Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The good bits, part II
No, one doesn't just come across these people in the desert anymore. It's actually quite difficult to track down real bedouins, especially anyone living in the old way. Why would anyone choose such a difficult life when they have the paved roads and malls of Doha now?
But for the film, we got to re-create a bedouin scene. Five adults and two children were cast, and I got to help choose their wardrobe, after consulting fabulous old photos of bedouins which I can't post here because they're copyrighted. The book Bedouins of Qatar by Klaus Ferdinand was the "bible" of the art department for this shoot. It's full of great photo documentation from the 1930's, when nomadic bedouins were still living off their camels and goats, and following the seasonal shifts in water and foliage on foot.
This is how the scene looked from my point of view.
The tent is divided into male and female areas, and there were an additional two camels to the left. They got agitated when members of the crew came darting onto the set between shots - these camels also had no prior experience with film, it seems.
We're in the desert, so you can see they had to lay down plywood boards under the crane wheels. Many other concession had to be made for sand and sun. The director and anyone else on the computers or monitors had to huddle under tents of black cloth to see their work.
The women's area: mother and daughter, and a weaver!
Obviously, meeting the weaver was the best part for me. She's a weaving teacher here in Doha, also knows how to spin, and brought all her own gear, including the nearly-100-year-old oryx horn tool from her grandmother.
The woven wool robe with gunky wool from my past post is there on the left, and pieces she wove on the other side. She also made the bag hanging behind her.
There's my raw wool and Qatari spindle as prop in front. I was spinning a bit more on set, to make the cop a little bigger, and all the local men were watching in fascination. One of them instructed me to spin finer, so I did, and got a thumbs up. He said something in Arabic, and one of the grip guys translated, "He says you're better than him!" I wish there had been more time for fiber-relating bonding with these people, but even with the weaver, I only got to speak to her for brief moments between "Cut!" and "Quiet on the set......" I have her business card, though, and plan to visit her when she's teaching.
Here's how she really looked, for an hour or more - director James on the left, cameraman John.
Bedu men on camera: