Red Crescent Society

A Matter of Life and Life

Agency: NQLA studio


Award-winning director Tamer Shaaban has released the director’s cut of his cinematically epic ad showcasing the Saudi Red Crescent Authority’s (SRCA) state-of-the-art emergency response system. Titled “A Matter of Life and Life,” the :90 film portrays two true-to-life emergency response missions in action-packed detail – from first responders at the ground level to the Red Crescent’s high-tech fleet of Level 1 Trauma helicopters.

The film was conceived by agency NQLA in partnership with the SRCA, The Helicopter Company, and the Saudi Tourism Authority, which last year announced a goal of reaching 70 million international visitors a year by 2030.

Working closely with Hani Alasali from HiProduction, Shaaban meticulously crafted the film by scripting and storyboarding concurrent storylines that embody Saudi Arabia’s extensive network of emergency response professionals and infrastructure. Deploying a fragmented narrative to great effect, Shaaban’s vignettes collectively tap into a broad spectrum of universally relatable emotions and experiences for everyone involved in life-or-death situations.

“I wanted to craft a film that resonates on a cinematic level to mirror the enormity of the emergency situations that the Red Crescent is equipped to handle,” remarks Shaaban, who is represented by production company Durable Goods in the U.S. “We drew inspiration from classic action rescue films reminiscent of Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight, and Sicario, and within that tense framework, the aim was to showcase the Red Crescent’s compassion and unwavering commitment to saving lives with emotional impact.”

Shaaban further explains, “Using tighter lenses and handheld movement for the victims, contrasted with wider lenses and motion-controlled units for the Red Crescent, powerfully juxtaposed the feeling of helplessness in critical situations versus the professionalism and composure of the medical team in action. They are the light at the end of the tunnel, which is why when they approach the scene, they’re the solution from the skies, and the sun rises with them.”

To ensure precision in depicting real-life medical responses and procedures, Shaaban enlisted real paramedics, firemen, doctors, nurses, and helicopter pilots. Meanwhile, professional actors were chosen to portray the roles of patients and their family members to honor the emotional journey at the core of emergency response scenarios. Logistically, given the abundance of scenes to shoot, Shaaban's casting of real professionals streamlined the production's time constraints, enabling him to block and get the shots he needed quickly and efficiently.

“Authenticity and realism were paramount to fully immerse the audience into the story's gravity,” Shaaban elaborates. “I wanted them to feel the tension and believe it at every turn until it was mission accomplished. From a performance standpoint, our non-actors nailed it. Of course, maintaining composure in high-stakes emergencies is second nature to them. They are superheroes in their own right, so featuring them as the stars of the show in a blockbuster fashion was fitting.”

Spanning three intense filming days scrupulously planned down to the minute, the ambitious production involved a global team of hundreds, including collaboration with local and state departments, such as local film offices, the department of transportation, the fire department, police, air traffic control, and The Helicopter Company, which operates and supplies the Red Crescent helicopter fleet.

“Given all the in-camera practical effects involving everything from burning cars to Hollywood-style stunts on the ground and in the air, every permit, protocol, and safety measure had to be carefully planned and executed,” remarks Shaaban. “But when you see the final piece, you can’t help but say, ‘Wow.’”

Extending the production to the post with his team in Los Angeles, editing and sound design also played an integral role in heightening the film’s emotional arc in cinematic fashion. Collaborating with editor Tyson Wade Johnston, Shaaban ruthlessly cut the film down to its final :90 version, approaching each moment with the goal of building emotional tension.

Omar El-Deeb, whose work is featured in the Netflix series The Brothers Sun and Season 2 of The Mandalorian, composed this film's underscore with arrangements that blend Hollywood and Middle Eastern instruments. Sound designer Fady Garas utilized a wide range of soundscapes, capturing emergency responses across roadways, skyways, and airwaves. From the harrowing to the heroic, he skillfully layered each sound to enhance the immersive experience Shaaban envisioned.

“This project was a testament to teamwork and trust,” concludes Shaaban. “It took a city, not a village.”

This professional campaign titled 'A Matter of Life and Life' was published in Saudi Arabia in January, 2024. It was created for the brand: Red Crescent Society, by ad agency: NQLA studio. This Film medium campaign is related to the Health industry and contains 1 media asset. It was submitted 3 months ago.


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