CORRUPTION: Starring Olympia Valance & Maurice Mammoliti
If you've been following the blog you're probably sick of seeing these two and hearing about "Corruption", my first director/DP/art film, showreel piece. Well, to be honest, I've spent so fricken long with this project now that even I'm sick of it hehe ;) But I'm so glad it's done and I'm really happy with the end result. I have this thing in my life where I'll get 90% of the way there and just quit right before things are finished (personally speaking of course, I wouldn't do that on your film!).
The whole idea of Corruption came about when Grass Valley (the guys behind EDIUS) approached me and asked if I would create some 4K content for them. So, instead of taking a girl to the beach and filming her playing the violin or getting macro shots of flowers, I suggested that I take it the next level and create a sort-of-film/commercial/epic 1.5 mintute short film. As a cinematographer, I cannot open my eyes and NOT think about lighting or shots. It's something that I have practiced for most of my life, even before I ever had a camera. To me, it's about looking for beauty in everything you see, because it's there, it just needs your attention. On top of that, when my eyes are closed I'm imagining shots...with guns, slow motion, drama and I explore ideas that relate to who I am and what I believe in.....but yeah, I think you get the idea. I'm very visual. ANYWAY! So after putting a few ideas on the table, we settled on a "perfume style commercial", with a cinematic feel. I was given complete creative freedom to come up with whatever I liked. So, it was time get inspired.
I started researching perfume commercials through YouTube and really loved THIS ONE, Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, starring Blake Lively, for Gucci. The colors, music, 50p-slow-motion and camera movement were all very appealing to me, but how was I going to achieve anything like that? Especially when my budget was barely enough cover pizza for three days, a tiny wage for my crew and enough cash to pay for one location. It was going to be a huge challenge, but I was determined to make it work. Also, the Blake Lively commercial inspired the hell out of me! I just loved it. I've been trying to find out who shot it to give them a shout out, anyone?
So the inspiration was there, but now it was time to actually come up with a short story. I'm not a writer...no way. I'm used to people coming at me with ideas of which I'll get lost in and create more from, but coming up with something from scratch and being responsible for telling it is something very new to me. The cool thing was that there wasn't a lot of pressure to tell a compelling story - it was more about cool shots :) Knowing that, I jumped right in and had a go...here's what I came up with:
Corruption is a short film about a detective who is working tirelessly to solve his biggest case. Michael is struggling to focus clearly and put the last pieces of this complex puzzle together. Loretta Fox, his sexy and confident new love interest is constantly on his mind, clouding his thoughts and distorting his judgment. When lust and persuasion take hold, does murder become forgivable?
So, the final piece marginally rests on this idea, but I'm not quite sure how complex the puzzle is when Michael ends up finding her perfume bottle sitting at the scene of the crime hehe ;) The point is though, it was fun and turns out, I want to do it again. Since completing this piece I've conjured up a some super crazy ideas. One of them is to create a trailer for a film that doesn't exist yet. It involves a car chase, crazy stunts where a guy flies through the air horizontally, smashing through a bus-stop firing his gun towards camera, in slow motion, AND a cool twist. More on that later, but it WILL happen.
Writing aside, the most challenging thing about all of this, was without a doubt, finding and securing suitable locations. I was very clear about what I wanted visually, but actually finding that was another story, especially when you don't have thousands of dollars to flash around. In the end, we shot in a total of five locations over four long days. The main compromise was that we couldn't secure anywhere with city views at night (basically very similar to the Gucci commercial), had trouble with power and creating rain and also being allowed to shoot at all hours of the night.
LOCATION 1: (requirements: Expensive looking hotel room, warm tones, no white walls)