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Many film production houses exist today, but there’s something quite unique about Fablemill, an all-female film production house based in our very own island.

Fablemill is an award-winning film production house that aims to amplify Arab stories. By channeling local heritage, traditions, and mythology, the company discovers and develops stories that define the region while also empowering local creative talent.

How Did Fablemill Start?

Fablemill was founded in 2020 by Eman Alsabah and Alaa Aldarazi long-time friends and collaborators. Eman and Alaa have been friends since university and  decided to leave the traditional corporate world to pursue their dream of launching Fablemill. Observing a clear lack of representation of Arab voices in mainstream television, Alaa and Eman began coming up with concepts that celebrated their heritage and culture. Within a year of founding, Fablemill had successfully produced several original concepts.

With a diverse team hailing from consulting, engineering, education, and production backgrounds, Fablemill focuses on empowering creatives across different roles in film and television production ensuring female representation and amplifying their stories. Fablemill is carving a space for filmmakers and creatives in the GCC to grow.

How Successful Have They Been in Creating Authentic Stories?

The short answer is: Very! The long answer is that the process of amplifying underrepresented voices sound ambitious, but the success rate is something important to note. We asked Fablemill about the type of stories they lean towards, and Eman and Alaa have responded that their work ranges from fantastical animated shows to social issues and has premiered in film festivals around the globe, and they currently have nine projects underway. We gasped in real life, what a super hardworking bunch!

“In line with us being an idea factory, we currently have a pipeline of feature films with a dramatic focus, animated children’s content, and a   lifestyle and reality project. We are also set to launch our publishing arm in the upcoming year with a mythology-focused anthology, collecting short stories and comics from Arabian lore,” shared Eman.

We have previously mentioned the absence of funding and resources for filmmaking in Bahrain, and as independent and local producers, Fablemill routinely works with international investors, co-producers, and governments to access funding and grants. Eman believes Fablemill is in a unique position to grow given its unique set of business skills and global network.

What is the future of the filmmaking industry in Bahrain?

The Fablemill team believes the industry will grow.

“We’re excited to see the filmmaking landscape in Bahrain grow and have been in conversations with co-producers, distributors, and broadcasters globally to jointly develop our concepts. We also believe in collaboration between the public and private sector. Everyone in the public sector ecosystem believes in Bahraini talent and is working hard to build a better future for the industry, and it is our ethos to work hand-in-hand with the public sector to co-create solutions, provide industry insight, and support the filmmaking industry,” she said.

Fablemill also believes that the industry must grow as a whole rather than compete over projects. Consequently, the team embraces working with other production companies. Their current project is Our Home; the first docuseries in the Middle East of its kind in partnership with award-winning interior design company MSquare and production house More Media.

A Small Dream with Universal Impact

The first film under their flagship name is A Small Dream, a short film written and directed by the talented Emirati writer and director Sara AlShehhi, with Shifaa Alsairafi playing her debut role. Shot in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates the story is of a young girl, Maitha, who dreams of swimming in the sea. She struggles to avoid gendered encounters in public because of her veil. Fear of judgment is Maitha’s biggest obstacle. A Small Dream tackles themes of womanhood, social stigma, and cultural change.

The film was featured in over six festivals globally and has won two awards to date: the GCC Film Award at  the Saudi Film Festival and the Silver Sail Award at Gulf Media Festival. It was also officially selected in St. John’s as part of the International Women’s Festival, as well as the Casablanca  Arab Film Festival, La Femme International Film Festival, and Sharjah International Film Festival for Children & Youth. A Small Dream was notably picked up for distribution by CineWaves, one of the fastest-growing film distribution companies in the GCC.

Lessons from the Fablemill Experience

We couldn’t let Eman and Alaa go without asking for their advice for aspiring filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and producers.

“There will be a lot of hurdles along the way. The corporate world tends to be linear and predictable, but being a production house means dealing with uncertainty and a lot of different opinions on your creative output. Understand that this is a journey, and all feedback is good feedback. Every setback is a learning opportunity, and every criticism is constructive!

Also, there are multiple pathways to success, especially in creative industries where revenue generation is not as straightforward as a regular business. Iteration is your best friend: try multiple avenues, meet and network with others, and find your tribe and mentors.”

Such brilliant pieces of advice from Fablemill! We are astounded by their achievements, amazed by their story, and anticipate their upcoming projects with excitement. If you also want to keep in touch with them, follow them on Instagram or check their website for the latest updates. Let us know what you think about Fablemill, get in touch with us on our social media platforms through Instagram and LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!