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#1 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 03:54 AM

Hello everyone!

We recently submitted our first short film to a competition, The Doorpost Film Competition. Our film is called "Retrograde" for those who are interested in taking a look at it. Obviously I have no idea if we are going to make it into the top 20 at this point, but I'm fairly confident we have a good chance. If we do and make it into the top 5, we would be funded $40,000 to make the final round film. Regardless what happens, I want to start making sure I'm completely prepared to take on this big project, and will feel confident in doing so. I am going to do whatever I can to shoot this on 35mm, but it will be my first movie shot on film. I've been shooting still photography on film for almost 10 years, and have a strong understanding of how to meter and expose for film. My AC's have experience shooting short films on film back in school, so in terms of prepping and loading, I'm covered.

The problem is our idea will turn out to be very difficult to fit within the budget, so I'm asking for help in all aspects of taking on this big task. For a 20-25min short (4 day shoot), I was thinking I will need between 13-16 reels of 1000' stock. Is this a good estimate? And how much should I factor in for the cost of stock and processing? (Scanning and DI color correction will be free for me through my work, fortunately and I will get a partial discount on the stock if I order through my company) What's a good rule of thumb for calculating out costs for the film and camera equipment I will be needing?

Also, in terms of the actual camera, what are some major factors in choosing one, as most are around the same price and seem to offer similar features? I won't be needing any sound recording capabilities, since I'll have dual system audio.

I will not have enough money to shoot tests, and I will not be doing any special processing since I can't take any chances. For picking what stock to use, I'm just going to do a lot of research, watch a lot of movies similar to the style we're going for and taking note of the stocks used, then make my decision based on that since again, I cannot afford to be renting a camera and spending money on reels of film on days we aren't shooting for the movie.

The last question is about lenses. The only cine lenses I've used are Zeiss Super Speeds. I believe they were either Mark I or Mark II... they were Distagons with triangular aperatures. I didn't like them much as they were far too soft almost like a ProMist was in front of the lenses, and they just didn't have a sharp look. However, they were rentals and could have been just a bad set. What's the best way to test lenses and make a selection? Will the rental houses spend time doing lens tests with me at the rental shop so I can make a decision or how does that work? Oh and I'm wanting to go with anamorphics since it's the look the director and I want (its going to be a sci-fi).

I may be asking a lot, but like I said, I'm planning as far in advance as I can so I feel completely confident that the shoot will turn out exactly as I hope. Also maybe this thread can be a place for all first time film shooters to learn what to plan for, do's, don'ts, etc etc, of shooting on film. Thanks everyone!
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 04:06 AM

Hello everyone!
Thanks everyone!


This sounds like a job for SUPER TECHNISCOPE MAN! Wanna' hear a pitch on 2-perf?
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#3 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 04:25 AM

This sounds like a job for SUPER TECHNISCOPE MAN! Wanna' hear a pitch on 2-perf?

Haha, let me guess, save twice as much money?! But if we shoot on anamorphic glass, isn't our only option 4 perf? I'd like to hear your thoughts!
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 04:27 AM

I gotta' go do something. I don't know what you already know. So, I'll leave you this link:
http://en.wikipedia....iki/Techniscope
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 06:48 AM

What about the fact that 2-perf. looks only about half as sharp as 4-perf.?


If you can afford to shoot 4, shoot 4. A lot of Hollywood movies are S35 blowups, not scope. So you have an opportunity to shoot a format that not even big-budget movies always get to use.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 09:29 AM

Interesting how these threads never talk about the content of the film.

If Cody's making a film where acting is important, extra takes might be the difference between so-so and excellent performances. In that case the economy of shooting 2-perf might be crucial to making a successful film. If an audience is involved in the content of a film they're not going to obsess on technical details like the difference in sharpness between 2-perf and 4-perf anamorphic.

On the other hand he might be out in Monument Valley making a Western where anamorphic could really add to the "look" of the film.

My pre-coffee Sunday morning grump.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 09:44 AM

My rule of thumb is a 1000' can per page of script, which is roughly a 10:1 ratio. Of course, you can shoot less -- the lowest I've managed was a 7:1 ratio, one person told me he managed a 5:1 ratio -- but exceptions don't prove the rule.

So personally, I'd budget for 20 to 25 cans of film. Of course, this is assuming 4-perf.

If money is as tight as you say it is, probably 4-perf anamorphic is a bit of a luxury unless you plan on a low shooting ratio to compensate. Otherwise, I'd be looking into 3-perf if a D.I. is guaranteed (the advantage of 4-perf anamorphic is that a D.I. is not necessary). 2-perf is a bit rare and hard to find still.

