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What happens when two executives share a lift ride? ‘The Long Way Down’ looks at how, despite our cultural differences, we are all after the same things. The short film, funded and produced by twofour54’s creative lab, was the brainchild of Egyptian filmmaker Yasser Howaidy and writer Craig Hawes and is set entirely in an elevator.
Howaidy’s film was taken on by twofour54 and Eye Squad but behind the scenes there were quite a few challenges for such a complex idea with a lot of characters. The elevator, central to the plot, needed to be made from scratch as the key focus during the fim. “I wanted to show the feeling of being squeezed into a small space,” Howaidy says. “I didn’t want to lose that feeling during the filming so all the walls in the elevator had to move so the camera crew could shoot different from different angles.”
But it wasn’t Howaidy’s only obstacle. Actors can also prove tricky, especially when the short required 19 speaking parts. “The casting was a difficult experience due to the lack of professional actors in the UAE, so I decided to choose some of them from the street. I picked Ronald Ooko, who played the waiter, from the valet parking of a hotel where he works.”
Film directors don’t work alone, and Howaidy had plenty of assistance, both commercially and personally with twofour54
“twofour 54 helped in fulfilling the filmmaking process very quickly, which is an uncommon characteristic among organisations that fund creative projects. It was also very useful for us to cooperate with Celine Abiad, our creative producer, who acted also a script doctor.”
Howaidy certainly sees his challenges in a positive light.
“I believe that a director gains experience from every film he makes. The most important experience I gained from this film was dealing with a multi-ethnic context. I also learned how to deal with non professional actors and how to ‘discover’ hidden talents.”
If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, or have an idea that you believe deserves to be translated to the screen, creative lab can help. Take a look at some of our projects, and read stories about Ghafet Osha, Jirfah and others on how we’ve helped turn concepts into finished productions. Take some time to flesh out your idea and in the meantime connect with filmmakers, producers, directors and creative individuals within the community, who can offer valuable feedback and advice. The creative lab team is committed to funding and developing ideas that can enrich community discourse and present a diversity of views. Get in touch and see if your idea makes the cut.