ABU DHABI // Greg Unrau had a secret for students who gathered yesterday to learn about filmmaking from the professionals during a workshop at the Circle Conference.
"Remember in Hollywood and filmmaking, we cheat," said the head of production and training for the Abu Dhabi Film Commission. "Everything is fake."
Mr Unrau joined a film crew from the Dubai-based production company Eye Squad during the workshop, one of three sessions held at the Intercontinental Hotel in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
Students had a chance to learn about script writing, the technical aspects of shooting a scene and the financial elements involved in production and post-production.
A number of intricate details go into making a flawless movie scene, and yesterday Mr Unrau and the Eye Squad crew took students through one painstaking example.
Setting up a scene that lasted just minutes - one where a woman lays out a table - they showed the students how the table size had to be adjusted so it appeared constant from all angles. Everything, right down to the level of juice in the glasses, had to be monitored to ensure continuity.
"What I wanted to do was to give them an insight to see what a shoot day was actually like and give them a sense of how a professional crew operates," said Mr Unrau. "I also wanted them to see how long the days are and how patient you have to be."
The Canadian writer, producer and director has been educating budding filmmakers since arriving in the UAE in 1999, teaching at the Abu Dhabi Women's College, the American University of Sharjah and the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Unrau said the overall aim of the day was to get students interested in all aspects of the film industry.
"There are many craft jobs involved alongside production and direction such as makeup, wardrobe and set design," he said.
"If I can get three or four people's interest sparked in the craft then I will be happy. The idea is to create a fully functional film industry here and we can't do that without fulfilling every role."
Wafa Sadiq, 17, who is studying advertising, public relations and media at Middlesex University in Dubai, said the workshop helped her realise making movies was hard work.
"It's a good thing we can see the reality," she said. "It's not that easy, there is so much work and so many minute details to remember. I will think twice before criticising a movie again."
Hamda Bin Ghreeb, 19, who is studying applied media communications at Dubai Women's College and wants to be a director, said the session provided her first exposure to a film set.
"I have learned about the sounds, where to place the shots and the equipment," she said. "It has been very useful for me."