You can read here about Zeiss Super Speeds:
http://www.cinematec...1,2_lenses.html

The Mark II & III versions are fine lenses at T/2.8 and deeper, OK at T/2.0, but I wouldn't open them up any wider except in an emergency or unless you like that soft look.
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#8 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 10:02 AM

Haha, let me guess, save twice as much money?! But if we shoot on anamorphic glass, isn't our only option 4 perf? I'd like to hear your thoughts!


It gets better. Short ends. They start at 200' lengths. They roll like 400 footers do in a 4-perf camera. You can get them easily for $0.10 per foot. For your grade of production snip tested rolls would be better. They will only add a couple cents per foot and give you confidence that you're not shooting chancy stock. One of our posters, Bruce Taylor can rent you good cameras. Arri and Panavision have 2-perf movements for rent. Abel Cine Tech can rent you an Aaton Penelope.
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#9 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 10:18 AM

Hello everyone!

We recently submitted our first short film to a competition, The Doorpost Film Competition. Our film is called "Retrograde" for those who are interested in taking a look at it. Obviously I have no idea if we are going to make it into the top 20 at this point, but I'm fairly confident we have a good chance. If we do and make it into the top 5, we would be funded $40,000 to make the final round film. Regardless what happens, I want to start making sure I'm completely prepared to take on this big project, and will feel confident in doing so. I am going to do whatever I can to shoot this on 35mm, but it will be my first movie shot on film. I've been shooting still photography on film for almost 10 years, and have a strong understanding of how to meter and expose for film. My AC's have experience shooting short films on film back in school, so in terms of prepping and loading, I'm covered.

The problem is our idea will turn out to be very difficult to fit within the budget, so I'm asking for help in all aspects of taking on this big task. For a 20-25min short (4 day shoot), I was thinking I will need between 13-16 reels of 1000' stock. Is this a good estimate? And how much should I factor in for the cost of stock and processing? (Scanning and DI color correction will be free for me through my work, fortunately and I will get a partial discount on the stock if I order through my company) What's a good rule of thumb for calculating out costs for the film and camera equipment I will be needing? How much film you need completely depends on the script. Considering 1 page per minute you have a 20-25 page script. Which I do agree with David that a 10:1 ratio would be great if you can afford it, and 7 or even 6:1 ratios can be done if you plan meticulously. Although you're looking at 13k w/o a student discount, just on the film. I'd say you're camera rental would be about 2.5k a day and a rental week being 3 days, so 7.5k. Processing will be over 2k depending on where you process and their rate. You're already over half you're allotted budget. may I suggest super16 now?(20,000 ft for under 3k) :) I mean you could shoot with a Arri BL4 or other older cam and save money that way but what is killing you is the amount of 35mm negative you need. 3-perf or 2-perf is a good way to save money and still shoot 35. 3-perf knocking down negative costs to about 10k and 2 perf at around 7k. And with 2-perf you're locked into an aspect ratio that might not serve the story or it might serve it very well. We're not even talking telecine or DI yet. An HD telecine can cost anywhere from $275 to $500(or more) per hour. And the general rule of thumb is you take how many minutes of footage you and multiply that by 3 and that's how long the telecine will take. For example: 20,000' will be about 10 hours of telecine time.

Also, in terms of the actual camera, what are some major factors in choosing one, as most are around the same price and seem to offer similar features? I won't be needing any sound recording capabilities, since I'll have dual system audio. If you are going to stay on a 180 degree shutter and shoot 24fps forward, the camera is really just a light tight box with a lens. Yes an Arricam, is great but a 535 or BL4 will do the job just fine. If you still can;t choose go to the rental house you're going to use and ask them to show you each camera and 'test drive' it, see which one you like better/

I will not have enough money to shoot tests, and I will not be doing any special processing since I can't take any chances. For picking what stock to use, I'm just going to do a lot of research, watch a lot of movies similar to the style we're going for and taking note of the stocks used, then make my decision based on that since again, I cannot afford to be renting a camera and spending money on reels of film on days we aren't shooting for the movie.

The last question is about lenses. The only cine lenses I've used are Zeiss Super Speeds. I believe they were either Mark I or Mark II... they were Distagons with triangular aperatures. I didn't like them much as they were far too soft almost like a ProMist was in front of the lenses, and they just didn't have a sharp look. However, they were rentals and could have been just a bad set. What's the best way to test lenses and make a selection? Will the rental houses spend time doing lens tests with me at the rental shop so I can make a decision or how does that work? Oh and I'm wanting to go with anamorphics since it's the look the director and I want (its going to be a sci-fi).Anamorphics are going to be really expensive. Cooke S4's and Master Primes are very good and a heck of a lot cheaper. Again ask the rental house if they can help you choose which set of lenses you want. Also, I'd wait to actually win the thing before going to the rental houses and telling them you have a budget and that you are shooting. If you want to go in before you get the news, I would pose it as a "hey I'm starting to shoot shorts and I'd love to shoot on 35 before it's gone. Id there any time that I could stop by and have someone show me some 35mm cameras and why I should choose X lens over Y lens?"

