One of the secondary characters whom I dramatically needed in the film was that of the Station Manager.
When Hania, one of my female friends in Doha, knew that we need someone to play a Petrol Station Manager, she said she’d love to do it. I also liked the idea of having a female manager of the Petrol Station in the film, regardless of the fact that you would never find a female manager of a petrol station in Qatar. In the world of my film it would’ve played very well. I have an aunt here in Beirut who has been managing a plumbing business for decades now, and I always find her character and job fascinating.
BUT, everybody talked me into not getting a female to play the Station Manager. And then, when we actually went to the Station to obtain permission to film there, the Manager asked if he can act. Fatma, my friend and producer, was the one who talked to him. And Fatma is a very sweet person. And Fatma said YES! We actually need a station manager. So that was one problem down the drain.
Filming day came. It was Ramadan (fasting month) and we were filming at the station from noon till sunset. In a temperature of at least 50 Degrees Celsius in the sun (122 F). And on top of that it was a Friday, weekend in Qatar. The manager didn’t show up. Simply. He wasn’t answering his phone, none of the workers knew where or how to find him otherwise. We had to find a plan B, asap!
None of the boys on set fit the bill really. So my first thought was to call Hania, who had originally showed interest. I called and asked Hania if she’d like to come and act, like, right away -these things always happen. But she was outside Doha and she needed hours to be back. Out of the question.
It was thennnn, that I looked at Fatoom, my producer. She was the last refuge. And I think she knew what I thought before I had to ask. Fatma was pretty practical about it and she directly said, “Ok, what do I have to do?” I love Fatoom. She saved us from a silly situation that day, and she ended up doing a pretty good job actually. What do you think?
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