Simon and Chris may quit because they will have had enough, that we will could lose our DoP, that because it is so much more expensive there our budget will effectively be slashed by about 80%, the list goes on. But I do understand that Ahmed is desperate, and I fully understand why.

At the meeting, Talal asked everyone (international and ATP crew) – one at a time – what everyone thought and everyone agreed: Episode 12 *has* to be shot in Jordan. He then asked what people would do if the shoot was moved to Qatar. Everyone said they’d quit with the exception of Ray and myself. Ray said he wanted to stay. I said I was undecided but would back up the quitting story if Ahmed asked me directly because we need to appear unanimous on this point.

I was told by people who have had more meetings with Talal, that this was the first time one of Talal’s meetings was a discussion and not a lecture. I can believe that; after his $250K fortress screw-up, he needs us on his side.

Talal told us he will be going to meet the studio (investors) on Wednesday. He suggested that Simon and Chris and Anthony also fly out and try to meet the studio (obviously a ploy to make it look like we are on Talal’s side). Talal’s ulterior motive aside, my personal feeling is that this is inappropriate.

Going to the studio instead of going to Ahmed will look like they are trying to go over Ahmed’s head when they should go to him first. Yes, Episode 12 needs to be shot here, but instead of focusing on that — and I feel, perhaps wrongly, that that is what everyone is doing — they should focus on making Ahmed feel better because there are genuine reasons for him to be upset.

Ahmed is young but he’s no fool. He will know he has over-reacted (though he was right to react). The international crew needs to let Ahmed off the hook. They need to say that they’re impressed he did not lose his temper before now. They need to talk to him like one human to another and say, “Yes, there are problems, but they can’t be solved overnight. So how about if we continue to shoot episode 12 in Jordan while setting up episode 1 in Qatar? That way the investors will see movement”.

I shared my thoughts with Andrew. He felt I had a good point. I also said that by focusing on just getting Episode 12 shot back here, and aiming for six weeks to start shooting, we were just setting ourselves up for failure again if ATP did not deal with their cashflow and their procurement problems. If this is not done, six weeks from now we would be exactly where we are now. But now we – the English crew – would also look like fools for having suggested it could be done in the first place when; that given events of the last three months we should know better.

Chris has vanished. He is not answering is phone or Skype. Simon has been asking where he is, either to draw more attention to his absence or because he is genuinely worried.
Everything is on hold today. Nothing is moving forward. All we can do is wait and see.