David Knight - 24th July 2009

Dave Ma has travelled to Chernobyl, scene of the world's worst peacetime nuclear disaster, and documented the place as it is now, and people who still live there.

It's a beautifully composed essay which celebrates the human spirit, shot by Ross McLennan on RED with his customary skill, and graded back in London by James Tillett at Prime Focus.

"The video has different set ups and Dave wanted slightly different looks for these locations but for it all to still tie together," says James. "We ended up with a more naturalistic look - almost like an old Russian propaganda image from a faded magazine."

Dave Ma on making the video for Delphic's The Momentary

"The aim for this video was to focus on the people still living in and around the Chernobyl area. I wanted to show portraits of the abandoned town near the power plant then move outwards to abandoned villages where a lot of elderly people still live and on to the towns where people were relocated to.

"I didn't want to focus directly on the negative health side effects or on the actual disaster itself because so much of this has been covered in documentaries and photo essays over the past few years. It was about showing the humanity of the people and about capturing little moments in their lives in a composed and photographic way.

"We decided to shoot on RED with a set of primes which meant lugging some serious kit around an abandoned city. Ross McLennan, as usual, did an amazing job wrangling kit and chasing the sun. He didn't skip a beat the whole trip, even after we lost our focus puller to a missing passport the night before flying out.

"Shooting inside the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion was incredible. Your natural fears kick in and you feel like you shouldn't be touching anything or even breathing the air, but you quickly get used to it. The radiation screening at the end of each day proved a constant source of amusement for my producer Neil Andrews.

"A lot of people wrongly assume that the Chernobyl area is completely devoid of life or that it must be an atomic wasteland. But this couldn't be further from the truth. The place is full of life, nature is flourishing and people still live and work around the power plant. There just happens to be a lot of radiation floating around..."


PRO Credits


Production CompanyPulse Films
DirectorDave Ma
ProducerNeil Andrews
Director of PhotographyRoss McLennan
EditorVid Price
Post ProducerPrime Focus
ColouristJames Tillett
CommissionerJill Kaplan

David Knight - 24th July 2009

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