Short Film: The Pitch


Whilst over in Dubai filming the Duty Free Documentary (and my new short Glass Insomnia) for Ian Carless of Talkabout Media he got me to DP a short comedy idea that he had with his friend Dimitri. Originally for a competition that when they read through the rules realised their plans were too ambitious for it so they decided to go it solo and enter it into something else at a later date.

There was a rough idea/ concept that didn’t get firmed up until the just a couple of days before the shoot. In fact it was still being written the night before. 

In a nutshell it’s about an advertising pitch that doesn’t go quite to plan.

This wasn’t a long gestating script, this was an idea quickly put together, quickly written, cast with all amateurs bar one (Aparna Kumar, who was flown in from India and is quite simply beautiful as you can see), almost all friends or friends of friends. 

Location wise it was incredibly tough. We had a boardroom surrounded by windows with blinds cutting out a bit of the August Dubai 42 degree Celsius Sun. So A LOT of ambient light but more importantly very hot backgrounds. I had just two Kino Divas to help out but in reality I was never going to match the outside light and we didn’t have the resources or time to put ND perfectly on each of the 10 or so windows! So I went for a stylized whited out look on purpose as I had little choice. In the end it worked out quite well, except like most shorts we just didn’t have enough time, so the Sun started coming around and giving nightmare shadows, then it set and we had to shoot away from the windows pointing at the walls to finish it off.

A long day, a tough challenge, not just for me, but for everyone involved especially the amateurs. Lighting I was unhappy with but had no time to make right, but I made the best of it and the EX1 and Ultimate dealt with it well. 

I used the Zacuto follow focus with the Z whip and it was lovely to use. I also used the Redrock mattebox for appearance sake more than anything, I took it off later on as really I just didn’t need it for the location i was in.


I had the lovely HD 900 Panasonic monitor for monitoring. Lovely. So sharp. I want one. Audio was tough as we didn’t have a pro sound recordist and not the right sort of personals for hiding. But we made do and it sounds OK. Something I always stress is sound is as important if not more important than the pictures so make sure you get it right.

It was a knackering shoot but I am sure Ian will cut it beautifully and we will have a nice short to add to our reels! Big thanks to all involved, from my assistants to the crew and the actors.

Here are some screen grabs with a wash of a rough grade…it’s a bit dark and will be different in the final edit but it still looks kinda cool. But god was the light a nightmare today!



  1. When I saw the first photo with the giant windows in the background I was thinking “Who chose this location?”.

    but it seems you guys found a solution, congratulations on your short – the screen grabs look terrific as usual.

    And I totally love the Panasonic monitor as well. It’s just perfect for HD work.

  2. Phil,

    Love the background info on this job! It help those of us who don’t shoot so often live the experience as it were and learn from it (as much as is possible).

    Look forward to seeing the short (if that’s going to happen).

  3. Man, this was a great post. I love all of the background stuff you do for us on this blog. I haven’t entered any of your competitions yet, but I will soon.

    I really like your behind the scenes blog posts and whatnot. It really helps some of us amateurs find out what a professional filmmaker really does with his time.


  4. Philip. I am an owner of the EX-1 and the M2 adapter. I am currently having trouble getting sharp edge-to-edge focus on my images and I wanted to know how much of this has to do with the M2 itself and how much of it is just a result of 35mm adapters in general and their communication with a camera like the EX-1. I am thinking about returning my M2 and getting a Letus Ultimate for my company, but I don’t want to do the exchange if I’ll just be dealing with relatively similar issues. I realize you are a strong advocate of the Letus, but I would like to know more specifics about how involved the process is of getting the Letus Ultimate to communicate with the EX-1 and whether it is any easier than doing the same with the M2. If I can just get my footage to look close to yours, we’ll be set.

  5. Hi Luke. I can’t advise when it come to the redrock and ex1. You are better off asking on their forum. I only have experience with the Letus and the Brevis with the EX1 and only now is there a fix for the Brevis to work with the EX1.

    The EX1 lens and half inch chips have caused havoc with adaptors, all of them.

  6. Havoc sounds like what I have going on. How much work has it been for you to get the EX-1 to work well with the Letus Ultimate? Is it a ton of micro adjustments and shimming or are you basically throwing it on the adapter, pointing and shooting?

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