Food in Film

Q&A with Moe Kafer – unearthed® ‘food in film’ 2014 finalist

Moe Kafer was our 2nd place documentary winner of the unearthed food in film award 2014 – a category of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2014. Her wonderful film ‘Chapati at Golden Temple Kitchens’ (view below) filmed in India, is full of colour and detail. She took some time out of her busy scedule to tell us how she got into food film-making and how taking time to see the bigger picture and detail, is essential when it comes to documentary food film making.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Canadian-born, but living in the UK for the past 15 years.

How long have you been working in the industry, what’s your background?
I’ve always been interested in photography and film, studying multi-media (film, television, photography, graphic design & journalism) in Vancouver. I then went on to work as a newspaper journalist for 6 years and felt I needed to go somewhere bigger like London in order to open up my options.
I managed a photographic agency in London for 4 years when I got here and worked with some amazing photographers whilst learning the business side of things and developing myself creative vision. I have now been freelance for the past 11 years.

When did you first get into film?
I’ve always loved the medium of film and worked as a stills photographer on a few films & TV shows. I love the production of how films get made. In my job at the agency I directed a lot of corporate video shoots and when DSLRs offered a more accessible and affordable segue into film for us stills shooters, I jumped at the opportunity.

I have to say, the hardest thing about making this film was stopping filming. The location and subject matter were so beautiful I could have shot there for days. Maybe I’ll go back one day.

Is film your main job or a hobby?
I’m primarily a photographer but now the demand to provide ‘moving image’ as we call it, is very high. It’s a valuable tool to have and really helps diversify your offering as a commercial photographer. And besides that, it’s an amazing medium – especially for food.

How did the film come about?
I was working on a TV program about curries and was shooting the book to go with it. We were a very small crew so I also worked as second camera on the show. We went to this amazing temple in Amritsar, India and in the back they have the kitchen which is in my film (see below). It was like being in a candy shop – stunning colours, steam rising, smiling faces – it was begging to be filmed!

Chapati Makers at work

How long did the film take to make?
I shot the film relatively quickly. We only had the day there and we had a program to shoot and I had to cover the whole place photographically. But I had a bit of free time while the camera crew went off to do some interviews and shot it then. I shot and edited the whole thing myself. Just me – go team!

What was the hardest/most difficult part about making the film?
I have to say, the hardest thing about making this film was stopping filming. The location and subject matter were so beautiful I could have shot there for days. Maybe I’ll go back one day. (go to the bottom to see more images from the shoot)

Do you need any special equipment to make food films
The only special equipment you need to make food films really is a knowledge of food – as a foundation really. Food offers it’s own challenges and without knowledge of how to get around things like an awkward aubergine or a dusty chocolate, you’re pretty much stuffed.
The other thing that is very helpful, especially in the documentary genre, is a keen eye. You can look at a scene from a broad sense and not really get anything from it – but take some time and watch what’s going on, look a little closer at all the details and your film will really come alive.
That and amazing daylight! Food really lends itself to being shot in daylight.

Winning this competition has given me a great marketing tool and has definitely brought me a bigger audience. Plus I love having the logo on my email signature!

What gadget can you not do without when you’re photographing/filming?
A tripod is pretty much mandatory especially when shooting food with a DSLR. A rig is great when you’re doing wide stuff or action but when you want to get beautiful hero shots of food they must be still or it can be unnerving.

Where did you hear about unearthed® food in film?
I think I saw the competition through social media and have entered every year. Last year I had a finalist image and a couple of honourable mentions.

How has winning the competition helped your career?
Winning this competition has given me a great marketing tool and has definitely brought me a bigger audience. Plus I love having the logo on my email signature!

And now for the foodie questions

What’s your favourite dish?
Difficult to say what my favourite dish is as I love food – hence the food filming & photography. However, I fell in love with Pho while I was travelling in Vietnam. I ate it every day for a month, from street vendors. It’s so fantastically flavourful and hearty whilst being light and refreshing. I still eat it regularly – luckily Vietnamese food is de rigure these days so it’s not hard to find.

What’s your most memorable meal
It was in Luang Prabang, Laos. There’s an amazing street food market there and they do these incredible whole fish in this tamarind marinade. The cook them whole on a grill on bamboo sticks. You eat them like a lolly – off the stick whilst browsing all the culinary delights. And for afters there is a woman who cooks these little coconut rice cakes in these wrought-iron dishes with tiny holes in them. They are crispy on the outside and when you bite into them this creamy coconut goodness pours out. Absolute heaven!

Where in the world would you most like to eat?
I would have loved to have the opportunity to eat at El Bulli in Spain but unfortunately I would have to travel back in time as it is sadly now closed.

To see more of Moe’s work visit her website

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