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David Mullen's 'Astronaut Farmer'


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#1 Evan Winter

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:10 AM

I just watched this tonight and I was thoroughly impressed. The film, for it's entire running length, is one beautiful shot after another. The story has fantastic elements but by and large it is shot in mundane, if exotic (to me), locations - a small Texas town, a ranch home, a barn, etc.

Despite this, the movie has a structured, deliberate, and motivated feel to its lighting that augments the narrative and lifts the whole film up beyond pleasant tale to worthwhile entertainment. I've read many of David's posts here and I've always felt that we were fortunate, as a forum, for his presence. However, after seeing the 'Astronaut Farmer' I am grateful and somewhat in awe that I am offered an opportunity to converse with such a talented individual and visionary.

I realize most on the forum have already seen the film but for those who haven't - do yourself a favor and watch it. This is cinematography to be admired. I'm looking forward to taking a look at Northfork; which seems to be the movie David is most often praised for.

Evan W.

P.S. - If I remember correctly David had misgivings about the way the capsule had to be lit (given the realities of the space, etc). The capsule looked marvelous to me. In fact, no single shot seemed like a compromise at all.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 12:18 PM

P.S. - If I remember correctly David had misgivings about the way the capsule had to be lit (given the realities of the space, etc). The capsule looked marvelous to me. In fact, no single shot seemed like a compromise at all.


No misgivings, just that it was really, really hard to shoot in such a small space with available light in anamorphic. There are only a few things I would adjust to make it better -- I wanted the buttons to show up in the visor reflection better -- we tried making some prop light boxes to stick on each side of the matte box when the camera was facing the astronaut, which occupied the space where the console would be, but it was a last-minute jury-rig. I'm still not sure how Caleb Deschanel managed to get that effect, when Alan Shepherd hits the buttons in front of him, each light comes on reflected in his face plate, and actually add light to his face, yet the lens is where the console should be (probably cut a hole). Probably our close-focus Primo anamorphic was too physically large. You'd be amazed at how cramped the Mercury capsule is -- the real console is only two feet from your face.

Thanks for the compliments.
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#3 Tom Lowe

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 02:35 PM

It's in my top 5 Cinematography this year. I think the thing that might hold it back from getting ASC or Oscar attention is that it is sort of a quirky and offbeat film, and some might consider it to be aimed at children or whatever.... typically not the types of pictures that get cinematography kudos.

I'm hoping to see David hook up with more great directors like WKW or Herzog, etc.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 03:40 PM

I wish I could see it, there doesn't seem to be a DVD available in PAL. I'm considering buying a PAL/NTSC DVD Player.
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 11:16 PM

I.....The story has fantastic elements but by and large it is shot in mundane, if exotic (to me), locations - a small Texas town, a ranch home, a barn, etc.


Thanks for the compliments.


They're more than deserved. I travel quite a bit in the Oklahoma Outback and watching "The Astronaut Farmer" at the theater was for me a bit like taking a drive in the country without having to drive. The only thing missing was a winter wheat field glowing green - I gather winter wheat doesn't do too well in West Texas. :)
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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 02:50 PM

I wish I could see it, there doesn't seem to be a DVD available in PAL. I'm considering buying a PAL/NTSC DVD Player.


PAL players play NTSC DVDs, don't they?
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#7 Matthew Buick

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 03:46 PM

I think some models can, unfortunately the one in my room is from an obscure maker (Cyberhome).

Edited by Matthew Buick, 12 December 2007 - 03:47 PM.

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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 04:17 PM

I think some models can, unfortunately the one in my room is from an obscure maker (Cyberhome).


I think if you go into the set up menu, you ought to be able to switch it to TV and also change the region code to zero, well you might have to find a cheat sheet/hack on line for the latter.

Then your PAL TV willl be the problem.
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#9 Tom Lowe

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 04:48 PM

If you PAL guys really want to see it, why not buy a US DVD, then download the bit torrent rip and watch it on your computer? This way you pay for the movie, and you get to see it. :)

Also, can't you just play a US DVD it on your computer anyway? Monitors don't care about PAL vs NTSC.
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#10 John Brawley

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 05:03 PM

If you PAL guys really want to see it, why not buy a US DVD, then download the bit torrent rip and watch it on your computer? This way you pay for the movie, and you get to see it. :)

Also, can't you just play a US DVD it on your computer anyway? Monitors don't care about PAL vs NTSC.



All the DVD players installed in MAC's have region codes which you can change, but only 5 times and after that, it's LOCKED in.

Depending on the generation of player, you can hack it, but the more recent versions don't seem to. I can sometimes play region 1 discs on my macbook, by disabling auto-play when you load the disc. Then you can often use VLC to play the file and it seems to often ignore the region coding. It doesn't always work though.

The only time I actually watch a title on a computer is when i want to grab a frame.

The thing that gives me the pip about region coding, is that it actually encourages piracy. I have purchased hundreds of DVD's legit. Now if I want to buy a film that isn't available from a local distributor in my region, I have to source it from another region. Then it may, or may not play on my player.

If get a pirated version, then I'll have no problems at all !

I think most people want to do the right thing, if you make it easy enough for them to do. Itunes anyone ?

jb
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#11 Tom Lowe

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 06:53 PM

Yeah, DMR only ends up hurting the people who actually pay for stuff! It's so dumb.

Maybe Astronaut Farmer will be worth switching the region once. ;)

Edited by Tom Lowe, 13 December 2007 - 06:54 PM.

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#12 Tom Lowe

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 07:26 PM

Hehe, I mean DRM. Obviously I have IMAX on the mind.
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#13 Daniel Smith

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 01:37 PM

I saw it last night. Liked it a lot.
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#14 monday sunnlinn

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 09:40 PM

yeah, i saw this a few weeks ago, and was actually going to make a post like this, then the freelance gods dumped a bunch of work on my desk. just got back from the (inter)netless expanses of wisconsin.

so...

Nice job!

i saw North Fork a year or so ago and loved the look and feel. i actually liked that one for it's pronounced style, versus a more subtle flavoring in the 'astronaut farmer'.

i imagine you were helped by the actual material you were visualizing. it's great when a bunch of talented people get there heads together...

what's your next project?

:)
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 11:38 PM

Don't know. Season Three of "Big Love" was supposed to start this month but now is on hold because of the WGA strike.
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#16 Dukeswharf

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 09:29 AM

Hi David,
can you please tell me what DI system was employed on Astronaut Farmer?

Edited by Dukeswharf, 29 February 2008 - 09:30 AM.

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rebotnix Technologies

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Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

CineLab

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

Visual Products