Two Pictures a Day in Amman

Semaine 7

by Gilles Porte AFC newsletter n°245

[English] [français]

Gilles Porte, AFC, et Samuel Lahu, son assistant opérateur, sont actuellement en tournage en Jordanie. Ils se sont accordés pour nous envoyer chaque jour deux extraits du journal en images qu’ils tiennent quotidiennement sur le film 3000 Nights, réalisé par Mai Masri. Découvrez les images relatives à leur septième semaine à Amman.
4 a.m., Amman Airport...
Syrine is going home, marked by her whirlwind visit... I took this photo in black and white in order to give this moment a timeless quality, even though I am perfectly aware that “you can’t make up for lost time”… I had someone fill in for me on a shooting in the south of France for 3 days so I could be there when she was born “thanks” to a caesarean section… She learned to walk at my brother’s house while I was filming my first feature-length movie… The taxi brings me back to my Jordanian apartment at 5:50 a.m.w… At 6:01, Ali comes to pick me up to begin my 14th hour of the 20th day of shooting of 3000 Nights… In the car, a heavy silence: the radio is announcing in Arabic the latest atrocities that have taken place in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… iPhone (Gilles, July Wednesday 9)

Clapper board in the visiting room
Finally we’re out of the cells: visiting room scene, the set still echoes with the hundreds of conversations that have taken place here. It is a strange feeling. Ahmad admits that he hates being responsible for the clapperboard, Maïssa is pregnant again. (Samuel, July Wednesday 9)

Shooting with Zyad
In Jordan, there are no special rules for when we film with children… In France, a 2 year old child (like Zyad) is only allowed to participate in 1 hour of shooting per day… iPhone (Gilles, July Thursday 10)

Alia, high-tech script supervisor
Alia, our high-tech script supervisor girl, regularly pulls out her hair in frustration: 3000 Nights means 7 years in the same set, which brings about a number of coherency problems. (Samuel, July Thursday 10)

1 converse box, 2 matches, and a crêpe...
76. Int. Palestinian Cell - Prison – Day
Suddenly, Rihan comes into the room carrying a homemade cake with a little candle and places it in front of Nour.
- Rihan (smiling): Happy Birthday, little prince…
The women from the other cells gather around to sing the birthday song, and help Nour blow out the candle.
- Im Ali: Hope he lives to be wise and a hundred!

Hussein B. (the production designer) shows me the cake he has just whipped up using a can of preserves, a crêpe, and two matches… He has just lost Rami today, his on-location prop manager, who decided to leave the project for personal reasons…
Today, Friday, 11 July, is also the day the French Human Rights League (of which I am a member) sent an open letter to our dear President whose attitude towards the occupied territories shocks us every day on set… (Gilles, July Friday 11)

Zarqa - Follow Focus vs. Rag-Doll Horse
Scene of little Nour’s 2nd birthday. The child refuses to play along. He receives a rag-doll horse in this scene, but my follow focus is much more interesting to him. It’s true that it really does look like a vintage robot. (Samuel, July Friday 11)

Day off...
Desert of Wadi Rum... 6:30 a.m. One of the rare instances where I like using backlighting! (Gilles, July Saturday 12)

Amman under the moon
Day off in the eye of the storm. Just a few hundred kilometres away, Gaza is being bombed – 108 dead this week – there were two attacks in Beirut; Syria is at war against itself; Iraq continues to implode. And yet we all have the same Moon over our heads tonight. (Samuel, July Saturday 12)

Lunch Break for 4 sparks / 6... (Gilles, July Sunday 13)

Amman-Zarqa - Raya, the production assistant
Raya is the production assistant: from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., she solves everyone’s problems. Given that the location manager is no longer there, that we are working 12-hour days, 6 days a week, that it is 45°C outside, and that the schedule is constantly changing, it is a tough job. And Raya is observing Ramadan: she doesn’t eat or drink anything during the day! Think about that on your way to work tomorrow… (Samuel, July Sunday 13)

"Badaouiiiiiii !..."
That was his nickname during shooting, but as of today, everyone is calling him “doctor”, even hough he’s just one of the members of my lighting crew (cf picture third week, June 16)…
Flashback: Palestinian and Israeli prisoners throw spaghetti on each other and begin to fight, whilst I have the camera on my shoulder and Samuel and I are underneath a rain of tomato sauce… An extra slips on the round and breaks her head open on the concrete… She loses consciousness and begins having acute seizures… A huge fright for everyone! She suffocates and swallows her tongue… Badaoui grabs hold of a little spoon (we were shooting in the prisoners’ refectory) in order to force her to open her mouth and free her tongue…
The next day, another extra collapses in the female prisoners’ yard… Cries of “Badaouiiiii!” are heard from those present and the young woman recovered from her vasovagal attack much more quickly than the other one — who spent 2 days and 2 nights in hospital — without Badaoui having to use a spoon! (Gilles, July Monday 14)

Zarqa - Just before the rain
In a few minutes, it’s going to rain in the prison yard. (Samuel, July Monday 14)

End board for Ze’eva...
In filmmaking, when an actor (lead or supporting) finishes the last shot of his last scene, the assistant director brings together the entire team to applaud him or her on set… And when the actress (such as Khitam Idliby, here, who was playing Ze’eva) is particularly gifted and generous, the emotion is immense because no one knows when, or if, they will meet her again. (Gilles, July Tuesday 15)

Zarqa - Pinned to the ground
I’m experimenting with a technique that is much more effective than marks on the floor to indicate actors’ placement (the pillow is standing in as a body double for the child). Shooting is taking on a farcical aspect. (Samuel, July Tuesday 15)

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