I am admitting it! As every cinematographer, or better said, everyone who is working in a Film Industry, I also have big egocentric issues :)) So, since my career is 20 years long, and I have a database of thousands and thousands of pictures from various productions, and when I'm bored, I go through them :). A few days ago I bumped to the picture above.
I posted this pic on my instagram profile, and since I have a little obsession with hash tags, one of them was #sonyf55,... since the scene was shot with, of course, Sony F55 Camera. Sonyf5f55 Instagram Profile re posted this picture. And this brought the memories back, and how this scene was shot.
It was August or September 2013 and I just moved to Dubai. I got invited by MBC Group, to join a O3 productions, a production company dedicated to drama productions, as Director of Photography and Steadicam Operator. Since anyway, my wife and I, had plans to make some changes in our life's and start a new living in some other country, this opportunity looked quite good. But honestly Dubai, was the last town on our list. And all I can say,... thank God I accepted that offer, packed my steadicams and moved here! :))) Not only that I have opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in the industry, and I had privilege to film some of most viewed TV series and TVC's in Middle East, but now, we are living in the one of the most beautiful and most exciting towns in the World. Dubai!! :)
But back to the scene. This was my first production in Dubai. 15 episodes TV series "Cactus Alliance" directed by renown Spanish Director Jose Maria Caro. At that point Director of Photography was, also very known Spanish Cinematographer, and now good friend of mine, Teo Delgado. I was a Steadicam Operator, but since the production was getting extended, Teo was supposed to go back to Spain, due to some previously arranged productions, and I was a DOP for the last third of the TV Series. At that point, while Teo was still here, we were forming usually a Second Unit, and Tameem Kammouhi, was directing it and I was DOP/Steadi Op, on this, how we called it, "G-Unit" :) This was supposed to be very boring chase scene, and since we were running out of the time for that day, Jose decided that Teo and him are going to shoot one of the most crucial scenes for the series in DIFC, so he asked us, if we can go through Dubai International Finical Center, and make some shots for the chase scene, which didn't had any dialogs. So, I took two sparks, some polys, a focus puller Davide Escobar, (who was actually crucial for the scene, and you will see why!? :)), and a grip,... and we went to have some fun and "play" movies. When I saw that bridge, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. Since I am a huge fan of Sergio Leone, that bridge looked like a perfect place for "like a duel" scene, and I wanted to the a little tribute to The Master, although I knew from the beginning that,... what can I tell you,... we can not even scratch the surface!? :))
This was the crucial moment when main actor Sherif Salma, faces his rival. So, since this was the point when for the first time two actors are facing each other, and both of them are in the same shot, I thought to intensify this moment as much a possible and try to create kind of "Before the shoot out, Western Movie" moment feel. :)
I made 360 degrees turn with steadicam around the actor, and he was rotating with the camera, and at the end of the shot, we discover the "bad guy" over his shoulder!
Now here we come back again to Davide "Pablito" Escobar (No, he is not related to Pablo :)). Shot was done with Fujinon Cabrio Zoom lens 19-90mm, and by the shot it seems it was done on something like 50 to 65 mm, and I suppose, since this was a mid day shot, a f stop was f 5.6,.. 8.0!? If you pay attention on the cover picture, I was some 1.5m from the actor, and Davide, kept amazing focus on the eyes of Sherif all the time, and at the end he pulled focus on a "bad guy". To make it more complicated for him,... everything was shot on 60fps!
Look at the scene now,... it's short, don't worry :)
I think for every cinematographer is hard to say which is his favorite shot, but this one is defiantly one of my favorites. And the point is, that this shot (no matter how easily and fast was done) could never be done without a team work of a great professionals. If Sherif didn't had a feel for the camera move, if Davide couldn't get the focus, if Bilal, (the gaffer) wasn't moving with the poly precisely with me (and actually all the crew was moving with me, because this was a 360 shot, with glass doors on both ends of the bridge!), and of course, let's not forget the amazing editing work, done by Khaled Helmi... this couldn't be done!!!
Maybe someone will say, "This is not such a good shot, to have all this fuzz about it!?", and I completely agree with them! But it means a lot to me!
It happened in a specific moment of my life, with a beautiful people and every time I see it, I feel good! :) And I think this is the reason why we do, what we do! Because we love that moment when you feel good and proud about something you created. And you share this moment with a bunch of people who also love what they do, and we all understand each other, no matter the language, cultural or any other kind of difference, because at the end film is universal language, and all this differences are just contribution to the film. And this is, I suppose, one of the reasons why such a strong friendships are formed in the film industry, and they last long after productions ends! :)
Here are a few pics from rehearsing the scene:
And this are the pictures that I shot during the production of "Cactus Alliance" with my Nikon F3, #onFilm :)))