Corner 22: Davood Malek

In the latest episode of “Cozy Corner with Hossein Nasiri,” we were privileged to have a conversation with Davood Malek, a distinguished cinematographer whose work has left an indelible mark on Iranian cinema, television, short films, and advertising. This episode provides a deep dive into Malek’s creative process, his journey, and the philosophies that guide his approach to visual storytelling.

A Journey Rooted in Passion

Davood Malek’s journey into the world of cinematography began with a profound passion for visuals. Starting as a third assistant in a camera crew, his enthusiasm and dedication saw him quickly rise through the ranks to become a director of photography. His early career was marked by a relentless pursuit of learning and growth, which allowed him to refine his skills and develop a unique visual style that would later become his signature.

Malek’s body of work is diverse, encompassing numerous short, documentary, feature, advertising, and television projects. His talent and dedication have earned him several accolades, including the Best Technical and Artistic Creativity Award from Karnameh Institute for his work on the film “Anniversary” and the “Golden Tooba” award from the Fajr Visual Arts Festival for the documentary “Zar Khak.” His international recognition came with the “Asian New Talent Award” at the 2023 Shanghai Film Festival for his cinematography in “Cause of Death Unknown.”

The Essence of Visual Storytelling

One of the key themes Malek discussed in the podcast was his approach to visual storytelling. He likened his cinematography to a chef creating unique dishes by experimenting with unexpected ingredients. This analogy underscores his belief in the importance of creativity and the willingness to take risks to enhance the overall cinematic experience.

Malek emphasized that overcoming fear is crucial for boosting creativity. He believes that fear can be a significant barrier, preventing artists from exploring new ideas and pushing the boundaries of their craft. By embracing fear and using it as a catalyst for innovation, filmmakers can create more compelling and original work.

Teamwork and Collaboration

A recurring theme in Malek’s discussion was the importance of teamwork and collaboration in filmmaking. He highlighted that successful filmmaking is rarely a solo endeavor; it requires a collective effort from the entire crew. Malek stressed that understanding and aligning with the director’s vision is paramount in creating a cohesive and impactful film.

In his analogy, Malek compared the process of filmmaking to a jazz musician improvising with other musicians to create a harmonious piece of music. This approach underscores the necessity of adaptability and collaboration, where each team member contributes to the overall harmony of the project.

Serving the Story

Malek’s philosophy on cinematography is deeply rooted in the principle of serving the story. He believes that the role of a cinematographer is not to showcase technical prowess but to enhance the narrative and immerse the audience in the film’s world. This often involves making creative choices that prioritize the story and the characters over individual recognition.

He discussed how creating the right atmosphere in a film should enhance the characters and the narrative without overshadowing them. This approach is akin to a conductor harmonizing an orchestra, ensuring that all elements blend seamlessly to create a beautiful symphony.

Embracing Spontaneity and Adaptability

In the dynamic world of filmmaking, unpredictability is a constant companion. Malek highlighted the importance of spontaneity and adaptability, noting that film projects often entail last-minute changes and tight deadlines. He believes that being able to make quick decisions and adapt to unexpected situations is crucial in the film industry.

He recounted his experiences where embracing spontaneity and improvisation led to successful outcomes. This approach not only enhances creativity but also allows filmmakers to find unique solutions to challenges that arise during production.

Building Strong Connections

Another vital aspect of Malek’s approach is building strong connections with actors. He believes that understanding and connecting with actors can lead to more authentic and immersive storytelling. By fostering a collaborative environment, cinematographers can work closely with actors to bring out the best in their performances.

Malek’s emphasis on teamwork and collaboration extends to his teaching at the “Here in the City” school, where he plays a significant role in nurturing future filmmakers. By imparting his knowledge and experiences, he helps aspiring cinematographers develop the skills and mindset needed to succeed in the industry.

Creativity in Constraints

Malek also discussed how creativity can thrive within limitations. He believes that challenges and constraints can push filmmakers to think outside the box and come up with unconventional ideas. This perspective aligns with his belief that embracing challenges can lead to innovative solutions and unique creative outcomes.

He shared examples from his career where working under tight constraints led to some of his most creative and fulfilling work. This mindset of seeing limitations as opportunities rather than obstacles is a testament to his resilience and ingenuity.

Achievements and Recognition

Malek’s career is decorated with numerous accolades and recognitions that highlight his exceptional talent and dedication to his craft. Winning the “Asian New Talent Award” at the 2023 Shanghai Film Festival for “Cause of Death Unknown” is a testament to his growing influence and recognition on the international stage. His ability to create visually compelling stories that resonate with audiences worldwide has set him apart as a leading figure in cinematography.

His participation in films such as “Maria,” which won the main award for Best Future Film of Asia at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and “Me, Mary, the Kids, and 26 Others,” which won the Ingmar Bergman Award at the Gothenburg Film Festival, showcases his versatility and ability to contribute to critically acclaimed projects. These accomplishments reflect his commitment to excellence and his unwavering passion for visual storytelling.

Expanding Horizons

Malek’s recent achievements and international collaborations suggest that he is poised to become one of the well-known Iranian directors of photography on the global stage. His work with companies like TRT and 2BROS has broadened his horizons and opened new avenues for creative exploration. These collaborations have allowed him to bring his unique visual style to a broader audience, further establishing his reputation as a cinematographer of exceptional skill and vision.

Looking ahead, Malek continues to seek new opportunities to collaborate with filmmakers and artists from around the world. His dedication to his craft and his willingness to embrace new challenges and perspectives will undoubtedly lead to even more groundbreaking work in the future.


In this insightful episode of “Cozy Corner with Hossein Nasiri,” Davood Malek Hosseini shared valuable lessons and philosophies that have shaped his illustrious career in cinematography. From overcoming fear and embracing spontaneity to prioritizing the story and fostering strong connections, Malek’s approach to filmmaking is a masterclass in creativity and collaboration.

His journey from a passionate third assistant to an award-winning director of photography is a testament to the transformative power of dedication and hard work. As he continues to push the boundaries of visual storytelling, Davood Malek Hosseini’s work will undoubtedly inspire and influence the next generation of filmmakers.

For those interested in exploring the art of cinematography and learning from one of the best in the field, this episode of “Cozy Corner with Hossein Nasiri” is a must-watch. Through his experiences and insights, Malek offers a unique perspective on the craft of filmmaking, emphasizing the importance of serving the story, working as a team, and embracing the creative journey with all its challenges and rewards.

As the conversation with Davood Malek Hosseini comes to a close, it is clear that his passion for cinematography is matched only by his commitment to fostering creativity and collaboration in the film industry. His insights serve as a guiding light for aspiring filmmakers, reminding us all of the power of visual storytelling to connect, inspire, and transform.

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