It’s always amazing when one of our own wanders into the world to put Kuwait on the map, but when we heard that Kuwait went Hollywood, we were pleasantly surprised! Nawaf Al Ghanim, an American-born Kuwaiti launched an independent production company in Los Angeles and produced his very first movie The Girl in the Photographs with the late, great Wes Craven, the genius behind horror classics such as the Scream franchise and A Nightmare On Elm Street. After receiving his BS and MB in Civil Engineering in Southern California, the longtime movie fanatic decided to pursue his passion after graduating from San Jose State University.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts but there weren’t many ways to release my creative energy.” Thanks to Nawaf, paving the way for other creative souls in Kuwait with dreams to make it in the movie industry is becoming a reality. By launching Al Ghanim Entertainment, the producer is providing an opportunity for Kuwait to be recognized in Hollywood “I want to put Kuwait on the map and in the movies. Both Qatar and the UAE have production companies that release internationally, but Kuwait hasn’t found that yet. It’s an honor to be the first and to release a Hollywood film with one of the greats.”
The film is described as fun with an amazing script that pays homage to older horror films of the 80s and 90s. Though the movie hasn’t been fully released to the public as of yet, the plot boasts intrigue and thrill: A young woman living in small South Dakota town keeps finding high-fashion ads with mutilated models. Are they real or staged? The culprit is either a serial killer or some creep with a sick sense of humor, and the cops aren’t doing much about it either way. When news of the twisted photo campaign hits the Internet, a famous LA-based celebrity photographer, decides to take a trip to the small town to investigate who’s been mutilating his work.
The cast is studded with stars that are old favorites, such as Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar series), familiar faces such as Christy Carlson Romano (the bossy sister from Disney’s Even Stevens) and TV’s talented beauties such as Claudia Lee (Hart of Dixie) and Miranda Rae Mayo (Pretty Little Liars). Combined with a killer storyline and cast, Al Ghanim’s debut film is sure to be a hit!
When did you get into film producing, and what inspired you to launch a Kuwaiti production company in Los Angeles?
I’ve always liked movies from the get-go and I believe that I know what a good movie is, so I decided to start making them. I also felt inspired to create a gateway to further introduce our culture to Hollywood. I believe in Arabs influencing Hollywood – in fact, the director of The Girl in the Photographs (Nick Simon) is half Syrian, which is partially why I picked the film!
Do you think it’s been receiving a positive reaction between the East and West so far?
I think so! We haven’t been around for very long so far and this is our first movie, but I’ve been getting so much support from friends and family here in Kuwait. I also feel that this company will inspire fellow filmmakers in Kuwait to put themselves out there.
What’s your ideal outcome for this company?
Besides merging the East and West in the entertainment industry, I also aspire to work on a lot of different types of films that are more well-rounded. I’m not exclusive to horror films, though it was a lot of fun working on one. We’d like to explore more scripts and see what’s out there for us to turn into blockbuster hits. I’d also like to eventually organize a fund-raiser of sorts in the region to expand our budget so we could produce more eclectic movies! It’s a process. We’re still a new company and I’m excited to see how much we’ll grow.
Tell us a bit about your process and a day in the life of a producer.
After picking the script and meeting the directors, writers and crew, you start holding auditions. We were lucky enough to have an amazing cast of young and talented actors and actresses. Once you have your cast, you have to choose locations to shoot the film. We picked beautiful Victoria Island in British Columbia, Canada. After choosing the location to shoot, the filming begins, and this takes about three months. Then there’s editing, color correction, and sound. It’s a long and tiring process with long hours and a lot of gray hairs, but it’s fulfilling.
Were you pleased with the outcome of The Girl in the Photographs?
Extremely. We premiered in the Midnight Madness segment of the Toronto Film Festival on September 15th in front of an audience of 2,000 people! People laughed when appropriate and screamed and gasped when appropriate. We also had a great response in a recent world premiere at the Sitges Film Festival and our upcoming premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. We’re getting a lot of exposure, and I know the public will be enjoying this movie.
What makes the ideal production team?
As a producer, you have to know how to put your foot down because creative types do tend to run wild with their ideas. It takes a lot of patience, but you definitely have to be a people’s person and remember that it takes a team to make everything work. You have to rely on everyone to get something done and have faith in everybody on your team. Personally, I couldn’t have worked with a better crew!
What was it like, working with the late Wes Craven?
Wes Craven was a good friend of mine and he was really involved. It was an honor working with him, especially on his last movie. We also lived close to each other and got to know each other better. I would bring him back things from Kuwait that he would hang in his house! He was a part of it the whole way, and did as much as he could while he was sick. It was an honor working with Wes on his last one, and he will definitely be missed.
If you could go back in time and produce an epic film of your choice, which would it be and why?
I’d love to remake the movie Dune. It’s a best selling Sci-Fi book by Frank Herbert that was made into a movie in the 1970s, starring Patrick Stewart. Maybe somewhere down the line.