March 21, 2009
Shouldn’t I get a film credit now that I’ve schlepped camera equipment up and down the inside of the Great Pyramid?
Mark Muheim is shooting a promotional video of AERA’s work. He’s been filming all over the project for a week. Today he shot Mark (AERA’s Mark) walking and talking inside Khufu’s pyramid.
The pyramid was closed, so there were only six of us inside: Mark, the film crew, Mohsen Kamel, Alex Jacobsen, and me.
Ah, the movie biz: walk a little, shoot a little, shoot it again, shoot it again, shoot it from another angle, and then move on. It was, “Hold this bag”, “Step out of the shot”, and “Quiet!”
Mark Lehner is such a natural at this. There was no script; it was all impromptu; but he has so many facts and stories at hand, he appears completely at ease before a camera. It’s rather marvelous to watch.
Nearly everything that AERA does in Egypt would be so much more difficult if Mohsen Kamel was not there to push the right buttons and pull the right levers. An Egyptian-American and former Giza antiquities inspector, Mohsen knows how the system works, which unfortunately means he is depended upon, it seems, 24 hours a day. He has the respect and affection of everyone who works for AERA.
While the crew was filming Mark at the top of the Grand Gallery, Mohsen, Alex, and I waited in the hot King’s Chamber. Every sentence spoken in there needs to be repeated because of the echo effect. Out in the Gallery, someone yelled something to us.
“What was that?” I yelled back.
While they filmed in the King’s Chamber, Alex and I went back down the Grand Gallery and the ascending passage to other parts of the pyramid.
We could not see the end of one passage (the length of a football field) and couldn’t tell if the lights were on below. I’m terribly claustrophobic and about 10 meters down the short, narrow slope, I told Alex I wasn’t so sure that lighting the chamber with our mobile phones would be adequate to quell my mounting anxiety.
Alex wasn’t having any of that. I’d been there before but she was determined she was going to see it. “You can do this!” she admonished. So down we went.
We explored for about ten minutes and then ascended once again to the top of the Grand Gallery.
All this up and down, stooped over much of the way in the steep passageways, was exhausting. By the time the filming was finished, we were soaked in sweat.
After two hours, we stepped into the quiet outside. All of the tourists were gone and the setting sun greeted us with this view looking west along the north face of Khufu:
Ah, the movie biz.