Jump to content


Lewis Cannon: Loose Cannon


  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
  • Guests

Posted 15 November 2007 - 03:56 PM

I thought I'd share with you some images and such from a short I shot as a favour to a director friend earlier this year. We shot pick ups in the summer, editing is coming to close (yes, the long drawn out process of short films being shot in four days, then edited over a six month plus period).

The short is a spoof trailer of the buddy buddy cop action movies of the 1980s. The joke is that it's a cliched, American cop popcorn film, everyone has American accents, but it's blatantly filmed in Manchester, England!

Initially, I thought this could be a great idea to pull out grad filters, long lenses and get that classic early Bruckheimer look (think Tony Scott and Adrian Lynne). After talking with the director however, he said he really wanted to give the impression that LEWIS CANNON had probably been established as a TV show like MIAMI VICE, and the "feature" would be a continuation of that. No frills and flat. The look and feel had to ape that feeling that one foot was definitely in TV, the other for the big screen.

Generically speaking, cop movies in the 80s didn't really get flashy until after Robby Muller's evocative work on TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA, and as far as MIAMI VICE went, it wasn't really until the second season that production values skyrocketed to big steadicam shots, pretty composition and creative use of colour. So movies like COBRA and BEVERLY HILLS COP 2 were out.

My main sources of influence for LEWIS CANNON were the movies SUDDEN IMPACT, THIEF OF HEARTS and FLETCH and also more importantly, MIAMI VICE season one, particularly the pilot shot by Robert Collins. Other flatter looking 80s shows like STREETHAWK and THE A TEAM too. SUDDEN IMPACT and FLETCH tend towards a more compromised shooting approach, due to real locations, little money, and I find the same with season one of MIAMI VICE. It was also obvious on that early on with that TV show the standard was still routed in the way COLUMBO/QUINCY was shot in the 1970s. However, while the lighting in the MV pilot is often hard, often frontal and economically unadventurous (for reasons anyone can appreciate), you can see how Mr. Collins was compromising to get Michael Mann's preference for longer lenses in there, with lots of punched in compositions. Collins also rather admirably managed to get shadow and contrast into the mundane art direction during the famous IN THE AIR TONIGHT moment from the pilot. So there was new thinking happening within an old system of shooting TV cop shows.

I begged my friends to shoot S16, but out of their own pocket it was pretty impossible, especially as because the ambition of the short depended on all funds going on everything BUT the camera and stock. Having been assured that we'd have the DVX100B which I'd never worked with before, I read all the reviews online and did my homework. I'm pretty sure I stole all of Jon Fauer's advice in his review of the camera regarding the crushing of the blacks. I also knew that if we shot with hard light, used a net, and played with saturation in camera along with the crushed blacks we could get a kind of period "dupey", soft look that would suit the material. Soft light was prohibited, unless of course it was generated by existing architectural lighting or the overcast sky!

I wanted a degraded, 80s film to TV look, and we needed flat hard light to sell the joke, but I didn't want to just patronise everything for the sake of it. Everything had to be shot with sincerity, as if we were trapped in the sensibilities and politics of 80s TV/film cop stuff. It was the foundation for the physical humour.

The shoot was done mostly at an abandoned police station that a BBC drama had shot in previously. Alot of their sets were still up, but the show had been cancelled and the production company were hiring it out. Bizzarely, we shot on few of their sets as the existing areas not previously occupied by their shoot were more or less perfect for our needs.

Here's actual screengrabs and set photos of the inevitable "You're a loose cannon, Cannon!" scene in the police chief's office:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

All the classic amateur level errors, such as dark skinned actress in all black outfit against a white wall, next to a pale man in a bright white shirt. Did I mention we couldn't afford a production meeting? Luckily I got away with it, and with only 2K blondes and open redheads, gripped with bits of cardboard, hardly any gels either.

Lewis Cannon, at the front desk of police house:
Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Cannon and sidekick raid a motel room:
Posted Image

Here's a screengrab of the coke snorting corrupt cop:
Posted Image

The villain, dressed in classic MIAMI VICE attire:
Posted Image
  • 0

#2 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
  • Guests

Posted 15 November 2007 - 03:59 PM

Posted Image


These are what I call the "Robert Collins MIAMI VICE" shots:

Posted Image
This shot was actually done on the BBC drama set - it was all still totally dressed and you could even see the focus marks on the floor! It was also designed for softlight (the chinese lantern was hung in the middle of the set ceiling so we chucked it), and with that was very brightly painted. I got around it, the begging was worth it!



Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Much to her annoyance, the love interest awakens to find Cannon has "gone to fight crime" again (another Beeb drama set):

Posted Image


And because we could, here's a shot of an 80s commercial/Knightrider style car chase from the trailer. This was white balanced on the day:
Posted Image


Unfortunately, due to the limited latitude of minidv and the British weather during January (and September) the exterior stuff is going to need a grade for consistency. We got the interior stuff, I think.

Not being a camera person or aspiring DP, just a big film geek, I think we got an appropriate look, especially as it was just me with Ed Lilley as my camera assistant/spark/grip.


As a funny aside- whe we shot this oriignally back in January, we'd all heard partly about HOT FUZZ and had assumed they were going to beat us to this. Thankfully they went a different route! :)
  • 0

#3 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 16 November 2007 - 11:54 AM

Looks fun. Too bad about the exterior Manchester weather not matching Miami... :(
  • 0

#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

Jonathan Bowerbank
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2815 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 16 November 2007 - 02:45 PM

Get that boom op an apple box or two!
  • 0


Visual Products

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Glidecam