Abeer Abdulla is a young dynamic and ambitious film maker and multi-disciplined artist from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many of Abeer’s short films have hit the global headlines. Her style of art filming is known for usage of natural lights that has really enhanced the quality and pulls one deeply into the script with eagerness to know what’s next! She is a master in narrating the story, in such a way that the viewers are kept immersed of curiosity. Be Attractive was honored to get in touch with Abeer and receive her insights on her career.
As a Saudi female filmmaker how is your lifestyle different from the other women?
Abeer: I’ve been very fortunate to have a supportive family, who believe in my vision and what I wanted to say. In Riyadh Saudi Arabia, my film (Trail of lights 2018) was selected to be screened in the golden falcon festival after the re-opening of cinemas in Saudi. My mother’s family uncles and aunties were first to support and attend the screening.
My lifestyle is more of an entrepreneur’s lifestyle, every move I make is an investment. I believe that the right approach is to first invest in myself, every project I create is for the purpose of improving my skills and to add value to our filmmaking scene instead of only making profits. It gets challenging sometimes with this movement of filmmakers in the region, especially that we’re still building an industry. I sometimes find myself pulling a one-man show, the lack of having enough educated filmmakers in my case is pushing me as a director to not only to be a visionary But also a craftsman on set, I had to do everything. We need to educate every member on film sets about their own responsibility. This brings me to a point that we always need to emphasize building film schools and provide cinematic arts Education, in order to build an industry that meets the global standard of the film market, and to gain the trust of any potential investor, producers and production companies.
What inspired you to become a director?
Abeer: My source of inspiration are the people in my life who played different roles throughout my journey before becoming a filmmaker and after.I come from a creative-writing background, the inspiration came to me in my last semester in the university, (AOU, Riyadh) it was in a creative writing class, I wrote a piece about a little boy called Ahmed -l [children in military and war zones.] I will never forget Professor Magda Madkour’s words of encouragement, the motion in the story was very present to her, and she advised me to study films outside of Saudi.
After I had my BA in English, Arts and literature. I went to London with my sister Reem, who pursued the art of portrait-painting. I started by proposing to my father that I wanted to study creative
I didn’t want to shock him by saying I’m studying filmmaking, but when I went to London I had another course in screenplay writing, the process of making a film started to unfold since then. While studying I got inspired by the streets such as Soho and the rushing in the subway. So I wrote my flash-fiction “Star: retrograde of stardom. “It’s a surreal piece portraying the rush of our modern life. After becoming a filmmaker, the energy source of inspiration extended to find myself surrounded by new people who felt the same after one conversation or a story pitching session. One actor, a local Emirati and the lead of the sci-fi short (Gold of the maze), Abdullah Aljafali is a very clear example of this excreted energy. It was his first time to accept such a role and try something new. His reaction after pitching the idea to him was very surprising to me yet incredibly inspiring. He simply said, “I don’t know where you’re going with this! But I’m going with you anyway, just say the word (Action!) and let’s make it happen, let’s reach for the stars.” What I saw in Abdullah’s facial expressions hooked me and I created that character for him, he’s the one for that role and also our lead villain Jose Manuel. I believe that it meant to happen for all of us, we are meant to meet in this piece, the artistic piece that made the organization of the maze.
Being a creative person, how do you keep yourself focused when directing the story written on the script as well as being artistic at the same time?
Abeer: Every storyteller has a calling, and that calling is what anchors me and keeps me producing. I mean coming from a place where there were no cinema theaters, and then creating hope where there was no trace of it, it’s a mission and a huge responsibility, I have to stay focused. In parallel I make sure to take chances on being vulnerable sometimes and to share my honest feelings. To communicate your truth is to let your heart guide you. I advise to tame your mind a bit when it’s not that much needed. Directing is Leadership, and I’m the type of a leader that gives space, and allows every member of my team to shine, grow and show their strength in their particular role. I mean what’s the point of taking this journey without learning something about ourselves before even learning about the craft itself. Shooting a film is like a meditation to me, active meditation. I lose myself in the process, only to find myself again.
Speaking of creative work, what inspired the concept behind your latest work “Gold of the maze”?
Abeer: We are all living in a Lytham, and in the film, the maze is a simulation Lytham on a damaged village. The leader of the organization is using his advanced devices to track chipped agents and sends them to collect natural endangered-to-extinct resources, it’s apocalyptic piece and in this futuristic universe where everyone is chipped and being tracked. Humans reached a point where everything and everyone is unbelievably under control, so what’s next? Is this our hardest strive, to be in complete control? Every film I write and make has a piece of me in it, it’s always personal even if the story is unrealistic or in another universe. You have to use your pain, fear and reflections, otherwise, why are we telling a story.
Where can people find your movie?
Abeer: The film is submitted to more film festivals to gain a more global audience. That’s the magic of filmmaking the story is “always” to be continued.