In the Shadow of Giants

  • Duncan Yeldham
  • Will Liney
  • Usman bin Omar
  • Alex Rorison

Filmed in 2019 and set deep in the Karakoram valley this documentary follows the story of Usman and the team at TriPakistan as they go about their final preparations for the highest triathlon in Pakistan. Director - Will Liney Director of Photography - Duncan Yeldham Illustrator - Alex Rorison Narrator - Tom Ware Produced by Usman Bin Omar

Tickets to the two premiers can be found below:
9th Apil - 8pm UK -

10 April - 2pm UK -
Director Will Liney

This was a project years in the making, as i have come to realise, is often the case. I first met Usman Bin Omar back in 2016. We were both on a startup business course and he pitched this crazy idea of starting a triathlon out in Pakistan. Now, anyone else I would have dismissed, but he had something about him, a crazy glint in his eye, that made me think he was really going to do it - no matter what.

We kept in touch over the next few years. He would Skype me from various mountain towns out in Pakistan and tell me about his progress. He put the event on in 2017 and nobody showed up, the same happened in 2018 but finally in 2019 he got his first signup and then the dominoes all fell into place. We were on.

The twelve day shoot was a seminal experience for me, a crash course in adventure filmmaking, a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the beauty and chaos of Pakistan and witness a man fulfilling his dream of bringing a triathlon to the mountains of Pakistan.

None of it would have been possible without my adventure buddy/filmmaking guru Duncan Yeldham who kept calm and steady in the craziest of situations.
Director of Photography Duncan Yeldham

From a technical standpoint this project had a budget of literally £0. Truly this was a labour of love. As the director of photography I had very little options for cameras and lighting. We had what we had and that was the following:

Sony A7Rii
Sony A6300
Sony RX100mk 4

Samyang 24mm T1.4
Pentax 50mm T1.4
Sigma 16mm T1.8

Røde Video mic pro x 2
Zoom H5

Steady Cam:
DJI Ronin S

Additionally we had an assortment of Hoya ND filters, rigging accessories and monitors, all of which proved invaluable, particularly our NDs and monitors.
With so much going on over the 10 day period, Will operated his A6300 whilst I shot on the A7R and RX100 for maximum coverage. Often we’d shoot apart from each other, coming together for the more important and planned out shots of the film. Working at 2600m in temperatures around 28˚ (with a lot of climbing) it was vital we packed light, thankfully the gear we had was mostly so. We were mobile and we were functional.

One major issue we faced was stabilisation, this was very much a run and gun operation, for the most part we shot handheld as we simply lacked the time to set up. Capturing candid dialogue half way up a mountain we’d only have enough time to hit record. On one such occasion Usman was still holding my tripod. Much to my dismay the shot made the cut. We embraced that fact this was not going to be a smooth ride, the bumpy shooting style pairs well with the hustle that was these last days of event prep before the triathlon. Where it mattered we squeezed enough time to get the Ronin or our tripods set up. A second major issue we had was a lack of any sort of Zoom lens. We had arranged for a 300mm to be rented in Pakistan but for reasons out of our hands we were unable to get hold of it. This left us optically limited and we definitely felt it during the race, particularly during the cycle. Again we made do with what we had.
Above is one of the illustrations by Alex that we used to bridge together the film. We felt like the transitions between each main section of the film felt a little flat. Originally we thought about designing and animating a map that would show the audience where we were in the country as we progressed though the story. Eventually we decided that a transition or fade from an artisit's rendering of a scene could almost work better in partitioning up the film whilst also keeping it engaging. So we reached out to Alex and brought him on board to draw some of the key shots of the film and were really happy with the results.
If we were to do it again under similar circumstances and budget, i’d push for us both to have an A7sii/iii (rolling shutter) with at least one shoulder rig. Quite a few of the shots we filmed would really have benefited from a shoulder rig, especially during the race. Further more I would take steps to ensure we had a longer focal length lens with us. Finally I’d also police our White Balance much more stringently, regrettably this was one thing we let slip on occasion during the madness, resulting in some awkward colour adjustments during my attempt at grading it.

One thing I haven’t really touched on is lighting, we knew we wouldn’t really be wanting for light. Natural light would do us pretty well for the majority of the shoot and this indeed was the case. However it would have been very handy to have some camera-mounted video lights for the scenes shot at night, of which there are a few. Additionally I would have preferred to have at least one strong video light, an Apurture 120d for example, to help with a couple of the evening sections and interviews. We made do with the odd torch and phone lights for the most part.

Overall we’re happy with the result. We did the best we could with what we had, on what little sleep we were getting. We captured all the important moments giving us the content we needed for a film that carries itself. Lessons were learned and we both came out the better for it. I couldn’t be happier working in a team with Will, he has a great vision and it’s always a pleasure to put my eye to it.