5:00 Minutes With: Mustafa Abbas

Mustafa Abbas, director, UAE, tells Digital Studio his views on filmmaking
Mustafa Abbas.
Mustafa Abbas.


0:00 What first inspired you to work in the TV and film industry?

Working in film comes from a very deep part of oneself to tell stories and create lifechanging situations ideally with stunning visuals. I believe people in our industry have either struggled to get in, or it has somehow landed on their laps. Naturally who’s good at it and who isn’t is an entirely different topic.

1:00 What’s one piece of kit or camera you could you not live without?

I would say a good crew. I happen to love Red Epic and Arri Alexa , but not as much as I love a good cinematographer. The best of cameras can be useless if the cinematographer doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Luckily I’ve worked with some amazing ones such as Ziad Oakes and Rene Auguste. One can never underestimate the power of a lens. It can change everything. I mean, everything.

2:00 Where do you draw inspiration from as a filmmaker?

Honestly my main inspiration is drawn from day to day feelings, and moments. Sometimes you’re driving a car listening to a song, othertimes you’re just sitting somewhere you’re comfortable, and suddenly feel a mood for a brief moment, therefore you experiment that mood and see if you can possibly turn it into 90 minutes of screentime. For me it’s all about the mood and feel. To create the mood, the inspiration comes from a similar mood. And then I create the story around it.

3:00: There’s a lot of talk about serious investment in the Middle East film industry at the moment, as well as news about big international productions such as Star Wars 7 happening here. Where do you see the next five years taking us in the region?

The UAE culture is a welcoming and hospitable one. The way a Hollywood film crew or any other crew from any other industry will be treated in the UAE will make them want to come back. So naturally that along with their vision and craft, the number of films are growing, internally as well.

4:00 You’re marooned on a desert island. By a lucky twist of fate you had chance to pick up a DVD player and your favourite movie, and a box set of your favourite TV show. What’s on your hastily arranged palm tree shelf, and why?

If I am not intellectually stimulated, then I at least need to be entertained. I wish there were more shows like True Detective Series 1, but I suppose that’s what makes it so special. When a film or show is written specifically for an intelligent audience without spoon-feeding or overly elaborating, that’s when I get hooked. When indeed there is a plan where to take things, as opposed to a totally random plot. I see movies and human beings similarly. If they are deep, they don’t need to tell you they’re deep. You can sense the layers just by looking at them.

5:00 How is your new film progressing?

I have recently written and produced a film called “SARAAB” which means “Mirage” in Arabic. It’s a psychological thriller. I collaborated with my fellow filmmaker Salma Serry, because I like her vision and she is great on set. She directed it, and we are now in post-production.

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