A native of Damascus, I am a filmmaker, photographer, and teacher living in the UAE. My video art and documentary works address issues of migration and social development. As the Field Producer of FIND I work with communities to make digital content, and I was inspired to explore the medium of using an iPad due to the exploding popularity of hand-held digital devices.
In order to complete a multimedia project on the iPad, I put a kit together consisting of:
● Dual language keyboard in Arabic and English
● Applications for pre-production, production and postproduction
I was fortunate enough to design a five-day workshop with the aim to use the kits to offer "iPad Filmmaking On A Budget." In conjunction with the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, the multiple two-hour sessions were built to provide a unique chance for professional growth, artistic community building, and networking for artists and filmmakers in the region for free.
Every single attendee who registered showed up on the first day. I honestly didn’t expect that attendance based on my experience working in this part of the world. The students began as strangers to each other, and I was the only social link among them.
I immediately took the participants back to the basics of storytelling, the styles and techniques used to create films. Main components included: how to explore an original and unique idea, how to film it, and how to edit and share it with the world. The core idea of the workshop was to teach students how to make a video that is easy and accessible. By minimizing the complexity, it was a great way to bring people together to explore issues, to voice concerns, or simply to be creative.
It was my job to create an environment where everyone was comfortable enough to take risks and express themselves; I asked all participants to work together, speak out, and to focus on producing a series of short "Portrait Of Place" videos.
The participants themselves were the really unique part of the workshop. They came from diverse backgrounds and included film enthusiasts, bankers, students and blue-collar workers from India, Sri Lanka, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Jordan and Palestine.
One of FIND’s core missions is to form intersections and dialogues between artists in the UAE landscape. This 10-hour workshop was able to accomplish just that. It was an international laboratory where I felt the value and richness of dialogue and the cultural exchange between global participants.
In terms of the teaching process and outcome, seeking short videos to promote our mission was not my focus. Rather, both the idea and process of making a place to provide a crossroads between people who in their regular lives might not cross paths was the driving goal. FIND created this special opportunity. Both the process and the outcome are equally as important.
The most rewarding aspect of this experience for me was witnessing the participants integrate with each other and, through mutual self-motivation, create a digital platform on Facebook to share their knowledge. It is here that they are communicating future film production plans.
The participants all brought their experience and shared it generously with one another and myself. It was an absolute joy to hang out with them, and many people were sad to say goodbye at the end, including me.