Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shooting a Short Film. African Style.

Day 1 - Location Scouting

I landed in Lilongwe, Malawi today after a two day journey via Amsterdam and Nairobi. The rest of the crew had flown in from Europe the day before and were all rested up and ready to go.  After dropping my luggage and equipment off at the house rented for myself and some other crew members,

I grabbed my new 5D mkIII, hopped in a tiny blue Toyota hatch back and took off for an afternoon of delirious jet lagged location scouting in the stunning African country side.  I've had some experience in recent years shooting on the African continent and as a director of photography I always look forward to the ease at which I am able to fill a frame with interesting textures and subject matter. Back home in North America it would take an extremely skilled art department to design, build and age sets like these.
The first location on our list was a fully functional school where we will be shooting outside, in the school yard, and inside class rooms. Can't wait to work out the logistics of keeping an entire school quite and out of our shots.  The school yard was stunning in the low afternoon light with the long shadows reaching out toward us and that signature red, iron rich, African soil which most likely doubles as a soccer pitch outside of school hours.

The moment I set foot inside one of the class rooms I fell in love.  The combination of the hard side light, dappled by the circular holes in the walls (windows) and the textures on the broken chalkboard is going to make this set really easy to light and shoot.

Next on the list was a small river bank where a few of the women characters go to wash clothes every morning, the house where our brother and sister lead characters live and a soccer pitch. I'm already thinking that early morning and late afternoon are going to be the ideal times to shoot most of these locations. I wouldn't complain about a daily siesta.

Tomorrow will be a full day of testing and then straight into it.  I brought a movi with me which I don't have any experience with.  I'll be sure to post photos and videos of this new piece of equipment as well.  Stay tuned...         

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Immortal Augustus Gladstone

When boingboing announced they were producing a film, as a long time reader, I knew if nothing else it would be original and quirky. "The Immortal Augustus Gladstone" is most definitely both of these things and much more.
From director Robyn Miller, Co-Creator of the Myst and Riven video games comes the story of Augustus Gladstone, a man who claims he is 150 years old. While squatting in an abandoned hotel, Augustus tells outrageous tales of befriending Andy Warhol, living with french counts and mingling with vampires.
If you ever played one of Miller's video games then you remember the incredible sound tracks that accompanied you on your journey through the addictingly immersive island worlds. If these games are any indication of what you can expect to accompany the visuals, a Miller produced sound track might be worth a listen on its own. Additional songs by Kasabian, VAST, Dinah Shore, Lucienne Boyer and Claire Costa.
What I find really interesting about this film, aside from the unique protagonist, is the distribution method they have gone with. In partnering with boingboing who, according to Quantcast, gets 2.5 million unique global visitors a day they have guaranteed the film a large and diverse audience. In addition, the film is not as you might expect, free to download. They have put a small price tag of $5.95 per download on it. What better way to support an independent film maker than by buying their film. I think its a really interesting and unique way to get your film seen and recoup the cost of making it. As nice as it is to win on the festival circuit and have your work recognized, unless you are picked up by a studio for distribution, there isn't much money to be made.

Here is one of the many trailers they have released. More trailers and behind the scenes clips can be seen on the films official blog here.


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Camera That Changed The World

Imagine trying to shoot a documentary, or any film for that matter, with a camera so heavy it required two men just to move it. This was reality pre 1960. It's hard for me to comprehend how far we've come in just 50 years. From massive cameras only the big studios could afford to own, to small HD DSLRs accessible to everyone. What other period in history has seen such huge leaps forward in technology and the culture of art in such a brief window of time?
This documentary chronicles the beginnings of the camera that changed it all. Its inventors had a very simple idea, if you could follow real people in their daily lives with a video camera, you could create “theater without actors". It's a must watch for all film makers. It really made me appreciate the technology I have at my finger tips today.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dimensions | A Short Film

This Experimental short film explores the concept of the dimensions we occupy through the brief, intense experience of two young people.
Inspired by the Baha'i Writings, the film asks us how deep are the bonds that tie? How tenuous are our emotional attachments and our motivations that drive our feelings of joy and grief? We want to spark ideas and discussion, not knowing where it may lead for each person, of whether loss is truly loss, permanence is truly permanent and whether the cords that are embedded in the fabric of our lives are, in fact, illimitable.
Saba Mazloum, who works as a camera operator and cinematographer in and around China, does an amazing job photographing these brilliant child actors.  His Chinese style marshal arts flavor makes a few cameo appearances along the way.  
After a year or so on the festival circuit it looks like Soul Pancake has picked it up as the online distributor.  


Written, Directed and Produced by Neysan Sobhani.  
Cinematography by Saba Mazloum.
Cast: Joshua R. & Maxwell O.