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'Way Up North'


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#1 Michael Collier

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 12:34 AM

Way Up North
An Alaskan Short Film

(all images copyright Crooked Pictures, Dir. Levi Taylor)

I am a little backed up on these blogs, I have been extremely busy and sometimes its all I can do to prep the next weekends shoot, so I will start with the most recent shoot and work back as I find the time. This weekend we did the math and figured an average feature has about 300-500 cuts in a 2 hour period, our short will have 250 shots (more than half jib, dolly, steadycam, or some combo of all three)

We started this week with what has become my favorite shot of the film so far. It was storyboarded as a long dolly with lots of background action going on. When we got there we knew we had a very short parking lot, depth wise to work with. We ended up laying 40 feet of dolly track, which was a challenge to level, but my grip Ryan did an awsome job of it.

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We are finaly getting to work on the end of the picture, so my color palate has opened up quite a bit. After weeks of cold night with deeply saturated monochromatic blues, this shot intigrated orange, green and blue.

I lit the shot with a 1200 gelled with 3 CTO and full plus green, acting as a backlight for our charecter, pushed back so the fall off as he walked would be gradual, the idea being as he lost the backlight, he would be walking into a green pool of light that would symbolize his leaving the city for the seedy bar that our villain awaits in.

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It was filled with a 575 sunray ungelled through a 4x double silk just behind the dolly. it had to be carefully flagged to keep the charecter in a constant value of light. it was flagged so as he hit the halfway mark the soft frontal fill would subside as he picked up the green light. That light was an LTM 575 fresnel gelled with double plus green to add a deep green-blue hue (we were balanced toward the tungsten end of things). We lucked out with the street behind, since the temps are getting warmer, the snow melted and put a constant thin layer of water on the road, which picked up the citys street lights very well. I commented to the director that if we had the budget, in prep I would have ordered a water truck that night only to find we didn't need it.

To light the background I turned to our tungsten kit. I didn't want the background to have the deep color our main charecter gets, since they aren't a part of his world. I lit the bulk of the background with a 650 fresnel, and hit the inside of a car with a 250 pro-light, carefully flagged to only light the inside of the car, and not the hood or roof.

I balanced the camera with a 1/2 plus green filter to add a greenish hue to the tungsten lights and the soft fill in the middle of the push.

After that we moved on to the arrival shot. I lit with the same 1200 punched hot in the lower corner to match the cities sodium vapor lights in the background. On the left side of the building I hit a drug deal going on with a 575 sunray without a lens to give them a hot pool of blue light. The building was lit with our villians green light, letting it fall off on one side. Again I don't feel a great need to achieve reality with this short, its almost a cartoon and indulging that desire to go very saturated and stylized suits the story, and the director loves it.

The next day was in the same bar, in a tiny bathroom that hadn't been used in years. This too was later in the story and so I brought a deep greenish-blue light into the bathroom. All the lights were gelled with plus green and 1/2 CTB. We were going for the really harsh green light that cheap floros would give (while exagerating that color slightly).

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The bathroom was lit with a top 650 through double silk, the fill was a 250 pro light bounced off the bathroom stall wall, and backlight was provided by another prolight.

The director had tried to find a bathroom that had the door positioned directly behind the mirror so we could watch our charecter walk out of the door through the mirror. That was not possible to find, so we found a thin mirror in the bathroom that we could remove and position. To keep the freedom to slightly angle the mirror, I mounted it with a maffer clamp on a C-stand. Outside the door I lit the wall with a 650 through silk. Since the wall was painted with a glossy black paint with lots of texture, lots of little specular highlights and sheens defined the wall.

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The last day was a day for night of our charecter buying guns. Sticking with our night-blue look (it was slightly earlier in the film, before the greens and oranges come out) I balanced to tungsten preset and filled the foreground action with a 1200 bounced off what snow is left on the ground.

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As we move forward I am getting very excited to shoot the climax of the film. By the time we get to the bar fight I will be able to introduce deeply saturated blues, greens, reds and oranges. Looking at this weekend, it almost seems like another film.

I will finish this post with a short clip of an earlier shoot. We needed to place silk marijuana plants in 3 groups to be later matted together. Since we didn't want to disturb the camera and ruin the ability to matte them, I ropped off 5 feet around and nobody was allowed in once rolling began (even to stop camera between setups). I took the whole footage and time-lapsed it and thought someone might like to watch it. To me its funny. 25 minutes of work in 20 seconds. The plants were provided by the same company that does props for the show 'Weeds' and they look very good.

Time Lapse of 'Way Up North' shoot

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Thats it for now, when I get more time I will backtrack a bit and fill in the past two weekends that don't have a write up.

(Images were captured off the downconverted DV dub. Noise is less apparent in the HD footage, shadows are more detailed, but you get the idea.)

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#2 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 12:43 AM

Wow, that is some scary looking actor-dude! Wouldn't wanna meet him . . . LOL

Looks good man, but those folks in the pix look COLD! Yikes!
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 04:43 PM

Those folks in shot probably weren't that cold. It was around 33-35 that night, which for an alaskan just coming out of the dead of winter, thats summer shorts and a t-shirt weather. A couple of weeks prior (in a weekend that has yet to have a blog) we were shooting at -25 for 14 hours at night (with only cars to warm up in). It was so cold that it broke the vest of our steadycam rig, and my production folder froze up so badly that when I opened it, it cracked and fell into 4 peices. Thats cold. The lame part of that shoot was the wind and ice-rain (and trying to walk on the slick ice the rain created)
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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 02:21 PM

Just did a radio interview with the director on the film. If you'd like to listen to the podcast, its avalible here:

http://kska.org/2008...r-way-up-north/
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The Slider

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

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Wooden Camera

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