RIYADH: A few years ago, the campaigns and designs of local fashion brands were usually promoted by faceless or indistinguishable models on a plain white background and focused on clothing.
Obad Films seeks to present a clothing line in a dynamic way to the public through a story.
It was co-founded by Saudi duo Faisal Shaath, 20, and Ahmed Obad, 22, and turned their passion for photography into reality.
Their goal was and still is to bring a fresh and youthful perspective to the Saudi film industry. The company has left its mark on Riyadh’s media sector through unconventional video production methods, driven by the desire to be heard and seen by the older generation.
“We got tired of the way things are displayed. It’s always the same thing. If it’s a fashion brand, it’s still filmed in a parking lot, it’s still filmed in a desert,” Obad told Arab News. “What sets us apart is that we really go beyond what you see in the market.”
Although they described these placements as generic, they still used the same settings for fashion brand Whyos’ video campaign. “We used a skate park, a parking lot and a desert. The way we showed them all together was really different because of the choice of music, the way it was sequenced, the story that was told through the video,” Obad said.
The company’s client list consists of brands and companies from various industries. They work with clothing and lifestyle brand Proud Angeles, streetwear and fashion concept store Urbn Lot, Saudi Arabia’s largest government-supported music festival Soundstorm by MDLBEAST, AlMashtal Creative Space, Huawei and others.
We got bored with the way things are displayed. It’s always the same thing. If it’s a fashion brand, it’s always filmed in a parking lot, it’s always filmed in a desert. What sets us apart is that we really go beyond what you see in the market.
Ahmad ObadCo-founder Obad Films
The goal is to make high-quality content accessible to growing businesses and startups. “We work with clients who know their target audience/mission, but just need an extra visual boost to start their business accurately and effectively,” Shaath told Arab News.
They built the business to bring the “youth lens to the world”, bridging generational gaps in Saudi society that can sometimes act as value barriers. “The focus of young people is primarily on everlasting creativity, as we always strive to bring new and non-obsolete visuals locally and primarily cater to young people’s market needs,” Shaath said.
The term “youth” does not refer to a certain age group, but rather to a state of mind. “It’s beyond the youth. It’s for young people now, and when they grow up, to have this (understanding) of what really makes something valuable in a creative aspect,” he added.
“Just by the way it’s filmed, the effects we use, the feeling we give throughout our videos, we get this common question so many times. People don’t believe it’s done locally. They ask: ‘Is it in Riyadh?’ »
The country comes to life in a different way for its audience through its creative lens and youth-focused vision.
The two filmmakers are self-taught, with no academic training in cinema. Nor have they received training in specific ways of doing things. Their knowledge of video production comes from their research, content analysis, and audience reaction to their work. They believe it gave them the freedom to experiment and test the limits of what cinema means or what it might look like in a professional or corporate context.
After two years of developing their skills and shooting promotional content for car showrooms since its inception, Obad Films has made a “breakthrough”. Their skills and passion allow them to quickly move into more creative industries aligned with their vision, such as fashion and music.
Obad first acquired his editing skills by creating game modifications uploaded to YouTube, which led to his accumulated experience in editing. Shaath cultivated his creative vision while trying to grow his videography portfolio as a filmmaker and his friends’ modeling portfolios, using them as subjects. “(Our style) has grown steadily ever since,” he said.
Shaath was a follower of Obad’s publishing projects, and they first met through a mutual friend at an international school Obad attended. A month later, Obad Films was born in Riyadh’s Olaya district when 14-year-old Shaath and 16-year-old Obad decided to make their dream come true by buying a Nikon D750 borrowed from Obad’s father’s photography shop. six years ago.
The Saudi film community is capable of so much more, they said.
“They are limited to what they studied and think what they studied was the right path. The creativity they have is what they have already done last year. It is not developed or elevated,” Obad said. “It’s not what you ate, it’s what you could eat.”
The company wants to use local talent rather than having to look across the border for advice. “We can elevate all of that and be in that market so the customer doesn’t have to go (for the expertise) outside. We have that here,” Obad said. “If we sit down and create what the market has already created, we won’t really grow. We set expectations because of what we see outside the Kingdom.
Through their cameras, cinema becomes an art that should not be kept. The traditional rules that come with it are tailored to the artistic vision itself, not the conventional standards of what it should be.
While a few years ago the industry was not so sensitive to differences, mentalities are slowly changing. They recalled a time when someone from a non-arts background was interested in a certain publicity. “They finally noticed that the gap between international and local cinema has narrowed a lot. It’s something people know about, but the film industry doesn’t allow it to flourish locally. We break the 101,” Shaath said. “We are not stuck on a specific standard. We always strive to push. And after? How can we grow? How can we present something in a different way? I’m not here to do what I did last year, I’m here to do what will come later in 2025, 2030.”
As Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s influence on the Saudi community is deeply rooted in helping to nurture the capabilities of young people, Obad Films is an example of how this notion plays out culturally within the Kingdom. It offers a new perspective on how Saudi efforts were once portrayed and how they could be.
But Obad Films is not the end of the road for its creators, and their ambitions are far from over. “We’re looking to do more of what we’re doing now, but on a bigger scale and with a bigger budget,” Shaath said.
While expanding their gear inventory is certainly on the radar, they also intend to break every rule in the book. They aim to become the high-end designers they know they can be. “Even if the frame is wrong. Even if the color palette is wrong. It’s true,” added Obad.