Interview with Ahmad Alyaseer, the Director of the First Jordanian SF When Time Becomes a Woman
We invite you to read an interview with up-and-coming director Ahmad Alyaseer.
His film debut When Time Becomes a Woman released in 2012 has the honor of being the first Jordanian science fiction movie and, among others, it received an Award for Best Cinematography at Pollygrind Film Festival and at California Film Awards the film received Gold Award in category Narrative Film Competition.
We asked Ahmad to answer a few questions about his filmmaking experience of When Time Becomes a Woman, and we think you'll find his answers interesting. Enjoy!
1) Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about how you got into movie business?
I've been involved in the film industry since I was 15, I've enrolled in so many workshops and then I studied filmmaking in my country Jordan. Filmmaking is still developing here and thus my film is the first Sci-Fi film from Jordan and probably from the Middle-East.
2) Can you tell us about your movie, When Time Becomes a Woman - what inspired it, how did you choose your topic and why is it important to you? Why did you choose this genre for your first movie?
The main concept of the film was to make a feature film that doesn't rely on any visual elements, me and my sister Rana wanted to create a film that only depends on dialogue and nothing else, and from there we started working on the script.
We chose to make it Sci-Fi, because we felt that it's the only genre that could make the pacing of the movie go smooth and fast, with sci-fi you can come up with crazy concepts that the audience don't expect and thus make them engage with the film though it's only dialogue. Our main idea was to reveal a twist every 15 minutes so the audience won't get bored, and nothing fits this as much as a Sci-Fi does.
3) What did you enjoy most while working on this SF movie?
Every stage was enjoyable, but to me the writing was the best. We were a small crew and because of that we were very close to each other, the experience itself was exciting.
4) What was challenging for you in this project?
God knows how many challenges we faced, to start with the budget, which was very small ($12,000 approx.), so everyone had to take on more than one role, the DOP was the leading actor at the same time. The camera operator was the music composer too.
Besides the budget, the weather was very hot, especially since we were shooting on the Dead Sea, most of the days the weather was 47 degrees, and we didn't have any air conditioning or places to shade us. We were shooting 12 hours a day under the sun but sometimes we took a break and got inside our cars while the actors got the makeup fixed.
The location was a 2-hour ride from our homes, and besides, one of the actors' relatives died and the leading actress (Najwan Baqaeen) got sick for almost four days, all of this delayed the production schedule. In post-production, nothing was recorded on set so the audio designers (Yater Dabbo, Ehab El Kosa) had to work from scratch, the ADR wasn't done by the actors themselves which was even harder for the Audio Editors to sync. But despite all those challenges, everyone was happy with the final result.
5) How long did it take to finish When Time Becomes a Woman?
Pre-production took 1 month, shooting took us 6 days and post-production one year.
6) Tell us a little bit about your crew?
I was blessed to have such a crew who were very dedicated, at some points they felt they were fed up with the project because it felt like never ending and yet they never stopped and they kept working on it because they believed in it and the story.
7) Are there any particular messages that you'd like the audience to take from your film?
When Time Becomes a Woman is filled with so many messages, each person might interpret them in their own way, it's about freedom, revolutions and hope.
8) What made you passionate about SF movies in the first place? Which SF movies influenced you and which are your favorite ones?
I love to watch movies of all genres; my all-time favorite movies include drama, Sci-Fi, animation and others.
I love Sci-Fi films because they are smart, especially if they are convincing, and my favorite SF films, well, there are many, but anything by James Cameron is best for me, whether it's The Terminator, Avatar or Aliens.
9) What advice would you give to filmmakers who are about to make their first SF movie?
I'm not sure if I could give any advice, as I don't have enough experience. But whether your film is Sci-Fi or not, believe in it, do it even if it's not meant to be made and work hard on it.
10) Any plans for the future?
Nothing official so far, but it will be a pure drama film.