I may be asking a lot, but like I said, I'm planning as far in advance as I can so I feel completely confident that the shoot will turn out exactly as I hope. Also maybe this thread can be a place for all first time film shooters to learn what to plan for, do's, don'ts, etc etc, of shooting on film. Thanks everyone!


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#10 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 10:20 AM

It gets better. Short ends. They start at 200' lengths. They roll like 400 footers do in a 4-perf camera. You can get them easily for $0.10 per foot. For your grade of production snip tested rolls would be better. They will only add a couple cents per foot and give you confidence that you're not shooting chancy stock. One of our posters, Bruce Taylor can rent you good cameras. Arri and Panavision have 2-perf movements for rent. Abel Cine Tech can rent you an Aaton Penelope.



Do those short end/recan places really have more than 20,000' of 35 on hand all the time?
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 March 2010 - 10:36 AM

Do those short end/recan places really have more than 20,000' of 35 on hand all the time?


My last deal was 24,000 feet. That's all I can account for on that. Both inventory and price are all luck in the draw and negotiating skills. I promised to not even drop clues on who I bought from. But I got 10, 1,000' recans, 8, 860+ cans and a smattering of the rest down to 200's, all for $0.10 per foot. If you catch them when things are falling their way, you pay their standard rates. But if you luck out and things are running lean, they're loaded with stock and you've got haggling skill... "Such a business, Dahling!"
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#12 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 02:51 AM

Thank you all for your replies! David, I've actually read that entire article about the Zeiss Super Speeds. You can actually see the short I shot with those lenses on the Red camera at www.thedoorpost.com/hope/retrograde. Overall, I was very happy with the look of the film, but the softness of the lenses was an issue for me a bit and I wish I'd have spent more time testing them to know exactly how they looked across all f/stops. I understand I may be being a bit too ambitious with the allotted budget, but that's why I'm getting ideas together this early.

Micheal, thank you for that breakdown of costs, it is starting to look a bit out of reach for now, I just have to find out how much of a deal I can get on the stocks at my work. Although, after processing, it will be free from there on out. I will be able to do all the scanning, DI and color correction for free. I know I'm jumping the gun early, but our script is very ambitious and I need to start at least putting it together in my head before we ever get selected. I want to be almost ready to walk in and just say, "I need this, this this and this" the day we are selected (if that happens) - especially so I'll know if our script can work (and on 35mm) on our allotted budget.

Anyway, I'll probably go take a look and start browsing around at rental shops, and if the whole anamorphic thing doesn't work I'm still dying to shoot on S4s, and I'd be happy with that. If anyone has film equipment or access to it, please let me know and we'll talk if things go well for us. I'm extremely set on shooting film, no matter what format we end up using.

Just hypothetically, knowing after processing the stock, the rest will be free, would it just be ridiculous to try to budget film stock and equipment for a 4 day shoot (22-25min film) at $15,000 or less (assuming we're planning to get about 7:1 shooting ratio)?
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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 02:57 AM

For a 20-25min short (4 day shoot), I was thinking I will need between 13-16 reels of 1000' stock. Is this a good estimate? And how much should I factor in for the cost of stock and processing? (Scanning and DI color correction will be free for me through my work, fortunately and I will get a partial discount on the stock if I order through my company)

Be aware that 400' of 35mm is about 4 minutes of footage in 4-perf. 1000' would be about 10 minutes. Figure that for a 25 page script (i.e. a 25 minute film), you would want at the very least a 5:1 shooting ratio.

That's 5x25=125 minutes of film - 125/4=(32) 400' rolls of 35mm. And 5:1 is cutting it very, very close. If you have a lot of dialogue or hi-speed shots you will want to go at least 7:1, 7x25=175 minutes. 175/4=(44) 400' rolls. Last time I looked, a 400' roll of 35mm (Kodak) was around $260. You may be able to get a deal from Kodak or Fuji, in which case stock would be cheaper.

5:1 is $260/400' roll x 32 rolls=$8,320 just for stock, no processing or telecine. 7:1 is $260/roll x 44=$11,440.

Processing @ $0.08/ft from Deluxe x (32x400') 12,800' of 35mm= $1,024.
$0.08/ft x (44x400') 17,600' of 35mm=$1,408.

So for 35mm 4-perf:
5:1 ratio
$8,320 stock
$1,024 processing
$0 telecine
$9,344 total.

7:1 ratio
$11,440 stock
$1,408 processing
$0 telecine
12,848 total.

