Lafi Abood has been doing freelance photography and filmmaking all his life, with assignments all over the world. Currently Lafi is working on a personal project called “Ibni” which is a documentary highlighting the struggles faced by mothers tending to their autistic adult sons in the Middle East. The trailer can be seen on Vimeo here http://vimeo.com/56807395 . He also owns his own business in Dubai called Analog Productions, after being based here for the last 4 years.
The journey from new freelancer in town to business owner has been quite interesting. The first thing Lafi mentions for any freelancer going to a new territory is to focus on establishing a name for yourself and networking. Whilst building up his client base here, he had work from US based clients to provide cashflow. In the meantime he did knock on agency doors in the early days but he found most success by networking and talking to clients directly. A useful insight; most people were interested in his personal portfolio as an indicator of his skills rather than the commercial work, which in the region all tends to have a similar look and feel.
Lafi had to stop freelancing as an individual partly because a lot of agencies don’t like to deal with individuals, they prefer to deal with other businesses, and partly because of the increase in workload. Analog Productions is set up as DED registered business with a local sponsor, which gives him the freedom to work anywhere and is a lot cheaper in comparison to many of the Freezone areas in Dubai. Lafi’s advice for anyone thinking of doing freelance film or photography is to align yourself with an agency that’s willing to take you on as a freelancer so you can build up your network and portfolio. Ensure you take a deposit up front to cover costs. One of his earliest problems was flying in a whole crew from the US, only to find out the client had changed his mind at the last minute. He had to absorb the costs from his own pocket.
Lafi currently uses Nabbesh to find freelancers to complete the projects he’s working on, and last month he had around 15 freelancers in total working for Analog Productions.