Trees Die Standing


Our documentary making process was an incredible experience, each of us grew as individuals as we learned how to bring our own qualities and knowledge to the team. One of the hardest aspects was getting started with the entire project, being a group that had never worked together before, especially on such an emotional project, was a bit intimidating. However, as soon as we got things started every step continued to fall into place, and our strength as a team continued to grow. The idea of creating a short documentary on a Syrian refugee came from our editor and director, Johnny Rafter. Prior to the project Johnny had worked on an award winning SBIFF film. Shaina Goel is also an experienced film maker, who also was simultaneously working on a film which was screened at the SBIFF. As for me, Kassandra Gutierrez, I am a news reporter with experience in covering film events, real life stories and conducting one on one interviews.

As a group, we met consecutively to plan for our shoots and brainstorm our overall goals for our project. We then took a trip to Los Angeles, to meet Fadia Afashe, the main subject of our documentary, for the first time, and sat with her for a couple of hours, to interview and film her. J

Johnny Rafter, shot directed and edited the film. During our first shooting session he set up the set location and filmed the interview, making sure sound levels and shots were all intact. Rafter, went down to Los Angeles for a second time to film Afashe in a painting studio, where he was able to shoot some b roll of Afashe painting for the documentary. After these two sessions, we also filmed our music talents, SiJie Loo, Ziyad Marcus and Salem Khattar. Once we had the complete footage, along with the music, Rafter started to edit parts together and come up with what we see now, a moving and emotional piece of art in its whole.

During our first filming session, despite it being her first time, Shaina Goel conducted a powerful and emotional interview with Afashe. Goel, acted as a natural throughout the entire interview and was extremely relatable, making Afashe feel comfortable and asking questions that followed what she was saying. During the music recording session, Goel also helped with setting up the set and making sure the necessary equipment was available.

I, Kassandra Gutierrez, worked on contacting Afashe, as well as our musicians and working out scheduling shooting sessions and locations with our artists. I also had the opportunity to ask Afashe some questions as part as the interview. During the music recording session I too helped with the set up, and was in charge of the sound levels throughout the performances.

The process of this project was a great experience, as we all learned new things about ourselves, Goel was able to execute her documentary filmmaking and interviewing interest, Rafter was able to create a documentary similar to his inspiration, My Aleppo, and I, Gutierrez, was able to practice sound levels in film and bring my fields of studies together, film and music.

Trees Die Standing



To me it is amazing that we live in the 21 century and that women in Saudi Arabia are unable to drive. When I first heard about this I thought it was unfortunate but I honestly didn’t think too much into it. Until we studied it and read the articles and heard the different talks and it made me realize how hard it would be to not be able to drive. What is shocking to me is that women in Saudi Arabia have amazing jobs and are very smart however they are unable to drive. The most basic form of freedom is taken away from them. I though it was so sad that they have to deal with creepy men and so many issue just in order to get somewhere simple like work.


The ted talk we watched in class was very powerful. The women to drive movement is inspiring and shows how much power one person can have with the use of social media. It was amazing that a video of a women driving a car could change everything. I think that is what is very exciting about social media it gives the individual power. People are able to bring awareness to subjects that normally would not have light shed on them. This gives me hope and it makes me realize that we are so lucky in America and we are able to do so much with our creativity and social media and its time to make a change!!


Cairo Drive



Sherief Elkatsha was such an inspiration and everything he said about the documentary process made me feel better about myself. I have been working on a documentary on my own for the past three years and often times feel like giving up so hearing him say the same thing made me feel better about my project.

I could totally relate to him also with the love hate aspect of film making its such a long tedious process that involves so many outside sources that it can easily become very frustrating. He was such a great guy and defiantly gave me inspiration. I also found it very awesome that he went about making his film in his own personal way and not having major investors, I have a lot of respect for him and his process. I also think its great that Lalia and Sherief have been friends since they were little kids it really does go to show how important your peers are and making connections now that will help you in the future! I was very excited to see the film after hearing Sherief speak about it! I thought it was incredible and it made me think even more highly of him!!

I thought it was such a brilliant way getting to know a city and a society by understanding there form of transportation and how they relate to one another on the road. I loved all the interviews they were so real and I think he did a great job editing. The film had such a great pace! I truly loved everything about it! I felt as if I was in Cairo while watching the movie. I defiantly feel like I have more awareness for the city and I would love to go there sometime!!!




Cairo Drive

Fresh Prince of Richistan Final!

Here’s the link!


For our project we made a parody video showcasing the corruption of the Royal family of Saudi Arabia. Our focus is on an unnamed prince  who lives in complete luxury in a posh SoCal neighborhood.

The aesthetics of an MTV cribs style video in which the host, a prince of Richistahn, walks a camera crew through his alcohol, drug, prostitute, party house of a home. He rides up in his convertible slamming a bottle while sitting on the back of the car driven by two security The scene will open with protesters outside the house. When our prince opens the door the party in full rage mode then move on to several more subtle critiques of the corruption of the ruling class. Our Prince has also has a hot temper and gets pissed out by someone, threatens to kill people if he doesn’t get his way. These include a accidental reveal to a torture chamber, a hot tub made with money in it, a US government official giving the prince a fat check for oil money, and finally an awkward skype call between the prince and his father the King of Richistahn which showcases both the strained relationship between them but the hypocrisy that takes place between his father’s expectations of his son and what is actually taking place.

