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"Arranged" - Bollywood-style NYU short


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#1 John Francis McCarthy

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 01:00 AM

So tomorrow is the last day of an NYU short I've been shooting for the past month and a half. This will be day 23, I think. In my opinion, if production were more organized, the director/producer could have shot a feature with the amount of time and money he has put into it.

"The story centers around Ashok, a young man who is forced into an arranged engagement by his traditional Indian parents. A fan of Bollywood films since he was a kid, Ashok has elaborate daydreams where his life is a musical and he is the star."

This is by far the most ambitious student film I've shot or crewed on. We've done musical sequences in a subway car, a laundromat, a park and a warehouse. We started production just one day after I finished working as a camera intern for David Mullen on "The Sophomore". I've tried to apply what I learned from him; it's made me a stronger shooter I think. Obviously, I still have a long way to go. We decided to go super 16, stocks were fuji 8663 (250D) and 8673 (500T). We rented an SRIII with a full set of ultra primes and the new "ultra 16" wide primes. I wanted to try out the 416, but all of CSC's bodies were out on features.

Here's the short teaser:



there are some higher quality clips in my reel:

http://www.johnfrancismccarthy.net/

We still need to go in for a supervised transfer at postworks later this month.

Here's a still of Nardeep, our main actor, taken on the laundromat day:
n811460_37761515_1044.jpg

-John
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#2 Tom Banks

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 01:27 AM

Looks great! What did you do on it? Is this a thesis?
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#3 John Francis McCarthy

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 02:13 AM

Hey Tom, I was the shooter. It's my largest, most involved job to date, so I'm eager for feedback.

Yes, it's director's undergrad thesis film.
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:33 AM

Looks real good John. You've mimicked the look and feel of Bollywood style films very well from your samples. Nice use of camera movement. It's often nicely motivated camera movement that separates a home video from the look of a well shot and thought out professional film.
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#5 Tom Banks

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 03:26 PM

Hey John,
As for critique, there's not too much I can give. It has a very professional look to it, when I first saw it I couldn't believe it was a student project. Camera movements are great, I loved the shot with the blue pulse of light in the background (reminded me of West Side Story). Like Walter mentioned, the camera movement does a great job complimenting the dance moves. I'm taking a class in musicals and we just finished looking at some Bollywood clips so its interesting to watch this with that in mind.

The only part I would offer critique on are the outdoor shots. I like the back-lit scheme but I would've liked to see a little more light thrown on the subject. Keeping in tune with the stage-like traditions can allow for more over-lit high key looks. But part of what works in the look you've created is that it's not your typical high key unmotivated look, but more of finessed natural light.

I'd love to hear some of your technical specs, as well as anything interesting that happened on set. Its always good to hear what you were dealing with and how you actually made things work. Especially in student projects there's a lot of drama that goes on before the camera rolls.
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#6 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:37 PM

That's a fun clip, I'l like to see the rest of the film! You've really nailed the Bollywood look, and it's interesting to see it transposed to a NY background. Very impressive for an undergrad work, too. Keep up the good work.

Bruce
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:54 PM

It all looks really good. The only thing perhaps would be to see how to bring more color into the scenes, if you want to get that Technicolor Bollywood look. But I'm thinking more in terms of costume/art direction.
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#8 John Francis McCarthy

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 03:33 AM

I like the back-lit scheme but I would've liked to see a little more light thrown on the subject. Keeping in tune with the stage-like traditions can allow for more over-lit high key looks. But part of what works in the look you've created is that it's not your typical high key unmotivated look, but more of finessed natural light.

I'd love to hear some of your technical specs, as well as anything interesting that happened on set. Its always good to hear what you were dealing with and how you actually made things work. Especially in student projects there's a lot of drama that goes on before the camera rolls.


Looking back on that outdoor stuff now, I would have to agree. I need to always remind myself that what I think looks good may not be what's best for the project. I'm glad I have the luxury of a supervised transfer, I plan to bring up a lot of the darker stuff in those sessions.

Tech specs: s16, framed for 2.35 (director's choice), camera was an SRIII. We had zeiss' new 6mm, 8mm, 9.5mm, 12mm and 14mm "ultra16" primes (they open up to t1.3) and 16mm, 20mm, 24mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm and 65mm ultra primes. We also day played a canon 10.5-210mm zoom. I had to use available light everywhere I could. Our G&E package was relatively small (a few kinos, a pair of baby juniors, three inkies, a couple 1.2k HMI PARs, one 4k HMI PAR, and a hand full of parcans and leikos) We day played another 4k HMI PAR and a second honda 6500w genny for night exteriors. I always tried to shoot at around a 2/2.8 for DOF reasons. I pushed the 500T one stop for some night exteriors, which was a mistake.

One of the things that really got to me was the crew situation; we never knew how many people were going to show up each day. Most of the time I was doing the gaffing, which I normally love, but it became tiring after the first week of 12-14 hour days. I was also operating. On many days we were without an AD. I also had problems when I asked the actors to stand in...they wouldn't stay put! All problems were expected...on student shoots you have to let some things go.


***

I agree with you, David. I told the director to find interesting locations with color and character (I couldn't do much scouting because I was too busy inhaling haze at Bayonne HS :) ). The subway car stuff was filmed at the NYC transit museum in Brooklyn. I wanted to shoot in one of the older, more interesting cars they had on display (it's a fantasy sequence, so we could have gone with anything). The director insisted on the modern car seen in the teaser. The Production/Costume designer was one of his friends who didn't have much experience. I gave all of the advice I could and they tried their best to work with what they had. In my opinion, money was wasted in lots of areas where an experienced art director could have saved.


Here's a shot of Suraj, the director:
n811460_37742720_170.jpg

and one of me:
n811460_37761487_6700_1.jpg
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