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Last Floor Productions signs multi-project deal to create original content for Middle East

DUBAI: Independent Arab production company Last Floor Productions has signed a multi-project deal with Eagle Films to create original content for the region.

Last Floor Productions was launched in 2019 by Firas Abou Fakher, Daniel Habib, and Nasri Atallah to create fresh and original content that resonated globally. 

Firas Abou Fakher, co-founder and creative director of Last Floor Productions.

Abou Fakher, co-founder and creative director of Last Floor Productions, always had an interest in fiction. He told Arab News: “We thought it was a shame that we were always talking about and watching shows and movies that are rarely produced in the region.”

He said the founding trio was interested in doing work that could travel within the region and beyond.

The core problem in the Middle East region was the “very big canyon” between films being made to win awards and “middle-of-the-road melodramas” being produced with the same “cookie-cutter” approach for the last 25 to 30 years.

This was the golden age of TV, he added. “There’s a television renaissance happening right now, and a lot of media companies in the region are trying to fit themselves in, so we thought this is a good place to start implementing some of the thoughts and ideas we have.”

Eagle Films started in 1991 as a Hollywood film distributor in the Middle East. In 2010, the company started venturing into content production, setting up an in-house movie production division soon after.

The two companies had a very “open relationship” and a great rapport that enabled Last Floor Productions to pitch multiple projects to Eagle Films.

Its previous projects include a self-funded short film called “It Gets Darker” and two shows for MBC’s Shahid, “Fixer” and “Al Shak.”

“Al Shak” was shot entirely during lockdown, with actors receiving GoPro cameras to film themselves and remote crews working out of Jeddah and Beirut.

Both shows reflect the production company’s approach to veering away from melodramas into new genres. These genres might be considered niche in the Middle East, said Abou Fakher, but they were very much the norm in other parts of the world.

“Well-done, well-written, scripted gangster shows, and horror shows or thrillers that are a bit out of the box have become the norm now; they are no longer melodramas or telenovelas. The biggest TV shows right now are coming out from all over the world.”

Last year, South Korea’s “Squid Game” ranked No. 1 on Netflix’s global charts for 29 days straight. Spain’s “Money Heist” was another non-English show that dominated the platform’s global charts.

In this environment, where there is more content and demand than ever, there is also more competition. Some countries and regions have already managed to put themselves on the global map. Was it too late for the Middle East?

“Everybody’s still finding their footing and trying to figure it out. I do, however, think that this is also an opportunity,” said Abou Fakher. “In this chaos and realm of the unknown, people need to take chances and risks to get ahead. These younger and fresher faces are popping up and they’re willing to take risks,” said Abou Fakher referring to “Squid Game,” which he described as a “crazy series” featuring “brutal death, crazy comedy, and dystopian” elements.

“Why can’t it be us?” he asked.

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