Since he was a child, Motaz Nabulsi had big dreams of being a Hollywood filmmaker. A dreamer with a humble outlook on life, he shared with us in his first interview ever his exciting journey through the movie industry, how he risked and lost it all before he made it to the top and his involvement in the latest blockbuster movie ‘2 Guns’.
“I just want to make movies, that’s my dream, to tell stories that take viewers through moments they might not live throughout their lives”. Said Nabulsi. “My dad produced a film when I was five years old in England, so I grew up inspired by him. I always wanted to be like him, but even better.”
But the journey was not as simple as that child once dreamed. His first step into the industry was based on a big gamble that Nabulsi decided to take when he moved to the Big Apple and volunteered in the Tribeca Film Festival.
“I decided to try to apply to work at the Tribeca Film Festival as a volunteer, to get my foot in there somehow. So I started working there and I wasn’t doing anything related to movies at first. I was more than happy to carry around boxes, observe daily industry activities, learn as much as possible from my surroundings, walk into theatres, see the actors and directors in action, going to press rooms, It all felt great. Finally, after 3 weeks my boss asked me to work full time as a production assistant and that’s when I became more involved in the festival. I was ecstatic, and this feeling motivated me and pushed me further into this industry.
But Nabulsi got bitten when he finally decided to dip his toes in the water for the first time. Where he also invested $100 of his own capital in a movie only to have it fall through.
However, that experience did not break his spirit or stop him dreaming. Even as an Advisor of Strategic Initiatives for Saudi Oger Ltd. a construction company in Saudi Arabia, Nabulsi kept looking for opportunities where he could apply what he learnt.
“Through my experience in Saudi, I used to talk to everyone about my passion for movies. So one day I got a project to be an investor in a Hollywood movie. I went through the whole process and it fell apart, it didn’t work out because the project got cancelled. But I learnt the ropes from this experience and I noticed how passionate and how excited I was being involved in the movie industry” he said.
He finally hit a streak of good luck when he partnered up with producers Joshua Skurla and Simon Fawcett whom he met in New York with mutual interests and goals. “Since we had the same interests, we ended up becoming partners and created a company (Empyrean Pictures) and (Empyr Media Capital) in which we created and produced our own independent film called “Sunlight Jr.” Its starringNaomi Watts and Matt Dillon and it were presented on April 19th 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival. “So I went back to the Tribeca Film Festival but as a producer this time. And that was an amazing experience and achievement”.
2 Guns is the second motion picture that Nabulsi worked on as an Executive Producer, which also happens to be actor and star Denzel Washington’s first ever comedy role. The action-comedy movie has made over $75m and around $27m in its opening week, making it the number one movie at the US box office on its debut.
“I put everything I could into this movie. Meetings, travelling and all my resources and time were focused on this project. I worked with one of the top production companies in Hollywood (Emmett Furla Films), that produced over 70 movies in Hollywood .I was lucky to have worked with Randall Emmett, George Furla and the rest of the team on this production, we had great chemistry and we’ve built a great relationship in this business together.”
Nabulsi has another movie already in the pipeline called Lone Survivor, which is based on one of America’s bestselling books based on a true story written by Marcus Luttrell and will also, star Mark Wahlberg once again.
“I think there are so many Middle Eastern investors that would like to be involved in the Film industry and they would like to penetrate this market as some might also be intimidated by this industry like I was. So given my relationships, I try to connect people to make movies, and to bridge the gap between the east and west.
His positive energy was infectious as he described how he felt at the start of the big budget movie. “I met pretty much everyone who worked on this movie. They’re very focused, very professional. You can tell why they are the people who they are.”
When asked about what the future has in store for his filming career, Nabulsi reflects on the local filming industry in the Middle East. “I believe governments, private investors and independent businessmen who are influential could definitely contribute to Arab filmmaking. I feel that we miss proper channels. We don’t have enough institutions or film schools and awareness to inspire talents and guide future filmmakers, and provide them with necessary tools to pursue their dreams.” he stated.
“My future goal is to make more movies and hopefully be more influential in the Arab world, and to be part of having them more recognized internationally. We have a lot of talent in the Middle East that’s not being utilized properly; my ultimate goal is to make a difference.