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Shooting for Nayla Al Khaja’s film begins; first ME project to use ARRI’s latest prime lenses

Filmquip Media will supply the equipment for The Shadow, which is supported by the Dubai Film and TV Commission. This project will also see ARRI’s latest signature prime lenses used for the first time in the Middle East.
From The Shadow storyboard.

The Shadow, a horror film, directed by Emirati filmmaker and producer Nayla Al Khaja, and produced by Epic Films and Señorita Films, will begin principal photography in Dubai with the support of the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC).

The horror film, The Shadow, is the teaser version of an extended feature set to be filmed in the upcoming months. Starring locally based actors and using the Emirati dialect, the story of a sick nine-year-old in the grip of uncontrolled phenomena – and the desperate measures his mother takes behind closed doors to save his life – is based on actual events that Al Khaja experienced personally.

To ensure a seamless filming and production experience, DFTC worked closely with the director to fast-track the process and obtain all necessary filming permits.

Speaking about the project, a DFTC spokesperson said: “We are proud to contribute to this project and support talented local directors such as Nayla. DFTC is committed to offering services that help Emirati filmmakers achieve their goals and propel them onto the international stage, in line with the objectives of Dubai Plan 2021 that aims at cementing Dubai’s positon as a hub for creative and empowered people”.

Well known for tackling thought-provoking topics and filming tense narratives without compromising on her artistic integrity, audacious director Al Khaja, who aspires to become a thriller/horror Emirati film director, has reached a level of maturity and experience in her career that allows her to achieve her lifelong ambition.

She said: “Worldwide, only 5% of women directors specialise in this genre. I’m genuinely hoping to inspire more women in the region to follow my lead and venture into filming difficult topics based on more hard-hitting narratives. The UAE lacks female feature film directors of a certain calibre, and it’s about time we see a change in this category.”

“I’m incredibly excited to be telling this story and extremely thankful for all the support we have received from those who participated in the real events, continues Nayla Al Khaja. The project came to life thanks to the unconditional support of Sultan, Darmaki and Hassan Al Khaja; the Dubai Film and TV Commission; Filmquip Media, who are supplying the equipment; and, ARRI will be shipping its latest signature prime lenses for the shoot and will take care of the ‘behind the scenes’ footage. This will be the first time their new lenses will be used in the Middle East.”

Robbie McAree, Executive Producer and Founding Partner of Epic Films, describes the film as “a unique approach to the genre, implementing a production model that will set new standards for the local independent film industry. We encourage local and international investors, and cinema enthusiasts in general, to get involved in future movie projects in the UAE. Our production value is undoubtedly reaching the calibre of international productions, and we pride ourselves on utilising as many locally based movie professionals as possible. The bottom line is to showcase local talent and highlight the huge potential of the UAE’s film industry. The Shadow is a teaser that, hopefully, will help raise funds for the feature film and create employment opportunities for local screen workers.”

Featuring acclaimed director of photography Mik Allen, The Shadow’s crew will shoot across several locations in Dubai during the month of June, with an expected public release of the film at a launch event in Dubai in September 2019 with the support of VOX Cinemas.

McAree added: “From talented crews to diverse locations, Dubai has been steadily building its reputation as a regional film industry leader and a destination of choice for local and international productions.”