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Lords of the Street


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#1 Tom Banks

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 02:08 AM

This summer I got a hell of an opportunity to shoot my first feature, an accomplishment that happened sooner than I expected in my career. The production was a low-mid range budget action feature shooting around the outskirts of New Orleans. Ironically, I had my first job with the director as an intern when I was 15 and since then I've slowly made my way up the ladder. Sometimes internships do pay off!

The director and film crew had come from a background of very run and gun shooting. This was the directors first feature with these specific producers where he was not DPing as well. That being said, the producers flip-flopped a few times during the month previous to production as to if they could afford to bring me out. Finally I got a solid confirmation and a plane ticket 2 days before our first tech scout, so I hopped on a plane out to Louisiana and read the script for the first time along the way.

When I got into New Orleans I was surprised and excited to hear that Kris Kristofferson would be costarring in the film (playing a detective partner). Also featured in the film was DMX (fairly well known in the rap community). What was unfortunate was how long the production scheduled for the talent. Kris was only on set for 3 days! And his scenes amounted to probably over 35 pages!!! And although a smaller role, DMX was only on for 2 days. And he is notoriously known for not coming out of his trailer or walking off sets whenever he feels. He's even walked off the set of his own music video... Needless to say this was going to be a very demanding production. All together, we had a total of 15 days to shoot a 90 page action film.

We had about five days of pre-production which was basically myself and the director in New Orleans spending our days going over the script, mapping out overheads, watching some references. The director wanted things along the look of Bad Boys, Swordfish, Gone in 60 Seconds. This was the first action film I've shot so these references helped a great deal letting us know what kind of coverage we could get away with for the action sequences. While we didn't have time map out a full shot list, we were able to wrap our heads around the larger action scenes.

The script included extensive car chases with car to car shoot outs, a scene of a car flipping over and sliding down main street, several explosions, and not a lot of time to shoot!

Our first day of production was possibly the most stressful day I've ever had on set. Not only did the producers schedule Kris Kristofferson's scenes to be shot the first 3 days, but we were also dealing with a major car explosion. Halfway through the day (after we had been postponed about 30 min. for rain) some of the remaining scenes started to be rescheduled. We decided just to get the explosion scene off before we gambled off to much more for our daylight. Unfortunately it took us until just after sundown to get the final explosion shot off just, when there was just a little bit of light left in the sky.

As days went on our work flow definitely smoothened out. Kris's days were definitely the toughest. I believe most of those days were 16 hrs. But we were still doing anywhere from 8-12 pgs a day and at least 12 hr days.

As far as the technical specs go, we shot on 2 HVX200's with the P+S Technik 35 adapter. To save money the producers opted to go with only one set of primes (12, 24,50, 85, and 285) so occasionally we were slowed down when shooting reversals. My gaffer was a great guy named Phil Beard (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) out of Baton Rouge who came with his own 5ton and geni. We had a good amount of Kinos and smaller tungsten units. As for our HMI's, our biggest was a 4k, then we had a 2.5, 1.2, and a joker. This was my first time working with lights of that size, but I did enough research (thanks to the forum!) that I felt comfortable when it was time to pull them out.

I'll post some frame grabs once I have them and then perhaps talk about. But for now without further adieu, here's the trailer. (There's definitely some major color correction that needs to go on here)
http://spotlight-pic...ordstrailer.htm

I'm curious to hear some responses.

Edited by Tom Banks, 10 October 2007 - 02:13 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 10:41 AM

Congrats on shooting your first feature!

The trailer looks good, most of the time I wouldn't have guessed it was the HVX200. The only two technical problems that stand-out are the clipping of white shirts and bright skies, and the washed-out look from the adaptor being pointed into something bright like skies or an open door in daytime, but at least that milkiness can be timed out.

The night stuff looks good, lighting-wise.

I'm sure you brought a lot of production value to the movie.
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#3 Emmanuel Lariviere

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:16 PM

Tom, very good work. It's even better when you know the limitations you had. I belive you will go far.
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