Maibaum Gears Up for Sons of Anarchy

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Fri, 02/12/2010 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

With the new season of Sons of Anarchy fast approaching cinematographer Paul Maibaum is starting to gear up for another round of the hit FX Network series. “Sons of Anarchy is a drama about the lives and inner workings of a Hell’s Angels-type motorcycle club based in the fictitious town of Charming somewhere in Central California ” he says. “Each episode is shot in seven days that’s one day shy of the norm for a one-hour episodic drama. Therefore we have to work very fast and smart to get the work done in the allotted time. There is a certain improvisational style to the way we shoot the series. The actors often come up with their own staging for a scene and in many cases do something subtlety different in each take.” At the top of Maibaum gear list are OConnor fluid heads. While much of the cinematography on this series is hand-held during long scenes shot with lenses of 100mm or greater Maibaum’s operators find it difficult to maintain the proper steadiness for a handheld-look take after take. “That’s where the OConnor head comes in handy ” he says. “We mount the camera(s) on the 2575 and let the operators add some ‘float’ to the shot. In other words they create the feeling that the shot is hand-held by gently panning and tilting the head in small increments in a random manner. By adjusting the drag this way it gives them the exact amount they need to duplicate the ‘edginess’ that we are looking for when the camera is in hand-held operation. “During the past season there were several episodes where much of the action followed the members of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original as they traveled on their Harleys ” Maibaum says. “We employed a ‘camera bike’ a motorcycle with a steel platform much like a sidecar where one or sometimes two cameras can be mounted and operated in order to move with the cast on their motorcycles. Often we use very long lenses to capture the action off the back of this rig. And the OConnor 2575 heads make the perfect platform to mount the large Panavision Genesis cameras on to insure that we will get the shot.” “For us OConnor heads are one of the most trusted tools in our package ” he says. “The tension and fluid drag can be set within a wide set of parameters very easily. The head can be tipped just about straight down and once the balance is properly set it remains securely there. The weight of the camera has little to do with the performance of the head. In other words one can utilize cameras from the smallest and lightest to the biggest and heaviest. I would never do a show without a fluid head. And my personal choice is the OConnor 2575.” Photo Tony Anderson