Although a French production, Harka was a truly multinational project. The majority of Pittner’s crew were Tunisian, with the exception of 1st AC Nina Trubert-Ambrosio, whom he brought from France. The gaffer was the “incredible” Mohamed Habib Ben Salem, who had worked on many big productions shot in Tunisia as well as the key grip Hissan Tebbi. “With him, it was a really organic process of having a couple of sets that we could pre-light but also having a few things a bit more spontaneous on the day,” says Pittner. “For example, the family home, the municipality office…most of the interior spaces and all the night interior spaces are lit. There we could also do some sort of pre-light for most of the places. Then I’d say 60% of the rest is natural light.”

For most of the daytime interiors ARRI M-Series products and SkyPanels were used, while the night interiors were mostly tungsten. “A big thing for me was how Ali’s place feels, both during the day and at night,” Pittner says. “The difficulty for me was that that place was on location. It was a real place that we changed a little bit – we put in a couple of new doors and cemented a few walls in. It looked very much like a set build, but it wasn’t. It was a bit tricky to light from outside as it was high up and also had a very low ceiling, so the directions were quite limited especially during the night scenes. We ended up using mostly single-source from outside with a bit of fill and I’m very happy Lotfy trusted me with that.”

Pittner is already looking forward to his next feature film after such a positive time on Harka. “It’s been such a great experience. It’s always challenging, but in the end, it was beautiful to see all the departments coming together so well. If you have people who have the same sensitivities and connect on a similar level, I think that’s such a blessing as a cinematographer.”

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