Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stills from Dan Norton's short,"Proverbs 31"

So, the film negative came back from the lab and Dan put together the first pass of the rough cut. I have to admit, I was worried about a lot, considering it was officially my first time DPing a 16mm short. Not only that but it was sort of shot in a rush so we were worried how it would cut together.

Today I went to a screening for Dan's production class at SVA. I have to admit I'm very surprised and impressed with the way it came out. Check out these still frames from the rough cut. I should be posting the final cut with in a week or two, depending on Dan's busy schedule since he's the editor.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My first 16mm Shoot as DP

Over this past weekend, I shot an experimental, black and white 16mm film in Brooklyn with my close friend Dan Norton. Dan and I graduated from The Art Institute together and he's currently studying at the film at the School of Visual Arts. This project is for his final in production class and we shot it in his grandmother's basement. The concept was his idea, and we ended up co-writing/directing the piece. I was the DP for the film. We made up the entire crew so you can only imagine the challenges!

Dan came to me with references from the film Napoleon. I wasn't able to find clips of the film to post but I will see if Dan can provide me with some. I forgot when the film was made but it came out in the early 1900's and was one of the first films to try what is now wide screen. They positioned three cameras side by side and recorded footage simultaneously. The images from each camera were synced together and scaled down to fit all 3 into a projection without distorting the image or stretching it out. Sometimes the film would display three different shots on the screen at once.

We ended up checking out an Arriflex 16BL from SVA's production house. This camera is very old, made in West Germany in the 1960's, so it was quite an experience. Dan wanted to get an Arriflex SR but they were all reserved. The button to roll the camera was slightly broken so we had to hold it down in order to get a successful take all the way through, otherwise it would stop rolling at random times. I must admit, I was a bit paranoid about loading both the feed and take of the magazine in the tent but it was a lot easier than I thought. On the SR models, the feed and take are on two different sides of the magazine. The feed side must always be done in the tent but the take side can usually be done in the light if it has it's own side on the mag with it's own door.

Loading the mag in the changing tent

Threading the film to the registration pin and pull-down claw

Dan wanted to go for a similar editing style with this experimental film. The only difference is we didn't have three cameras. We had a black back drop to work with and a small Mole Richardson light kit which consisted of three 650W fresnels. Not much, but we figured out a system that would work (at least we hope).

Adjusting the mole light. Creating fill by bouncing from the white ceiling.

1) In the edit there will be three images on the screen.

2) The main character goes through the story in her own form of dance which will show mood and conflict.

3) She will always be traveling from screen right to screen left. This gives it a 2D feel.

4) She will pass through each image as if they were one entire image so when she leaves the frame of one image, she enters another.

5) Each image will be slightly different, either in the main props or the lighting.

Scene 1 in a forest of lights

It was a pretty short day although it was longer than we thought. We sort of thought up the concept on the fly. At the same time our actress became ill during the shoot which slowed things down dramatically but she was great and stuck it through like a champ!

My only concerns, considering that this is my first time working with 16mm film, is that it's all correctly exposed. I've been studying my ass off and reading all sorts of content on working with film. I hate to admit it but I'm a bit spoiled from working with digital since i could make a mistake and see it right away if I could correct the issue. I will know how the footage looks in 10 days once Dan picks up the film from the lab. The film should be complete before January and I will hopefully be able to post it ASAP.