(Amazing art by João Levezinho - @lev.zin.ho)
Jamal is a Syrian ex-swimming champion who coaches young swimmers at his local leisure centre. He trains a young aspiring swimmer, Mara, who happens to be attracted to him. Living in his small flat with his kindhearted mother, Alya, Jamal tries to live a normal life despite feeling alienated in his new home country, as a refugee with a past that torments him.
Putting his prized gold medal into his bag everyday for work, he tries to maintain his previous identity as a swimmer despite not being able to swim anymore. Jamal is soon confronted by his manager with an offer that leads to his anxiety building up and more misfortunes occurring. He expresses his frustrations back at home to his mother, feeling like the world is against him for his label as a refugee. At work again, Jamal faces another obstacle, but one that leads to a deeper, soulful connection to build between him and Mara.
Set in the present day, Beyond the Blue is a heartwarming, human story that uses symbolism to explore and represent its concepts surrounding identity, culture, trauma, and home.
We aim to represent culture through the style of Jamal and Alya’s home and capturing the domesticity that is typically expressed within Arabic households.
When it comes to Jamal’s identity, the symbolic use of his gold medal - which he carries along with him everyday to work - will demonstrate the importance of his journey into accepting his past identity and moving forward, and to gradually recognizing his new path. As for the delicate representation of trauma, we will articulate it sensitively through dialogue and Jamal’s humour, while visually expressing it through colour and the main characters’ memories.
Some of our influences for the film come partly from the works of Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club (1993) and the indie style of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2017). Thematically, we focus on the symbolism of water as it is a reminder of Jamal’s past and journey towards a safer home and also a constant in his present life as he coaches swimming. The ever presence of water throughout the narrative also represents the sea and is inspired by the respective work of Mati Diop’s Atlantics (2019) ‘where it serves as a comforting and threatening symbol of death and freedom’. During the course of the dialogue at home, dialogue follows an exchange between English and Arabic dialects. The use of Arabic in our film is founded on the culture and origin of Jamal and Alya, where it serves as a reminder for part of their identity in their new home.
The twenty-first century sees the largest refugee crisis the world has ever experienced. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave everything behind because of persecution, violence and war. Many of those people have lost family and friends amidst that experience and while fleeing to a safer place.
According to Amnesty International there are 26 million refugees worldwide, half of them being children. Since 2014, Syrian’s have been the highest number of refugees that by 2019, 6.6 million were hosted by 126 countries. Beyond the Blue aims to bring to light some of the struggles a young refugee may face when being in a new home country, as well as bringing to light the importance of integrating them into our communities and societies. By using a lot of symbolism, present on the medal, water, and the family house, the film will highlight the topics of identity crisis, trauma, and home.
Colour will play a large role in the cinematography for Beyond the Blue. Different colours can evoke different emotions and we want to highlight this with two different colour pallets that reflect the evolution of Jamal’s character as the film progresses. The colour blue has connotations of loneliness and isolation and for Jamal the pool reminds him of a past that he will never be able to go back to and a place where he isn’t fully accepted. The colour pallet for this was partially inspired by Picasso's Blue Period. This was a period of works from 1901-1904 where Picasso used primarily different shades of blue during a melancholic time of his life.
To contrast the cold blue tones from the pool we will use warm tones in Jamal’s flat. His flat that he shares with his mother is his safe place and the place that he feels most comfortable in. The colour palette will consist of oranges and browns which connote feelings of happiness and hope which will reflect the shift in Jamal’s state of mind towards the end of the film.
The lighting for the film aims to be grounded in reality. The harsh fluorescent lights of a swimming pool will help heighten the cold feel of his place of work. With the use of practical lights in the flat to help enhance the feeling of homeliness and belonging. In order to achieve this there will need to be a strong emphasis on collaboration with the production design department to ensure that there is a shared vision.
The main inspiration for the cinematography for this film comes from Roger Deakins and his use of bold colour pallets and natural/practical lighting in his films. Also, Hoyte van Hoytema particularly for his work on Her (Jonze, 2013) and the films depiction of loneliness through the use of colour, composition and shallow depth of field. It is important that the cinematography for Beyond the Blue serves the story in a way that does not distract audiences from the core themes of the film.
The focus of Production Design also will intertwine with exploring the themes of identity, overcoming the past and hope for the future. Following the pictorial theme of symbolism within the narrative, Production Design will be representing all of the character's feelings and inner conflicts.
