Work leads to more work. Sam, a friend and former journalist I had worked out in Sudan with in January this year, had mentioned that there might be a possible job opportunity for me out in Egypt. Experience tells me that you don’t get excited until you’re sat on the plane. I got the call at 3am and I was on a plane flying out of Belfast City airport a few hours later.
The only recent images I had seen of Egypt were from the news report coverages during the revolution. I wasn’t apprehensive as I’ve worked in many Middle Eastern countries in my career to date. However, my fear as usual was their crazy ass driving and their disregard for road safety.
I had previously used padded rucksacks for my work in the field but I wanted more of a grab bag this time round. I ended up borrowing my friend’s Domke shoulder bag for my Egypt trip. It was a great decision and was perfect for the type of filming out there. I could travel along in the car and jump out if I saw something worth filming and grab all the kit I required for the shoot. If I needed a quick lens change or change of battery I could swing the bag around and get the job done quickly and efficiently.
I filmed a test shoot with the Zeiss Compact Prime Lenses with the Canon 5D Mark II in Sudan and I knew that they were up to the challenge of filming a documentary in Egypt. As a result, I know I got a lot more access than I did because I didn’t have a large camcorder on my shoulder. If anybody asked, I was taking photographs. Using Primes in documentary filmmaking does have its limitations; one major weakness is the inability to zoom. But I am a major fan of this lens range and the image quality is breathtaking. I am not a photographer and I have never even thought about becoming a photographer so buying stills lenses for my video work has never even crossed my mind. They are an investment for me and I will inevitably use them on various camera systems in the future.
One piece of kit that I should have had with me was my Z Finder 3.0. But in the rush to get to the plane, I forgot to lift the required plate for the rod support. I was disappointed but cracked on regardless. I’m not usually a fan of too much shallow depth of field in my footage. However, during the interviews in American University Cairo there was so much distraction in the backgrounds that I opted to shoot them on the 85mm lens. Well, the trip was unpredictable and exciting which suited my type of filmmaking. What was predictable though was the style of driving out there! I was in three RTA’s in six days! That must be some sort of record