Szymon Dudka

Three women wearing leaf crowns run down a grassy hill, in a still from a commercial shot with a film camera by Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka.

A still from a commercial made by Polish filmmaker Szymon Dudka for a sports footwear brand, shot with a film camera, and using a specific colour palette to evoke a sense of nostalgia. "The limits of using a film camera made for a different workflow on set," he explains. © Szymon Dudka

"I was swinging from the helicopter like James Bond with a camera," says Warsaw-based filmmaker Szymon Dudka, recalling an extraordinary opportunity towards the start of his career, while shooting a documentary in Norway. "I was filming at the small local airport and the pilot asked if I would like to take some shots from his helicopter," says Szymon. "I thought, 'Why not?'"

That fearlessness and willingness to try new things has helped Szymon to build an impressive commercial portfolio. He has worked with renowned health and beauty brands, as well as household names in the sports and leisure industry, who are drawn to his contemporary yet nostalgic Hollywood aesthetic.

Szymon was 20 when he created his first music video, shot with his friends on his father's Canon EOS 5D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV). "You can look at the same thing but with different lenses and different colour management, and it's like a different world," he says, reflecting on his early thoughts about filmmaking. "Making that music video made me realise, 'OK, filmmaking is something I really want to do in life'."

A year-long editing course at Warsaw Film School enabled him to hone his process. "When I learned how to edit, it was easier for me to know what kind of shots I needed, and what would be important for post-production," he says. "It taught me how to think about shots during the shooting process."

A black and white headshot of Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka.
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Specialist areas: Commercials, music videos, documentaries

Favourite kit: Canon EOS C300 Mark III
Canon EOS C70
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM
A still from filmmaker and Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka's Morocco showreel, showing two figures standing on rocks next to the ocean. Shot on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II.

Szymon often takes inspiration from his surroundings and enjoys immersing himself in an environment. One of his favourite projects was a film for a clothing brand made with photographer Marcin Kempski. "We stayed in this old villa in Tuscany, where we were also shooting," he says. "The space was both our workplace and the inspiration for the project; it was a really nice way to work."

Szymon has since worked on numerous commercials and documentaries, and has even directed a feature film, Al Di Là, with Moroccan director Othman Naciri. A tribute to 1960s Italian cinema, the dramatic comedy follows a real estate agent who meets an actor, altering the course of both their lives. "There was a lot to learn from this project," he says. "I hope to have the opportunity to make another video with Othman."

You can see some of Szymon's footage from Morocco in his showreel, above, which he shot on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II while he was in the country for the premiere of Al Di Là.

Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka seated in a studio and surrounded by camera equipment.

Szymon says one of his greatest adventures was filming Al Di Là in Morocco with Othman Naciri. "I stayed for a month and worked with a local crew," he explains. "I received such good vibes from those people. I felt proud of my creation."

Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka wearing a mask and standing in a studio behind a Canon EOS C500 Mark II camera.

While Szymon has worked with a range of cinema cameras, he especially enjoys using cameras with Canon Log 3, such as the Canon EOS C500 Mark II, which make it easier for him to colour grade and produce his desired cinematic look. "You now have more dynamic range and richer colours," he says. "New technology in cameras and filming equipment removes creative boundaries."

Szymon's creative language has evolved through his filmmaking experiences and his work is influenced by both film and photography. "I'm making videos, but I really respect the way photographers work – the aesthetic of framing and the way they think about colours, for example," he says. "I try to combine the style of old movies and contemporary fashion photography. I think these styles and aesthetics complement each other immensely."

Renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz and German photographer and filmmaker Peter Lindbergh have had the biggest impact on Szymon's work. He has also been influenced by American filmmaker Wes Anderson, particularly his use of colour. "I really liked The Grand Budapest Hotel – the symmetry, colours and the design of his movies are unique and inspirational to me," he adds.

A portrait of a woman lying on a bed, her head slightly turned towards the camera, taken on a Canon EOS 5D by Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka.

An image from one of Szymon's personal projects, made up of a series of portraits of people close to him. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/1.4 and ISO 400. © Szymon Dudka

Now working with a talent agency in Warsaw, Szymon hopes to create more films and documentaries. "My dream is to work on another feature film," he says. "I may ease off a little from commercials to do something with more purpose. I really like making documentaries – they can be important for society – and I plan to create more. I love making commercials, but at the same time it will be nice to make some projects without any creative boundaries."

What's been your favourite project and why?

"A commercial I made for a sports footwear brand was one of my favourite projects because I worked with a film camera, so it was very aligned with the 'old movie' styles I'm interested in. It was a different way of working compared to what I was used to. We had three rolls of film, so it pretty much guaranteed just three minutes of filming. I liked the challenge of having to work within these parameters when making framing decisions. There's magic when you're working with film because you don't fully know what you have recorded until you develop it. Receiving the results was such an exciting moment."

What has been your most memorable experience shooting?

"At the beginning of my career, I collaborated with a pilot to make a documentary video about base jumpers in Norway. We had so many adventures there. We worked with a small crew and went to the top of the mountain with the base jumper. I took some shots of the mountain and she jumped down. It then dawned on us that we were alone on the mountain and we had to figure out how to get down. We ended up trying to find the way for about 10 hours which, although it sounds scary, felt like we had joined an expedition in paradise; it was bright all day, and the mountain views were unbelievable."

Are there any lessons you have learned from your experience?

"Idea over gear! Be practical when you go 'run and gun' shooting, which is a method I sometimes use. Don't take too much stuff with you, just simply set up. It's so important to stay present and capture the essence in this fast-paced environment, rather than being preoccupied with which camera and accessories to use."

One thing I know

Szymon Dudka

"Don't be the smartest person on the crew. It's about teamwork, so it's good to listen to everyone involved. It's also important to be self-confident. When you are the director, you should believe in your own ideas and expertise, but at the same time you must fully consider the whole crew's input, and realise the good ideas."

Instagram: @szymondudka

Vimeo: Szymon Dudka

Szymon Dudka's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Szymon Dudka's kitbag containing a Canon camera, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS C70

With 12-bit RAW recording, 4K/120p Slow Motion, HDR and Eye AF in a compact body, the EOS C70 takes the EOS R System into a brand-new era. "This is my favourite camera, mostly because of the small form factor, built-in ND filters and RAW format," says Szymon.

Canon EOS C300 Mark III

A versatile Super 35mm Cinema EOS System camera supporting internal 4K/120p RAW and a high dynamic range. Szymon used this camera to shoot a music video in 2023: "It gave us the option to shoot in full resolution at 60fps. On many cameras you have to change from RAW to ProRes, but we wanted to shoot in RAW for post-production. We used the camera with a stabiliser mount and it gave really nice results."


Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

Capture more, even in low light, with this fast f/2.8 L-series RF-series ultra-wide angle 15-35mm zoom with 5-stops of image stabilisation. "I love all Canon primes, especially this one," says Szymon.

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