If I Should Speak reaches Saudi Arabia

While working behind the scenes of If I Should Speak, I took a break and started to browse the web. As I was surfing different websites, I figured I can do some more research on the IISS book itself (yes, my breaks from work occasionally consists of more work) and I found an interview I did last summer with Arab News, about the making of the movie! Allow me to explain the exclamation mark at the end of that last sentence. Not only is Saudi Arabia’s first English news paper, since 1975, so it’s an honor to be interviewed by them but they’re also located 10,000 Km away from Canada/USA East Coast. So, as a first-time producer, when my first independent film grows legs and travels that far, while still in the development stage, it’s a double honor. I’ll let you read the article, and please, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

http://www.arabnews.com/islam-perspective/islam-reach-america-picture

PS For your convenience, I also attached the screenshots of the article below 😉

PS 2 About the working on my break thing, I’m not a workaholic, I swear. I’m just.. very passionate 🙂

AT

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If I Should Speak – It’s a WRAP on The First Scene (shot on RED Epic)

This past weekend, June 8-9-10, myself and director Adnan shot the first scene of Umm Zakiyyah’s novel “If I Should Speak”. I am extremely honoured and proud to have worked with him. Initially I was brought on board as a Casting Director, but then I ended up more involved behind the scenes and earned myself the Producer credit. Considering we’re in the independent scene of filmmaking, that’s just a credit. Ultimately, we’re all a team collaborating on a project. Credits are just credits (at this level anyway).

Although it was a small production, the end result can EASILY be compared with Hollywood productions. Shot on the Red Epic in 5k resolution on 2x anamorphic lenses, the footage looks well lit by our DP Hamid, who was sincerely amazing to work with. Thanks for all your patience bro! As for the shots themselves, director Adnan made sure the shots are very cinematic, despite the time constrain. We also had a fantastic focus puller, Thanalee Pelle, who’s not just a talented camera assistant, but also great to work with. We worked with a dolly, jib and other equipment that I don’t know the names of and manage to get some AMAZING shots with only 14 hours a day. Not to mention our talented cast: Alysa King, Jaicyea Smith and Sydney Kondruss who were all pure talent. We also had a cameo appearance by our make-up artist Rose, who gave an Oscar performance delivering the one-liner: “I better going” lollll (funniest thing ever, I hope that makes it in the final cut lol)

However, considering we shot in someone’s apartment, there is the obvious time restriction. But, I did have some challenges on set. One actress in particular cancelled on me last minute because she had too much going on and it wasn’t worth her time to come on set for only one line. What the… ??!! What professional actor does that?? Thanks to Rose, who replaced her last minute. Then there was bumps schedule. Unfortunately for me, I was in the middle. I had to make sure that the girls can leave at the desired time without overworking them and that Adnan gets all his shots, which took a while to set up. We got most of the shots. Had we had no time restrictions, we could have gotten all the shots. Regardless, I am very proud and happy of the outcome. Everyone was very understanding and the footage is beyond “good demo reel”.

But I think there’s something to keep in mind in regards to schedules. We all have personal lives outside the film biz, but it’s important to understand the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be in this field, never mind succeeding in it. If superstar Rihana shoots for 17 hours a day on a Hollywood set, I think an actor in the independent industry should be willing and able to stay 18, if not 19 or 20 hours on set. We’re all humans, and I do not want to promote overworking actors (I’m an actor myself) but I do want to point out out that it helps the production by a lot to be understanding and to expect to be behind the schedule. Per example, when I shot Searching For Angels, and I wish all of you a better experience in the future lol, the average shooting day went for 20 hours a day (for the main cast and crew). That film was made on blood, sweat and tears and it looks like a million dollar picture. Because everyone put their heart and soul into it. It takes the entire team to be dedicated for that to happen. Luckily for me, I had a very dedicated crew and an understanding and talented cast, which put their heart into it. Consequently, the footage looks incredible. (Don’t worry folks, once Spielberg gives me the OK, we’ll on a better set).

I can say I tried my best to please everyone. From schedule to food and comfort, it was a very smooth shoot. Catering was better than what I got on my last 3-4 shoots lol. Comfort wise, the actors had their own room with AC (thanks Hamid) and everyone was a pleasure to work with (aka no beef). Now let’s hope the investors like it so that we can make the full feature 🙂
Check pictures below from behind-the-scenes, with the cast and crew in action, as well as some screen-shots.

Let me know what you think of the shoot? What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to post any questions, I’d be happy to answer.

Special thanks goes to Sydney, Rose, Hamid!

If I Should Speak- Part 3 – Day before the shoot

We’re less than 24 hours away from shooting and it’s looking very promising. Despite the last minute equipment that needs to be rented and picked up, despite the set dressing that needs to be finished and the catering that needs to be prepared, we’ve come close to rolling and action!

