48-Hour Competition

Veil on Vimeo.

Short film  – Detective Cop
Developed during the 48-hour film project (Dubai)
Blog Post: Veil

2016 – THE MAKING OF VEIL – Producers Blog


Behind the Scenes – the making of ‘Veil’ – Watch with sound up, Full screen.


Click here for the full tale of our pre-production history….. enjoy!

Q: What is the most important part of a watch (representing cast and crew in a film)?

A: Work out your answer (but no cheating please!) – the answer is further down the page.

RULES – We were allowed to do pre-production for gaining locations, equipment, cast & crew. Nothing more. All creative work ie. Script/storyline, filming, editing and submission paperwork was to be done during the competition (48-hours only). It was a huge task just to gather enough team, cast, crew, given that most people were working full-time in other jobs in different parts of the UAE. Gathering all the people together in between distances (Al Ain to Dubai; and Dubai to Abu Dhabi; and Al ain to Abu Dhabi, is 1.5 hours drive each way) was a task for certain – a challenge to liase with everyone. Most of the film was collated on JCD’s smart phone for the cost of free whatsup, email or texts and phone calls on a plan … OMG, yes!).

23rd October: With the challenge of finding good quality, passionate team members interested to commit through to the end, JCD kicked off the bid towards entering the 48-hour film project with a meal, movie and chat at a local Yoga studio very kindly donated for the evening (thanks Mel!) – and JCD gathered the first volunteer names for the project.

A VERY SPECIAL THANKS: To Mel Craven, for her family’s support in ‘other ways’ (*wink*); and to Rosemarie Zalec in Mildura, Australia, for her ‘hidden’ support (*wink*).

31st October: JCD drove from Al Ain to Dubai to hand over the registration fee of 750 lovingly earned dirhams to Mo Rider, competition organizer. We were IN; 48-hr now is officially ON!

5th November: The first Production meeting with volunteers was held in a donated room in Dubai – many new and eager faces who keenly put their hands up for volunteering.  There was so much work to do in Pre-production just to keep contact going by cyberspace – making email lists, phone lists, whats-up lists, messenger/texts & copious emails to wade through… if one could trace all the fingers tapping on keyboards for this production – all echoing through the ethers – it would make an interesting soundtrack!

2nd to 9th November: Four Production Paperwork sessions at JCD’s home, and all remaining Production work completed by JCD over many weeks as a constant ‘niggle’ each day (with mighty help from Donna who kept the cups of tea happening, along with practical assistance, and support too many times to count – thank you dear Lady, for your diligence and kindness over this frantic, hugely busy time).  Atlanta Frith (Director) also worked constantly to manifest the potentials for the Direction of the artistic vision of our 48-hour film intention). **As we did not know the storyline or genre, it was very challenging to prepare for the many, ‘what if’s’ that might happen.** So many lists of things to complete, chase up, etc… lists, lists, lists, and more lists – so many – gathering up possible costumes, measurements for all actors; props and key on-set items required – all to make into lists – from DOP and Sound recordist so vital to confirm, plus all remaining crew to confirm their roles; catering for 25 people for the shoot day to organise; accommodation to be found for volunteers travelling down; car-pooling (thanks to Zeeshan who deftly handled organising the crew in Dubai for the drive down – up at 3:00am to arrive on 1st location by 5:30am); hair & potential makeup artists to find; filling in the official 48-hour paperwork; a zillion phone calls; printing jobs galore; locations to be finalised with permissions, etc. It was not easy, and many hurdles overcome by the key Production/Direction people.

MUSIC – During the process and over many weeks, both Atlanta and JCD worked with local musicians to inspire them to contribute original recordings – we had some failed attempts, and some successes – organised with some great distances that had to be driven around our full-time work, etc – there is much effort for this part of the artistic process. Much gratitude from JCD to Atlanta for all her hard work in this arena (as Atlanta was able to manifest three original pieces out of the four music pieces used in the final edit).  JCD had done her best to encourage forth some beautiful music from a local artist, but was let down in the final days despite a consistent effort each week with her time, petrol and encouragement – but that’s just how it can be working with volunteers and no budget!  Instead she purchased a single track from a reputable Royalty-free website – Close Range.


GENRE SELECTION – After the draw from the hat, the genres were phoned through by Pearls team member Richard from the 48-hour Dubai Kickoff Event to the writing team in Al Ain at 7:00pm – who immediately got busy writing a script!

Thursday, 10th November 7:00pm: We chose Detective Cop (not, comedy) as there was a better scope for a dramatic perspective and the use of beautiful scenery.


PDF:  48-hour-script_final_v2

Written Friday 10th November  (Detective Cop Genre)
– began 7:00pm, completed 12:00am Saturday
By Fawzi Hajji, Rachel Redfern, Anastasia Means-Dallas and Atlanta Frith



PDF: veil-storyboard

 By Sarah Laura Nesti Willard 



 PDF:  cast-crew-headshots






1. Wikipedia: Jebel Hafeet Mountain
 – Permissions granted by AL AIN MUNICIPALITY

2. Official website: Al Ain Rotana
– Permissions granted by Private Management



Friday, 11th November 6:00am: The day of the shoot, the entire Pearls of Dubai team gathered at Green Mubbazzarah at the foot of Jebel Hafeet Mountain area for a delicious breakfast at 7:00am – thank you Mel for all your hard work to feed us such yummy food – you dealt with being thrown in the deep end with waaay more cast and crew than initially discussed – deep gratitude, love and respect sent from JCD.

