In Production

Test Pilots

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 15:20 -- James Mathers

The industry doesn’t do as many pilots as in years past, which is a shame, because they can be a valuable format for testing not just story ideas and actors but new technology. In my role covering new cinema technology for the Digital Cinema Society I am often offered gear to test and evaluate, everything from new lighting units and cameras to various digital cinema recorders. Since I need to keep busy earning my living as a director of photography, I honestly don’t have time to run scientific tests, so I prefer instead to use the gear in real world productions I’m hired to work on. You could call me a technology test pilot. I get a better sense of how these tools perform where the rubber hits the road, and it’s a good way to help out the productions I’m working on, pulling in items they might not otherwise be able to afford. The perfect opportunity to put many of these items through their paces came up recently when I was asked to shoot a feature length pilot for a new action/adventure show aimed at young adults entitled, Tribe of the Wild.

Rising to the Dark Challenge of Lighting a Horror Film

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 12:23 -- Nick Dager

Horror films have a certain style: cramped quarters, heat, now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t or did-you-really-see-it. Lighting for the suspense, and horror of the genre is always a particular challenge but one that cinematographer Steve Romano believes he handled nicely the indie feature The Girl, which was directed by Jennifer Blanc-Biehn.

AlphaDogs Gets the Details Right for Kennedy Documentary

Wed, 10/16/2013 - 13:16 -- Nick Dager

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” is by far one of the most recognizable quotes of the 20th century. Although it’s been 50 years since John F. Kennedy's assassination shocked the nation, he still remains one of the most memorable presidents of our time. In the documentary JFK: A President Betrayed, filmmakers Cory Taylor and Darin Nellis shed new light on the pressures Kennedy faced during his presidency at the height of the Cold War.

Run-and-Gun Shooting Style Adds Punch to Blunt Force

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 12:51 -- Nick Dager

When an action movie script on a tight budget included such challenges as close-ups of mixed martial arts fighting, a high-speed car chase shot from a low-flying helicopter, and low-light location scenes, director of photography, David E. West, knew the solution was to capture it all using a Canon Cinema EOS C300 digital cinema camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, and EF-Series lenses. Having used the EOS C300 camera on a previous assignment, West was enthusiastic about its portability and low-light advantages. He also owned an EOS 5D Mark II camera, and was a fan of Canon lenses both for photography and for shooting reality TV. West decided from the outset that the ambitious visuals needed for Blunt Force, a new film from director Daniel Zirilli, would make this an all-Canon project. Shot on location in Mississippi, the movie tells the story of an ex-soldier imprisoned and forced to be part of an Internet cage-fighting club.

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