The film is the brainchild of Jan Xavier Pacle, a 26-year-old Filipino expat who is both the project’s director and screenwriter.
By day, Pacle, who moved to Doha as a child in 1994, is a video production manager at JumpZone Productions, a local events company.
Speaking to Doha News about the inspiration behind his newest film, Pacle said Remembering Ada “is a love story based on small notebook that no one can understand.”
“I was interested in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and a secret alphabet that I created in grade school came to mind. I decided to make a movie based on that – on someone discovering a journal written in a hidden language.”
The film focuses on two protagonists, Ada and Ethan, who meet and fall in love in an unnamed Arab country (whose scenes are filmed in Qatar).
However, political and social norms put an end to their brief romance, and they do not reunite in their home country of the Philippines for 50 years, thanks to the help of the notebook.
Set across two countries, the movie is expected to feature over 56 locations and 500 extras.
To help sustain the project, Pacle and his team are trying to raise some $300,000 in funding online. In exchange for donations, funders are given gifts like hoodies, VIP tickets and a signed copy of the script.
Close to 80 percent of the film has already been funded by private local investors who have previously been involved in Pacle’s films, he said.
But with funds collected from the Indiegogo campaign, he hopes to secure a better, more experienced crew to work on post-production, and create a higher-quality film.
Pacle’s local production crew hails predominantly from the Philippines, but hopes to have an impact on Qatar’s burgeoning film industry.
According to a statement on the film’s funding page:
“The golden age of Philippine cinema is long gone and the rise of Qatar’s film industry is beginning. As residents of both countries, we want to contribute in both. We want to show the world the cinema of both countries.”
In his crowdfunding video, Pacle added:
“Qatar’s film industry is on the rise. One of our aims is to contribute to that rising industry. By producing this film, we are making a statement that it is completely possible to make a ground-breaking film in the country, and shatter the belief that it is…difficult to produce a film locally.”
Additionally, Pacle also hopes to blur the lines between indie and mainstream cinema with his film.
Though 26, Pacle is no rookie at producing and directing films.
His past works – Finding Faith, I Love You Ma’am, Angel in June, After Seven, and A Shout From Within, have been screened at festivals worldwide, including the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes and the San Francisco Global Film Festival.
Cost and funding
Remembering Ada will be Pacle’s most expensive endeavor to date.
So far, most of his films have been self-funded, with help from his crew, which includes producer Sky Gonzales, another local expat.
While his first film, Finding Faith, cost a mere QR100, with Pacle depending on volunteers to fill many roles, this new production is estimated to cost several hundred thousand dollars.
Once funded, the majority of the film’s budget will go toward the logistics required to shoot in two locations – Qatar and the Philippines.
In addition to the online campaign, the team is also seeking a grant from the Doha Film Institute, but the process is long. Pacle said:
“We submitted our documents – the script, director’s statement, rationale, treatment, synopsis, estimated budget, financial plan, and other information around a month ago, but as per DFI policies, it takes at least 60 days to review each application.”
Remembering Ada’s lead characters will be played by well-known Filipino actors Max Collins and Alden Richards, who are based abroad.
A composer from Spain, David Alonzo Garzon, who contacted Pacle when he posted an ad on IMDb, has also signed up to work on the film.
Last month, the crew began casting calls for other smaller roles, and have already begun scouting for locations both in Qatar and in the Philippines.
Pacle said that he expects his crew to face challenges when production begins.
“One of the main problems is filming in public. It’s not easy, even if we have a small crew,” he said.
He added that finding equipment locally is also a problem.
“Equipment brings up cost of a good film. Most of the equipment is still coming in from the outside (the country). There’s still only limited equipment available locally.”
Regardless, Pacle is optimistic of the film scene here, saying, “I know a lot of local filmmakers who share the same passion as I do, to contribute to the industry.”
So far, over $800 has been donated to the film’s fund. That, however, is a long way from the $300,000 that the project hopes to raise.
Once funded, the project will take around two months to complete.
While production is expected to start in September, prior scheduling conflicts of the two main leads may push filming to the beginning of 2015.