My favourite camera

Five filmmakers in the MENA region reveal their first choice of camera
DS spoke to top regional filmmakers about their favourite choice of cameras.
DS spoke to top regional filmmakers about their favourite choice of cameras.
Marwan Hamed
Marwan Hamed
Sameh El Kadi
Sameh El Kadi
Mustafa Abbas
Mustafa Abbas
Bassam Alasad
Bassam Alasad
Elia Petridis
Elia Petridis

Share

Five prominent filmmakers in the MENA region told Digital Studio about their first choice of camera, and what they love about their favourite filmmaking devices.

Director: Marwan Hamed
Country: Egypt

Most recent film: The Blue Elephant (Egypt, 2014)
Favourite cameras: Red Epic and Arri Alexa.

DS: What projects have you used this camera for, and why was the camera so well suited for the projects?
MH: It’s a tough camera that gives you a lot of possibilities while shooting. It’s light so it gives you more possibilities for hand held shots in addition to shooting high speed. I also like Arri Alexa, especially in night shoots as it helps a lot. I shot a whole scene in The Blue Elephant lit by an iPhone. Usually I mix cameras depending on what I’m shooting.

PROJECT BRIEFING
WHAT: The Blue Elephant is a surreal psychological thriller based on the novel of the same name by Egyptian writer Ahmad Mourad. The film was released to critical acclaim in mid-2014.
WHERE: Egypt
DIRECTOR: Marwan Hamed
PRODUCER: Albatros Film Production and Distribution Lighthouse Film, Al Shorouk Production

Article continues on next page ...

Director: Samah el Kadi
Country: Lebanon

Latest film: I’m Not A Martyr (to be released in 2015)
Favourite cameras: Sony F55, followed closely by Canon 5D and Red Epic.

DS: What project have you used these cameras for, and why were they well suited for it?
I think there are a lot of incredible cameras around, and it just depends on the visual requirements you need from the camera. Everyone’s favourite has to be the good old loyal DSLR, mine is Canon 5D. It allowed us incredible agility while shooting I’m Not A Martyr.

The lenses used were Canon EF, mounts as well as PL fast prime lenses. The high contrast and short latitude certainly limit its benefits but if you choose the right time and subtle lighting it could really change the whole look of the work and diverge away from the terrible DSLR look. However it is not my favourite.

My favourite camera will have to be the last one we worked on in “I’m Not A Martyr” which was the Sony F55, a beautiful machine capable of incredible range, just a solid camera you can rely on in any scenario. It is certainly a camera you can push to the limit of what you expect a camera to do.

It has also a very smooth post-production workflow, with the simultaneous Raw and Mov recording. It has great latitude, also wonderful colour representation. It is very easy to work with and deals well with artefacts like rolling shutter and wobble effects.

I have also really enjoy working with Red Epic and Alexa which are very different in terms of workflow and operation but each has their own particular flare.

PROJECT BRIEFING
WHAT: I’m Not A Martyr
PLOT: The film tells the story of Ahmed, a poet, pacifist and family man who is drawn into sectarian violence against his wishes.
WHEN: The majority of the film was shot in September and October 2013, with post production work carried out in Dubai in 2014. The film is due for release in the coming months.

Article continues on next page ...

Director: Mustafa Abbas
Country: UAE

Favourite camera: Red Epic.

DS: What projects have you used this camera for, and why was the camera so well suited for the projects?
We used it on ‘Sunset State’. The resolution and detail is crazy and I was able to get the exact colours I wanted in post-production.

DS: What other cameras do you like working with?
I really think the new NIKON D-810 is going to make big news very soon. So I’m curious about that as well as the Arri Alexa which everyone keeps raving about. Of course the images are beautiful but I’m yet to try that one out for myself.

DS: What projects have you used this camera for, and why was the camera so well suited for the projects?
We used it on ‘Sunset State’. The resolution and detail is crazy and I was able to get the exact colours I wanted in post-production.

DS: What other cameras do you like working with?
I really think the new NIKON D-810 is going to make big news very soon. So I’m curious about that as well as the Arri Alexa which everyone keeps raving about. Of course the images are beautiful but I’m yet to try that one out for myself.