We had some bumps along the way; we did. Our first shoot got cancelled. Then we didn’t have a location. Then we found a location but the make up artist was hard to confirm. Thank God the main the actor’s aren’t divas 🙂 Speaking of my main actors, both Jaicyea and Alysa have been extremely patient and understanding and it’s greatly appreciated. Thank you ladies.
Oh, and the post office almost lost our 15,000.00$ lenses just a week before the shoot. Adnan was gonna go to California to launch an investigation, but thankfully they found the package (shipped to the wrong address :S ). That scared the shit out of both of us. We almost, almost had to cancel the shoot again!

That’s it for now, I’m off to the rental house. I’ll post more updates from the actual shoot, starting tomorrow. And yes, I’ll post pictures too. Later folks!

Alberto Tihan

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If I Should Speak: Part 2 – Producer’s Notes

By now, I should be sipping on Piña Colodas (or just drink beer) and wait for If I Should Speak to come out of the editing room. Instead I’m going through schedule and location changes and whatnot. We were days away from shooting, passed the rehearsals and the shot-lists checks; the equipment was rented and we were ready to go. I finished work at 11:30pm and was on my way to the set, to meet Adnan. We were gonna spend the entire night if needed, to dress the set. Minutes before getting started (thank God we didn’t start unloading the car lol) Adnan received a call in regards to a family emergency. Thankfully, everyone was fine, but unfortunately, it required his full and complete attention, so we had to cancel the weekend shoot. We had to press the breaks on moths of preparations.

Well, nothin like going back to square one. This gave us an opportunity to sit down and go trough the budget and locations, and shake things up a little. Instead of a 2-days shoot, director Adnan decided he can pull it off in a 3-days shoot, with a smaller crew. This also meant we needed a new location. With summer just around the corner, the clock started ticking. We were either going to built our own set in a studio, or scout for a more convenient location and save $$$. Along comes Hamid to the rescue, who was our gaffer, then dolly gripper and now he will be assisting Adnan with some DP tasks. He offered us his apartment to shoot in; golden! This is the same apartment Searching For Angels was shot in 😉 #Cool I know 🙂

This passed weekend we had a production meeting at Hamid’s apartment, just to make sure the shots Adnan wanted were possible, and everything went smooth. Once I confirm the main actor’s availabilities, we’ll be shooting in no time. Hint: we might be shooting mid-June 😉

In the meantime, here’s some pictures from the previous rehearsals I took on my awesome iPhone 4 😛 Enjoy!

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If I Should Speak: Part 1 – Casting Director’s notes

When Adnan approached me to help him get actors for a project he was working working on, I immediately accepted. I worked with him on numerous projects (Doctor Director, Eddie) and I’m also the type of guy who doesn’t often say “no”. So before he went on describing the gig, I said “yea, sure”. I’m in the bizz, I know a few actors, so why not? The project is a proof-of-concept based on the Umm Zakiyyah novel If I Should Speak. The author herself asked Adnan to make a film out if it, but the investors requested some footage, or a trailer; to see what the film can look like before they give us the green light (and the green cash $$$).

So Adnan came up with a 7-8 pages script based on the 1st chapter and said let’s shoot it. The scene requires 2 main girls: Jennifer, a blonde caucasian in her 20’s and Tamika, an African-American, same age range; both with an athletic physique, as well as 2 smaller roles. Now there’s only so many girls who fit this description I know (personally) so that meant I got promoted from Santa’s little helper to a Casting Director 😀 Casting was fun, but a stressful pain in the butt. The cool thing about it was that I immediately called all my actor friends from Humber who (somewhat) fit the part and told them “I got a role for you, girl!” However, going through 150 emails, head-shots and resumes and boil them down to 20-30 was indeed hectic (the only pro: lots of pretty faces, I’ll tell you that much). What I really found weird was that not many people are interested in reading at auditions. Considering the state of our independent filmmaking scene and the amount of not-so-much-work going around, I am a hungry actor that’s willing to do whatever on a project, just for the sake of working in my field/industry. I think it’s a good way for an actor to get his foot in the door by helping directors/casting directors and read at auditions. Thank God for Laura (who directed me in my first short film back in my Humber days) and for Shanna, an actress I was referred to. Thank you both ladies! Above are some pictures of me, Adnan and Shanna holding auditions.

We’ve seen about 30-40
girls in total and went with Alysa King for Jennifer and Jaicyea Smith for Tamika. When we first met Jaicyea, we didn’t know what to expect, but when she started her scene, she was unbelievably perfect! She was a natural. As for Alysa, she was easy to work with, she took directions very well and their chemistry was great at callbaks. Enjoy the pictures!

Now let me flip it to you. How do you like holding auditions? Why was your first casting gig?

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