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  • Writer's pictureNicklas Karpaty, FSF

Dhaka Slum shoot: A Cinematographer´s Journey of Grit, Collaboration, and Storytelling

Updated: Feb 13

Dhaka slum film shoot. Image by cinematographer Nicklas Karpaty, FSF
Dhaka slum film shoot

The world of filmmaking thrives on bold storytelling - stepping outside comfort zones, embracing challenges, and weaving narratives that transcend boundaries. For me, this pursuit of impactful cinematography recently led me to the vibrant chaos of Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I served as Director of Photography on a thrilling feature film pilot, "Slave Queen".

Instead of a polished set, our story unfolded within the heart of a bustling slum, navigating labyrinthine alleyways and tightly-knit communities. Time and resources were tight - one day, one night, a small local crew, and limited budget and a small guerrilla equipment package. But it's in such constraints that a cinematographer's true potential are being put on test.

This was guerrilla filmmaking at its finest. With the Panasonic EVA1, Samyang Xeen CF lenses mounted on a Gimbal in hand, I embraced the raw energy, weaving through crowds, capturing intimate moments in makeshift dwellings, and utilising available light or a small kit of LEDs with improvisation and agility. Cultural sensitivity was paramount. Building trust with locals, understanding their customs, and collaborating seamlessly with our Bangladeshi crew were crucial to navigating this unique space. Thankfully, my director, Masud Akhond is a Bangla native and has sharp FAD eyes on top of his director skills.

Despite the challenges, the local community met us with an overwhelming sense of support. Their smiles, even after long hours, reaffirmed the unifying power of storytelling. Their eagerness to participate, their genuine curiosity, fueled our creativity and pushed us to deliver our best.

I believe we got a powerful and emotionally charged pilot that captures the essence of Dhaka's spirit, its struggles, and its resilience. But beyond the final product, this experience was a great learning in adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and the power of collaborative storytelling in the face of adversity. As a cinematographer, I need to continue learning from these challenges to develop myself further. If this feature film takes off down the line, I will be better prepared for any new challenges too.

Are you a filmmaker seeking to push boundaries and tell impactful stories in unconventional settings? Do you value collaborating with diverse communities and bringing narratives to life with resourcefulness and cultural sensitivity? If so, then I invite you to connect! Let's discuss your project, share experiences, and explore how we can illuminate your vision, no matter the constraints.

Visit my website at to see more of my work and get in touch.

Keywords: cinematography, DoP, guerrilla filmmaking, location filming, cultural sensitivity, gimbal shooting, feature film,  pilot, Dhaka, Bangladesh, slums, brothel, storytelling, collaboration, adaptation, challenges, rewards, limited resources, local crew, community engagement.

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