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#1 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 11:43 AM

This is about 4 months late so I'll try to make up for it.

On December 26 I got a call from my agent saying that WILL, a film I had met on about 7 weeks earlier, had got greenlit on the 24th and they wanted me to do it and leave in 5 days for 3 months in Texas. At the time, I was already hired to do 2nd Unit on STATE OF PLAY for Rodrigo Prieto and had had meetings and seen some tests. Faced with that films questionable timeframe, I had to back out to do WILL...a very very tough decision as I greatly admire Rodrigo's work.

Less than a week later I found myself in Austin prepping. WILL was written and would be directed by Todd Graff who as a former actor was best known for his role as Hippie in the movie THE ABYSS. WILL is a story about an awkward high school kid (Gaelen Connell) who comes to a new school, is befriended by a similarly unpopular girl (Vanessa Hudgens), and gets drawn in to managing a school band headed up by a popular girl (Aly Michalka) when she realizes Will has a gift for music. He's enlisted to manage the band, create a better sound, and get them to the regional battle of the bands show which is an event as big to the schools in the local area as football is in Texas.

The story takes place in New Jersey over the course of a school year which means weather changes, but not the kind one finds in Austin. Fortunately, we were a mostly interior film. My biggest challenge, and one of the reasons I wanted to do the film, was this battle of the bands concert called Bandslam. I've never done anything like that before and looked forward to the change to light big. I should mention that this film is largely musical...rock musical. Not a musical where people bust out into song and dance in the middle of dialogue, but where the actors play and practice live. Every one of the actors was an accomplished musician or singer so we shot much about half of the music as live performance with the rest being pre-recorded. All were excellent performers.

During the musical performances we usually shot 3 cameras, at times a 4th if we found a place for the steadicam. Speaking of which, I had the legendary Jim McConkey on steadicam and B camera. All of my crew were fantastic and some of the best I've worked with. A camera operator was and Austin local Jimmy Lindsay. The were supported on focus by PK Munson and Sebastian Vega. These guys kept it sharp when we were flying around on a technocrane at the long end of the zoom or on a long prime 'fishing' on the steadicam. That leads me to the technical.

WILL was shot on Panaflex's out of Dallas. I had a Millenium, an XL, and a lightweight for steadicam. The lens package included 2 sets of Primo primes, 11-1 zooms, a 17-40 Optimo for steadicam, and a 3-1 for the concert. 2 cameras almost always covered every scene. It was a long script with a 38 day schedule with a LOT of music to cover. We shot 2.40 in 3 perf. I had a camera PA taking reference stills for dailies and doing lighting diagrams. I sent the stills every day with the film to the dailies colorist. We used Fotokem so there was a bit of delay in seeing footage. I personally got HDCam dailies which I watched in my apartment where I had a JH-3 and a 24 inch HD monitor set up. It really made the difference for me. Night and day compared to the dvd dailies everyone else got.

The shoot was mostly location work but also had its share of sets. We spent our second week on stage shooting a beautifully done garage interior where the main band gets together and rehearses. This set was interesting in that I lit most of the actors using $2 clip lights with bare bulbs of varying intensities. We had a few different sizes fixtures. They were absolutely beautiful on faces and could also be photographed as practicals. Those were supplemented by 3 4x4 kinos in the rafters as well as 2 custom overhead softboxes with 6 redheads in each, all patched into a dimmer console. The garage doors had tiny windows on each so outside those were about 6 5 and 10ks coming straight it. If I ever needed a hotter slash, we fired up a par can with a firestarter and some full CTO.

There is much more to share and I actually took more pictures of the setups this time. I'll post some later, I just need to make sure they don't show anything as the studio is very sensitive about stuff getting out.

That's it for the moment....
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#2 Andrew Brinkhaus

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 09:23 AM

Sounds like a fun project. Was most of your camera crew local? If so, did you have any non union AC's? Hope to see some stills soon!

Edited by Andrew Brinkhaus, 21 April 2008 - 09:26 AM.

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#3 Travis Cline

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 03:07 PM

If I might ask, what was it that made you decide to take Will over State of Play? I assume being the main DP over second unit DP had an influence, but I just wonder if you wouldn't mind expanding on your plight. Thanks for posting Eric, very informative.


Travis
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#4 Mike Williamson

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 06:05 PM

Sounds like a fun project, Eric, thanks for posting about it. It would be great to see some stills if you're allowed to put them up, did you shoot them with the main talent or using stand-ins? Did it work well to have the camera PA doing the stills and diagrams?
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#5 Harrison Reynolds

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 11:55 PM

Man I wish I had known it was someone on this board shooting this movie. I walked by the Hogg auditorium set almost everyday on my way to class just to watch a few minutes of the production and definitely came out for the night shoot in front of the Architecture building where I believe it was the last shot from UT campus. It was exciting to see that big of a production first hand.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 09:07 AM

Nothing succeeds like success, huh, Eric. Many of us have enjoyed following your adventures, here. Thanks for sharing with us.
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#7 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 07:19 PM

All the camera crew were local and union (it was budgeted at about $20 million) except for my Bcam and steadicam op Jim McConkey.
I took this film and left State of Play due to the fact that film had pushed repeatedly due to actor turnover and I could not afford to wait out a 3 month push in schedule.

