The Best Work You May Never See: Leo Burnett Dubai, Director Tahaab Rais Reveal "Hidden Room" For Home Box


Robert Goldrich
Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022


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Home Box, a furniture retailer in the Middle East, launched this short film from creative agency Leo Burnett Dubai. The short features real domestic workers, based in the Middle East, telling their own stories, describing their favorite place in the homes they work in. Out of all the places they speak about, one room remains hidden: their own room.

The film was inspired from research where Home Box and Leo Burnett asked 329 domestic workers about their favorite place in the homes they work in, and out of all the places they spoke about, the workers’ living space, remained unmentioned.

Through this premise, the film addresses an inequality delicately and sensitively. Expat domestic workers are employed in many homes in the Middle East, often working for years for the same families, living away from their own families. They come from all over the world. But while they work in towering skyscrapers and big villas, their rooms remain very small spaces--typically 7 feet x 10 feet, but sometimes even smaller. These rooms are often furnished with second-hand or third-hand furniture, mismatched, worn out or dingy.

So, “The Hidden Room Collection” was created by the agency, Leo Burnett Dubai. It’s a specially curated collection, designed in collaboration with Home Box’s design team, that provides beautifully designed furniture and furnishing items for the small spaces where domestic workers live. With these smart living solutions, Home Box can help to transform these spaces, so people feel at home in the homes they work in.

The film, framed intentionally in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, creates the boxed-up feeling that they feel in their constrained and restrictive living space.

The camera movement is slow and lingers. Visually, the lenses used were chosen to feel like ’70-’80’s vignetting, with specially created LUTs and rehoused vintage optics recreating an analog film look.

For the colors and lights, the film was not shot in clean white light. The shots are always filtered with a hint of blue, gray or dim yellow. Frequent moments in blue lighting cue us into inner sadness and loneliness, balanced with frequent moments of dim yellow lighting that help tap into the darker side of yellow, hinting at depression and loneliness.

Tahaab Rais, chief strategy officer for Publicis Groupe Middle East and Turkey (parent to Burnett Dubai), directed this “Hidden Room” short.


Client Home Box Creative Agency Leo Burnett Dubai Bassel Kakish, CEO, Publicis Groupe, ME&T; Kalpesh Patankar, chief creative officer & creative direction, Leo Burnett Dubai; Tahaab Rais, chief strategy officer, Publicis Groupe ME&T, and film director, story and sound design; Shereen Mostafa, head of production, Leo Burnett; Aunindo Sen, sr. creative director, copywriter, Leo Burnett; Kapil Bhimekar, creative director & art direction, Leo Burnett; Paurav Shah, sr. copywriter and dialogues, Leo Burnett; Smit Agrawal, Vaibhava Bhatnagar, creatives. Production Company Liwa Content.Driven  Sagar Rege, exec producer; Aeyaz, DP; Shane Vessaoukar, exec producer; Neha Jaswani, production coordinator; Charbel Zgheib, production designer; Shoaib Ischtivak, Nikhil Soman, Talal Dakkak, postproduction; Remy Haddad, 1st AD. Editorial Cold Cutz Neda Zag, editor. Color LZRD Karim Mira, colorist. Soundtrack “Art of Silence” by Uniq featuring Onio

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