Lujain Albishi

Assistant Director based in Jeddah

 "Most international crew are surprised by the availability of talent and equipment."

When did you start in the film business?

I graduated as a marketing student, but I was always curious about cinema and how films were put together. Friends recommended I work on a film, The Great, directed by Abdulrahman Khoja. I worked in the wardrobe department, but I moved into the AD team as I was more interested in being on set and directing.

Describe your job?

I work as the first assistant director which is the director's right hand. I’m chiefly in charge of scheduling the shooting days, creating a smooth workflow on set and serving the needs of the director.

What productions have you worked on?

I worked as a 1st AD on multiple commercials and music videos. My first feature film was a Book of the Sun, produced by the Red Sea Film Festival. I worked on a US feature film as an AD. We shot in AlUla for three days which was a great experience. I worked as a 1st AD on Whispers, the Netflix series production directed by Hana Alomair.

What was your favorite shooting location?

Personally I love desert locations. AlUla had the most beautiful desert locations I have ever seen, with unique canyons and rock formations. The American crew were blown away by its beauty.

What was one of your most satisfying moments filming?

On Book of the Sun, we had a main scene that would make or break the film. We had been prepping since the beginning of shooting and anxiously anticipating it. When the day came, everyone was on set from four in the morning but unfortunately there was a problem with some of the equipment. We brainstormed a solution for the entire day and finally twelve hours later we shot the perfect scene. For me solving that problem was the most satisfying feeling.

How do international crew perceive Saudi Arabia and how does that change during shooting?

I think most international crew are surprised by the availability of talent and equipment. They see the potential Saudi has to offer with crew, equipment and locations and are excited to see where it is headed.

What are the main challenges the industry faces in Saudi Arabia?

For me as a freelancing AD, I think the main challenges we face is the risk in working full time in what's considered a slow industry in the region. We need more mentors and more guidance. We need some clear rulebooks so that the industry can move forward as one.