Below are the first couple stills. These aren't lighting references but show some setups. As David has mentioned, it is very tricky posting any images from set especially those which would give anything away or reveal the actresses and actors.

This first one is one of our bigger grip riggs. We built a facade of a location in NYC that no longer exists in the parking lot of our offices/studio. Because the real place is in NY, I added a LOT of negative fill to replicate the tall buildings of the city which really only let in skylight. I only used the natural skylight and 12k par into an ultrabounce for the actors...all of which is hidden in this pic. Oh...the lights you see are work lights they turned on in the morning before the sun came up...they weren't used for shooting.
Posted Image

Here is another of a dolly setup I'd never seen before. We almost always covered each scene with two cameras and this was one where the actors had to get out of a car and walk to a different mark about 20 feet away. In case it's hard to see, it's two dollys attached and one camera is on a slider.
Posted Image

... the wide of that setup...all supposed to take place late in the day so of course it was 4 pages and needed a full day to shoot and keeping the late day light look from morning till sunset was a bit of a challenge, hence the big gripping.
Posted Image

I'll see what else is appropriate to show. The best shots have unfortunately have the actors in them...
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#8 Hemant Tavathia

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 08:56 PM

If its not too much of a hassle, can you explain the gripping on the condor. I see you have a 20 by griff? on a frame mounted, and then a 20 by double hanging secured with sandbags. I was hoping you could explain all the grippage involved with illustration if possible.
Thanks in advance.
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#9 Bill Totolo

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 02:15 PM

All the camera crew were local and union (it was budgeted at about $20 million) except for my Bcam and steadicam op Jim McConkey.
I took this film and left State of Play due to the fact that film had pushed repeatedly due to actor turnover and I could not afford to wait out a 3 month push in schedule.

Below are the first couple stills. These aren't lighting references but show some setups. As David has mentioned, it is very tricky posting any images from set especially those which would give anything away or reveal the actresses and actors.

This first one is one of our bigger grip riggs. We built a facade of a location in NYC that no longer exists in the parking lot of our offices/studio. Because the real place is in NY, I added a LOT of negative fill to replicate the tall buildings of the city which really only let in skylight. I only used the natural skylight and 12k par into an ultrabounce for the actors...all of which is hidden in this pic. Oh...the lights you see are work lights they turned on in the morning before the sun came up...they weren't used for shooting.
Posted Image

Here is another of a dolly setup I'd never seen before. We almost always covered each scene with two cameras and this was one where the actors had to get out of a car and walk to a different mark about 20 feet away. In case it's hard to see, it's two dollys attached and one camera is on a slider.
Posted Image

... the wide of that setup...all supposed to take place late in the day so of course it was 4 pages and needed a full day to shoot and keeping the late day light look from morning till sunset was a bit of a challenge, hence the big gripping.
Posted Image

I'll see what else is appropriate to show. The best shots have unfortunately have the actors in them...



This is exactly what the set ups on the web series I've been shooting look like.......
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 05:03 AM

The shoot was mostly location work but also had its share of sets. We spent our second week on stage shooting a beautifully done garage interior where the main band gets together and rehearses. This set was interesting in that I lit most of the actors using $2 clip lights with bare bulbs of varying intensities. We had a few different sizes fixtures. They were absolutely beautiful on faces and could also be photographed as practicals. Those were supplemented by 3 4x4 kinos in the rafters as well as 2 custom overhead softboxes with 6 redheads in each, all patched into a dimmer console. The garage doors had tiny windows on each so outside those were about 6 5 and 10ks coming straight it. If I ever needed a hotter slash, we fired up a par can with a firestarter and some full CTO.

There is much more to share and I actually took more pictures of the setups this time. I'll post some later, I just need to make sure they don't show anything as the studio is very sensitive about stuff getting out.

That's it for the moment....


Hiya Eric!

Do you have any shots showing the $2 clip lights? You can always erase or crop out the actors!
Did you use photo bulbs in the clip lights or just ordinary househole bulbs. What kind of range of wattage did you use and how many clip lights at once?

Sounds intresting.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 01 May 2008 - 05:04 AM.

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#11 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 06:38 AM

The film was renamed BANDSLAM and the trailer is now on You Tube and the TWILIGHT dvd. Check it out.
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#12 Serge Teulon

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 09:17 AM

Hey Eric,

The stills are not coming through....can you please post them again?

Cheers
S
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Aerial Filmworks

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Visual Products

Metropolis Post

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