Over the weekend, I shot a short film with a good friend from film school, Michael Sokey. The last time we shot a short was 15 years ago in school. It was great working together again and it was also really interesting to note the differences in the shooting style of the previous shoot to this one. We shot the last film on Super 16mm black and white film with a crew of maybe a dozen; this time, we shot on a DSLR with just him and me for crew. It’s amazing how technology has changed—allowing us to capture infinitely better photography 15 years later. Maybe 15 more years of experience had some part in it that, as well ;) I was intending to shoot this project on my 5D but it got damaged earlier in the week so I had to send it to get repaired. There was zero budget so renting another 5D was out of the question. Michael did have a T2i, though, so we shot it on that instead. I was a bit saddened by that because I love the images I get from my 5D and the idea of shooting it on a Rebel was …
I’m currently in Philadelphia working on a documentary project where Rembrandt’s work holds an important role in the storyline. We thought it would be a good idea to move a little away from how we’ve been normally shooting talking-head interviews and try to go for a more… Rembrandt feel. Now, “Rembrandt lighting” is a pretty standard and classic lighting approach when it comes to lighting people but I tend to always light from the opposite side of the face that the camera is favoring. As I studied Rembrandt’s portraits more closely, I noticed that he almost always lights his subjects from the same side as the viewer (er… camera?). So it was a bit of a change for me, but that’s what is called for. I also tend to use a varying amount of back light or edge light on my interviews, but again, Rembrandt almost always has a lack of this. His backgrounds are also very often a nondescript texture rather than a specific location or domestic backdrop. His paintings tend to lean towards the warm side of the palette as well.
A couple of weeks ago I got to shoot a music video for a super talented up-and-coming artist, Nik Day. My friend, Tucker Dansie, directed. I had agreed (insisted) to shoot the video for him and then looked up Nik Day online and became an instant fan of his music. I became really excited to work with them on this project after that.
Last week I had an opportunity to shoot an infomercial for a good friend of mine who I’d never been able to collaborate with before until now. We were shooting some scenes in a domestic environment where the product could be used. About halfway through the first day of the shoot he said to me, “Does this whole thing look too… cinematic?” I retorted, “Is that a problem?” (playful sarcasm runs deeply in our relationship). I suppose I could’ve made it look like an infomercial, but where’s the fun in that? We decided to keep going with it.
It’s always interesting to look at a photograph or a scene in a movie and then look beyond the frame that’s been given. What you see is usually surrounded by a bunch of junk—equipment needed to make the image look the way it does. Take a look at these two shots from today, followed by a corresponding image taken from my camera phone while I was shooting. Yeah, yeah, I know.
Saturday, we were shooting on a road out in the boonies that the producer found where we could shoot a scene that was a bit more complicated than any other scene in the movie. He told us that “nobody EVER comes out here.” Well, maybe on any day except this one. Hahaha. It still makes me laugh as I’m writing this. To his defense, there’s no way he could’ve known—at least in the timetable we had to find a location and shoot. So after finally finding the location, we did a quick scout of the road. Three or four trucks drove by in our two minutes out on the road. As the rest of the crew showed up, we figured all would be well—a couple of passers by we could deal with. While we’re setting up the camera rig on the pickup truck, a couple of random cars came by into the parking lot we had setup as base camp (it was an old military camp cemetery). Okay, no big deal. We think, “Nobody ever comes out here, huh?” Little chuckles.
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