Dubai ready for alien invasion
UAE ready for first sci-fi feature, writes Caitlyn Davey
In the brief few minutes between preparations for his film’s release, S.A Zaidi is rather busy; his UAE-produced movie Aerials is releasing tomorrow, and he’s chatting animatedly on the phone to me in between preparations for the premiere.
Aerials is an alien-invasion film, the UAE’s first sci-fi feature film produced in the country, and it has been independently funded by Zaidi and the movie’s producer, Ghanem Ghubash.
The duo, who grew up together in the UAE, produced the film in association with the Dubai Film and TV Commission – who Zaidi explains helped get the permits for filming mobilised – something that is not always easy for independent production companies.
“There were plenty of challenges in making this film - from the cinematography - getting the spaceships just right - the budget, the permits, so it has been difficult, but we got there!”
We last spoke to Zaidi at Comic Con in March, 2015, when the trailer was previewed. With the film to release this weekend, he acknowledges the timings have gone a little over: “Honestly, the film has taken nearly three years – which is a long time, but given we were working as a team of about 10 on the production, it has been a long road.”
The sci-fi horror drama is set in the UAE, made by UAE producers, and features significant UAE landmarks, including Sheikh Zayed Road, The Emirates Towers, and of course, the Burj Khalifa.
Zaidi himself is a huge horror and science fiction fan, and asked, why not Dubai for a movie?
“I think people have seen alien invasions in New York, LA, London, landmarks around the world, so it is the UAE’s turn. I mean… why not here?”
He says the film is about aliens, but it’s not about seeing iconic UAE landmarks being digitally demolished. Zaidi continues: “Though we didn’t opt for the Hollywood type explosions and destruction - partly because it’s the UAE’s first film of this nature and partly due to budget - we didn’t want to tear Dubai apart in its first sci-fi movie!”
Why sci-fi? Apart from being a huge fan of the genre himself, Zaidi says: “There’s such an appetite for sci-fi and horror films in this region – before we went on this project, I did heavy research into this genre within the GCC, and the hunger is there, it always has been – from huge events like Comic Con, to Sci-Fi fans, and here, it’s always sci-fi and horror films topping the box office – and has been for years.”
People have seen alien invasions in New York, in London, in significant landmarks around the world, so it is the UAE’s turn. I mean… why not here? – Aerials director, S.A. Zaidi
ATOP THE BURJ KHALIFA: The film sees an alien invasion in the UAE AERIALS WILL BE SCREENED IN CINEMAS IN DUBAI, ABU DHABI AND FUJAIRAH. SEE FAT BROTHERS FILM ON YOUTUBE FOR THE TRAILER