This post marks a sort of personal milestone for me. Over the last year or so, I’ve been working on a film series named CURIOSITY. I’m not necessary new to motion work, but producing a consistent short film series brings a new tool to a filmmakers kit so I threw myself into the deep end and took this on, with the sole objective of creating five special shorts with five super talented athletes. It’s been a journey of fun, learning and fine-tuning along with establishing my own RAW style and juggling with unscripted story telling.
Making films, with captivating people in beautiful places, has become one of the most satisfying things that I do. I’ve so enjoyed the entire process and I feel truly stoked to finally release the series. All five are now online at www.wouterkingma.com/film. I hope you take the time to watch them all and feel moved by the inspiring individuals featured. Here’s a quick trailer.
It’s been an absolute privilege to work with these five incredibly gifted athletes… David Labouchere, Sjaak van Tunen, Claudine Foong, Karina Bensemann and Heidi Jones. The art of storytelling is so very powerful but it’s their unique and personal stories that really make the series such a success. They live and breathe their sport and it’s inspiring and humbling to learn about their successes, struggles and failures.
The majority of the series was shot on the new Canon Cinema C200 camera. As a Canon ambassador, there are always talks about new projects and field stories so I suggested they let me use the prototype C200 to shoot this series. A new piece of gear inevitably brings new challenges like unsupported software, no manuals and having to just figure things out as you go but overall, I really enjoyed working with it. It has great features like internal RAW recording and a touch screen with auto tracking. It delivers great quality footage with unbelievable colour richness and fits all my existing Canon lenses too. Check out this super short behind the scenes video about bringing the series together.
As for what drives my personal work? Put simply, it provides total creative freedom. I’ve always been a big advocate of doing personal work. You don’t have to worry about brands and labels, politics and hidden agendas. You can just work with your own ideas and push yourself to produce something that adds value to others. That is the ultimate reward, the ability to inspire and motivate others to leap into the unknown and fulfill their own dreams.
The feedback I’ve received so far has been awesome so I really hope for future opportunities producing more series with inspiring entrepreneurs, artists and designers.
Being surrounded by inspiring people brings immense value. Their positive energy rubs off on others, instilling passion and motivation. Eva Clarke is one of these people. She even has not one, but eleven, Guinness World Records to her name.
I’ve been working on a short film about her passion. During an interview, she shared her fear of heights. Time to crush that fear, I thought, as I went ahead and secretly booked a tandem jump for Skydive Dubai.
In response to my telling her what I’d done, she turned a whiter shade of pale before saying, “Well, if you want me to jump out of a plane, we’ll have to run to Dubai first.” I’m not sure if she was hoping I’d turn that mad idea down but I accepted. Not because it was a smart idea, I should add. Far from it!
So 5pm on the 3rd December, I find myself at the start of a 100+ kilometre run from Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit to SkyDive Dubai. Something inside me told me she’d be giving me a real un for my money…
We ran through the night, climbed fences, danced around sprinklers, lived Eva’s dream of being chased by wild dogs, dodged potholes in the pitch black, had crazy food cravings and pulled each other out of the occasional dark place. We actually had a lot of fun!
Thankfully, I was in charge of navigation. Had this been left to Eva, I suspect we’d still be running. We sounded like an old married couple just getting off Yas Island, when Eva wanted to run in the wrong direction toward Saudi Arabia.
In the middle of the night, we had a taxi reverse towards us on the highway (as they do). I looked at Eva and said “You know this is our exit out of here!” She smiled and he drove off, leaving us staring at his red tail lights.
Towards the end, the run became more of an endurance challenge, pushing and clocking the mileage as we went along. Admittedly not much running anymore. The long march home. The lack of long training runs was apparent and my legs felt pretty trashed.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed over the time it took to cover the 108 kilometre total. We were on the move for just over 19 hours and I’d been hoping to take around 16. I had to find peace with this before feeling happy with the achievement. The key is that neither of us were prepared for this sort of distance and after eight or so hours of forward motion, the body starts to protest. We were dehydrated even at the start line and then ran out of water a couple of times.
The first 60km was on hard-packed surface through Abu Dhabi’s residential suburbs and more remote farm roads. It was pretty scenic and safe to assume, I think, that no expat has run through much of it before. We hit Sheikh Zayed Road just before the Gantoot turnoff and that’s when we actually had to start running next to the highway. However tempting the hard shoulder was, for safety reasons, we stuck to the sandy patch alongside which sucked every last drop of energy from our legs. Soft sand, thick bush and running on a slight decline for 50km. It was tough and completely insane.
As the run was totally spontaneous, we had no idea where our refueling stations would be, nor the total mileage or even the best route from A to B. I guess that was all part of the adventure, using Google Maps to figure out our route along the way and getting crazy looks from people at gas stations. The best ones came from fellow walkers along the promenade at Dubai Marina walk. People were staring in sheer disbelief, some with disapproval in our filthy kit. This only fuelled me more. There’s nothing like shaking up the system.
I filmed the full run and carried a recording device to capture our conversations too. Check out Eva’s Instagram page where she posted live social feeds too. I think there’s a great story in there and am looking forward to seeing where it leads to.
