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RIYADH: A few years ago, campaigns and designs for local fashion brands were usually promoted by faceless or indistinguishable models against a plain white background and focused on clothing.

Obad Films strives to dynamically present a clothing line to the audience through a story.

It was co-founded by Saudi duo Faisal Shaath, 20, and Ahmed Abbad, 22, who turned their passion for photography into a reality.

Their focus has been and continues to be on providing a fresh and youthful perspective to the Saudi film industry. The company has made its mark on the media sector in Riyadh with its unconventional video production methods, driven by a determination for the older generation to hear and see.

“We are tired of how things are presented. It is always the same. If it is a fashion brand, it is always photographed in the parking lot, and it is always photographed in the desert,” Abbad told Arab News. “What makes us different is that we really go above and beyond what you see in the market.”

Although they label these sites as generic, they still use the same settings for the Whyos fashion brand’s video campaign. “We used a skate park, a parking lot, and a desert. The way we were all shown together was really different because of the choice of music, the way it was sequenced, and the story told through the video,” Abbad said.

The company’s client list consists of brands and companies from a range of industries. They work with clothing and lifestyle brand Proud Angeles, streetwear and fashion store Urbn Lot, Saudi Arabia’s largest government-supported music festival Soundstorm by MDLBEAST, AlMashtal Creative Space, Huawei and others.

We are tired of how things are presented. It’s always the same. If it is a fashion brand, it is always photographed in the parking lot, and it is always photographed in the desert. What makes us different is that we really go above and beyond what you see in the market.

Ahmed AbbadCo-founder of Obad Films

The goal is to make high-quality content accessible to growing companies and startups. “We work with clients who know their target audience/mission, but we just need an extra visual boost to start their business in an accurate and efficient way,” Shaath told Arab News.

They built the company to bring the “lens of youth into the world,” bridging the generational gaps in Saudi society that can sometimes serve as valuable barriers. “The lens of youth is basically a perpetual creativity, as we always strive to bring new and not so old images to the table locally and basically cater everything towards the youth in terms of the market,” Shaath said.

The term “youth” does not refer to a specific age group, but rather to a mindset. “It goes beyond youth. Young people are supposed to now, and when they grow up, have this (understanding) of what really gives something value in the creative side.”

“Just the way it’s filmed, the effects we use, the feel we give out throughout our videos, we get this common question so many times. People don’t think this is done locally. They say: Is this in Riyadh?

The country comes to life in a different way for its audience through its creative lens and youth-based vision.

The two directors are self-taught, and have no academic background in filmmaking. Nor were they trained in any specific way of doing things. Their knowledge in video production comes from their research, content analysis, and audience response to their work. They believe this gave them the freedom to experiment and test the limits of what filmmaking might mean or what it might look like in a professional or institutional context.

After two years of developing their skills and filming promotional content for auto showrooms since their inception, Obad Films has made a “boom”. Their skills and passion allow them to move quickly into creative industries aligned with their vision, such as fashion and music.

Obad initially gained his editing skills by creating game mods that were uploaded to YouTube, which resulted in a buildup of editing experience. Shaath developed his creative vision while attempting to grow his video shoot profile as a film director and model display cases for his friends, using them as subjects. “(Our style) has been growing ever since,” he said.

Shaath was a follower of Abad’s liberation projects, and they first met through a mutual friend at an international school that Abad 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 realize their dream by purchasing a Nikon D750 on loan from Abbad’s father’s photo shop six years ago.

They said the Saudi film-making community is capable of much more than that.

“They are limited by what they studied and think what they studied was the right way. The creativity they have is what they actually did last year. It is not being developed or elevated,” Abbad said.

The company wants to use local talent rather than having to search across borders for guidance. “We can take this whole thing up and be in that market so the customer doesn’t have to go (to get experience) outside. We have this here,” Obad said. We set expectations for ourselves because of what we see outside the kingdom.”

Through their cameras, filmmaking becomes an art that should not be guarded. The traditional rules that come with it are subject to the artistic vision itself, not the traditional standards of what it should be.

While a few years ago, the industry was not prone to divergence, attitudes are slowly changing. They remembered a time when someone from a non-technical background was interested in a particular ad. “They have finally seen that the gap between the international and domestic film industry is getting much smaller. It is something people know, but the film industry is not allowing it to thrive locally. We are not bogging down in a certain standard,” Shaath said. We always strive to pay. What’s Next? How do we develop? How can we present something differently? I am not here to do what I did last year, I am here to do what will be presented later in 2025, 2030.”

As the influence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saudi society is deeply rooted in helping young people’s abilities to thrive, Obad Films is an example of how this concept is materialized within the kingdom culturally. It offers a new perspective on how and how Saudi efforts might be presented.

But Obad Films is not the end of the road for its creators, and their ambitions are far from over. “We are looking to do more of what we are doing now, but on a higher scale and on a higher budget,” Shaath said.

While expanding their gear inventory is definitely on the radar, they also intend to break every rule in the book. They aim to become the kind of creatives they know they can be. “Even if the frame is wrong. Even if the color scheme is wrong.” That’s right,” Abbad added.

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