Wrapping up weeks of prep for a pilot, turned feature + Webseries, Remnant-13 will begin shooting next Friday.
Remnant-13 is a zombie show, but instead of drawing from the existing literature, this show takes aim at showing the very initial causes and concerns of a single family. One of the reasons I signed onto the project was the fact that it wasn't a typical zombie show, and didn't play into that realm of standard tropes. Zombies will be seen, but the director has make huge leaps to stay very clear in vision, and decidedly away from the competition (in Atlanta...). Because of the focus on the family, and not reliant on interactions with 'monster of the week' storylines, I was very happy to shoot this show.
Originally poised as a television pilot, funding and distribution didn't come as expected, however the producers turned it around and now we are set to shoot a feature, and five 20-minute web specials that will contain material not available in the feature film. Interesting stuff.
The director and I sat down and watched the gamut of available zombie pictures, and the director said he wanted something very different, very pointed, "hyper-real", super sharp and visceral, even in the more tender moments. To that end, we tested a number of cameras and settings. Due to budget limitations, and because I felt the color was good enough, this project will use all Blackmagic cameras. Our lighting tests, ultimately with the directors blessing are decidedly old school - mostly hard lighting with a large tungsten package, a few HMI's, and little diffusion. Deep focus was the visual cue that the director sent my way, which I was very excited to do - I pulled up some Dougie Slocombe to show the director, when he jumped out of his chair and exclaimed "That's the look!"
The director wanted a more cinematic or cinema leaning television pilot, so we elected to shoot 1.85, however now that we are going theatrical, I feel there is no argument to be made. The producers are want to have the whole screen filled, so there was a bit of gentle coaxing between them and the director.
Our camera settings make most of our young/green crew raise an eyebrow: Shooting iso 400, native on the 4K sensors, and at a 45-degree shutter, with a working stop of T8. There are a few key bedroom scenes the director would like to go a bit washed out on, where I might open up the shutter as there isn't much movement and I don't have that many maxi brutes. In September we shot a teaser at night, in the rain, with one HMI and a few 650w and 150w fresnels. This is what really got the fire lit under everyone, and now we are ready to go!
I was trying to find the sharpest lens I could to exaggerate the look, but sadly the Leica R's were not available in time, so I am going with a mixture of XEEN primes, and Zeiss zooms. If the 21-100mm LWZ.3 actually arrives by next Friday, I'll use it. If not, then I have a backup Zeiss 28-80mm T2.9 waiting. And, since we're shooting a deep stops, I don't really have to worry about how fast they are (something else that confuses the crew)! The Zeiss isn't quite as sharp as I would like it, but I am hoping the perceived sharpness gained from the increased contrast, and hard lighting, will convince audience viewers that the picture is actually sharper than reality. I had good luck with the 2.5K Blackmagic tests we shot in September, and the hard lighting really adds to the feeling of sharpness. The only worrying thing is how much haze to add, as we have tested various amounts, and will be the real key to make all the lighting and sharpness play together. Not using any filtration on this show.
We are shooting in Bowling Green, Kentucky - with Red Star Pictures Louisville, The Camera Department Cincinnati, and Lensrentals Nashville providing the gear.
I'm not sure how much I'll be able to discuss during the production other than the basic technical details, however it does say in my contract that I am able to use still images, so I'll provide those as I am able.