I know that some will say 5:1 and even 7:1 is way too low. All I can say is that in my limited experience, on the very low-budget shorts I have shot, that is about what I usually end up with. The last Super 16 short that I shot a few months ago was 5.5:1 (22 pages, 4 day shoot). That was with one 2-camera day and some limited overcranking. We only shot the angles we needed and averaged 2-3 takes. We had one long dialogue scene where we did about 8 takes. I think we ended up selling back about 15 rolls (we overbought due to emergency, long story). On 35mm, I would expect to use a bit more than on Super 16, due to more frequent reloads and waste. If your actors are well-rehearsed and you have a crack camera team, 5:1 is possible.

... in terms of the actual camera, what are some major factors in choosing one, as most are around the same price and seem to offer similar features? I won't be needing any sound recording capabilities, since I'll have dual system audio.

There are no modern film cameras or stock with sound recording capability. Factors: how heavy of a camera can you deal with? Is there a lot of handheld? Do you need to shoot above 40-48fps? Which lenses do you want to use? In general, the older, cheaper cameras to rent like the Panavision GII and Arri BL4 are much heavier than the newer cameras. Sync sound cameras generally do not run faster than 48fps, some are slower. Panavision cameras use Panavision lenses, Arri, Aaton, and Moviecam cameras use PL lenses.

I will not have enough money to shoot tests...

Not a very good idea if you are not at least somewhat familiar with the characteristics of the film stocks and lenses that are out there. But if you can't afford it, you can't afford it.

The last question is about lenses. What's the best way to test lenses and make a selection? Will the rental houses spend time doing lens tests with me at the rental shop so I can make a decision or how does that work? Oh and I'm wanting to go with anamorphics since it's the look the director and I want (its going to be a sci-fi).

Shoot tests at the rental house. Clairmont Camera has some relatively cheap anamorphic lenses available for rent, but they are older and vary widely in quality, so you should test every one to find a set that works for you. There are also Russian Lomo anamorphic lenses floating around out there, don't know who has them though. Anamorphic requires shooting 4-perf, make sure the rental house sets you up with the proper groundglass and all that.
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#14 Cody Cuellar

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:54 AM

Thank you for such an in depth response Satsuki! Sounds like I have a lot of homework to do, and friends to make at the rental houses! Obviously if I decide on a special processing, I'll have to do some tests, maybe on tail ends - but if I plan on shooting with no special processing, what else other than lens testing would I benefit from spending extra money on the tests? I know a lot of factors play on the look we are going for, but I'm just trying to get my mindset out of the digital world and into the film world, and I'm not entirely sure what else I would need the tests for other than lenses or special processing.
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#15 Jeremy M Lundborg

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 08:37 PM

If money is as tight as you say it is, probably 4-perf anamorphic is a bit of a luxury unless you plan on a low shooting ratio to compensate. Otherwise, I'd be looking into 3-perf if a D.I. is guaranteed (the advantage of 4-perf anamorphic is that a D.I. is not necessary). 2-perf is a bit rare and hard to find still.



Are S35 pictures shot straight 4-perf? Seems like a waste of negative space but maybe I'm missing some advantage.

David, you also ask about a DI being guaranteed or not. Do you feel it is required for 3-perf? What about smaller productions that cannot afford a DI?
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#16 Brian Rose

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:28 PM

Why not look at S16? Blows up great to 35, and Vantage has a new line of anamorphics so you could shoot 2.39 without cropping. Aaronofsky loves em (used them for "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan").

BR
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#17 Will Montgomery

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:29 AM

Seems that you should decide on an aspect ratio first then let that drive your camera selection. 3-perf might be perfect to save a little money and give you the maximum negative space. As David said, anamorphic shoot might be a little over-reaching based on your budget, time and experience.

As far as 2-perf being half the sharpness of 4 perf; that would only be true if you shot anamorphic or wanted a 4:3 ratio for your film. If you crop all the way down to the techniscope ratio anyway it's the same thing just without the wasted negative (and of course the ability to reframe in DI.)

Let us know how it goes.
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#18 linda difranco

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:56 PM

It gets better. Short ends. They start at 200' lengths. They roll like 400 footers do in a 4-perf camera. You can get them easily for $0.10 per foot. For your grade of production snip tested rolls would be better. They will only add a couple cents per foot and give you confidence that you're not shooting chancy stock. One of our posters, Bruce Taylor can rent you good cameras. Arri and Panavision have 2-perf movements for rent. Abel Cine Tech can rent you an Aaton Penelope.




Sounds good on paper.

But I will never ever ever ever ever use short ends again. Ever. Again.

Every time a roll was loaded... wwwrup... it was finished. Right in the middle of the take. Reloading took away so much time and the actors had to start from the top again, to get in the rhythm and we both were put in a bad mood. No more.

As god is my witness, I'll never go short ends again.




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