We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mohammed Alhamoud, the producer of the psychological thriller, The Matchmaker and head of development at Telfaz11.
The film takes place in the enchanting region of AlUla, Saudi Arabia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rich folklore and ancient landscapes. In The Matchmaker, we follow Tarek, an IT professional, as he develops a crush on his intern and follows her to a mysterious desert resort in AlUla, providing a unique cultural experience to the film through the sets.
Q: What inspired the decision to produce a movie set in AlUla, Saudi Arabia?
A: AlUla’s exotic and stunning landscape has always been admired by locals and tourists, and it was a natural choice for the film’s backdrop. The decision to shoot a psychological thriller was the foundation of the project, and AlUla’s mysterious and ancient landscape was the perfect fit to ensure the production was executed with the utmost artistry and meticulousness.
Q: The Matchmaker deals with complex themes, including love, obsession, and revenge. What message do you hope audiences will take away from the movie?
A: Honestly, I always like the audience to leave with their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings, to form their own impression. I don’t want to force something. We simply want them to enjoy the film, regardless of what feeling the film might evoke in them. In general, if you ask me what I want the audience to enjoy, it’s a new genre, especially in Saudi. As a filmmaker who has been in the industry since the early days, I’m not familiar with many psychological thrillers in the region, specifically in Saudi. So for us, it’s about enjoying the journey of our characters.
Q: What nuances or subtleties of the dialogue might be lost in translation from Arabic to English?
A: Our priority was to make the film relatable to local audiences first while also hoping to reach a global audience through our partnership with Netflix. While certain cultural elements could be missed in translation, the storylines would still be clear. We hope that the audience still feels the atmosphere and spooky element of the film, which can be felt even without translation.
Q: How was the idea for the story generated, and what were some of the themes that the movie explores?
A: We initially wanted to create a psychological thriller with a Saudi touch that all audiences could universally understand. The idea of a matchmaker inviting men to an exotic resort with a supernatural element was then born. The team had several brainstorming sessions until we developed the character of Tarek, a man with marriage issues who decided to visit the resort.
Q: What is your direction and focus regarding storytelling, particularly in Saudi Arabia’s young movie industry?
A: As Telfazll studio, our focus has always been on crafting compelling stories, regardless of the genre or format – be it a sketch, a show, or a film. As a filmmaker, I am driven by excellence in our work and a genuine connection with our audience. Looking ahead, we are open to exploring genres that resonate with Saudi audiences. Given that cinema is still in its early stages in the country, we are constantly surprised by the box office successes and audience preferences. Ultimately, we strive to maintain the authenticity of our storytelling while also pushing the boundaries of the craft.
Q: Are there any future projects in the pipeline, and what can we expect from you and Telfaz11?
A: Telfazll has several projects in development, and the company is not limiting itself to any specific genre. We prefer to surprise ourselves and our audiences. As a studio, we are committed to crafting compelling stories and engaging with our audience. We are super excited to release The Matchmaker and receive viewers’ feedback.