Alan Mehanna is the type of character that you don’t forget. He’s loud about everything he loves and talks about it with the sort of passion that goes un- witnessed everywhere except for in political rally’s and fundraisers. He uses his hands and his eyes budge out and he shows his giant white teeth, sharp like a canine; he’s ridiculously handsome in a sort of old fashioned way. Fortunately, Alan is not a politician; otherwise I might have been easily convinced to become his biggest donor (that’s how smoothly and passionately he speaks). Rather, Alan is an artist, a film director to be more specific. Spend thirty seconds with him and his two loves—film and Lebanon—will instantly reveal themselves to you.
“I started out wanting to be an actor at first. It was what my dad did and so I wanted to be just like him,” he tells me, “During my junior year of high school I took my first film class. We were asked to direct a one-minute short horror film. From the moment I said action I was hooked.”
That much is obvious. Walk into his office and you see walls lined with movies; everything from old classics to the newest cutting edge film out there. He’s seen, and studied them all. He’s not afraid to tell you why your favorite movie isn’t good at all.
“I see things that the average viewer doesn’t. I analyze it, and the crazy part is that I don’t always realize that I’m doing it. Why did the director make this choice or that? I notice continuity errors. The smoothness of the editing. The beauty of a shot or the way the lighting is set up.”
Alan isn’t just your average movie whiz. He has some credibility to his name and awards to back him up. His short film “One Last Stand” screen in the Cannes Film Festival and has won many awards and industry recognition for him. However, though the United States may be the center of the film industry, Alan decided to move back home to Lebanon and help his home country build up a repetition in the film and television industry.
“The huge step though is my return to my home country. I feel like I can make a difference there because the industry is just beginning to boom. So I’ll be able to be a part of this great artistic movement in Lebanon. Who knows maybe they’ll talk about it in film history books one day.” He tells me about the difference in filming in Lebanon versus the US. That Lebanon is stuck in a “Hitchcock-style” with classic shots and angles. Taking no risks, no fast pace. All very artsy and posh. He wants to go and shake things up, inject the Lebanese film scene with his American education and ideas. The fast shots and odd angles. The out there plots and daring scripts.
Undoubtedly his next project will involve Lebanon, much as his past projects have, “I try to find inspiration in my everyday life. My mentor, Tom Garrett, once told me to write what I know. What I know is my life. What I know is what I see, hear, feel, experience. I want my films to have substance. I don’t care what genre it is, as long as the film has something to say. A movie could have the most breathtaking effects but if the story is lacking, if the characters are flat why bother? There is no point.”