The house must represent family as well as Jamal’s conflicting cultural identity. For this, his room must be modern and simpler. That will connote a clean slate for Jamal in finding his new identity as a UK citizen. We hope to capture a warm and cozy feel in the home, heavily influenced by religion, food, and Syrian family life. The main colour palette will consist of warm oranges and beige, dark browns, and deep reds, contrasted with blue and emerald decor, like that of Syrian palaces and Mosques. Paintings shall be very abstract and metaphorical within the same colour palette, mostly in the style of religious iconography, juxtaposed with a slight hint of British culture.
The house will contrast the pool scene, where the setting should connote a feeling of isolation. Therefore, the palette should be a lot colder and darker with deep navy and green tones. This will create depth in contrast with the bright orange of the life ring and lifeguard uniform that Jamal will wear. The presence of the ring will be symbolic for life and hope and it is ultimately a metaphor for Jamal’s new identity. It also resembles the shape of the medal which convey the success and belonging.
Below are some completed models representing what the location for the Swimming Pool and the house could look like. The space for the house should consist of two bedrooms, a kitchen and living room. The house should have plenty of practical lighting to emphasize its warmth - this should help strengthen the contrast between the cold atmosphere of the pool and the comfort of the home.
In Beyond the Blue, we are aiming to create designs that will be ambitious and have a strong emotional feel that relates to the film’s themes as well as fitting in with the location and budget. We want to take the audience on a cultural journey, and make the viewer smell and taste through the screen what Jamal experiences when he enters both locations.
We have created this pie chart to illustrate the areas that will take over which portions of the funding we raise. Majority of the budget will be spent towards Casting and Locations - two departments which we consider will majorly enhance the storytelling of our film. The funding will be meticulously managed by the production team, in line to create a realistic budget which will lay the creative foundations of Beyond The Blue.
Our film needs all the support we can get to monetarily assure the storytelling we are trying to convey. Every like, follow and share on social media is essential to the film’s viability, and we would be extremely grateful to have your support in whatever form you are able to offer. By spreading the message, you will be helping to give this story the platform we believe it deserves.
You can find us on our social media: Facebook and Instagram, where we'll keep you updated on the pre-production process, as well as the final product insider look (Maybe a few behind the scenes as well!)
Batool is the writer and director of Beyond the Blue. Being half Egyptian half British and growing up in the Middle East, she has always been inspired by culture and people. One of her passionate topics is ones that are humanitarian such as the refugee crisis, which she believes needs to be presented more through films. Using film as a powerful, global, artistic medium, she is keen on building bridges across borders to bring people to understand and empathize with each other. Storytelling is an ancient practice that humans cannot live without, and filmmaking has only enhanced it in every sense imaginable.
Having worked on multiple films throughout university, Batool knows that a good film comes from a powerful story told by a passionate, skillful, collaborative team. The topics that Beyond the Blue explores are sensitive, it explores trauma especially through the refugee experiences, so Batool has done extensive research and spoken to relevant people to ensure that story stays true to the reality of what these people go through. With her fantastic crew they aim to bring a slice of the Syrian culture to screen and capture a human story that everyone from the audience can connect with.
Beatriz has been involved in producing and directing short/documentary films since 2016. Originally from Lisbon, Portugal – and now studying at the Arts University of Bournemouth for four years, she has since expressed particular interest on the production side of bringing a story to life. She shows preference towards making films which tackle, and ultimately aim to improve human welfare. This interweaves with her passion for art and entertainment – and having key discussions about how to make the world a better place. The project of Beyond The Blue is not only a learning process for film production, but more importantly an act to take notice of humanitarian crises happening at the present time. Aiding Batool through her awareness of entrepreneurial, financial and organisational attributes, Beatriz hopes to help tell a powerful narrative, which will touch the viewer’s hearts.
Originally from Reading, Matilda has worked under the role of both Producer and 1st Assistant Director throughout her time at AUB. By applying her immeasurable love of film and the skills she’s learnt along the way, Matilda hopes to tell the story of Beyond the Blue in the most delicate and profound way. For Matilda Beyond the Blue is a story of hope and self discovery, which targets Refugees and the process of migrating to a different country. “As a filmmaker I think it is important to use film to target humanitarian issues. With the skills I have harnessed whilst Producing at AUB, I hope to enable the creativity of my Director and crew, so that we can tell a story which speaks to those who have been effected by such world issues”
Joe is the Director of Photography for Beyond The Blue. He has always had a keen interest in photography which has now translated into his passion for cinematography. He has since worked on numerous projects at university within the camera and lighting department as well as Director of Photography on several projects outside of university. This has enabled him to gain a good understanding of all aspects of cinematography. Last year, Joe worked mainly in the lighting department in order to strengthen his knowledge in that area and now believes he is ready to help bring Batool’s vision for Beyond The Blue to life. What drew him to this story because it aims to shed light on the refugee crisis which is so often overlooked in this country.
