When Stefan Ruzowitzky and I sat down to talk about the look and feel of this film he immediately showed me these Todd Hido shots. They blew my mind! I loved the feel – the light was so interactive with the landscape. I love the blackness that surrounds the light, which was the perfect analogy for our main character Addison. Together, we set out on a mission to deliver this and so far the film looks amazing.
We finished our first week and WOW!!! What a ride so far. We shot a high speed snowmobile chase with Eric Bana up in the hills of northern Quebec called Sacacomie – it is an absolutely beautiful location. Elite team Mike Svitak was brought in to rock out all the 5D footage. He has been shooting plates for all the poorman’s process that will be in the film as well as hangin’ with the action unit as a human clamp on camera to ski-doos. Poorman’s process is where you put your actors in the picture car on stage, surround them with green screen and you key in all the plate footage that Mikey shot at dusk for dawn. Mikey took the Canons to the edge with delivering 1250 ISO, driving while the twilight lingered and one word described what he shot. STUNNING!!!
We also landed a town car, a snowmobile and a tire on a 5D in our signature Pelican Case crash cam. The last one we sacrificed was just a stripper, which is just the 5D and a lens. The town car comes down the road and whips a 360 degree turn, which slides right over the top of the 5D. At least that was the plan. We blasted that baby three consecutive times till it finally died. Off to CPS. Thanks Chris Canada. One is on its way.
Charlie Hunnam rocked out his first scene on day two in a cool boxing gym. Day three, we shot with Kate Mara and Treat Williams. Amazing cast on this film. The director Stefan and I are getting along very well and loving the performances. He is an incredible director, LOVE his energy, instincts and execution. Last night before shooting the night scene with Treat Williams, we shot the opening of the movie which was shot at dusk for dawn. I have come up with a wonderful recipe for shooting at dusk. I am shooting with Kodak stock 5207, which is designed to take colors in the spectrum and bring them closer together. Why shoot a stock like this at dusk or dawn? I find that the color temperature during this time period goes incredibly blue, which I do not like. I like a more subtle cyan blue tone for dawn, and I always see them more greenish blue. With this particular film stock, the hyper blue that you get will be more balanced and not as cobalt blue as it seems to the eye. I under-expose the film 1.5 stops and push it one stop as well. This little cocktail looks amazing and gives you that silky feel that I see when I have to squint to see while driving just before night.
Many of you asked to see my lighting list for this film so I would like to share some of this information with you. As a cinematographer, your biggest asset is your pre-rigs. Thinking through the lighting of each location and passing that information on to your Gaffer and Rigging Gaffer so that they can prepare this before you show up is paramount. Inspiration on the day is always still possible but at least you have the building blocks in place to get you up quickly.
When we went into the boxing gym, for example, I wanted 4-18k’s, blowing through the windows. Now that would have required condors, scissor lifts, etc., along with many more men and women to operate these lights so I opted to hide the lights inside the large space. We had two walls that we could hide them behind but my critical light was in the open. Paul D. Austerberry, our Production Designer, had the idea to hang a banner in the middle of the mat area so that I could hide our 4th 18K.
The pre-rig crew came in at 9pm the night before to cable the place and rig the lights in the gym, boxing ring, and trainer’s office. Once call time hit and we blocked with the actors, my gaffer who did “The Greatest Game Ever Played” with me, John Lewin, did a beautiful job as a lighting artist. He and his exceptional crew had us up and running in an hour and a half after call. They ROCKED it out!!! Without his rigging gaffer Peter Mathys and the rest of his amazing hard working crew, this could never have happened.
Now on the grip side is Michel Periard. Two words describe this man: SOLID IRON. Michel and his talented crew, along with his best boy Paul Tremblay, rigging GIZMODO Kenneth MacKenzie have been helping me rig Canon 5D’s to snowmobiles for high speed action. They have helped to control the natural light and deliver breathtaking 50′ Technocrane shots in incredibly hard to reach locations. His rigging grip Mario Roussy and his phenomenal crew have been a huge part of why they have been able to do this so effortlessly.
The Main Lighting Package stays on the truck and moves from location to location with all the specialty lights that are needed to light the scene and assist the drop loads that have already been rigged.
The drop loads are lighting and grip lists that pre-rig the location before we land. These lights are on a weekly basis with rigging, shooting and then de-rigging. The main lighting package will be for the whole duration of the film and the drop loads for each location.
An essential part of a cinematographer’s job is getting together these lighting and grip lists as well as working with your crew to streamline the packages. We were a little over budget in lighting so I sat all of the department heads down and we went through the whole schedule, specifically what was required at each location. We quickly realized that we had some man days overlapping and could reduce some labor costs as well as cut some lighting to help us into the budgetary box. You have to be accurate with this and frugal at the same time to maximize your budget.
Next week I will go into the camera breakdown for the whole film and how organization plays a big part on how much you can put on the BIG SCREEN.