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Camera Obscura: Mik Allen on Why an Arri Camera Never Fails


NM Talent's director of photography on Arri cameras, the jungles of Borneo and going with what your eye and heart instinctively want

Camera Obscura: Mik Allen on Why an Arri Camera Never Fails

Mik Allen began his career in the 90’s working in London on sets with revered commercial directors such as Gerard De Thame, Paul Weiland, Dante Ariola and David Lodge. During this time he was also involved in some well known films such as The Mummy, Gosford Park and Love Actually.

Having worked up through the ranks, by 2004 he took the step into cinematography. Still working mostly out of London, he found that his new career path opened up a world of travel and cultural diversity in the form of international assignments.

In 2013 he based himself full time in the UAE, working extensively and successfully across the Gulf region and continuing to shoot across Asia and Europe before moving back to London in 2019.

That same year he completed his first feature length film titled 'Amorenudo' which was directed by Marco Della Fonte and shot in Tuscany.

Mik has a strong visual sense of style and stamps a hyper naturalistic look to his films. His focus and determination leads him to push the boundaries of creativity and deliver an excellence that goes above and beyond expectation.

LBB> What is your niche craft obsession? 

Mik> My niche craft obsession is most definitely Arri Cameras, both film and digital. 

LBB> Where/ when/ how did you first come across this thing? 

Mik> I started in the business back in 1993. Whilst I was fortunate enough to work with many different cameras, it was predominantly with Arri cameras. My first job was in the jungles of Borneo, with Harvey Harrison BSC and Ben Davis BSC, filming a project for Land Rover and Camel. Shooting in this difficult terrain with Arri cameras was likely where my obsession began. 

LBB> Was it an obsession straight away or something that has evolved over the years? 

Mik> It’s a mix of both. As mentioned, my first job was a challenging environment, and the Arri never failed me. They [Arri] have always been the benchmark of reliability. Trust is so important in our business. As my career developed, I knew I could always rely on Arri and so I would say the relationship grew over the years. 

Now with the digital age, understanding the sensors’ limitations is key and having dealt with on set execution in the same way I did on celluloid, I’m confident with where to push and pull to get out of it what the project needs.

LBB> What are the most interesting debates or conversations you are having around this obsession? 

Mik> Arri Alexa vs Sony Venice. There is a lot to be debated between the two, and it’s great to see a rival camera body to the Alexa, for me the Alexa is still my preferred. 

LBB> How widespread do you think this obsession is with your peers? 

Mik> I think we all have to change with the times, but being slightly old school, I’ll stick with what I know and trust. Less grey-haired DP’s than myself, I’m sure are more experimental with camera options, such as the Venice etc, but I’ll always push for Arri. In fact I’ll insist on it, 99% of the time, it has never failed me. 

LBB> Can you share any examples of work where that obsession really came to the fore and elevated the final production? Can you tell us about it and share links if possible? 

Mik> The first film that comes to mind, when I think of my obsession with Arri, is Swat 2023. I recently shot this on the phenomenal new Arri Alexa 35, coupled with Cooke Anamorphic lenses. 

The Arri Alexa 35 is an immense workhorse of a camera, in particular when shooting in a high contrast of lighting conditions. The latitude control is second to none.

LBB> For anyone just getting into your field, what advice would you share to help them get their head around this particular thing? 

Mik> The best thing you can do is to go with what your eye and heart instinctively want. Of course, budgets are massively important when it comes to deciding on format and lenses, but push for what you trust and believe in. 

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NM Productions, Wed, 03 May 2023 11:03:56 GMT