Big budgets, big lights, amazing cameras and gourmet food don't mean SHIT if you're surrounded by people with big egos who don't really seem to be phased about the film we're all working so hard to make. "Let's work as a team and do it my way" can sometimes be the underlying tone of a film-set that pushes me to new levels of tolerance and ultimately leaves me feeling like time has been wasted. Thankfully, this shoot was nothing like that. We've almost finished shooting the pilot for a new Australian TV series "Make or Break" Written and Directed by Thomas Petrakos (A mega friendly and talented bloke). I know I've written about this before, but I continuously find myself happier and more in-line with what I want to do in life when I surround myself with friendly, passionate people who are also striving to do their absolute best and contribute to the art of Film Making, as a TEAM, which is exactly the sort of "setlife" I experienced on Make or Break.
"Setlife", frequently hash-tagged on Instagram and Twitter, often shows the glamorous side of the life we film-makers would all like to be living. The exclusivity of being part of a film crew, working with stars and people of note, closing down roads and temporarily shutting down businesses, breaking for meals and eating together like family, marching around with special passes that access restricted areas, playing with guns and blowing up cars, after-parties and red carpets...it's all very intoxicating and exciting. But, there's often another side of "setlife" that isn't so glamorous. For example, imagine working with people from all walks of life who all have different opinions about how things should be done, working with little sleep (sometimes 16 hour days) when sometimes, open and clear communication just simply cannot be achieved, placing everyone under pressure so great that it feels like the world may come to an end (a little dramatic I know). This sort of environment often brings out the worst in people, including me. BUT! With the right people, it can also draw the crew together, turn the cogs of collaboration and result in such a rewarding, fulfilling experience that makes all the struggles worth while. That, is worthy of the #setlife hash-tag. That, is what it's all about! Pulling together, working together and being respectful along the way. Big budgets, big lights, amazing cameras, gourmet food AND a crew of people who work as a team communicating openly and clearly, all pushing their own limits of greatness and creativity to reach a common goal. Does such a world exist? You bet! And I can't wait to be part of it :)
ANYWAY! Russell Brand's book REVOLUTION is starting to rub off on me....better get back to the blog ;)
The time we had to light this film was scarce, but Tom and 1st AD, Andrew Cruickshank DID let me push the boundaries of schedule and I was able to, by the 5th and last take, tweak my lighting to a level of comfort (I'm rarely happy with my lighting...I could tweak and tweak for hours if I had the time). In fact, the little amount of time we did have was used efficiently thanks to the awesome gaffing team I had with me, Glen Cook and PiDicus Rex :) While I'm mentioning crew, I shouldn't and can't forget my amazing camera crew, Kate Tartsus (1st AC) and Jessa Rose (2nd AC/Data Wrangler). You guys are amazing :)
Although the film is still in production, Tom has been kind enough to let me share with you a couple of grabs from the film, before it's actual public campaign begins (one moving shot from the cafe too! Thanks mate :)
We didn't have the budget for a truck full of lights, so we hired a a few HMI's (575w and 1.2K) and backed that up with my small tungsten kit and a couple of LEDs. Granted, I'd wish (all three) for a massive truck(s) full of the biggest, brightest lights money can buy, along with all the modifiers and gels too, but you certainly don't NEED that stuff, right? It just makes things easier, and I guess, would give you more choices. I've actually never used anything brighter than a 2.5K HMI...so maybe I'm talking out of my ass. I do find myself wanting larger sources the more I shoot though, I guess I'll have to wait for those "big budget" films before I continue writing like I've been there hehe ;)
Anyway, lighting aside, this was the first film that I have ever used Pro-Mist filters. Basically, a Pro-Mist filter is a piece of 4x4 glass this sits in front of the lens, lessens contrast, rolls off highlights and depending on the strength you chose, soaks your image with a soft, pleasing, but barely noticeable glow, WITHOUT reducing sharpness or detail. Recently, I was lucky enough to visit, in person the "B&H Photo and Video" super store, in New York. Here, I spent a good deal of cash on a few pieces of this magical glass and I'm absolutely loving what they do to my highlights. While 1/8th was basically in the matte-box the whole time, I'd sometimes jump for the thicker, denser 1/4 or in some cases, the 1/2 Pro-Mist. When a light source is in frame, it just blooms and cries with beauty...sometimes a little much, but man, I'm loving the varying degrees of halation these filters offer.
As the film progresses through production and eventually into post, I'll be updating the blog with additional lighting setups from this shoot and talking more about blocking and set design. Thanks Thomas Petrakos for letting me share a couple of frames with the film making community!
If you're interested in learning more about how I light my films (I'm still learning) be sure to check out the LIGHTING section at the top of the page. Here, you'll find other breakdowns from films I've shot and lit in my short career. Thanks for visiting! #goodpeople
Click on the image above to learn more about how I lit this shot at the LIGHTING section of my website.