Hi, first of all, congratulations, you are one of the winners of the Europe Film Festival U.K. What do you feel?
First of all, I feel terribly humbled and honored at the same time to receive this prestigious award “Best Director” for my movie “ROOM16”. It means a lot to me, specially that the journey of achieving this movie wasn’t easy at all. Also, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the crew and actors who gave their all during the worst pandemic days of history, they risked their lives to make this film happen.
What gave you the inspiration to write and direct this story?
The story of the film went through several stages to reach what it is right now. But it all started when I used to travel a lot because of work and going to different hotels, this made me question myself: what if one of the rooms is being controlled, or someone is spying on me. A few years later I knew the story of Gerald Foos, who is the former owner of the Manor House Motel, and who was a long time voyeur of people staying in his hotel and watching his guests without their knowledge for sexual reasons, so lots of research has been done and all this inspired me to create this story and those characters in “ROOM 16”.
What were the challenges in shooting this movie?
We knew from the beginning, that shooting this film was going to be tough, first we were filming in the worst times of corona virus, far away from Beirut the capital, in January 2021, it was the new peak in Lebanon that came after the holiday season, so I lost two main crew members in the team 2 days before the shoot because they tested positive and I had to find new qualified people instead, on the spot. This was, and still, in the worst economic days in my country, as of 2020, Lebanon is ranked as having the fourth highest inflation rate globally, and this affected the prices of clothing, transportation, renting and food… However, we were already suffering from the aftermath of the devastating August explosion in Beirut. So yes!! It was challenging on all levels, but seeing this result can make us forget all those challenges.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
The most important lesson is to believe in those expressions: “never say never” and “nothing is impossible”, they’re not only quotes, they’re the reason of continuing this project till the end; And another lesson I learned, to conquer my fears, one fear at a time, and eventually reach the finish line.
How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?
The team members are my colleagues, people I always work with, most of them are my friends, they offered their knowledge and equipment for the service of this movie. We all share the same interest and passion for making films, we love what we do and this is why everyone of them is successful in his field. I always keep in contact with them, I miss them already and I can’t wait to do another film with them. I simply love their energy and vibes around me.
Is filmmaking a good career choice?
We all know that filmmaking is a difficult profession, it takes a lot of energy physically and mentally from the person, and I believe that maintaining this job needs a lot of creativity, stress management and strong communication skills. If you don’t have the passion for it, that makes you bear with its difficulty, then you’ll be wasting your time in this field. At the end we are all here because we love Cinema!
What skills do you need to be a filmmaker?
You need to be creative, flexible and a good story teller.
Is it harder to get started or to keep going?
Both are hard, but to keep going is challenging, sometimes it’s painful, you need to keep yourself motivated, especially if you think that you need to make a better move for next time, and want to have the same success or even more, so you need to work hard for it!
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