Max Bartholomew leads our lighting department as Beyond the Blue’s Gaffer. Max is a London-based filmmaker who has primarily worked in advertising, specialising in cinematography. His passion for new stories, and compelling narratives has drawn him to Beyond the Blue. Max hopes to one day be a director, with this in mind max hopes to use his knowledge and understanding of filmmaking, to make Beyond the blue an informative, and visually compelling film.
Callum is the Camera Operator for Beyond The Blue, He has worked on a wide variety of projects before coming to AUB always having a passion for cinematography and the camera department, throughout his time at AUB he has further developed his skills and knowledge of not only cinematography but how it is linked to and an integral part of storytelling. "Beyond The Blue was a project that really appealed to me in its themes and story and due the challenge I knew I would face in helping to capture it on screen and I hope my excitement to work on this project shows through at the end."
Originally from Fleet, Hampshire, she joined AUB in 2019. Hayley always had a passion for storytelling, interior design, and history. She used to redecorate her room monthly with different furnishing’s, wall colours and even furniture she made herself with the help of her dad. She realised quickly that specialising in production design was a dream come true. Utilising her knowledge, interior design skills and proactive mindset to influence her designs and set building whilst also gaining experience from many short films within AUB as well as some experience in industry. Including production designer for ‘this land is all mine’ directed by Tom Blackman, and ‘Nos’ Directed by Mason Treen. “I want to be able to create and design worlds that have powerful meaning, a space you can almost feel and smell producing a lasting impact on the audience well after the film has ended”.
Hayley’s vision for the film is clear and hopes she can bring Batool’s Syrian vision to life. Hayley believes that collaboration is the most important aspect of filmmaking and that you can only be as good as your team. “This is my reasoning for choosing Beyond The Blue, I knew such a powerful story would attract likeminded passionate people who would give their all to a project that doesn’t shy away from being different, I’m very much excited to be designing for a project I really believe in and that others will too”.
Andy is our Sound Designer and on-set Production Sound Mixer of Beyond The Blue. “I don’t make noise, I Just Record it” (Andy Weeks, 2019). Andy has worked on a number of Projects and Productions both inside and outside of his studies at AUB, making him Great to have on Board. He was Drawn to the film by its feeling of hope and new beginnings, and where everyone deserves a shot. His Creativity will be pushed on this project getting to dive into the sound of different cultures and situations along with building a soundscape to bring the Audience on a journey with our lead Character ‘Jamal’.
Jana is the head of the post-production department. She is in her final year on the BA Film Production course, specialising in editing. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Jana has come to the UK to pursue her ambition of having a career as an editor. Jana knew she wanted to work on this film since she first read the script. “Coming from a Middle Eastern background, I truly feel the need to represent the middle east to the rest of the world and shed light on the issues that are facing them.” She is very excited to work with the team and bring this story to life.
Meet Benjy, the 1st Assistant Director for Beyond The Blue. Since arriving at AUB, Benjy describes having been taught the importance of creating films from stories that are worth telling. He says “we have been encouraged to not shy away from making films about difficult topics, but instead use film as a way to engage in conversations about different social, political or ethical issues”. He continues: “All of this whilst simultaneously creating an emotionally immersive experience to captivate audience members feelings". His previous experiences working on both professional and AUB film sets has given him the confidence to be able to help bring Beyond The Blue to the silver screen. Benjy describes the position of a 1st AD as “thrilling” since he loves to be at the centre of decision making whilst on set. Benjy continues: “Batool has not shied away from a difficult topic by exploring such sensitive themes. I am excited to work closely with Batool to help bring her vision to the screen whilst on set”.
Bella is the Costume Designer for Beyond the Blue. Studying her third and final year on the BA Costume and Performance Design course, she specializes in Costume for Screen. Originally from The New Forest in Hampshire, she has always had a love for showing rather than telling through appearance. "I had a deep sense of connection to the film after reading the synopsis. As someone who also struggles with mental health, I feel it is important to show this journey of transformation through dress. I hope I can help bring this story to life, and raise more awareness about the mental health difficulties that refugees face on a daily basis."