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Vancouver, our city and buzzing hub of arts and entertainment, is a stage on which the brightest and most brilliant shine – even without a spotlight. What sets a truly exceptional individual apart from the rest is innovation, and a talent from which the greatest advancements are forged. In the realm of cinematography, the latest beacon of such innovation emanates from one Selim Mete, photographer, cinematographer, graphic designer, and now novice programmer. And yet, the young winner of many cinematic awards and acclaim is still the most humble person I’ve met!
Photo from the Trisha’s Spirit Collection
A single glance at Mete’s website paints an impressive and accurate portrait of his craft to date. Clearly his drive and flare have paid off. His career took off from high school in Istanbul, where one of his short film scripts won him a grant to create his first professional short film. From there he rocketed to Boston University in further pursuit of his calling. He studied cinematography using 16mm film, which, unlike digital cameras, requires a significant degree of economical attentiveness. “Using film like this is extremely cost prohibitive,” Mete explains. “A mere ten minutes of footage costs upwards of $120 even before all the processing fees.” Mathematical prowess and a knack for light and physics were a must. Mete faced a steep learning curve that nevertheless had him hitting the ground running.
“SAFE” Music Video
Then it was on to Los Angeles, where he entered the outdoor advertising arena on the hunt for personal expansion in graphic design. He worked for Clear Channel Outdoor, launching a new LED digital network destined to change the entire advertisement business. This was the emergence of the digital LED billboards now used as dynamic advertisement media everywhere. Mete’s task was to invent ways to use this new digital technology in the century-old medium of billboards, and to educate other creative agencies of its enormous ad potential. His subsequent campaigns with LA Times’ Live News and the infamous Subway Countdown helped pave the way to today’s modern advertising technologies.
Mete’s arrival in Vancouver opened up even further opportunities for exploration and experimentation. He took on a project commissioned by SlowDJs and Elevate Entertainment that involved creating what cinematographers call “ambient video”—a style of film that portrays no plot but is nevertheless pleasing to watch. Kind of like the beluga tank at the Aquarium. The aim is to ensure the viewer can begin watching halfway through without missing anything, and can continue watching for any length of time with equal reward. He also began experimenting with the use of vertical HD to create a more optically coherent focus. A fascinatingly simple concept with a massive impact – examples of which appear on his website – and another piece of potentially revolutionary innovation. The finished product, GoodHousekeeping Volume 4, can be viewed below:
Mete later worked on a feature film for director Rene Brar, and directed a short music video for singer-songwriter Cameron Dobb; on both sets he worked alongside David Lloyd Edwards, and the two have since then become award-winning co-producers of many advertisements and films. Together, they’ve created numerous films under the amazing umbrella of crowdsourcing, where websites act as intermediaries between creators, like Edwards and Mete, and brands, like Chevrolet and Lenovo. This modern way of finding projects has the pair competing against creators from all over the world. Nevertheless, the ad they created for Renaissance Hotels snatched first place and won them a trip to Shanghai. They also won first and second place respectively for their submissions to Lenovo and Chevrolet Europe’s contests. Their most recent film, a campaign film for the San Diego Zoo, was Mete’s personal favourite. “It was for a good cause, the message was beautiful, and we got some amazing feedback,” he says. “It was really the pinnacle of our success so far. It gave me confidence and peace of mind, knowing that I have what it takes to write good commercials, like the ones I’ve been admiring throughout my career.”
MOFILM Musso & Frank Advertisement
San Diego Zoo Commercial
At the moment, Mete is completing his Masters Degree at Simon Fraser University, where he’s also assistant-teaching a New Media and Narrative course. His current project is the basic prototype for a generative editing software that could be an invaluable asset to cinematographic technology. The program, designed to reduce the overall costs of production, will enable computers to take care of basic editing processes that would otherwise occupy much of filmmakers’ valuable time and energy. The finished product will be able to choose clips from a designated gallery and put them together based on tags and categorization. This is ideal for creating ambient video, since no “story” needs to be told and the stream of images can be relatively random. Clips are chosen by their tags and properties to create more consistent or meaningful groups – in other words, “random” still makes sense.
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for Selim Mete’s future projects, especially to see what becomes of his software innovations. Maybe we’ll spot his next project at an upcoming film festival or on an ad campaign – who knows? His graphic design, storytelling, and cinematography emulate the type of media we at Kihada are crazy about. As always, it’s a pleasure to support and take pride in our local talent.