Creativity & Freedom: Profile - Shahriman Abdul Karim
Shahriman Abdul Karim.
Host Chef Wan, Ujang on second camera and me shooting by a riverbank in Pakistan.
Scorpio. Born in the year of the Dog.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; near Batu Caves, a Hindu temple.
English and Malay.
Sometimes I work as a DOP, other times as a camera assistant on corporate videos, TV programmes, documentaries and studio dramas. Anything in videos, I’m your guy!
I’m making a corporate video for LUAS (Lembaga Urus Air Selangor) — a production called Squid Ink. It was shot around rivers and waterfalls deep in the forest of Pahang. It’s been a while since I have been off road and the bumpy track really excites me in my quest for adventure.
I used a Canon EOS 7D camera and a Flycam stabiliser as an accessory for the 7D. It’s my first time using a DSLR camera for corporate video. The quality’s good, but the handling doesn’t satisfy me much.
Do you find Malaysia to be a good base?
For me, yes, Malaysia is a good location base. We do get filmmakers from around the world coming here to shoot. We have beautiful locations and a variety of races to appear in their productions. So we get the opportunity to work with foreign film makers and learn how they work.
What was your first ever shooting job?
That would be when I worked at a production house called 59 Comm in 1992. I was a lighting man there. One of the cameraman resigned and my boss asked me would I like to fill that position. Was I ready to take the responsibilities? Don’t let me down, he says. And I said yes, I’m ready.
He then told me to take on an assignment to shoot a kid’s TV programme that the company was handling. I was excited because, for months I’d been practising and watching how the other cameraman composed their shots and how they handled the camera. At that time we were using Betacam 537p cameras.
Whenever I was free, I went to the equipment store and practised with the camera. That’s the advantage of being a permanent staffer. The shooting took place in a house, because they didn’t have enough budget to rent a studio. The set was in the living room. It was small and cramped with all the lighting. I had to set my camera at a door in another room; with no aircon, we were sweating like hell…
But in the end, everything went smoothly. The director was satisfied with my work. What a relief, I passed my first assignment!
Most recent and interesting assignments?
Chef Wan, Wan’s assistant Latifah, Iman Karim on camera, sound man Azmi, and director Mashitah. This shot was taken at Lahore Fort in Pakistan.
In January this year I shot the Le Tour De Langkawi here in Malaysia. This was a 1300 km cycle race that started on Langkawi Island and finished in Kuala Lampur, I did a single camera coverage and had to watch out for good scenery and great angles.
I’ve just finished 26 episodes of a musical drama, followed by a documentary on the Iranun race of people in Sabah.
Current equipment that I use?
For the Le Tour De Langkawi assignment I used a Panasonic P2HD HPX370. It’s a new camera that the TV station bought recently just for this job.
Equipment “wish list”?
Hmm … I would like to try the new RED ONE EPIC camera with Ultra prime lenses. The first time I looked at it on the Web, I dreamt I had one for myself. But not this year. Next year, maybe,
Best thing about your job?
I am never at the same place every day and I can wear whatever I want when I’m working. Other than that, it’s a new experience on most jobs and you have to be creative.
Worst thing about your job?
I can’t plan to have a long holiday. Maybe I’m a workaholic! If someone calls and asks can you do this job, I would definitely say ‘Yes, if I’m free.’ Usually, if I don’t have assignments, I stay at home or go out to meet clients and friends.
Dullest assignments and why?
Sometimes the producer tells me we don’t have enough budget to get the equipment I ask for. Damn! I get that a lot of jobs like that here. They want good quality shooting but they don’t allow for the equipment that I want. Sometimes, I have to do the best that I can with the limited equipment that I get.
Hairiest/scariest assignments and why?
There was one assignment about fishing in the deep forest in Kedah state called Belum forest. In the day, it was great; shooting then casting for fish in the river. But at night, quite scary for me because we set up camps at the riverside every night; a different location every night. Sometimes we had to sleep in a hammock to avoid snakes on the ground.
The scariest thing on the first morning when I woke up at 6 am it was still dark. Someone asked me, “Did you smell it last night?” I asked, smell what? They answered, “tiger!” And the smell was so strong.
Oh man! Tiger! Really?
When the sun came up, I could see the tiger footsteps at the riverbank near our campsite. I was walking in that area when I woke up in the morning, when it was dark. Lucky me, I guess.
A shot was taken in front of the Faisal Mosque located in Islamabad. We'd done a cooking demo there with the mosque as a background.
We were in that forest for five days for that assignment and every night we could smell the tiger and we found their footsteps at the riverbank where we shot. Lucky we didn’t meet one.
How much 16:9 do you shoot?
Most of the time I shoot in 16:9. I usually shoot with P2HD HPX301, Sony EX3 and DigiBeta.
What country would you most like to shoot in?
I don’t know actually. I’ve been to Macau, Pakistan, Morocco, Jakarta, Bangkok, Dubai, Alaska, and Austin, Texas. They all have different moods and scenery. As for me, I would like to shoot in every country in this world. That would be great.
What’s your taste in music?
I listen to all kind of music: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Blues, Electronica, Trance etc. But I feel more to heavy metal.
My favourite group would be Metallica, Iron Maiden and Aerosmith.
Anything that tastes good and spicy!
P: +60 19 338 38 44