Needless to say, we were both delighted to reach Skydive Dubai. Big smiles. Big HUA! I was glad it was over although for Eva, the run was only the precursor to the sky dive to come. At the registration we were both put on scales for a weight check. To my huge disappointment, I was told I was too heavy. “What?!?” I was four kilos over the 100kg maximum weight limit so they wouldn’t let me on the plane. Believe it or not, I really was gutted as I was looking forward to ending this epic adventure on a true high. Eva rose to her challenge and experienced the jump of her life. She was ecstatic on landing with fellow Red Bull athlete.
Would I recommend others to do crazy shit like this too? Yes. Hell, yes. Always. The body heals with remarkable speed and all you are left with is a handful of wonderful memories. For those toying with following in our footsteps, we went for the safe option by hugging Sheikh Zayed Road all the way from Gantoot to Dubai. I would actually recommend running parallel to this, in the actual desert (possibly on gps navigation). This way, you’re away from the traffic but you do also lose out on refuelling stops at gas stations so this needs to be taken into consideration. An alternative is to go via Bab Al Shams, which although means throwing in a few extra kilometres, the terrain is way better. Whatever the route, there’s no escaping soft sand.
A big thanks to Eva for challenging me to run my first 100k and for being a great running buddy. We made a good team. I don’t normally talk much when running but we rarely had a quite moment.
What next I wonder?! Perhaps I’ll challenge Skydive Dubai to support us with a helicopter jump to some random remote desert location then we’ll navigate our way back to the bright lights via GPS. Then perhaps stair climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa. Why not? This would be incentive enough for me to lose those extra four kilos. Eva, is there another Guinness World Record opportunity there?
My longtime friend Giles is an avid windsurfer and has been suggesting for years that I join him on (and shoot) one of his windsurfing trips to Oman. We finally made it work this past summer, thanks to the dates not clashing with my annual summer exodus to Europe. Beyond the usual photography, I set myself the challenge of shooting my first short film, everything from initial concept and storyboarding to the actual camera work and editing. The full monty. My camera’s have been able to shoot video since Canon launched their 5D Mk2 in 2008 but over the years, I’ve never really had the desire to venture into the world of motion film. Photography was my kinda thing. Till now anyway…
Khareef tells a story of a group of friends who travel every summer to Masirah, a remote island in Oman, to crash out on an empty beach and do the thing they’re super passionate about… windsurfing. Khareef shares their passion, experiences and adventures. They talk about what make Masirah so special and unique. The film wraps with a scary adrenaline rush at Keyhole with intimidating waves, sharp rocks and a small exit.
It certainly was a real adventure for me. I loved putting a film director’s hat on and tweaking the storyline as we went along. Canon Middle East kindly supported me with the latest C300II cinematic camera and cinema lenses. I also brought my own telephoto lenses so I had no shortage of gear to play with. We camped on this wonderfully remote beach without phone, internet or electricity. Fully self sufficient. Living simply. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s just how I like it but our set up did raise some challenges in producing a film. Ultimately, it all worked and we had a blast. My thanks to Goal Zero for keeping us charged with solar energy.
As with the filming, I was keen to do the editing myself… I certainly wanted to understand the process, workflow and basic jargon. The Final Cut’s tutorial videos saved the day, helping me to learn and edit simultaneously.
In preparation, I watched a whole bunch of hardcore windsurfing videos on youtube. The filming was epic but I often found them repetitive in their storytelling so I wanted to create something slightly different. With Khareef, there are three storylines really… camaraderie, destination Oman and, of course, epic windsurfing. I’d love to hear your thoughts…
A huge thanks to Giles and your fellow surfers… for inviting me into your world and sharing something that brings you so much joy. I so appreciate you sharing your little slice of Omani heaven with me and am inspired by how protective you are over keeping it pure and simple, without growth, development or commercialisation. I think back on the many conversations you had around gear and sail sizes; “Wow, you’re on a 5.7?” “Crazy, I need to get on a 6.3….”. The passion for the surf was conveyed even in conversation, never mind when on the water. So boys, keep on riding those big waves, tackling those stormy winds and taking a step back into a life more simple. We have just one life and you guys are certainly living it…
I posted not long back on a shoot for Lululemon’s Middle East brand ambassadors. This time, we shot Yogi Omar and Crossfitter Karina, doing what they love and sharing what they love. Both were awesome to work with.
We shot at two amazing studios… Urban Yoga and Rig Crossfit. The fit-out and format of both fits perfectly with what they do, which made for a series of super authentic visuals. RAW and action-impact imagery… just what I love. At the end of the day, images needs to move people, to touch them and to create some sense of curiosity.
It’s really worth checking out the Lululemon brand, discover what they stand for and how they stand out from their competitors. I love their personality and voice. Just read this clipping from their brand paper…
“To the sweaty philosophers, the bonfire starters and the daredevil entrepreneurs with gratitude. Your spark elevates our entire collective.”
The below manifesto sums it all up…
Since the shoot, I’ve attended both Omar and Karina’s classes. I confess that both broke me. I may be able to run but yoga and crossfire bring a whole new set of challenges. I remain sore but have signed up for more and would definitely encourage others to give them a try. They even hold taster classes at Lululemon’s Mall of Emirates store so you can dip your toes in the water before diving straight in.