State Of (Non) Play


As I expected, nothing is happening.

Two weeks ago (on the Saturday) Ibrahim promised me the scaffolding would arrive the next day. It did not.

Last Sunday (he was here in Doha), he promised it would “be here today or tomorrow”. Again, on the Monday, Ibrahim promised it would “be here today or tomorrow”. And on the Tuesday, he again promised “today or tomorrow”.

By the end of the Wednesday, it had not arrived. Nor did it arrive Thursday.

The only thing that happened is that on the Wednesday, I had an email from Neil saying that Ali (from Innovation) had come over and that he had forced Majid to supply the list of scaffolding so that a supervising rigger that Ali had arranged to be at the hangar could assess if it was enough.

Apparently, Majid ran off looking very panicky to make a phone call. At that same time, I was in a meeting about the bus crash sequence. Ibrahim was there. He got a call, answered, leapt out of his seat and suddenly vanished.

Back at the hangar, Majid reluctantly handed over the list and the supervising rigger said there was plenty of scaffolding on it although some essential parts were missing.

This would be a step in the right direction if it were not for Majid’s odd behavior and Ibrahim suddenly vanishing at the same time.

That same day, Joel and Ahmed had a long chat. Joel has always stood by the Art Dept saying we cannot build sets without money (for some strange reason Ahmed has been blaming us for not building sets despite our not having any money to build them with – go figure).

Anyway, Ahmed apparently asked Joel what he thought and Joel told him he thinks that ATP are holding back funds to try to force the show back to Jordan so that they can collect their monthly fee for longer. Joel thinks if the show goes back to Jordan it will fall apart. I think Ahmed may have acknowledged this possibility. I 100% believe Joel is right.

Anyway, sets.

We had a big meeting about the Oasis last Monday. Weil was there to meet Ibrahim. Afterwards, Ibrahim took him to one side to discuss money. That was the last we heard from Weil.

On Thursday, I asked Ibrahim what happened since Ibrahim has not volunteered any information. He told me the contract was being updated as he’d persuaded Weil to recce the contract length from 90 to 75 days. How that is possible I do not yet know. You can’t make plants grow or root faster.

When I asked about the buses last Wednesday, Majid told me he was getting Scar to sign the contract “today”. But Scar refused. Apparently, the contract included various penalties he considers unreasonable. Also, it said he had to deliver in 24 days and he said he could not.

The next day, I asked Majid about it. He said it was fine and Weil had agreed to deliver in 22 days! I expressed surprise saying the Art Dept had just spoken to Weil who said 24 days was not enough. Majid looked awkward and said he was getting Scar to sign the contract “today”. Clearly, he was lying.

The Patrols. These are two cars Ray needs. For over four weeks now, Majid has been promising Ray he will buy them “tomorrow”.

The rocket launch control room needs a steel framework for the mezzanine floor and steel handrails. We gave Ibrahim a quote from our chosen supplier. He wanted to know exactly how they would build it. They refused to supply more details until they’d been paid (maybe they’ve heard about ATP?). Since I heard Ibrahim had been badmouthing us about not doing things the ATP way, I sent him two more quotes (which we had previously emailed to him on October 20th anyway). I have not head back.

Joel is right. ATP has everything it needs to release funds for all the sets and they do nothing. The only reason anything is happening down at the hangar is that one of *our* crew (not ATP) is using petty cash to buy supplies. And because the one thing ATP bought is timber.

Today, the construction boys ran out of screws. And we have run out of petty cash. So they are waiting for screws to turn up so they can continue building.

How utterly ridiculous.

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.

It’s Being Processed…


I’ve been trying to avoid saying or thinking it, but I think we’ve reached the point where I have to accept that we will never film in Qatar. If anywhere at all.

It’s been six weeks (around Sept 19th) since we first presented quotes to ATP for scaffolding so we could begin work on the caves and rocket launch control room. And after all that time we still do not have any scaffolding.

Last Wednesday morning, I called a meeting between Production and the Art Dept to ask why no-one seemed to agree on who was responsible for sorting out the scaffolding. At the time, I was being told that Azmi was saying Hamad was doing it and Hamad was saying that Azmi was doing it. Hamad said it was not his job because he is not an expert on scaffolding and that that was the Art Dept’s job. At which point, Jude informed us that scaffolding had been bought from a company we had not recommended. I asked for confirmation they would be providing what we had asked for but she could not do that. Hamad then tried to justify it being bought without the Art Dept being consulted, to which I pointed out that he had just said the Art Dept was the experts so why was he justifying Production buying scaffolding without our input?

