TV adverts a step in the right direction

The Life: Ali Mansoor Al Ali, head of the Dubai-based production company Arabian Studios, explains why he is helping UAE nationals get into filmmaking.
Ali Mansoor Al Ali, head of the Arabian Studios film company. Photo courtesy Arabian Studios
Ali Mansoor Al Ali, head of the Arabian Studios film company. Photo courtesy Arabian Studios

Ali Mansoor Al Ali launched his film-production company, Arabian Studios, in Dubai seven years ago. It proved to be a false start. A couple of years later, he reopened in Paris to be closer to European clients, which include advertising agencies seeking to make TV commercials. He is now back in Dubai, with a new association to help his fellow nationals get into film-making.

What does your association involve?

I am gathering them all under my umbrella and training them to be able to enter advertising agencies and win pitches for jobs as directors. In the production companies over here, all of the editors are foreigners. With my company's background, I can actually start working with UAE nationals.

Can TV commercials be a stepping stone to movie-making?

People cannot wait for 18 months until they get paid, or until your movie is sold. You need to have an income, so TV commercials is the best way. And this is also how you get trained in how to create a beautiful picture or a beautiful ad. There are a lot of UAE nationals in the market. They may have graduated as film-makers, but they need to train themselves, and work.

What kind of budgets do your TV commercials attract?

Today, I can produce a TV commercial with US$10,000 (Dh36,732), all the way to $1 million. I produced an ad with $1.7m in Dubai. And that's about the knowhow. I've produced more than 500 TV commercials in my life. I've produced corporate videos, music videos, small documentaries.

What is the market for film-making like in the UAE?

It's a beginners' market. It's growing up.

How many people will you be training?

As many as I can. Let's say there is a UAE national who graduated as a director. I would ask him to be an assistant director for an international director. That's how we will start mixing each other with the international world, and start being able to understand and explore.

Other schemes also help young Emirati film-makers. What do you offer that they don't?

I work with my hands. People need somebody who knows what they are talking about. I worked from being a runner, all the way to being a producer. I worked in every department, so any question that is asked, I can answer.

How hard is it for a UAE national to get into the film industry?

It's not hard, but you always need guidance. I'm just building the bridge. I'm not trying to say UAE nationals don't understand how to cross the bridge. I'm just trying to say that I am an expert who will make their lives easier.

You are working on a feature film. When do you plan to release it?

It should be early next year. We shot the movie in very interesting places, like India, Egypt and Syria. And then we entered Yemen … we were in the mountains with 200 crew members. It was like a film-maker's dream.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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Published: December 22, 2011 04:00 AM

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