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From Baden to Kathmandu: Profile - Arnaud Le Borgne

Name: Arnaud Le Borgne

Age: 31

Star sign: Cancer.

Home town: Baden, Brittany (Western France)

Current base: Kathmandu, Nepal

Occupation: Independent cameraman and filmmaker.

Current assignments:
I’ve just finished shooting two communication films (one short format, one documentary) for the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations). Previously, I worked also as a filmmaker for the Planet Nepal’s festival, organized by CulturesFrance, the French Embassy of Nepal and the Alliance Française of Kathmandu.

Have you been busy?
The last few months, I was very busy but right now I’m free. So I have to find another contract.

Where have you shot?
In Nepal, I shot in Kathmandu, Teraï (South of Nepal), Pokhara, Annapurnas mountains and Langtang. Previously, I worked several years in France. I shot also in Tadjikistan and India.

Have you traveled much in Nepal? What are the people, the society, the landscape like?
Yes. I have travelled in different places in Nepal where you can see many diversities of ethnicity and landscapes. It’s pretty easy to shoot in Nepal. The Nepalese are very kind. Of course, the main problems are the poverty and the political instability. The religions are predominant.

When we come with a camcorder, the Nepalese are often surprised by such professional equipment and they wonder what we are doing. Most of those living in isolated areas have never seen a camcorder. So there’s a lot of curiosity and they ask some questions, but always with a smile and approbation. There isn’t animosity. When we want to interview them, they are often happy and proud.

In terms of ethnic diversity, the situation is complex depending on where one is. The most important are the Newars, Tarus, Tamangs and Tibetans. They all live in harmony, no matter whether they are Hindus or Buddhist.

The landscapes have great contrasts for a small country. It goes from the highest mountains in the world to the Teraï where there is the jungle and flat land.

What types of productions have you mostly shot? What is your favourite type of production?
I’ve shot communication, corporate, events (festivals, concerts, music TV channel) and documentaries. I prefer documentary production because we go much deeper into the people’s culture and their lives. We create a story with them and their reality. But, actually, I shoot more communication films than documentaries.

What was your first shooting job?
It was for a concert. I worked as a live cameraman. At the same time, I was VJ (video DJ).

Boring shoots?
I’ve had several boring contracts, especially one time in Paris with low budget filmmakers who wanted to shoot famous Parisian designers. On each shooting day I had to take the subway with all my equipment (camcorder, tripod, mics, lights, etc – around 30 kg) and alone, during the peak hour because the money-conscious director didn’t want to pay for a taxi (not enough budget, he told me!).

I got the same treatment during several entertainment assignments for TF1, the most famous channel in France. Strange, isn’t it? So working in Paris were my worst experiences in term of relationship with producers and filmmakers; superficial and annoying! But interesting and a good lesson for future reference.

Hairiest/scariest assignments?
Not hairy/scary but I remember two very tricky shoots. The first was in Tadjikistan, where it is sometimes very difficult to shoot, especially near the Afghan and Chinese borders (Xinjiang). The military are everywhere and the tensions are often palpable. Several times we had some problems with the authorities. The second one was during a shoot in the Annapurnas mountains, in Nepal. I had to shoot a famous climber on his way to the Annapurna summit (around 8,200m), from a helicopter at 7,000m altitude, window open with an oxygen mask. A great experience!

How much 16:9 do you shoot?
A lot of 16:9. For the last year, always in HDV. In Paris, more than a year ago, a lot of channel productions were in 4:3. With my camcorder HVR S 270, I record right now in HDV 1080i on tape and DV 16:9 on the memory unit.

What country would you most like to shoot in?
Difficult to say. I’d like to go back in Afghanistan for a shoot. Otherwise, Turkmenistan, when that will be possible.

Most recent, interesting assignments?
The most interesting assignment was for the FAO. I worked with a Nepalese team and it was great! Otherwise, I shot the Shortest Man in the World for the Guinness book of Records. It was very funny to see the smallest man in front of the highest mountains in the world.

Current equipment you use?
Sony HVR-S270 camcorder, Sennheiser set with a Tram TR 50 lapel mic, Sennheiser MKH 416, Audio Technica 897, pro IDX batteries, and 800W solars. For editing, I use Avid Media Composer, and After Effects, etc.

Other gear you have access to?
In Nepal, I use only my own equipment but we can hire Betacam, DSR 500, Z1, EX-1.

Equipment “wish list”?
I’d like to use HDCAMs – Panasonic P2 and Red One. For my personal equipment I’d like the Panasonic AG-HPX 371 or the AG-HPX 500, with Sennheiser MKH 70mike and Sony HVR 1500A recorder.

Best thing about your job?
The freedom, the choice, the travelling and meeting people all over the world.

Worst thing about your job?
The insecurity of the job. Having to canvass the whole year to find a new contract or a new subject.

What’s your taste in music?
I love music; especially underground techno, jazz, rock and the different ethnic musics in the world. But my favourite music remains the hard techno “tribe” from travellers’ sound systems.

Favourite group?
The Doors and recently Gossip.

Favourite food?
Definitely French food and I have a great love of Asian food.

Contact details:
T: +977 9808965682 (Nepal)
and +33 297571987 (France)

-- from TV Technology Asia/Pacific