By Becca Jaye Sharples on 3rd October 2017

Interview With…

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In the coming months, we will be introducing interviews with creative and business minds from all over the world, and some of our very own Viddyoze team too.

Today we start with Phil Sheikh – self confessed travel addict, videographer, influencer, creative thinker and Syrian refugee.

On his vast travels and rich mix of cultural experiences, Phil works hard to create and aid content of original thinking and of emotive root. Let’s have a chat and see what he can tell us about his journey so far…

Hello! For our users who haven’t seen your amazing work yet could you give a quick intro on what you do and who you are?

My name is Philip Sheikh and I am the Brand and Business Development Lead at Connected Pictures. Now I am a videographer too but have always been interested in the business criteria that visual storytelling can contribute towards building a brand. I love the challenges that business goals present to the creative process and enjoy leveraging my talent into something tangible that holds value for clients or my personal audience.

You have an amazing background – where exactly have you been in your career and travelling, ending at where you are today.

My heart’s never been set on a single career and I’ve explored many options from law, to business and to creativity. This constant hunger for discovery of myself and where my true potential lies has taken me from living on a mountain in Lebanon, where a day out can be a group of friends going horseback riding, to many countries around Europe. Some work to live, others live to work, I have chosen work for travel. Even if things may be a little less uncertain with my career, I still continue to travel seeking to discover new stories I can tell through film, or a new purpose for business that I pursue once again after my first business.

We love your video ‘PICTURES’, we’re going to share it with our users below. What was your process creatively when developing the narrative?

This piece was bliss to write but over 5 years worth of living to put together. The best chat I had with directors in television and documentary films was, that documentary is hard. You really need to love the process, it’s years of dedication and it truly is passion for a single message that you carefully want to develop into a story that resonates with your audience. I am a Syrian refugee in London and I’ve had my fair share of hard times leaving home and practically everything I’ve known behind. I found myself falling back upon the medium of photography to let things be as opposed to reminiscing on a past long gone. The reason I found my message to be captivating is that it only reflected truth. I didn’t dedicate any creative efforts to fabricate fluff or transitional elements to hold a story together. I had to stay true to my story, strip back all complexities that the experience had introduced and found myself with a couple of minutes worth of a script. The most important element with this narrative was that I wanted it to be positive, inspiring and not another cliché about being ‘homesick’. I believe that content has the potential of being contagious, and if it is content with a positive message, then we naturally like to share content that makes us feel good.

The final and most important point that truly had a big impact on the narrative was the process of diving into every album we have. Now this had to be done over skype with the family. The best part was that my parents haven’t even been through these albums in years and the process of going through every picture together brought about an incredible experience that practically dictated the script to me.

Phil’s YouTube can be found here.

What camera are you using and have you many in your collection? Or are you a one camera kind of guy?

I am using a Canon 60D. Affordable, HD video and an all-round brilliant camera that has very quick autofocus. I like to shoot in POV a lot when writing personal narrative and like the idea of forgetting the screen and diving into my shoes when you watch. I have other cameras and have worked with much higher-end cameras. It really depends on the story you are looking to tell in a specific film and what look you’re after. I love my 60D because it’s not intimidatingly professional looking and I do get away with a lot of shots on private property (guilty!) and it’s easier to get honest content when people aren’t intimidated by the equipment. I even find that the more laid-back my camera is, the more focused I am about the narrative. I’d rather worry about the look in post.

What’s your standard kit list when making a video for your YouTube channel?

a. Canon 60D
b. Røde VideoMic Pro
c. 3 Softboxes
d. Lovely backdrop (My current backdrop is a selection of pictures that have caught my eye over the years. I’ve printed over 500 pictures and have them all arranged as a backdrop in my studio. This is quite pricy but totally worth it)
e. 5x Sandisk 64 GB memory cards (Can never have enough memory)
f. 3x batteries
g. Manfrotto Tripod
h. Shure Beta 87A mic
i. Roland Quad Core Capture Sound Card

Do you or have you used assistants before or are you a one man band? What’s the benefits of either option for you?

I’ve always been a one man band but I do see myself growing the size of my operation soon. Working with people means scale and creative uncertainty. I know that more people being involved may introduce new ideas, which is great. However, what I find truly beautiful about more people taking part is the uncertainties that come about, mixed with their creativity, manifesting themselves into new forms and ideas rather than the thought of pre planning more creativity because of the larger number of people. Now the only drawback is coordination. Larger groups need to coordinate, and the next project I have in mind includes elements of music and dance which will require more people but a truly efficient execution on my part as the director.

Creatively, what’s been your biggest challenge in video making so far?

I’ve made many personal projects in the past but Pictures is still the most significant one because of its gravitas. This personal project holds a story that encapsulates years of experience into a single message and it’s beautiful. But again, after working on Pictures, the next story should feel different and not only inspired by my experiences up to date. I continue seeking new experiences and ideas that will uncover something compelling for me, that would spark my interest in developing a new narrative that breaks my connection with Pictures.

We’re big on creating a real atmosphere and stories when making video especially with audio. How do you feel the sound in stories and narrative effects the audience watching your videos?

I was in the Royal Conservatoire of London for over 8 years playing piano. My dad had a record store, uncle was a rockstar in the Middle East and I produced music as a kid in my spare time. So, music accounts for 70% of who I am! I think music firstly. I write music first and I’ve always changed the way that the people close to me hear the music the way I do. In the films I work on, music is in harmony to the story and this can also expand to sound in general. I love the use of sound effects, I capture noises that spark memories and I add all of it in a subtle manner to serenade the audience with the story rather than throw it in their face. I currently have a track that I’ve been saving for a while. It’s a beautiful and powerful track that will take my audience on a very emotional journey and without a single word. This is the beauty of the atmosphere you can create with sound. We all get it, no preface needed.

What’s next for Sheikh Phil? Travelling, videos, personally – tell all!

I’ve been obsessed with sound and patterns a little more than I should and I am currently exploring patterns and sounds that define cities. A much bigger project than myself surely, but the scale is what I am really excited about. I will be looking into performers, dancers and many more talented people and will truly be challenged to bring out my vision. I cannot freakin’ wait!

We’ve made you a Viddyoze account to have a look at us, what do you think of it?

Looks cool and definitely interested in exploring it more. It reminds me of the platform I built for my business. We crashed and burned because we focused on many industries but I love that you guys are dedicated to video and would be very interested to see where it goes. Best of luck and thank you for the questions. Really enjoyed reflecting back on my process!

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  • Great interview. Phil has truly an artist soul and passionate heart. Very inspiring.

  • Charles Davis

    Very inspiring, he found his voice and passion. Thats one thing I noticed about the Viddyoze community, creative passion.

  • Few videos touch that hidden place in the Heart. Yours did. Thank you Phil!

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