Challenges: The greatest obstacle we face with these series is production value. Fortunately we already have a house owned by a friend in the Hollywood hills that will serve the purpose for the home of our prince. The real challenge is dressing the set with enough props and extras to sell a party worthy of a Prince. We have a talented crew however with a lot of experience in production and the connections to fill our space convincingly.

2 day shoot.

Brandon- CamOp, Visual Effects


Ivan- production design

Sana- Project manager

Matt Hoge- Director/writer

Alex Amiot- Sound



The Prince of Saudi Arabia fascinated our group; Prince Majid Al-Saud who is the son of the late King Abdullah and who frequently spends a lot of time in his home in Bel-Air. What attracted us to this idea was the irony between Saudi Arabia’s strong Islamic culture and opposition to the idea of Western lifestyle and the Prince’s actions and lifestyle as the exact opposite to the values imposed his country. After making headlines last year about bizarre and troubling accusations including forcing his staff to strip naked in front of his pool, the alleged rape of a housemaid, forcing a man into a gay encounter, threatening to kill certain individuals who refused his sexual demands, and the most recently the chaos of his house parties in Bel-Air that was the scene of many fights as well as significant amounts of cocaine and prostitutes. What made this story even more interesting, is that despite all these offenses and accusations the prince was arrested and acquitted every time because of his financial stature and some of the best representation in L.A.

After reading about many issues in class about digital activism, we sought to create a comedic version of activism by examining a Prince Majid Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia who lives in Bel-Air but we’re choosing to keep anonymous in the video. Our project will consist of one video, a satire comedy. We plan to use the theme song of the show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and use an actor to portray Prince as Will Smith and have our own lyrics to the theme song sung by the prince. We plan to use a home in L.A for most of the video as well as some shots outdoors to really capture the theme song and to make it as close to the Prince’s lifestyle as possible.

The video will be more of satire comedic spoof very similar to an SNL skit examining the Prince at his home in Bel-Air before and after one of his parties. We plan to use an actor to portray the prince and follow him throughout the video to show what he does during this parties and as well as bringing in some of his craziest behaviors he’s been arrested for.

The video will be around 5-8 minutes long. We expect the shooting days to last no longer than 3-4 days. We also plan to set up shooting sometime next week on February 27th and 28th.

Our group project has significant roles for each group member. Sana and Ivan will be project manager/producer and they are responsible for everything to be on time as far as project schedule and shooting days and finding actors and extras, and will help out in every aspect needed to be filled on the shoot day. Matt and Alexa will be taking on the job as directing, cinematography and camera. While and Brandon will be in charge of editing and sound. Again, our group plans to work together with every job possible to completing the project therefore there will be a lot of overlap and help with each member across the entire project.

We hope after our video is finished it will give students an opportunity to look at a prominent member of the gulf region monarchies and learn that his actions are entirely against the cultural and religious values of his country. It will also allow people to hopefully rethink their opinion about Saudi Arabia in general to know that the country’s laws and principles are very different to what the Saudi people want and addresses the corruption as well as the ironic hypocrisy from the ruling families in the gulf.

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Fresh Prince of Richistan Final!

The perks of Cairo Drive

First off meeting Sherief Elkatsha was an amazing individual to meet in class. His advice for film majors as well as professional adults, (that we are soon going to be) was very inspirational. (Inspirational enough for me to write down and keep it in the post its I abide by)  His film, Cairo Drive, just added to his personality and the type of person he perceived to be! The mix of comedy and emotion is what attracted me most to the film. I really enjoyed seeing the streets of Cairo and getting an idea of what driving looks like in a very complicated routine most people in Cairo go through.

The humor in the film made Cairo relatable. Watching the simplicity of how people describe the way they communicate through honks and how they get road raged reminded me of me on the road. It was some sort of comedy relief because although driving can lead to death, it can also be funny because of how we can be perceived to others. This film also reminded me about how I use comedy relief to cope with my emotions and adversities. Although, I can empathize completely, it made me relate to the people in Egypt and understand them in a deeper sense.

Overall, the film made me want to visit the streets of Cairo. It made me intrigued to continue learning about these different details about the Egyptian culture.


The perks of Cairo Drive

Film Documentary: Cairo Drive

I thought the film by Sherief Elkatsha, was a great documentary that really allowed us to see a difference side of Cairo, Egypt. The film showed the chaotic, but harmonious way driving is in Cairo. Many Egyptians expressed anger and frustration, when it comes to the disorder they face in Egypt. Throughout the film, I was surprised to see the way people drove in Egypt and how crazy it can get. I personally would like to visit Cairo and experience it for myself. Although, the main focus of the film was not targeted towards the accidents that occur from driving,  I was really touched by the one brief interview Elkatsha had with the father who lost his daughter. His daughter passed away when she was struck by a car, while she was crossing the street. The film also made me see how Egypt wants there to be a change, but it is hard when things have been the same way for many years.

I am a reporter for KCSB radio at UCSB, I was able to interview Elkatsha after the film. He was great to interview and gave me his inside on how he decided to go about making this film. I will be posting the interview soon.. down below


Film Documentary: Cairo Drive