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Thread: Sinai Desert Documentary - a redux

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    England, Gloucestershire

    Default Sinai Desert Documentary - a redux

    So a while ago I shot and edited a short doc whilst working out in Sinai. Here's the vimeo description:

    "A day in the life of a brick-maker.
    My brother and I lived and worked with the local people of the Sinai Desert in Egypt, to help develop a community centre for the bedouin.

    One major task was to manufacture thousands of clay bricks using the resources around us."

    For a few reasons I wanted to set about re-cutting the film to make it a bit more concise (ended up being much more concise!) and I also took the opportunity to properly grade the footage, or at least attempt to with my limited skill/experience.
    I'm considering using this film as a part of an application to a film-school I want to attend next year... I know I could've shot it better; I didn't even intend to make this film, I just happened to have my 7D with me! So it's technical quality concerns me (shaky video from no tripod and no proper mic) But my thinking was it's probably quite different to most other people's applications.. as I had a rare opportunity to some extent document living with a nomadic community.
    What would you think if you were in the school's shoes... Filmaking with promise? Or just a novice who shot a bit of video when on his travels...

    Opinions greatley appreciated!
    Cheers, Ben

  2. #2


    I really enjoyed it personally.

    Its such a worthwhile project in general, helping them build the community centre is really fantastic and hats off to you for going out there and making a difference. The only really noticeable shaky shots were the opening shot, 2.40 and 3.00 but they didn't look out of place for me and with the quality of the shots if you hadn't of said anything I would just have presumed you meant to have shot them like that.

    One other bit that stood out was the very first cough you hear (about 20 seconds in), to me it sounded a bit out of place and I would personally cut it out. Overall though I got a good sence of the story and think it has been very well done

  3. #3


    It's not a bad piece at all. I think it will serve you well for your film school application. The BIG missing part is narration. It really needs something to pull it all together or it just becomes a fancy travel video. Putting on a well scripted and recorded voice over would lift it to the next level and really blow them away at the film school.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    I recall being very impressed with the first version. Back then i said if you were going to cut it down I'd recommend concentrating on the kids working. I still stand by that.
    This time round the whole production looks more pro - you've presumably done a bit of grading and it looks more sleek.

    However I wonder if in making it look more pro you have somehow distanced yourself and the viewer from the subject - it didn't feel quite as intimate as I remember.

    I also found it a bit "bitty", a collection of episodes rather than one piece.

    But nevertheless very, very good.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    England, Gloucestershire


    Thanks for the comments guys! I'm pleased you liked it.

    With thought to narration... I'll admit I kept thinking about it. The only thing that put me off was I didn't think there was enough footage of the work to go with it... but I'm thinking I might roughly record some narration and put it on the project to see.

    Tim - I actually kinda agree that maybe cutting out some more of the smaller details means it's become more 'snapshotty'. There are so many things I wish I could go back and do again at the time... but alas, I was young!

  6. #6


    Very good, infact professional fell to it already. I would advice watching professionals and see how shaky their shots can be...even if on purpose. Yo don't notice it as much on the internet. I is only when you see the shots on a big screen then you notice exactly how shakey they are..... Very good music. I love the letterboxing on that and it is a style I am adopting more and more. Good pull focus..that I love as well...

    You have framed things correctly as I can see it and the most important elements of getting in there with close ups is superb!! Funny, I thought you were using a DSLR then read your description.
    Last edited by TFV; 10-05-2011 at 04:59 PM.

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