It’s not everyday that we get to live our dreams and passions, when exploring them might even help lead us to the stars, and maybe, just maybe, those that shine and twinkle in Hollywood. That’s what Saudi film producer, Mohammed Al Turki, has done – he lived out a dream and reached the stars.

Al Turki’s first project, “The Imperialists Are Still Alive”, was chosen as an “official selection” at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and ended up winning “Best Film” at the Warsaw Film Festival as well as the Asian American Film Festival. Having worked with Hollywood heavyweights such as Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere in “Arbitrage”, as well as the rising stars of young Hollywood like Zac Efron in “At Any price”, Al Turki has established a strong name and found a place in Hollywood.

A producer and a true film connoisseur, armed with a powerful cultural and film background and some well calculated moves, he is well on his way to finding international success in the movie industry. With his impressive accomplishments and a bright future ahead, Al Turki shares with us the story behind arriving at Tinseltown.

From Saudi Arabia to Hollywood… tell us how your journey to film production started.
Film has always been an important factor in my life. I grew up watching everything from Disney Classics to every single film you can imagine. Living in Saudi Arabia augmented my passion for film, as I had to wait until the holidays to have that guilty pleasure of going to the cinema. I studied film in London and New York. But when I graduated, I ended up working in an oil and gas company until I got the opportunity to work on my first feature indie film brilliantly directed by Zeina Durra. It was a risky move but I did it. My journey started following the critically acclaimed film “The Imperialists Are Still Alive!”

Who are your role models in the world of film and production?
Well, I have many role models in the world of film. From the old days, I admire Fellini’s work; you get mesmerized watching his beautiful scenery. That scene with the fountain in “La Dolce Vita” stays with you forever. I love Alfred Hitchcock; my favorite film of his is “Strangers on a Train”. I admire the work of Ramin Bahrani in “Chop Shop” and I’m really proud that I worked with him on “At Any Price”. I also enjoy the work of the late Anthony Minghella, Pedro Almodovar and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Alejandro has a way of sweeping viewers into the fascinating world of realism. I enjoy films by Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie too and the list goes on.

Tell us about the project you are currently working on.
We just wrapped up “Adult World”, a film starring Emma Roberts, John Cusack and Evan Peters. Emma plays a girl who wants to become a poet but ends up working in an adult bookstore. It’s a coming of age comedy shot in Syracuse, which is the hometown of my fellow producer and friend Justin Nappi. The film is brilliantly directed by Scott Coffey. We also just signed up to work on a film called “Desert Dancer”.

Of all the actors you’ve worked with, who do you admire the most?

I admire and respect the professionalism of most of the talents I’ve worked with. I’m just blessed to be able to have worked with so many great actors in such a small timeframe.

When deciding on what to produce, what type of films capture your attention?

I work on films that make a difference. I wouldn’t want the audience to watch films I’m involved in and not enjoy them. I am the biggest movie buff, so I try my best to work on films that satisfy the viewer and focus on topics that are timely like with “Arbitrage” and the financial crisis.

Which project did you enjoy working on the most?

“Arbitrage” opened a lot of doors for me. I carried on working with the same producers on three back to back projects. I really enjoyed working on “At Any Price”. We shot in a small town in Illinois and moved over to Iowa. Being on location, you tend to bond with the crew and form genuine friendships; it reminded me of my old college days.

What accomplishments in your life are you proudest of?
I believe my biggest accomplishment is reaching Hollywood although I am still at the beginning of the road and there is a lot more that I hope to achieve. I’m especially proud of my recent involvement with Cinema for Peace with J/P Haiti Relief Organization with Sean Penn where we raised $5 million in two hours. I will never forget that day and how it made a difference for so many lives.

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