They started out with a laptop, two hard disks, and a dream. Today, Bahraini director and editor Saleh Nass, and his business partner Tunisian director Chaker Ben Yahmed are the founders of Elements Cine Productions, a production company based in Bahrain. In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Nass talks about some of the recent […]
They started out with a laptop, two hard disks, and a dream. Today, Bahraini director and editor Saleh Nass, and his business partner Tunisian director Chaker Ben Yahmed are the founders of Elements Cine Productions, a production company based in Bahrain. In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Nass talks about some of the recent films shot by the duo
A tale inspired by the state of world media and more specifically, conflicting stories arising from the Arab Spring is the premise of Elements latest short film, 66.6fm. The topical script was written by Yahmed, and is a parable set in a fictional country accompanied with music by Bahraini composer Mohammed Al Hasan. The story follows a couple that is forced to quickly flee their hometown when chaos breaks out. As they cross the desert by foot in an attempt to reach the next town, conflicting radio broadcasts provide their only source of news from home and where to go next.
Funded entirely by Elements and working with a budget of USD 8000, 66.6fm features a small cast of four actors, and had a crew of 12.
When working with a small crew, a lot of roles are doubled, says Nass.
There is the absence of a large production support network, which you can find say, in London or Dubai. For example, I had to double up as a digital imaging technician (DIT), which was fine since I knew exactly where my footage was once I started post production.
The short was filmed using Elements own RED Scarlet camera. Earlier this year, Nass, Yahmed and camera operator Robert Resto, took a trip to REDs studios in Hollywood to train on the Scarlet and Epic cameras and to iron out any problems regarding workflows and operating.
Nass says the inability to record on-board audio was the biggest issue, but audio on traditional films was always recorded separately so it wasnt a problem to do that. It just made the syncing process a bit longer later on in post production.
Audio was not the only challenge on 66.6fm. There was the heat to deal with as well.
We were filming in the desert at the beginning of May, recalls Nass.
The Gulf sun was just starting to flex its muscles. However, we kept the RED Scarlet in the shade and had umbrellas on hand all the time. Another challenge was finding a spot of desert that wasnt developed with Bahrain being an island.
Along with the high temperatures outdoors and finding a deserted spot, the crew had the added complication of the bright, white sky, usually requiring the need to use NDs and sky filters. Luckily, Yahmed wanted a stark, dry look, so the white sky ended up serving the shoot well.
Elements Cine Productions was founded in 2008 by Nass and Yahmed. They knew it would be a challenge to create films in a region still in its infancy in terms of content production, with Bahrain being a country limited in film resources. However, the two passionate filmmakers are optimistic that they have made the right move.
No doubt, its a challenge, but a healthy one, says Nass.
It allows you to rely on what you have and make the most of it. We try to make as many of our own films as we can in between corporate projects that pay the bills.
The company was in its early stages when it filmed a motor sport event video at the Bahrain International Circuit. Success soon followed with Yahmeds first short film, One More Day, winning the Black Pearl Award at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, giving Elements a good name on the festival circuit.
At the beginning of 2012, Elements worked on a short film titled Huna London by Bahraini director Mohammed R. BuAli. Filmed on the Si-2K, it won the third prize at this years Gulf Film Festival.
With 66.6fm completed and submitted for various film festivals, Elements is currently in post-production with another short film, Red Coin, for which filming was concluded in June 2012. Directed by Lebanese filmmaker Fadi Tannous and shot on the Canon 5D Mark III, Red Coin is a comedy about a man down on his luck and riddled with debt. The sound mix for the film was being finalised as we were going to press. Music by Bahraini musician Nader Ameeruddin will be featured in this film.
The Canon 5D Mark III was significantly easier to use than the Mark II in my personal opinion, explains Nass.
Due to personal preference, I generally tend to stay away from DSLRs as the image is too compressed for my taste, in comparison with RAW footage from the Scarlet. But the Mark III still made the film look good. I didnt have as much freedom in post production as I did with the Scarlet. RED CineX is a great programme to play with when processing your rushes for the edit. It allows you to achieve so much prior to the final grade.
Time was a challenge when shooting for Red Coin, says Nass.
The film had to be shot during weekends prior to Ramadan, where we were busy meeting deadlines, says Nass, who edited all of the three short films this year.
But we rely on ourselves and what we have. We try not to complicate the films too much and produce them with the available time, equipment and talent.
Once again, this short film was funded by Elements. Nass says the team is constantly on the lookout for funding opportunities.
Bahrain and the Gulf have just begun funding initiatives. The future looks positive for short films in the region.
Nass has hopes to start production on his own feature film later this year, enhancing his vision for Elements to grow and produce larger scale projects in Bahrain.
Huna London, 66.6fm, and Red Coin will be shown at upcoming regional and international film festivals.