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Sat 23 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Calling the shots

Iranian filmmaker, Ali Shah Hatami was in Dubai recently to direct his movie Goodbye Harry Potter.

Iranian filmmaker, Ali Shah Hatami was in Dubai recently to direct his movie Goodbye Harry Potter. Digital Studio went on location to capture the production team in action.

Hatami has made eight feature films on 35 mm. Goodbye Harry Potter, which was shot in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and some other parts of the UAE, is his first attempt at HD. In fact, this is the first known attempt by a Middle East filmmaker to make a full-length feature on the Sony HDW F900R.

"I was looking for a new challenge and have been wanting to test HD technology for a while now so I approached Sony for support in terms of providing me with their high-end HD camera and other related technology," explains Hatami.

I also had another good reason to trial HD technology. My story is based in the UAE and there are no 35 mm labs here. I felt that shooting on video would be more practical as I like to see my rushes each day before going to bed."

Goodbye Harry Porter has a simple plot. It is the story of a young Harry Potter fan, who lives in Ras Al Khaimah and works at a mosque there. One day, he decides to go and watch a Harry Potter movie. Unfortunately, the movie is no longer showing in the theatre in Ras Al Khaimah and he has to travel to Dubai to watch it. At the same time, he has to be back in time at the mosque to announce the Azan (the call to prayer).

This becomes the start of an adventure.

KEY KIT: Goodbye Harry PotterSony HDW-F900R: HDCAM Cinealta camcorder

BCL-70: Battery charger

BP-GL95: Battery packs

LMD-2450W and 9050: 24" and 9" LCD multi-format production monitors

SRX-S110: SXRD 4K projector

P+S technic Pro35

P+S Technic Mini skater

Zeiss T2.1 Lens

Cavision mattbox, f-focus and glass filter

Cartoni tripod and head ( Mastero)

Hollywood MicroDolly, jib and dolly

Panther rail and dolly

PowerPlus JIB and rail

Lighting

Arri, FilmGear, Dedolight and Cosmolight

Lighting Gear

Avenger and Manfortto

Hatami uses cinema lenses with the Sony HDCAM. "I did not want to experiment too heavily at this stage. We have tried to keep the same style as cinema because we plan to blown this up for the big screen in the final run.

I have used cinematic lenses and am using similar lighting to what I would use for 35 mm. I can also monitor the lighting during production and from what I have seen in the last few days, I think there's not much difference between this and 35 mm anymore. This is an extremely good camera since it has been able to give me a good film-like look," he explains.

Hatami hopes that this movie will also do well on the big screen. "I have done well at film festivals but unfortunately, my films have not enjoyed much commercial success. I hope this film changes that as this is not a typical art movie.

One of the things the filmmaker decries currently is the lack of sufficient budget in Iran for making features. "If you don't have even a modest US $1million for a feature film, how do you get enough equipment, professional crew, good casting and so on to make a movie that will be commercially successful?

We need to have some sort of a joint venture or understanding with companies in India and Egypt to ensure that we can get better equipment and casting as well. Only then can we make films that have more international appeal.

The equipment for this project was supplied by Sony and its UAE distributor, Advanced Media Trading. "We are the co-producers of this movie," explains Kaveh Farnam, managing director of Advanced Media Trading.

We supplied most of the equipment and our technical team put together the lighting and the tracks for the dolly and so on. It has been a good learning experience as well for us. We are happy to be associated with the first feature film that has been made here on the F900R.

AWAD MOUSA: Sony Professional Solutions Middle East Potter"We decided to provide Hatami with all the necessary Sony equipment because this is the first known attempt of a filmmaker in this region to make a feature film with this camera. It's good exposure for us. Hatami is also a well-known Iranian filmmaker who hails from an industry that is renowned for making films.

He has won several awards at international film festivals. When he approached us to provide him with key HD equipment, we felt that he would do justice to the quality of this camera and decided to support his efforts to make this feature film."

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