In profile
Mustafa Abbas
Films: Sunset State (2013), Find ‘Em Frankie (2013), 100 Miles (2007), The Alley (2007).

About Sunset State: Abbas’s most recent film was shot over a period of 12 weeks on a Red Epic in 2012.

The film explores depression and suicide through the narration of its two main characters, a middle aged American writer and an Emirati student. The film was well received and was screened at various film festivals including Dubai Film Festival and Cannes.

Article continues on next page ...

Director/producer: Bassam Alas'ad, chief content officer, Integracast MENA, Dubai

DS: What is your favourite camera, and what do you particularly like about it?
My favourite camera in 2014 was Sony FS7 and most used was Sony PMW300. What I like about FS7 is that it’s a 4K camera with great quality and with really light high quality videos, and it’s practical for any kind of shooting and action in the location. As for PMW300 it was a great choice for the reality shows environment and both cameras were really good with low light.

DS: What projects have you used this camera for, and why was the camera so well suited for the projects?
We used PMW300 for Al Batal Season 2 and FS7 for a project in Bahrain and we are now shooting a PSA for EWS-WWF for the earth hour with it.

DS: What other cameras do you like working with?
Now we are experimenting with Sony’s action cameras vs GoPro, which we already use and love. We are now planning to test the Sony F55 in our creative lab later this month for fiction projects.

Al Batal Season 2 was the brainchild of Abu-Dhabi based iSee Entertainment, an event and entertainment management company. Creative Media Solutions (CMS) and its sister company, Integracast, helped develop the original concept and produced the show’s second series.

Article continues on next page ...

Director: Elia Petridis
Filmatics, Dubai

DS: What is your favourite camera? What do you like about this camera?
I use the Canon 5D. The 7D is fine as well, but there’s something about the way the censor of the 5D captures the volume and depth of colour that I prefer slightly to the 7D. There’s something about the Canon, how nimble it is, and mostly, the fact that it doesn’t draw your attention, somehow, to the fact you’re shooting digital. The image lives on its own.

DS: What projects have you used this camera for, and why was the camera so well suited for the projects?
I’ve used it for all my music videos and most recently the Uber / McLaren project shot in Dubai. There’s a lot of running and gunning in those situations where your camera needs to be agile and effective while you’re shooting a lot of spontaneous footage very quickly. It also helps when audio is not a concern, which was unique to that project.

DS: What other cameras do you like working with?
Well, I like Panasonic 35mm cameras. I like Kodak 16mm film stock. And I’m intrigued by putting GoPros in all the wrong places, like when we scotched some to the actual steering wheel of the McLaren, giving us a super immersive experience. At the end of the day, as a director, I can get auditioned a ton of cameras, but it’s all about how the director of photography responds to them and makes the argument for them that counts in the end.

Hollywood Feature
Elia Petridis is best known for writing and directing the Hollywood feature film The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012), which starred veteran actor Ernest Borgnine in his final role. The film tells the story of Rex (Ernest Borgnine), an elderly, retired radio DJ who is bitter about never having become a famous actor.

After suffering a stroke, Rex is sent to a nursing where he first clashes with the Latin American care workers. However, when the staff learns that Rex once shook hands with the famous Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, they soon start treating him like the star he always dreamed of being.

While Elia Petridis has a soft spot for 35mm, which he used for The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, he is also a pragmatist who embraces digital and is particularly impressed with the Canon 5D.

He also views digital distribution platforms as a powerful tool for filmmakers experiment with different projects, take some control over their content, and to reach a wider audience.

Most Popular

Editor's Choice

StarzPlay’s tech powers India’s Lionsgate Play
Provides managed services, developed by StarzPlay, to mark successful launch of Lionsgate Play ...
Subscribe to Digital Studio Middle East
The latest editor of Digital Studio Middle East, the foremost and most respected platform for ...
Dubai's Faisal Hashmi working on feature film
10 short films in 10 years has earned Faisal Hashmi international plaudits at film festival, ...

Don't Miss a Story