A Freelance Life: Profile - Johnnie Behiri
English, Hebrew, a bit of German
Freelance DOP, editor, producer, consultant
for leading companies in the industry. I am a
BBC freelance cameraman/editor. When not
BBC-ing I film documentaries, commercials,
music videos, and testimonial/image videos.
I’m currently working on multiple projects: a
documentary for a leading German/Austrian
broadcaster (that is) a story about a unique
ballet class at the Vienna state opera (that)
will be shot in Japan, Romania, and Austria; a
testimonial video for Kata bags – the latest in
a series of testimonials I’ve made; other very
nice projects, like a series of cooking shows,
are in early stages of development and will
be happen as soon as the format is secured.
Have you been busy?
Honestly speaking, I live a typical “freelancer
life”. There are times when a month is
completely full of shooting, editing, or
producing days and then, there are times
when a week can be very quiet. Through
the years I’ve learned to look at the overall
picture and not panic if there’s a quiet week.
It’s always great to spend this time with the
family, energize myself and think about new
ideas that can evolve into future projects.
You name it. The great thing about this job is
the ability to combine the two things I love
most: shooting and traveling.
What types of productions have you
My heart is with documentaries. The ability
to “jump” into other people lives and be
able to tell amazing stories first hand is
the essence of my work. Also, technically
speaking, finding the right tool for the
job and make an artistic decision is very
challenging. For the BBC, I mostly shoot
news and short features. Bethany Bell is
my BBC correspondent and the type of
colleague you can only dream of working
with. Bethany writes, directs, and produces
the feature while I shoot and edit it. Together
we pioneered the usage of VDSLRs during
features assignments on an experimental
basis since the Canon 7D came out.
Then comes “marketing videos”. In these
productions I’m a one man band (producing,
directing, shooting, editing). The challenge is
to create from scratch (usually with a modest
budget) a concept that will evolve into a
product that will serve my client best.
What was your first ever shooting job?
I guess it was a short news assignment for the
national broadcaster I was working for many
What is your honest assessment of DSLRs
for top level shooting? Where to from
here: what improvements can be made to
As long as you know and aware of the VDSLR
limitations, it’s a great tool to work with. I
would even take it a step further and confess
it made me a better cameraman.
We will see the big sensor video revolution
tree growing two main branches: video
cameras like the one lately introduced by
Sony and Panasonic (F3, AF100 respectively);
and other improvements in still cameras that
can shoot videos. These will live peacefully
together and give the user the freedom to
choose the right tool for the money.
All VDSLR users could have made a better
job if we had proper ENG style zoom lenses
(without servo) to work with. Camera-wise,
the ability to down scale to full HD in a
proper way or alternatively give us a full HD
clean feed out of the HDMI connector would
have been very
around the world
a year in a life
of the Vienna
featuring some of the best conductors in the
world was truly a unique experience! The film
is now being broadcast around the world
and it’s always a pleasure knowing I have
contributed spreading culture around the
Current equipment you use? What editing
systems do you use?
I’m using most modern digital cameras
currently available and own a Canon 7D with
three lenses, a Tokina f2.8/11-16mm, a Canon
f2.8/17-55mm EFS, and a Canon f
4.0/70-200mm L IS USM. I have a Tascam DR-100
audio recorder, for lights I have Litepanels
1x1 and Viso Kinoflo style lights; for editing
I use Adobe premiere powered by Cineform
Other gear you have access to?
Sony HDCAM (HDW750), RED ONE,
What piece of gear do you wish someone
There are two products I would make if I
could: first, a “brain camera.” Now that so
many people have invested in peripheral
equipment (rigs, Electronic View Finders,
audio recorders, monitors and such) it
doesn’t make sense to buy and pay for
them again. My “brain camera” will have
all the basic functionality a normal video camera has (excluding LCD screen, VF, video
recording device), ensuring the ability to
produce great quality full HD picture in
multiple frame rates, with enough output
connectivity for digital recorder and viewing
solutions, all at a very modest price. Another
product currently absent from the market is a
proper VDSLR zoom lens for video work.
Best thing about your job?
I’m always amazed how privileged I am to
meet and work with other talented people.
Worst thing about your job?
Airlines are getting tough with security and
luggage weight control. This is even before
talking about the wasted time when flying.
Dullest assignments and why?
I always try to find excitement in any
Hairiest/scariest assignments and why?
Gaza strip 1994. Yasser Arafat and his people
are returning back home after 27 years of
exile. I’m working as a camera assistant with
a small crew covering their entrance while
the Israeli army was withdrawing. It was
night time and total darkness when shooting
started, most of it in the air, expressing
Palestinian happiness. Now, go figure who is
shooting whom and where... not a pleasant
How much 16:9 do you shoot?
100% of the time for the last three years.
What’s your taste in music?
Nothing important that will make the readers
run and buy the album!
Favorite Web sites?
They’re all a great source of information to
anyone who is into digital production and
wiling to spend time reading a lot of info in
order to enhance their knowledge.
Don’t feel sorry for me, but I’m vegetarian.
Asian, Indian, Italian, and Mediterranean are
my favorite foods. Cooking is what I do as
a hobby. My brave family prefers me behind
the camera for sure.