Expressing concern that we had no way of knowing what had been ordered, I asked for the supplier’s list. After three days I still did not have it. Instead, I got the list they used to buy it — a list that had been confirmed to be out-of-date weeks earlier; a list that did not list all the individual components needed because it was based upon detailed conversations between the Construction Dept and another contractor. Put it another way, Production had fucked up once again.

Ibrahim then emailed me asking why the Art Dept was causing problems. Antony pointed out to Ibrahim that we were trying to prevent problems. Ibrahim said we should wait until the scaffolding arrives and then see if anything was missing and that, if it was, he would buy or hire replacement scaffolding immediately.

And that is what it has been like for the last seven and a half weeks.

Nothing New?


A lot has happened. Then again, it has not.

Chris quit. Smithers quit. Andrew quit. Someone new called Terry Royce started. And not long after, he quit. We moved offices. I got promoted to designer. And I haven’t been paid properly since. The Art Dept recruited a whole load more new staff, but no money has been forthcoming to build anything. Weeks have gone by. We are still no closer to shooting anything. What more can I say?

A lot actually.

For one thing, I just wrote an email to Jude, Antony and Ibrahim refusing to communicate with the production until my wages are paid up. But more on that, and everything else, tomorrow.

Chris Quits – Part 2


Today wasn’t off to the brightest start. Chris had told ATP he was quitting and heading back to London on Friday (tomorrow). Dominic Smithers had booked his flight for this evening. Terry was determined to go and he told Ray to start phoning around for new jobs.

I’d also heard that ATP were combing through Chris’s contract trying to find loopholes to force him to stay. I was a bit baffled by that as it was my understanding Chris never signed (see earlier blog entry on this). I guess I’ll find more out about this later.

But shortly after breakfast, Terry gave me an update. Andrew McEwan and Simon had told Ray and Terry that Talal had called Chris and was of the impression that Chris would be back in two weeks. This, despite Chris having sent him an email last night saying he had quit.

Then Chris went to tell Ahmed the news. Ahmed didn’t yet know any of this. An hour later Andrew saw him out on the street shouting into his phone. Then not long after this I bumped into Simon and Dominic in the hallway. Simon asked me my plans. I said I was staying for now to see what happens. I asked him his plans. He said he was “terrified” after what he’d just heard was happening to Chris.

He then wandered off and Dominic told me that Simon had just told him to be ready to go to the airport at a moment’s notice. That seemed very dramatic, I thought, and I asked why. Dom said that ATP (and he thinks Ahmed) had just come down on Chris like a ton of bricks. I asked how that was possible. Dom added that he did not know but that Simon had told him that ATP might demand to have our passports to stop us leaving.

He then told me that Ahmed had been stunned by Chris’s statement. Apparently, he had not seen it coming. We both marvelled at how naive Ahmed can be. I want to say this in Ahmed’s defence. He is 26 and out of his depth. He needs good people around him on this job, looking after his interests, but all he has is ATP.

As Dom told me this, Issam came wandering up – all casual – and said to Smithers, “Here is what I can do for you. I can offer you work back in Jordan on Malik.” At that point, I wandered off. We all know what a farce Malik is. And this for a company that has no morality at all. How could Dom possibly say, “Yes”?

Clearly, it is really going to kick off big time over the next few days. We are supposed to be paid on Sunday. That may be in jeopardy as ATP attempt to force control over us with whatever they have.

On an unrelated footnote, I heard yesterday that a few years ago when this was all starting up, the Qatari investors paid ATP US$3 million to do a feasibility study into shooting “Medinah” in Qatar. Such a study would normally cost about $80,000. So where did the rest of the money go?

Oh, one last thing; I have heard several times now that ATP thought they did not have to provide audited accounts because it was private money. But it is not private money; it is the Qatari governments money and, as a consequence of ATP’s failure to deliver, they have been ordered to provide audited accounts. The problem ATP has is that they have received over $10 million and there is no way they have spent more than $3 million on the show. At a meeting earlier this week which I shall talk about tomorrow, Ahmed was finally compelled to say to Abdul, “Where is all the money?” What happened I’ll explain tomorrow.