A TV show about cars for car lovers premiered last month on OSN. Claimed by the producers to be a one-of-a-kind series, Put Your Car on TV is a home-grown show fully produced, shot and edited in Dubai. Vibhuti Arora brings you the details Dubais penchant for exotic cars is a well-known fact. It is not […]
A TV show about cars for car lovers premiered last month on OSN. Claimed by the producers to be a one-of-a-kind series, Put Your Car on TV is a home-grown show fully produced, shot and edited in Dubai. Vibhuti Arora brings you the details
Dubais penchant for exotic cars is a well-known fact. It is not unusual to see some of the most revered cars in the world drive past you on the roads of Dubai. Besides the ultra-luxurious Rolls Royce and Bentleys that are aplenty on our streets, we often witness the ultra-exotic high performance cars such as the Bugatti Veyron, the Pagani and the Koenigsegg to name a few, not just in their normal form but with gold paint jobs, chrome body wraps, Swarovski crystal badges, huge wheels and tyres, and what have you whizz past us on the roads. In Dubai, owning a Ferrari or a Lamborghini is almost passé.
So when a show like Put your car on TV premiered on OSNs Motorvision TV HD channel last month, it was not surprising to see how quickly it gained a fan base and how many car enthusiasts were keen to show their cars off on TV. In fact, every other local broadcaster must have been ruing why they did not think of the idea before.
This production is the brainchild of Tewe Pannier, Executive Producer of the show and founder of GTV Film Production, a production house based out of Dubai Media City.
Put your Car on TV is a half-hour programme that is broadcast in the Gulf states, Europe and Asia. The show features funky cars that are often spotted on Dubais roads with their owners and the funkiest of all walks away with a great experience at Sofitel Jumeirah Beach.
Additionally, its not just local cars that appear on the show. Car lovers from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have driven their way into the show too.
“To cut a long story short, the title of the show says it all,” explains Pannier.
“We invite car lovers to put their cars on TV. Its a car competition where we showcase funky, quirky, spectacular cars that deserve attention and judge their style, speed and sound. There is a lot of action on the show and everyone is welcome to be part of it.”
The filming for the shows pilot began in May 2013. Since then, five half-hour episodes were produced for Ramadan and Eid. Filming for the show will resume soon after Eid.
The show is presented by two anchors, Emirati businessman and car expert Saif Hattawi, and English anchor Milène Gomera. Hattwai also doubles up as a judge on the show.
While the introduction and conclusion of each episode is scripted, the rest of the content is fairly spontaneous with its focus entirely on the cars.
“Thats the beauty of the show,” explains Pannier.
“Since it is not scripted, every episode comes across as a fresh, new approach. Its an English show but many people we interview dont speak English. So the presenter talks to them in Arabic and the subtitles are used to show what they have spoken.
Hattawi converses in Arabic. Being a car fan himself, he asks the relevant questions that would interest another car fan viewing the show.
Made in Dubai
It all began over a cup of coffee at The Walk. Watching the swanky cars go by, it occurred to Pannier to have a show where car owners could show their prized possessions on television.
“The idea stemmed from the desire to create a car programme from the region that shows the passion for modified and special cars. I thought about getting a presenter, a couple of cameras, some lights and putting up a sign that says: PUT YOUR CAR ON TV. We pitched the idea to MotorvisionHD and they immediately liked it and commissioned us with the production.”
When Pannier first introduced the concept of a car competition to be made into a TV show, it got everybody excited.
“We were all on the same page. As producers, we saw it as a quirky show that would get the audience interested. OSN considered it as light entertainment that was sure to win over car-crazy fans, and the Dubai Film and TV Commission propped it up as a showcase of yet another glamourous facet of Dubai.”
Then came the difficult part of location hunting. The GTV team partnered with Sofitel Hotel at The Walk and with the help of Dubai Film and TV Commission acquired the necessary permissions to proceed with the shooting.
“It was a challenge to get all of the permissions, but the Sofitel supported us from day one and Dubai Film Commission was extremely helpful,” says Maria Vargian, Managing Partner of GTV.
