And The Crisis Just Keeps On Rolling (Unlike Our Cameras)


There’s been lots of discussion today.

Turns out the reason Chris was not in the office is because he was on Skype all morning to Ahmed who continues to be very angry. Ahmed is insisting that it is the studio who are insisting the production move to Qatar.

I feel strongly that the focus should be on making Ahmed feel better. He has invested a lot of time and his professional name in this show. He may only be 26. He may not be that experienced. But that is when it matters most. Once you are established, you can afford to mess up and move on and rely on past credits and experience to bail you out. But when you have neither, that is when it threatens to destroy your career and it is no surprise you feel angry and in jeopardy.

I recall how when I was 26 I faced a similar experience and had to sue a producer named Simon De Selva for attempted copyright theft. I won. He declared his company bankrupt and I got my script back. But it was several years before I felt like writing again. At that age, these things can matter and they can matter a lot. I wonder if the people on this show know that?

Which is why I’m sceptical the right approach is being taken on fixing this. Bob told us an hour ago that right now neither episode 12 or 17 is being filmed. The show has ground to an absolute halt. Ahmed wants to know why we are not packing.

This is crunch week. By the end of it we will be moving to Doha or not. If we are, we have massive budget problems to face because this show cannot be filmed in Doha with the budget that has been allocated for Jordan. Today, Issam told us that when the contract was negotiated between Talal and the studio, Talal had to do due diligence to be certain that the show could be done in Qatar. It was Talal’s job to factor in the very hot summers (55 degrees C) that occur there, the lack of suitable terrain, and so on. Now Talal is saying we cannot shoot there because it is too hot and Ahmed is rightly saying that Talal has no choice because he agreed to it.

But no-one in this crew will agree to that. Right now the only two people who have said they will go to Doha is Ray and myself. And, of course, ATP. But Chris is convinced that Ahmed wants ATP out, and I’m inclined to agree. Why else is Ahmed writing out a list of ATP’s contractual obligations and demanding that they be met? Amongst them is the August deadline to begin shooting something and the November 1st deadline to begin shooting specific parts of Medinah.

I think we can meet both deadlines but only if ATP sorts out their accounting and procurement procedure. If they do this, I’ll do whatever I can to help ATP. Some big changes need to happen in the next week. But ATP seems clueless (or is pretending to be).

And the studio is Qatari.

This is a country that currently has some of the most expensive engineers in the world sitting around for months doing nothing when they should be building a bridge because the Qatari’s are appear unmotivated to advance the project.

Ahmed needs a guiding hand that he can respect, trust, and know has the show’s best interests at heart (and by proxy, Ahmed). Right now, there is a not a single HoD who can do that because either they’re incompetent (ATP) or ATP won’t let them (everyone else).

My next blog could easily be called It’s “A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.”

In ‘ATP land’, it really is.

Qatar = 1 Jordan = 0


Everyone is despondent.

Simon and Chris got back from a meeting with Talal. Chris has had an email from Ahmed. Issam has spoken to Ahmed.

All the ATP bullshit has finally gotten to Ahmed and he has gone on the warpath. He is now insisting the whole shoot move to Qatar. Three months of prep for Episode 12 (mostly consisting of delays by ATP) now has to be scrapped because Episode 12 is a location shoot and Qatar has not been recced for suitable locations (and that’s assuming it even has any which is unlikely in most instances).

No-one thinks Episode 12 should be shot in Qatar other than Ahmed. Not even the English crew. Because while we are all believe that ATG is possibly pocketing a big chunk of the budget, what’s left will be worthless in Qatar.

There’s going to be a meeting at 5pm in which Talal will be updating HoDs on what is to happen next. Odds are he will be going to Doha to try and meet the investors and possibly Ahmed. But that will be awkward. Ahmed knows about Tala’s fraudulent claim that the fortress will cost USD$250,000. Talal has basically screwed himself and his own company by being so absurdly greedy.

Now he has to deal with the wrath of Ahmed, who has very little experience of how the industry works. Ahmed has a lot of responsibility given he is the front-man for the largest show ever made in the Middle East, and he’s only 26-years-old, so I don’t blame Ahmed. I’d be just as angry in his shoes and I have 28 years experience behind me.

In short, there are three groups here – the Qatari investors, the Jordanian producers, and the English creatives, and none of them trust each other, respect each other, or know how to work with each other. There are too many cooks, too many egos, and it is killing the show.

The only solution is for someone new to step in — someone motivated by integrity, honesty, and a capacity to see all sides of the fence, but most importantly someone who will take the time to listen to and understand all three cultures. But that’s not going to happen, because unfortunately there is not one single person on this show that can do that. And ATG would never allow someone new on board with such credentials.

Chances are, this show will not survive being made by three such disparate groups.

The meeting at 5pm will bring us one step closer to do or die. But it may be a week before we know the real answer. And even then, odds, are, it’ll be no answer at all.