Local standup comedian Nemr Abou Nassar has been at it for almost seven years now, utilizing the stage, radio, television, and the web as his platforms. Now, Abou Nassar is looking to bring his brand of humor to yet another medium: the silver screen.

October 24 will mark the release of Abou Nassar’s highly anticipated film EPIC in Lebanese theaters. With a name like that, expectations are bound to be high. So what can we expect from EPIC?

Some may recall that before the film came into the picture, there was a comedy tour of the same name. “EPIC was a live show that sold out over six nights in April of 2011. The film is basically a best of those six nights in one, where even individual sets cut from one day to another,” says Abou Nassar. But why compile six stand-up performances of the same exact material into one? According to Abou Nassar, it’s all in the little things that made each night distinct: the crowd interaction, the improvisation, and irreplaceable moments unique to each of the shows.

As previously mentioned, Abou Nassar has adopted various channels throughout his career to broadcast his material to the masses. Currently, the web could be considered his most prominent domain, with 44,000+ likes on Facebook and 31,000+ subscribers on YouTube, all of whom eagerly await his latest uploads and announcements.

"My fanbase is growing exponentially online, " says Nemr, adding, "but there is a massive segment of people not online who love going to the movies and who I believe would love the experience.” He elaborates: “EPIC feels like a massive movie experience. It's a huge scale show, and the big screen is truly fitting for its feel.” Despite essentially being a showcase of his stand-up material, Abou Nassar also points out a narrative aspect to the film: “There are several people who basically feel like characters, as throughout the show we go back and forth with them, so there is a strong sense of character and relationship development, giving it a truly film-like feel.”

On top of organizing and preparing the stand-up gigs themselves, Abou Nassar also had directorial and cinematic duties to handle; a tricky responsibility to take on when your roles as subject and director are mutually exclusive: “It is always tough directing a movie while you can't once get behind the camera until the show is over. I would work extensively with my crew before the show, set up all the angles I wanted and go over how I wanted certain things shot, then I would come back home after the show, go over all the footage and then come back the next day and go ‘ok that was great, let's do this today.’”

(Photo via Facebook)

Things only went smoother as the film verged on completion. “VOX [Cinemas] have been unbelievably supportive; I feel as if I own a cinema. I've been allowed to use their screens to do multiple tests for video and audio and that has been unbelievably helpful,” says Abou Nassar. He continues: “Also, all the paperwork with the General Security, all the formalities, the digital formats the movie needs to be submitted in, everything, they've been with me every step of the way. No real obstacles, just a fascinating learning experience really.”

Remarkably, Abou Nassar won the favor of corporate giants Grand Cinemas and VOX Cinemas to get behind this locally-produced labor of love. "I called them, and talked to them," says the comedian. "I am a local talent, but I’m also regionally well-known. In my case, I think they believed in me because I have my reputation, and they knew I worked really hard on approaching them and building a relationship with them."

"People don’t believe in local talents because, in my personal opinion, the marketing of local talents is weak, so they don’t bring in numbers. My advice: make sure you have a solid approach, a solid product, and people will take you seriously."

After its release in Lebanon, Abou Nassar hopes to have the film make its way through the Middle East, though he has his concerns about the likelihood of that: “I don't think censors will let it pass as is and I would rather not release it unless it's in its full form.” He also hopes to see some screenings take place in the US and Australia, all of his own discretion, as he has not enlisted any distributors, agents, or managers, only a few select partners.

Be sure to check out Abou Nassar’s Facebook page and YouTube channel for the latest updates on EPIC and more.


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