MADE in YEMEN MOVIES [Archives:1998/07/Culture]

February 16 1998

Tahani video is the first video recording shop in Sanaa and the most likely place for video amateurs to go to if one has questions as to how to record films. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Ibrahim Abdulhamid who has been recording there for many years also has experience in sound track recording and film editing. He was eager to share his experiences with me in the field.
The following excerpt  was taken from an interview with Mr. Abdulhamid.

YT: Ibrahim what do you do in this shop?
Ibrahim: I do advertisements and record films from India, Arabia and other countries in this shop for twenty years, when I began there was no one to do this job and since then the demand has grown.

Do you have any formal training?
No I have learned recording from experience, I only have a high school education.

What do you do for advertisements?
I have done a milk advertisement  in Yemen three years ago. This was the first.  I have also done  videos on  business equipment, insurance, and different food products. I am confident enough to do any commercial video. Maybe in the future I will be able to do other commercial videos for the agricultural and oil industries.

What are the most popular videos that people watch?
Dancing, Arabian dancing on films, Micheal Jackson, Madonna music videos. Most Yemeni people like action films, detective stories, thrillers. Only a few like story or love films. Some people from embassies like the classics, modern story films  like the Color of Money, Love Story but story films offer less thrills than action movies and the Yemeni usually finds it uninteresting.

What is the future for videos in Yemen?
Before satellite T.V. came about I used to rent a 1000 films a day. Then the rentals dropped. Now they have increased again because the satellite companies come to us for advertisements of their television services. I also record foreign films for the satellite company to transmit on television and it buys the film from us. Businesses buy these films, from Dubai, India and elsewhere.

Do have any experience making videos in Yemen?
I made a 25 minute travel log film in Marib. There is a demand for these films in Hadhramaut and Marib. There is also a tourist office in Sanaa which has asked us if we would go out to Marib and make a travel log film.

Who taught you?
Nobody did. I learned by experience. When this video shop opened we only had one entrance, and five videos so I had time to experiment on recording methods.

What do you think about the use of video for tourism?
I think the prospects are good. I have more than 70 cassettes in English, French, Italian and German but nobody knows that. There are lot of natural sites that can be put on film to attract the foreign tourist wanting to discover a lesser known country. Having different language cassettes means that Yemen can supply various countries with travel log information which can then be used by the tour operators there to promote trips to this country. There is also a demand by research groups and scientific teams who want to have video  material at their disposal discribing  the geography and archeology of the various  regions.
There is no future plans for developing the movie industry here. Also there are unfortunately no film actors. There are actors who appear on television and that is a different sort of acting as compared to what the international person would like to see. People here are mostly satisfied with the music and arabic dance films they can get through Dubai television and the soaps that are turned out in Egypt. The acting that appears on Egyptian soaps is what many Yemenis expect; it’s a kind of recital and the director does not work much with the movement of the actor as he would for western films. There is also no material to make movies here. By that I mean proper film making equipment, Beta cams and proper mixers are missing for making films. I do advertise for myself when I film for industries and for that there is a future in Yemen.

What projects are you doing now?
Tomorrow morning I am going to Dhamar to do a video on the milk industry there and the commercial will appear on channel one.

What about the future for Yemeni actors and films?
There are many actors who are living here but there are very few Yemeni film directors and they are not good. Also there is no equipment to run cinema films. Unfortunately the actors work for cheap.
If actors are paid well then good films can be made but if the situation continues this way many of these actors will move to countries like Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon where they can put their talents to practice. As far as making films are concerned, Yemen is still at the early stages. There is a desire among the youth in this country to be educated in cinematography  and make films about their own regions for example. They would have to be trained like in the European cinematographic schools. Some in fact have left this country to study abroad for this purpose, if they do not return  this will only contribute to the lack of talent and expertise the country is already experiencing in this sector.

Any last comment?
I have experience in the field of sound recording  and in film editing so I would like to apply this in future projects.  I would be interested in publicizing myself more to other companies that are interested in this experience. These companies both local and foreign can then see that Yemen can supply the manpower to develop its own resources in the video and commercial film business.

Martin Dansky/ Yemen Times