Art History Alumnus Shares his Experience of Working on Qatar National Team’s World Cup Film

February 28, 2023
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VCUarts Qatar Art History alumnus and Class of 2018 Co-Valedictorian Dimitri Yuri was the Director and Writer for the Qatar National Team’s official World Cup film. The film was released in the second week of November 2022. In this conversation, Dimitri, who works as a Director/Writer at The Film House in Doha, shares his experience working on the film

Can you tell us how you came up with the concept of the film?
The brief was concise and to the point – “create hype around Qatar’s national football team” in the run-up to the world cup. I wrote everything from scratch and developed a proposal for the Qatar Football Association (QFA). I wanted to keep the tone inspiring, and relatable to everyone who calls Qatar home.

Were there any challenges? 
Anyone who has seen the film will notice the super-slow-motion technique in it. That was challenging – a learning curve – especially when you’re filming in super-slow-motion at night. Slow-motion-filming is done using high-speed cameras. Traditional cameras offer slow-motion takes that involve 60 fps (frames per second). But super-slow-motion cameras go to 1000 fps. These techniques need a lot of light, and most conventional lights, when taken in 1000 fps mode, flicker constantly, so it took quite a bit of testing to get it just right.

Another challenge was creating the snow and rain effects for scenes, since we wanted something to ground the scene and make it as realistic as possible, instead of relying purely on VFX. The snow was made of mashed potato flakes, and the rain was a big rain machine on a crane that soaked our crew and performers after the first take. That was fun!

Did you use any special techniques or technology?
We used a Phantom slow-motion camera to film. When we film at 1000 fps (frames per second), it is very difficult to notice any camera movement within the shot. To solve this, we collaborated with The Studios QA who have a ‘robot arm’ called the Bolt robot arm, that allows the camera to move fast enough. We also worked with Rishab Soni, a New Zealand multidisciplinary designer who’s an absolute wizard at creating VFX. He’s the brains behind the VFX you see in the film.

Any memorable moments from the experience?
The fact that we completed filming in five days across half a dozen locations stands out as an achievement. We filmed at Al Sadd stadium, the kitchen in the Japanese restaurant Morimoto, the Place Vendôme mall in Lusail, the Museum of Islamic Art, and in the vicinity of Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East sculpture in the desert. All the slow-motion shots were created in an empty lot in Lusail.

It was also exciting to work with Hassan Al-Haydous, the national team’s captain, who took a few days out of his busy schedule to be in the film. It’s an opportunity the team at The Film House will cherish forever.