Fremont, CA, USA – Wednesday, August 16, 2023 – Directed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) based filmmaker Shihan Shoukath, “Deadline” tells the story of a customer service worker in a rather unusual call center who finds his shift going from bad to worse. In this film, Shoukath sought to explore themes as profound as grief and personal identity through a lens of introspection and empathy.
“Deadline” had a successful festival run in 2022, perhaps most significantly picking up three awards for Best Original Story, Best Acting Debut and Best Director Short Film at the monthly Cannes World Film Festival in July of that year.
The success continued into 2023, with a US festival run bringing a limited cinema release in May, further public and festival screenings globally, and a return to Cannes in June, this time to walk the red carpet and claim the Cannes World Film Festival’s prize for Best Original Story, at an event that has previously honored the likes of Clint Eastwood and Jennifer Lopez.
As a viewer, from “Deadline’s” opening shot, you are struck by a rich tonal quality that belies the film’s guerrilla origins.
Shot in one night with a single actor (Shoukath’s brother Ishan) on screen and Shoukath tripling up as writer, director and cinematographer, “Deadline” explores new storytelling techniques that challenge conventional norms and stimulate meaningful conversations.
Shot in 6K, Shoukath employed a set to post Blackmagic RAW workflow, with acquisition on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera.
Choosing the right camera was crucial given the short shoot. There was no room for error as the lead was flying out of town the following day, coupled with the minimal equipment and crew available. “We did a lot of research before investing in the 6K Pocket camera because we didn’t have a big budget,” Shoukath says. “Factoring in the camera’s size, battery duration, and its abilities, this was the right one.
“Even with a bigger budget, bigger crew and more color supervisors on board, we would still choose this camera.”
“It’s the perfect cinema camera, with great dynamic range and color science. Its false color feature played a vital role in the visual storytelling, helping us to monitor exposure levels accurately and light on set while maintaining the desired tonal range to create visual contrast,” points out Shoukath.
“The camera’s dynamic range helped us to capture a broader range of highlight and shadow detail, resulting in visually stunning and immersive imagery, which enhanced the narrative’s depth and atmosphere,” he continues.
Capturing in Blackmagic RAW also came with further advantages, as post and editing took place in DaVinci Resolve Studio.
“Deadline’s” shoot may have been a one night affair, but Shoukath allowed himself a more leisurely post process, partly through necessity since key crew were based abroad, including Italy based Color Supervisor Valerio Morini.
Post production, including editing, color grading and audio, relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio. Three to four months of video conferenced editing, soundtracking, color grading and post ensued, which Shoukath says was his favorite part of production.
“The camera’s ability to capture footage in Blackmagic RAW ensured maximum flexibility and control during color grading. This seamless integration allowed us to easily fine tune the look and feel of the film, achieving the desired grade and overall visual aesthetic,” notes Shoukath.
“The powerful tools and efficient workflow within DaVinci Resolve, combined with the native support for Blackmagic RAW, facilitated a streamlined and cohesive post production process, saving time while preserving the integrity of the captured imagery,” he adds.
The initial concept for “Deadline” was to create a short film specifically for online platforms like Instagram and YouTube. However, as Shoukath progressed through the production process and witnessed the exceptional results, he realized the film’s potential for a broader audience.
The title “Deadline” was chosen through an interactive process involving Shoukath’s Instagram followers. He explains, “I wanted to engage with my audience and involve them in the creative decision making for the film. I conducted a poll, and after evaluating the responses, ‘Deadline’ emerged as the clear favorite. The title perfectly encapsulates the film’s central theme, reflecting the high stakes, time sensitive narrative that unfolds within the story.”
In the words of the filmmaker, its great success can be attributed to a combination of factors. “Firstly, the film’s compelling storytelling, which engages viewers on an emotional level, played a significant role, coupled with the recognition at renowned film festivals, which highlights the film’s ability to resonate with audiences,” states Shoukath.
“And secondly, the technical excellence a Blackmagic workflow delivered elevated the production quality, resulting in a visually striking and immersive experience,” he concludes.
About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984.
Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.