A trained lawyer with experience in the German film industry, Vargian joined GTV as General Manager in 2009 and went on to become a partner in the company in early 2012. She runs the operations, business and legal departments of the production house and was in constant touch with the local authorities to get the show off the ground.
The episodes are filmed in front of the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach at The Walk, Dubai Marina. There is no disruption to traffic as the show is filmed on the side off the main road.
The producers claim that they have found an ideal shooting location.
“The beauty of the Sofitels space is that it has the size of a small studio. There is enough room to present one car at a time and to have the other cars waiting as stand by. As soon as the weather gets cooler and the show gets more popular, we also expect more audience for the shootings. Those interested may check on our Facebook site “PUT YOUR CAR ON TV” for the recording schedules.
“The shooting for the show has to be a very organised and controlled process, more so because of the format of the show. Planning for each episode is done in advance to ensure we have enough material before we go on air. Everything is done in-house at our office in Dubai Media City,” explains Pannier.
Handling the cars takes most of the time on location. With three cameras on the ground and one for aerial shots, the shoots take place in the evenings under massive lights including LEDs and Redheads. While two of the Sony EX3 cameras are placed on the presenters the third camera follows the car and its owner. In addition to these, there is an aerial camera that films the car from the top and pans across the audience as well.
The filming of the show goes off like clockwork with two shooting days in a row and two episodes shot each day. The rough cuts are then sent for formative editing to GTVs Dubai Media City office. The editing takes two days for each episode.
GTV has three full-time editors to edit the footage. The episode then undergoes colour correction and grading. This process take around four days. The subtitling is also executed in-house and the finished episodes are sent to Munich for packaging.
“GTV also runs the marketing and sales for the show. OSN being a tapeless facility, we deliver the show on hard drives to MotorvisionHD which is based in Munich. Our office in Munich packages the episodes for OSN and feeds the signal to Dubai,” explains Pannier.
“We market the show ourselves. We have marketing and promotions on social media but we dont show the programme on social media because it is a TV show,” he explains.
The first broadcasts will continue to be with MotorvisionHD and OSN, but the producers are open to selling it with a due time from first airing to free-to-air channels.
The producers are also in talks with sponsors and some initial breakthroughs have already been achieved, confides Pannier.
There are four producers on location to work the cameras and sound with the presenters. Besides them, there were eight people on set to manage the presenters, the make-up and the audio.
The show is not without its challenges. For one, the harsh summer heat easily tired the crew out. Secondly, the producers had problems when a few rather gigantic cars were stuck on the show.
“We couldnt move them because of their sheer size. Sorting such issues on location often takes up precious shooting time but we have to take that in our stride,” explains Pannier.
Thirdly, the people that appear on such shows are not actors and some of the participants are camera shy.
To make them feel comfortable before the cameras requires some expertise on the part of the presenters so they ignore the cameras and talk about their cars, says Pannier.
“We dont have time to cast people for the show, so everyone who appears on the show are non-actors. We often come across participants who are camera shy. After a few initial hiccups, the ball sets rolling as our presenters try and make the guests feel more comfortable. The participants warm up to the cameras and provide excellent insights about their cars.”
Content wise, the show generates enough worthwhile footage that has the potential to hold an audiences interest, according to Pannier.
“There is no dearth of exciting features. The response from car owners who want to showcase their vehicles is great. When we are shooting, a lot of people come up to the set and want to be a part of the show. This is a show that has been tailored for Dubai. Weve had long lines of cars wanting to be on the show.”
The show is presently on air only on OSN and is slowly building a loyal audience. Where does it go from here? The future seems bright as Pannier has got plans already in place. His company is in talks with partners in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. GTV is also planning a ladies special and a motor bike episode soon.
“The Dubai Film and TV Commission is thrilled to have been able to support German TV in the production of this unique show by providing incentives and reducing their shooting cost. It is great to see the filming industry in Dubai taking it to the next level and creating new formats shot entirely in Dubai. Dubai has great potential in creating many more original formats and were committed to developing and supporting this phenomenon and doing all we can to assist production companies that have chosen Dubai as their backdrop.”
Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission, and Managing Director of Dubai Studio City and Dubai Media City. (Dubai Film and TV Commission extended the help necessary in its capacity to get the show off the ground.)