We began filming with Firas Morais (DOP and true leadership – our team was blessed with his guidance, hard work ethic, and exacting technical knowledge) from 8:00am Friday, with Atlanta Frith Directing. Everyone worked solidly all day – only stopping for one hour for another of Mel’s amazing efforts for lunch at 12:00 noon; and a brief snack break at 8:30pm – until 2:30 AM Saturday morning!

Now, here is the answer to that tricky question: There is no part of a watch (anyone in cast or crew) that is more ‘important’ than another (when a team is working together), for if you remove the tiniest cog from the watch, the watch will stop. Every single person working on a film shoot is valuable, no matter the responsibility – be it Producer, Director, 1st AD, Hair, Makeup, Gaffer, Tea Lady, Runner, etc. The team works as one machine, finely tuned, supporting each other to run efficiently. Remove one ‘cog’ and the machine will eventually, stop.

So, after that little reminder of our ‘worth’ for the day, the team filmed in three locations – two places amongst the foothills of Jebel Hafeet Mountain for 1/2 a day; and the Al Ain Rotana from 2:00pm  onwards. JCD would like to personally thank Adriana and Maryam in Management for their 100% professional, hands-on-help to navigate an extremely busy day at the hotel – even providing their own office for us to use and rest it – very generous. Our crew managed to get the shots due to the Rotana’s Management’s understanding and practical assistance – thank you so much.

Note well – the UAE environment must be respected no matter the time of year: We had some troubles in the evening shoot when one team member fell ill to dehydration from the mid-morning weather – the autumn sun in UAE is still fierce even in November – but this event was dealt with professionally and quickly (and our cast member has since recovered fully and was reminded to drink more water and wear a hat when outside longer than 20 minutes!). As a direct result, a change of script was required – the volunteer team worked around this with heart and kindness, working way into the night to finish the filming. It was a tired crew & cast that eventually went home for a well-earned rest at around 2:30am. Filming was complete.

Saturday, 12th November 7:00am: After 3 hours sleep, Nikki, Divyash and JCD began work again on the edit from 7:00am. One Senior Crew volunteer did not turn up during the day, which was a set-back to the edit team… as….

TROUBLES WITH THE EDIT – Unfortunately… by mid-afternoon, we had troubles on our doorstep –  a technical problem with the sound files which affected how we could cut the film. We knew then, we would not make the entry into the 48-hour competition (cut-off was 7:30pm Saturday) for judging.  JCD made the decision to forget about entering the competition,  and instead, focus on finishing the film with all love and care to the best of our ability, by midnight.. and so, with determination and tenacity, the Pearls of Dubai edit team finished their 1st draft film and submitted with courage at 11:45pm that night, to receive a place in the public screening for the 1st batch of films, on Thursday 24th November. A disappointment for sure; but the right decision to keep at the edit and submit that first attempt as a ‘late entry’.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our Pearls of Dubai team hard at work in the weekend’s challenge – enjoy these wonderful picture collections!

NB. SPECIAL THANKS: To Mabemana Ideh for the first photographic collection, beautifully edited and collated; and then, to everyone else who contributed pictures for the second slideshot – such wonderful mementos of our time together.




Friday 18th November 10:30am – Saturday 19th November: One week on, and after Firas (DOP) had checked the sound files during the week attempting to find the cause of the problem,  we persevered with the edit again – we continued best we could, working around the sound problem – we started at JCD’s home;  working all day and into the night; and finished the work at Firas home at 1:45am Saturday 19th November.
NB. The sound problem was an issue that could not have been known at the time…. our Sound-man was a professional, who was generous of heart, worked hard, and contributed his time, energy and kindness of spirit!

Thursday 24th November – Public Screening: Surprisingly, watching our first effort edit compared against fourteen other efforts, we didn’t do too badly – whilst our film had blatant sound problems – so did other films!  Yes, the edit was not the best it could have been, due to a lack of some the cutaway shots that had sound problems…. but when our team watched the compilation of other films screened at AM Studio, we had done well in certain areas (Cinematography, flowing storyline) – it was a pleasant surprise to see where our film had solid qualities. And, it was an enjoyable night – so much creativity with all efforts; and there were some standout films for sure – we certainly did brilliantly with our locations – made our film quite unique – our team who came had a great night, and we all had a ball chatting and comparing notes  – hey, it was a blast guys, for our film to get seen!

SUMMARY: We have completed the 2nd edit which is NOT the original competition entry (we have removed some of the required elements, and it is a derivative film that skirts around the problems of sound issues), salvaging our 1st draft film to creating a beautiful effort after all… we added the text required for a modified film, “The concept for this film developed during the 48 Hour Film Project” at the end of our new version ie. found in the FAQ section of the official website.   The team is welcome to share the film to family, friends, professionals – as a ‘calling card’ film – all our collective talents are within each frame.  At present, the film is not downloadable whilst JCD looks into other public viewing opportunities such as film festivals.  And next year, JCD will again enter this 48-hour challenge – this was a fantastic team of people and we all learned so much despite the pressures that were experienced. The most vital element was that the team all pulled together – JCD is so very grateful for each and every crew & cast members effort, through thick and thin, exhaustion, elation and finally, to finish a solid effort of a film, beautifully edited, with original music pieces included. It was a learning curve of joy and sorrows, elation, exhaustion and adrenaline….   many lessons, friendships and, a team effort. Well done to everyone who contributed. You can be proud of the results of your hard work and precious ‘blood, sweat and tears’ expended!  So till next year….. happy film-making!smiley-thumbs-up-clipart-clipart

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