Make a movie in Dubai

Ever wanted to create your own short film? Now you can

The Beirut event, which took place in July
The Beirut event, which took place in July
Organiser Mo Rida
Organiser Mo Rida

The 48-Hour Film Project, a long-running global competition for budding filmmakers, debuted in the Middle East in July with a contest in Beirut. It was met with overwhelming enthusiasm – so much so that the organiser, 33-year-old Mo Rida, is bringing the project to Dubai next week. The local leg of the competition kicks off at 7pm on November 10. We quizzed Rida about the project to find out who can get involved.

What’s the story behind The 48-Hour Film Project?
It started 10 years ago in Washington DC, and it’s a competition for people who are interested in film or want to challenge themselves to see what they can do creatively in terms of making
a movie in 48 hours.

Is it open to amateurs?
Yes, it’s open to everybody. If you’re a dentist and you’ve always dreamed of making a film, this is your shot. There are no restrictions on the format, as long as you stay within the guidelines of the competition. We give each entrant a different genre, which is selected randomly out of a hat; we give them a line of dialogue and the character’s name. All of those elements have to be included in the film, which needs to be between four and seven minutes long.

Why do you give people these props?
It ensures they’re not cheating by shooting beforehand, and it ensures we get a variety of films – by specifying different genres, everyone is shooting a different type of film. If we didn’t do that, we’d probably get 90 per cent drama, or in this part of the world probably 90 per cent war. When we did this in Beirut in July, we took the war genre completely out of the hat. We wanted to see people doing time-travel movies and things that hadn’t been done in the region before.

Do you need to be part of a team before you sign up?
No, not really. We had a guy in New York who was basically his own team. He would do everything himself: set up the camera, stand in front of it, then edit it. There’s no minimum or maximum number of people in a team. I think there was a team in Greece of more than 90 people.

Can you really take part without any knowledge of filmmaking?
Most people know how to operate the camera on their cellphone. A lot of people who don’t make films know about film – everybody watches movies, everybody has an idea. It helps to have a filmmaking background, but it’s not essential. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose? A weekend, but I’m sure it’s going to be a fun weekend.

What happens with the films once they’ve been made?
Once you’ve made the film and submitted it by 7pm on November 12, it will be screened on November 17 at The Shelter, and a week later there’s another screening for the awards. We have some local prizes, then the best film will go on to the international competition. There are 100 countries involved with The 48-Hour Film Project, and the winner of each country will take part in the annual Filmapalooza event, where the best film from every country competes to be named the best 48-hour film in the world. There’s a grand prize, and the winner will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

Are the local screenings open to the public?
Yes, they are. There will be a small entry fee, like a movie ticket charge, but nothing major.

The 48-Hour Film Project begins on November 10 at 7pm at The Pavilion, Downtown Dubai. Entry fee US$150 (Dhs550) per team, with no restrictions on team size. It is open to all UAE residents, and there are no age restrictions or previous experience required. Register by November 9 at

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