In April a crew from Saudi Arabia came to Moscow to film Youtube videos about their journey building up to the FIFA World Cup in order to give their audience a taste of the city, visiting museums, restaurants and places of interest.
We started preparing months before their arrival. The hosts wanted to drive an old American car in the streets of Moscow so we needed to find such an unusual and very rare type of old car in Russia. We tried different options and after a while the choice was made on a 1989 Ford Crown Victoria that we had painted green and added vinyl graphics in Arabic for the show.
The result was amazing and the car attracted lots of attention on the streets of Moscow and people could not avoid taking pictures of it. It became one of the heroes of the show in its own right.
During the first week of filming we filmed in the museum of surreal art and cosmonaut museum at VDNHa as well as saw a very unusual cat performance in the famous Cat’s theatre and got to see military tanks and jet fighters in Victory park.
We also had some staged scenes and hired a number of extras to play different characters. Alyona, our fixer/producer, played a referee during a football scene when the Arab hosts had a match with Russian footballers. Pavel, our assistant producer and our “baby driver” played a brilliant role of a gangster. All our extras quickly got their nick names among the crew, such as “old babushka” and “an envelope guy” and became a real asset to this production.
We want to thank our very favourite producer from Lebanon, Mohammad, who is always pleasure to work with.
We also recorded a podcast with him about filmmaking and production in Russia and other countries. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-139007163/ep-1-mohammad-saad
The second filming with the same crew from Saudi Arabia and 4 brilliant hosts (Instagram influencers) happened during the World Cup in June where they visited some games and soaked up the atmosphere of Russia during this event.
We have just finished another project with London based production company Pilot. We headed to Saint-Petersburg on Easter Day for the new TV series “Empire Builders” which looks into the achievements of mighty Empires through its iconic buildings.
Not only is this our third project with the same production company, but also with British cameraman Nigel Kinnings. We have already shot Tough Trains and Ottomans Vs Christians together and shared some adventures.
This time in Saint-Petersburg we filmed two of the most magnificent buildings, the Winter Palace and the Catherine Palace. Then we headed to Moscow where we filmed St. Basils Cathedral and The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
In Saint-Petersburg we interviewed art historian and Professor Aleksey Lepork who was a real pleasure to work with. He has so much useful knowledge and a good understating of film processes which is a great help.
We filmed in The Winter Palace on a Monday which is when the museum is closed to the public. This gave us a very unique opportunity to use the space without the rush of tourists. We had this experience last summer when filming “Ottomans Vs Christians”, trying to capture the atmosphere of these majestic rooms with crowds of tourists passing through is hard work. Keeping them back to get a shot is often impossible, so to shoot there when it is just the crew, a few members of staff and some cleaners is a pleasure like no other. It’s a strange feeling to walk through these sumptuous imperial hallways alone, you can almost capture the emotion of what it must have been like when they were the homes of the Russian Emperors.
Our favourite team member in Saint-Petersburg Igor assisted us with moving equipment because in the Hermitage/Winter Palace they don’t let crews use their trolleys. The space is so vast to move from one room to another with a lot of equipment it can be very challenging. So having another good pair of hands made it really quick and convenient.
4 hours by Sapsan train brought us back to Moscow quick and easy to shoot the Cathedrals, then a morning of B Roll of the Kremlin and the cameraman and director were on a flight back to the UK.