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.
Now, this was my first experience with live action film at all, so I was intrigued by the way the cameraman on the end of the crane moved from lower left, across and up, with the grip guys manually balancing and turning the other end of the crane.

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!
I went shopping in the souq for their jewelry the night before - the headpiece on this woman looked particularly cool.  The girl has a bracelet, and both women have necklaces, which don't show in my photos, but I noticed they got good shots of all the jewelry on film.
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.
This tool never left her side.  It's used for separating the warp threads, and for tamping down the weft after each shot.  All of her other loom bits are contemporary, so the art director covered most of them up.

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:
And taking a break:
In this setting, the men are more work for the make-up department because they all need shaggy beards.  The women only need a bit of kohl around their eyes, since that's all you see.
We drove up to the top of a high dune for the final shot (the first image of this post,) and our set was almost invisible from this distance.
The men seemed to feel at home in the desert, even though they're all from the city.


Lucette said...

Thanks for the photos and your story. Just facinating.

gnaptor said...

breathtaking pictures. what an amazing experience! I hope you can meet up with the weaver.

Mary said...

Cool post Tracy. What a great bit of experience. I love the desert. So, do we get to see the film when it's done?

I'm in the Denver airport on my way home. I'll e-mail you when I get there.

Yasmin said...

Tracy, this is so fascinating! It must be a real special experience, not an easy one , I imagine . Your pictures are really good. I hope you can get in touch with the weaver- that should be so interesting too. This post has given me a nice idea......but you'll have to wait!

elizabeth said...

Clicked over from your comment on the Harlot's post about bras and am glad I did! Fascinating, particularly the weaver!

Laura said...

thank you for sharing your experience and for all those wonderful photos plus insightful comments