Al Buruj Press are taking a group tour to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for the last 10 days of Ramadan, and it’s an honour and a privilege I’ve been asked to come along and film the auspicious pilgrimage.
I won’t lie, I’m a bit nervous, what with the stories I’ve heard of pilgrims being detained for hours on end and also the tension that has plagued the region since the unrest in Gaza. But as Al Buruj Press has reiterated, our mission is a spiritual one, where we must do our best not to be distracted by things outside of our control. It’s a bit analogous to our life on Earth I guess, we have an objective and we don’t let ourselves get bogged down in dunya (worldly matters).
Personally, I’m looking to use the time to disconnect from the things I’ve been stressing over for the last few months. Career strategy. Office politics. International crises and filming gear headaches! Those last two will be a bit problematic I suppose, as I’ll be lugging cameras around and debates about middle eastern problems will be inevitable, with us being in the heart of the occupied territories…
Preparation takes two forms for this trip.
Gear: I have to make sure I’m equipped to film the journey but not overloaded with gear. It’s a long time to be working away from home and non-stop (2 weeks) and I’m sure we’ll be on our feet a lot of the time so I can’t afford to pack too much and stress myself with kit, especially as we’ll also be fasting. Another reason to keep a small footprint is the likely hassle we’ll get about carrying audio/visual equipment in sensitive areas… But at the same time keeping some essential kit handy for getting decent sound is crucial, so that I don’t miss any important historical and/or spiritual nuggets, from any of the speakers and tour guides.
Spirituality: To get the most from this trip a bit of forethought about my schedule would be prudent. Packing the right books, clothes even, will make a big difference to my mind-state whilst out in the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. For spiritual garms I’m taking light cotton tunics, for maximum comfort during lectures and prayers! And for reading I’m thinking of taking Al Ghazali’s Beginning of Guidance though I’ve already read it once. It’s the ideal book to help recalibrate my moral compass with a healthy emphasis on time-management. I’ve been slacking lately in these areas so undoubtedly it will do me some good. Other than that maybe a small book on the exegesis of some chapters of the Quran? 2 weeks might fly by and I won’t get a chance to read it… dead weight? Or maybe I’ll need all the reading material I can carry. Oh! And some good musk!
Filming gear will be as light as I’ve ever been on a professional gig:
- DSLR with only 1 lens (trusty Tamron 17-50 f2.8 VC)
- SD cards
- Wireless mics and audio recorder
- External HD
- Chargers and adapters
That’s it for gear, pretty much… No tripods, lights, reflectors, no additional mics, just 1 lens… Almost like holiday gear…
Which reminds me, I’m looking forward to putting together a postcard film; a montage of the architecture, sounds and colours of ancient Jerusalem. I still need to edit the one I did in Istanbul, and one for Khartoum too. Hopefully after Ramadan I can sit and just do some therapy editing!
Next blog from the Holy Land inshAllah!
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And to check out visits and courses of a similar nature visit the Al Buruj Press website: http://www.alburujpress.com/