DS: Tell me about Fstop locations.
Great film locations help to tell a story because they enhance on-screen believability. That’s where we come in. Fstop was established in 2015 in response to the industry’s need for a responsible and professional location management service in the MENA region.
The success of our offering hinges largely on strong relationships and partnerships with the various private, semi-government and government locations within the UAE.
DS: What are the main location-related challenges that production companies face in the Middle East and how will fstop help?
For starters, local knowledge advantage is extremely important, as are strong relationship networks. Aerial and land permits can be tricky but we are able to secure both. Our reputation for professionalism among our contacts in the U.A.E and Middle East translates into accurate information and up-to- date procedural know-how. We live in a digital age where the demand for clear and accurate communication is critical than ever before.
Best quality location scouting images are non-negotiable. Careful and efficient budgetary controls must be tightly coupled to every phase of every project. Add to these expected production run turnaround times on sometimes logistically complex locations - it goes without saying that an exceptional go-to location scouting and management crew is not just required, but essential, for navigating and handling all the practical challenges that come with managing a locale.
DS: Tell us about the productions you’ve worked on and the pipeline of work for the months ahead.
For almost two decades as a location manager, scout, photographer and more recently founder of Fstop, I’ve worked on some incredible film projects. My first film, Ali (2001), was shot in Mozambique. For the better part of the last 11 years, I’ve worked in the Middle East, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain on some of the largest productions in the region, including Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Furious 7, and Star Trek Beyond. Each of these projects were filmed in vastly different key anchor locations, and each came with its own set of complexities and challenges.
We learn and adapt all the time and, while looking to the future in film, we also focus on the local market to identify how we can use our continuous learning and upskilling to contribute to an exciting 2017. We’re targeting all forms of local and international media from events and television commercials to stills. As long as production companies choose the UAE as a prime filming destination we want to be there to deliver a best-in-industry service.
DS: What facilities does fstop have?
In addition to everything that goes with start to wrap location management including equipment rentals, we recently invested in a top fleet of Hollywood artist production trailers. This means that on top of providing trailers for feature film, television commercial and stills industry segments, with the UAE being a hotspot for events, we are able to service this segment too. In fact, we provided trailers for the inaugural Sandstorm race challenge at Al Qudra Lakes in Dubai in February this year.
DS: What do you like most about the film and TV production industry?
Every project is exciting for me. In particular I love the thrill of finding new locations and photographing breath taking images of exceptional locales for the director. I also love the challenge of achieving the seemingly impossible. On feature film projects, I enjoy hand selecting top locations people from different parts of the world to create the ideal locations department. The key to handling pressure is the support of a great crew and staying faithful to logic.
I always surround myself with individuals who share the same relentless determination to produce the best, and only the best, always. This is something I’m particularly proud of.