You wouldn’t believe it but I was saving this post for over a year, I couldn’t post it until now ! (due to an NDA agreement with the film producers). So the movie finally premiered on Abu Dhabi this month, I received an invitation to come over, but didn’t find a flight to take me there on time.. yeah unfortunately, but I’ll surely see it when it hits our IMAX theater in Kuwait next month, can’t wait !!
Journey to Mecca tells the story of a young scholar, Ibn Batuta, who leaves Tangier in 1325 on an epic and perilous journey, traveling alone from his home in Morocco to reach Mecca, some 3,000 miles to the east.
The film was shot in two locations, Saudi Arabia for the Haj scenes, and Morocco for the remainder of the movie, hamdella I had the privilege to work on the haj part as a 3rd assistant camera with the Steadycam team during Haj in December of 2007. The Haj part was some what a challenge to the producers, because as it is known only Muslims can enter the Mecca, so a team of Muslims were trained on the IMAX cameras in the US long long before the Haj period just to get them ready, and a few months before the actual shooting, a quick preparation period took place to wrap vital necessities, such as location scouting, transportation, budgeting..etc. Including hiring some people as assistants, and that’s when I got the chance to be a part of the crew.
So I thought now of sharing my filming experience with you..
FIRST DAY: HOTEL ARRIVAL – Tuesday 4th- Wednesday 5th December 2007
That was my first day on the job !! I was so excited, I rested at a hotel in Jeddah, I recieved my call sheet under the room door – it felt like a mission which was quite cool – and the following day we had a training session in the warehouse to make sure our equipment is set and know how to use them properly, since they are IMAX equipment and should be treated with more care, we had technicians from Canada with us just incase something goes wrong, as it did during our shooting in Mecca. We were grouped into 3 teams, unit A that did the helicopter shot, long shots and time-lapse shots, unit B that did the misc shooting, and unit C (the one im in) is the steadycam team, the one that moved on it’s feet.
My room is just after that corridor
Getting the equipment ready at the warehouse
HAJ AIRPORT: Thursday 6th December 2007
So at that day we started shooting some planes in the Haj Airport arriving from different parts of the world to Saudi Arabia to attend the Haj, we were a bit late due to the driver being sent to jail for speeding or something, but we arrived eventually, but they only allowed 10 of us to enter inside the airplane track due to airport security reasons, fortunately I was one of the 10 that got to enter.
That’s our Director Bruce Neibaur, he also directed Mysteries of Egypt, an IMAX film, and now he’s directing the movie “Beyond the Horizon” with Stephen Hawkings himself
From left to right, me (3rd assistant Camera), Bruce Neubaur (Director), Afshin Javadi (Director of Photography), Kambiz Koushan (1st Assistant Camera). The day was really hot for the shooting as you can see
DAY OFF – Friday 7th December 2007
Yipeee !! day off
BUS RIGGING TEST: Saturday 8th December 2007
On this day, our saudi production manager fist fought with the driver because