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…?

Another Stage Deal Messed Up. Why?

So we’ve been told that the stage where we are supposed to build our sets has fallen through for the second time and Talal is saying local labour is too expensive and maybe we can use work-experience crew — on a series that Ibrahim has told us has a $37.5 million budget…

There’s only one of three ways to look at this, 1) They’re either clueless and too proud to admit it so they’re just bluffing their way through; 2) They are robbing the investors blind; 3) Both.

Why they’d be so stupid to do ‘2’ I don’t know. After all, they could have made five seasons and put 20% in their pockets because that’s allegedly their cut.

When you consider than this company has existed for around thirty years making endless cheap dramas it seems unlikely that they’re so stupid they could not make something. So the “crooked” option seems increasingly likely.

Which is why Ahmed and the Qatari investors need to look at ATG’s accounts for the show. I suspect that close examination might raise questions; like why it says that there is something like six producers and a production manager on the show when we barely ever see the producers and we never see the production manager (perhaps because they’re all working on other shows?).

Bob told me tonight that if he were a betting man he would put his money on 4 to 5 weeks before we all leave. I told him I think ATG is trying to force us to leave; that this is why they keep paying us late. They can’t fire us because only Ahmed can do that. They need us to walk off the project so they can blame it’s collapse on us or insist that it is better to use their own crew. My curiosity compels me to stick around and find out the truth.