A small feature production--thought I'd let everyone in on the details a bit.
Fate Spinner Preproduction
(Two weeks up to 4/23/09)
I've been inspired by a variety of sources to blog/journal my work on motion pictures, namely Roger Deakins who used to have a website, and forum, until it was tragically shut down due to the unappreciative mocking/boarderline stalking of a certain member. And, also David Mullen, who also frequently blogs/updates his work on films, and regularly contributes to both.
http://www.cinematography.com (Also Eric Steelberg hangs out here, which is rad)
By no means am I comparing myself to either of those phenomenal cinematographers, but I do hope to gain the same sort of experience that they do by sharing, exploring, teaching, learning cinematography/filmmaking through this form of communication.
So, the project, Fate Spinner was brought to me by a good friend and director Conor Long who was shooting the project in Salt Lake, and I was in LA at the time. He had originally slated someone else to DP the project, but as it grew, and as it progressed, they eventually settled on the Red One camera--which actually is what brought me onto the project. Conor had been the 1AD on a project that I had previously shot with the camera, and he had expressed his like for my work on that film. That and a whole list of AC work with the Red as well. So, in some cases, a total geek out session on any camera can pay off.
It was a little bitter sweet of a situation, because after reading the script, and having a few discussions with the director and producers about the look and feel of the film, I don't think that in a full spectrum of mediums it's the format I would have chosen. But, on the other hand it slated me the show, and when I asked if any other cameras had been considered, I was given a plethora of DV/HD/mini 35 set-ups. So, in the end--when all was said and done I think I would have chosen a 7205 35 stock, or possibly something clean, 7219 in 16mm format. But deals had been made, and budgets had been cut, and the Red One had been chosen. Which, when given the alternatives, I think was the best decision. The latitude, depth, and color imaging, mostly daylight advantages being our strong points.
The script called for a lot of daylight, a lot of natural, sort basic human emotions through out. So, by comparison to the last film I wanted to light it as little as possible. Let a lot of the shadows, and sunlight sort of fall where they lay. But we had a little bit of a lighting curve, hopefully subtle. As the story progressed, the antagonist represents himself as a tarot card reader, who is highly metaphorical of the devil. As a subtle movement we would bring in more blue, more mercury vapor, and more cooling filters (80 stacks) when he dominates the scene, and as a vice versa, when our protagonist is at his strongest, warming filters (81 stacks), tungsten and so on. And that would be our basic, overlay for the style and look of the film. We decided on a lot of handheld movements, mostly wide feel to the film. But I didn't want to constrain the camera movements and lens length to much--to give a lot of moveability to the actors, and the direction.
Unfortunately, I was unable to do any testing, unable to do much preproduction. I had been brought on about 2 weeks before principle photography was to start, and most of the time was spent struggling with the rental house with G/E. Luckily, with the help of my gaffer I was able to get the squared away, and spent the rest of the time doing tech scouts, and meetings with the director.
Fortunately, I knew the camera tech at Otto Nemenz very well, and this particular Red owner also very well, I had worked with him prior. Both fantastic people, so I knew I could get what I needed, knowing from my previous projects what works best, and what doesn't. The system we would be using is a Red One with the basic Arri set up. Base plate, matte box, PL mount system for Zeiss Super Speeds because we'd be doing a lot of low light stuff. And, as I mentioned before a series of 81 and 80 for our curvature in color. Some things I have to force myself to remember is waveform, waveform, waveform. I've often written it on my hand, but it's been crunch time and my meter looks great, the lens lines up and we're all happy. But once the digital play back is on-no ones happy. It's troublesome, especially when filters, ramping framerates, and variable iso's come into play. So, there's a great HD production Panasonic monitor with a locked Waveform, Vectorscope, and Histogram interface that I always press for that'll never ever leave me in that situation again. Just as you trust your meters on film, always trust your waveform on HD.
More to come! As soon as I write it...
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