It’s What I Do: Franco Apelo – Dubai Filmmaker

Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, and some general info (how long you’ve been in the country, where you came from originally, etc.)?

Im Franco, a healthcare provider (nurse) turned freelance filmmaker and photographer here in UAE. I specialize in weddings, fashion, events, commercials, and creating social media content.

I have always been passionate in capturing the priceless moments of others and expressing them in a creative way. Filmmaking and photography have been my passion ever since I was in college. I started making wedding films and taking photographs back in the Philippines, then I started working in the UAE as a nurse and eventually ventured into freelancing as a filmmaker and photographer. I have been working here for 5 years now and I am humbled to have worked with a lot of prominent people and big companies not only here in UAE, but also in different parts of the world.

Follow Franco on Instagram @francoapelo

View more of his works on

Tell us more about your job. What does it entail?

Photos and videos have the power to tell unique stories, especially when social media is already part of our everyday life. Being a filmmaker and a photographer is never easy. It involves a lot experience, skills (composition, editing, etc.), technical knowledge (camera, lights, storyboards, etc.) and sometimes even sleepless nights. I have around 10 years of experience in the field, but I still believe I’m at the learning stage. Creativity is a never-ending process of growing and learning.

As a wedding filmmaker and photographer, capturing priceless emotions of people and sharing the stories behind those smiles, hugs and tears, is one of my inspirations that keeps me going. In weddings, you will feel the atmosphere of love of the couple and strong emotions of people.  

As a commercial filmmaker and photographer, I believe that every brand or company has a story to tell, and behind them are enthusiastic business owners with dreams and aspirations. I am inspired to work with them, not only to share their story, but to creatively make the world feel what they feel too.

What’s a day in your life like? Please describe what you do on a typical working day.

As a freelancer, I have a flexible schedule. Normally I would shoot for 2-3 days a week, then have the rest for editing, but I also add in time for meetings, ocular visits and even personal marketing.

Typically on preparation days, I would spend time meeting with clients and planning the details of upcoming shoot. Also at this time, I’m also preparing equipment.

One of my rituals before every shoot is to pray. I ask for the guidance and clear mind so that I would be able to execute the plans properly and be able to bring out the best out of the shoot. After the shooting is the post-production. I usually spend most of my time doing revisions until the final output is approved.

What are some of your career highlights? Anecdotes or memorable achievements you’d like to share.

In 2017, I was on The Filipino Times’ “Through the Lens” as a featured photographer. I also won my 1st videography award at the UAE World Beauty Championship.

In 2019, I won the Nikon #VolleyWithZ6 Video Competition. Also in the same year, I was able to conduct my 1st Wedding Photography and Videography Workshop entitled The Art of “I Do” at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). In the same year, I also had my 1st local radio interview with Tag 91.1 in the segment, “Learning with the Pros”.

My latest award was from UAE Bridal Makeup & Bedazzled Awards 2021 as Best Fashion Videographer.

I am also humbled to have worked brands like Illustrado, Arab Film Studios, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Doha Film Institute and many more. I have also worked with Michael Cinco, Amato, Ezra Couture, Angelo Estera and more fashion designers. I am also making videos for Embassy of the Philippines in the UAE.

Are there any perks in your field/company?

Since creating videos and taking photos is my passion, the first and main perk of my job is that it is therapeutic. There is nothing better than doing what you are passionate about and being able to share that talent  with others.

Also since I’m a freelancer, I get the benefit to be my own boss. I get to choose my own timings and work in a stress-free environment.

Also when you are an experienced filmmaker and photographer, people will be willing to pay for you even if it means traveling to other countries to shoot. I am grateful to have travelled to Qatar, Saudi, Singapore, and Thailand to work with my clients. Other perks can include free entrance tickets to events, backstage passes, free hotel stays and being able to meet famous personalities in person during shoots.

What do you do to unwind and de-stress?

I usually unwind by exercising, biking, playing sports, games and traveling. I also love creating landscape and travel photos and videos.

What advice can you give to people in the field out there? Have you learned anything from your time as a career person? Do include a bit of your personal story if need be.

Based on my experience, my advice for aspiring filmmakers and photographers would be:

  1. Focus and discipline are key.
  2. You will come across difficulties, but that’s just normal and it’s part of the process.
  3. You will meet a lot of people, and in each person, you meet, may it be bad or good, you will always learn something.
  4. You will have good and bad experiences, especially with some clients. But don’t let these things stop you. Cherish the good experiences and learn from the bad.
  5. Lastly, just keep doing what you love. Just keep going, keep growing.

What’s your ultimate goal as a career person? What do you hope for in your career future?

My ultimate goal would be is to be able to inspire others and share my experiences with them. I still have a lot to learn before I reach that level, so I believe I still need to keep on learning and grow more.

Your message as a Filipino to all the kababayans across the globe.

To my fellow kababayans across the globe, always trust the process and never give up on your dreams.