How I Made a Movie with a Credit Card and a Dream
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I got my Redemption Day feature from the script on the screen.

The day of redemption was a passion project for me. Before I realized this, I was a line producer running production services in Morocco with some directing experience on short films that I did for fun. I've always been the delivery guy, but I wanted more. I wanted to be the creative type with a vision to tell the stories.

When my high school friend lost his sister in a terrorist attack, I decided to write a story. Not really about what happened to her, but something similar that explains the reality of our region.

What were the chances for me to be produced by a Hollywood producer? Zero. I am nobody and nobody would take that risk.

So I risked everything myself. I decided to change my life. I took a plane ticket to Los Angeles and put everything I had into this new trip. I wasn't rich, so after the script took shape, I had to convince a number of investor friends to follow me in my dream of developing this film. I sold them the “Hollywood” business model. To them, I was that successful filmmaker who did a lot of filming in Morocco with some great Hollywood celebrities.


Andy Garcia as Ambassador Williams and Martin Donovan as Tom Fitzgerald in the action film REDEMPTION DAY, released by Saban Films. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.Recognition: Saban Films

My logline was simple: "After Kate, the wife of US Navy Captain Brad Paxton (Gary Dourdan), has just returned home, a terrorist group kidnaps the woman he loves while working in Morocco."

But how would I turn it into a film?

That way I could get enough money to develop the film and at first I was just producing and having a great TV director directing it. My investors were excited about this "American director".

After two years of development trying to work with established companies, I found it really difficult to fund the film. At the time we were considering a $ 15 million budget, but it was easier to say than raise.

Knowing that I was never going to get that much money I spoke to my director and asked him to adjust and try to do it for about $ 2-3 million to convince him and the vision I got for it would be the same and there would be no compromises (except everyone's salaries), but he couldn't see it that way. Who would blame him? He was very nice and ambitious but couldn't follow …


Director Hicham Hajji behind the scenes in the action film REDEMPTION DAY, a release by Saban Films. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.Recognition: Saban Films

Then someone on my team says, "Why don't you direct it yourself? Nobody knows this project better than you and you seem to have a clear vision, you know all the places and when you talk about it it's like you've seen this movie many times! "

This was 100% true. I've seen this movie many times before making it and I've shared my vision with everyone since day one. It became obvious. I am the one who must lead Redemption Day.

The second time we did it officially, it all went very quickly. We had a solid script and made offers to the stars. We all quickly had "yes" answers that we needed. I could not believe it. And of course if you have a big name everyone else wants to follow suit: actors, international distributors, financiers, etc.

We had to set up the shooting dates with the actors and also reassure my investors who gave the money two years ago. They got impatient. I was running late and had no choice but to shoot as fast as possible even though I had no other money to shoot.


Director Hicham Hajji behind the scenes in the action film REDEMPTION DAY, a release by Saban Films. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.Recognition: Saban Films

But that was a detail. I knew that when everyone in my country saw that everything I had promised was happening, I would raise even more. So I went to Morocco, where my company is well established, I locked up the crew and after four weeks of preparation we decided to shoot even though we had no money.

Anyone who knew the reality of our finances thought I was crazy. But I always paid everything on the due date, so they couldn't doubt me. My 15 years of experience also spoke, I have always been a man of my word and when I give my word it is as solid for me as the best agreement.

I was also fortunate to have an American Express unlimited credit card that could be used to pay for all preliminary charges. For me, all that matters is start and finish shooting. I didn't really care about the details, all I needed was my film in the box.


Samy Naceri as Jaafar El Hadi in the action film REDEMPTION DAY, released by Saban Films. Photo courtesy of Saban FilmsRecognition: Saban Films

I had a great experience as a director, but as a producer it was a financial nightmare. Every night after we wrapped up, my second task was to find more money. And I didn't sleep until I fixed the next day's problems.

Better than my unlimited AMEX, I had my three superhero investors who funded the development with me. I don't know what I would have done without them, but they believed in this movie as much as I did. When all the actors were in Morocco they had fundraising parties almost every week and I was the Moroccan filmmaker who did something that no other filmmaker in our region has done before, which is to write, direct, a Hollywood movie and produce. All potential investors experienced something new and drank with Hollywood actors. So they listened carefully to my business plan and luckily they were seduced.


Serinda Swan as Kate Paxton in the action film REDEMPTION DAY, released by Saban Films. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.Recognition: Saban Films

You can be sure that I won't do the same thing on my next film. Now I know the rules and the tricks. But as a first-time director and first-time Hollywood producer, I had no other options, and if I had to wait for the film to be funded to start filming, I would still be waiting …

In short, we financed the entire film privately, with pain, but at the end of the day I believed in it so much that I had no choice but to make it. Because if you believe in something and want to make it happen, you cannot give up.

Then COVID-19 happened and we had to wait over a year to finally get it public … but that's another story.

REDEMPTION DAY Now playing in select cinemas and on-demand and digital January 12th.

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