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Monthly Archives: June 2011

True Grit is a 2010 American Western film written and directed by the  Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of  Charles Portis‘ 1968  novel of the same name, which was previously filmed in 1969 starring John Wayne. This version stars  Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn along with Matt Damon,  Josh Brolin, and  Barry Pepper.

 

Filming began in March 2010, and True Grit was officially released on December 22, 2010, in the US, after advance screenings earlier that month. The film opened the 61st Berlin International Film Festival on February 10, 2011.  It was nominated for ten Academy Awards: Best PictureBest DirectorBest Adapted ScreenplayBest Actor in a Leading Role (Jeff Bridges), Best Actress in a Supporting Role  (Hailee Steinfeld), Best Art DirectionBest Cinematography,  Best Costume DesignBest Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 7, 2011.

 

Plot

The film is narrated by the adult Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel), who explains that her father was murdered by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney  (Josh Brolin), when she was 14. Chaney made off with her father’s horse and his two California gold pieces.

While collecting her father’s body, the precocious 14-year old Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) queries the local sheriff about the search for Chaney. After being told that Chaney has fled into the Indian Territory and that the sherrif has no authority to track a fugitive there, she inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track him down. The sheriff gives three recommendations, and Mattie chooses to hire Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) because he is described as having “true grit.” The gruff, one-eyed Cogburn repeatedly rebuffs the girl’s attempts to talk with him. She offers him $50, but he doesn’t believe she has the money and refuses. She raises the money by aggressively horse-trading with Colonel Stonehill (Dakin Matthews), who did business with her father.

Meanwhile, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) arrives on the trail of Chaney. LaBoeuf has been pursuing him for several months for the murder of a state senator in Texas. After meeting Mattie, he proposes that he should team up with Cogburn, who knows the Choctaw terrain where Chaney is hiding while LaBoeuf knows how Chaney is most likely to behave, but Mattie refuses his offer.

After finally securing Cogburn’s services for $100, Mattie insists on meeting him the following morning to begin the search for Chaney. However, instead of meeting her, Cogburn leaves a note and a train ticket telling Mattie to go home while he apprehends Chaney.

Refused passage on the ferry that conveyed Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie swims her horse across the river. Cogburn reluctantly allows her to come, to LaBoeuf’s displeasure. The next day, she learns Cogburn and LaBoeuf have agreed to split the Texas reward on Chaney and return him to Texas, rather than to Arkansas, and Mattie accuses him of fraud. After a dispute, Cogburn ends his and LaBoeuf’s deal and the ranger leaves.

Later, while in pursuit of the “Lucky” Ned Pepper gang, with whom Chaney is supposedly traveling, the two meet a bush doctor who directs them to an empty dugout for shelter. They find two outlaws occupying the cabin, Quincey (Paul Rae) and Moon (Domhnall Gleeson), one of whom Cogburn knows to be a friend of Lucky Ned (Barry Pepper). As he questions them, Moon is fatally stabbed by Quincey, whom Cogburn then kills. Before he dies, Moon explains that Pepper and his gang were planning to return to the shack later that night.

LaBoeuf arrives at the shack ahead of the gang, but they arrive before he can be warned. Cogburn kills two members of the gang, as well as Pepper’s horse, but accidentally wounds LaBoeuf in the process. During the night and the next day, Cogburn drinks a great deal of whiskey and gets in an argument with LaBoeuf, who departs once more. The next morning, while getting water from a nearby river, Mattie encounters Chaney. She shoots him, but he survives. The pistol misfires as she tries to shoot him again, and he drags her back to Ned, who forces Cogburn to leave by threatening to kill her. Being short a horse, Ned leaves her with Chaney. Ned orders Chaney not to harm her or he will not get paid, and to take her to safety after his remount arrives.

Once alone, Chaney disobeys Ned and tries to kill Mattie. LaBoeuf appears and knocks Chaney out, explaining that when he heard the shots he rode back, and he and Cogburn devised a plan. They watch as Cogburn takes on the remaining members of Ned’s gang, killing two and mortally wounding Ned, before his horse is struck and falls, trapping Cogburn’s leg. Before Pepper can kill Cogburn, LaBoeuf shoots and kills Pepper from four hundred yards away, impressing Mattie with his ability as a marksman. Chaney comes to and attacks LaBoeuf, knocking him briefly senseless. Mattie seizes LaBoeuf’s rifle and shoots Chaney in the chest, knocking him over the edge of the cliff to his death. The recoil, however, knocks her into a deep pit. When she unwittingly disturbs a ball of rattlesnakes, she calls for help. Cogburn arrives, but she is bitten before he can get to her. Cogburn rides day and night to get Mattie to a doctor, carrying her on foot after Mattie’s horse dies of exhaustion.

Twenty-five years later, Mattie — now 40 and with only one arm, the result of an amputation necessitated by gangrene  from the snakebite — receives a note from Cogburn with a flyer enclosed, inviting her to meet him at the traveling Wild West show with which he is performing. When she arrives at the site, she learns that Cogburn has died three days earlier. She has his body moved into her family farm plot, and the film ends with her standing over his grave and reflecting on how people talk about her decision to move Cogburn, how she has never married, and how time catches up with everyone. She also states that she never heard from LaBoeuf again and that if he was still alive, she would be pleased to.

Adaptation and production

The project was rumored as far back as February 2008; however it was not confirmed until March 2009.

Ahead of shooting, Ethan Coen said that the film would be a more faithful adaptation of the novel than the 1969 version.

It’s partly a question of point-of-view. The book is entirely in the voice of the 14-year-old girl. That sort of tips the feeling of it over a certain way. I think [the book is] much funnier than the movie was so I think, unfortunately, they lost a lot of humour in both the situations and in her voice. It also ends differently than the movie did. You see the main character – the little girl – 25 years later when she’s an adult. Another way in which it’s a little bit different from the movie – and maybe this is just because of the time the movie was made – is that it’s a lot tougher and more violent than the movie reflects. Which is part of what’s interesting about it.

Mattie Ross “is a pill,” said Ethan Coen in a December 2010 interview, “but there is something deeply admirable about her in the book that we were drawn to,” including the PresbyterianProtestant ethic so strongly imbued in a 14-year-old girl. Joel Coen said that the brothers did not want to “mess around with what we thought was a very compelling story and character”. The film’s producer, Scott Rudin said that the Coens had taken a “formal, reverent approach” to the Western genre, with its emphasis on adventure and quest. “The patois of the characters, the love of language that permeates the whole film, makes it very much of a piece with their other films, but it is the least ironic in many regards”.

Open casting sessions were held in Texas in November 2009 for the role of Mattie Ross. The following month, Paramount Pictures announced a casting search for a 12- to 16-year-old girl, describing the character as a “simple, tough as nails young woman” whose “unusually steely nerves and straightforward manner are often surprising”. Steinfeld, then age 13, was selected for the role from a pool of 15,000 applicants. “It was, as you can probably imagine, the source of a lot of anxiety”, Ethan Coen told The New York Times. “We were aware if the kid doesn’t work, there’s no movie”.

The film was shot in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area in March and April 2010, as well as in Granger and Austin, Texas. The first trailer was released in September; a second trailer premiered with The Social Network.

True Grit is the first Coen brothers film to receive a PG-13 rating since 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty for “some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images.”

For the final segment of the film, a one-armed body double was needed for Elizabeth Marvel (who played the adult Mattie). After a nationwide call, the Coen brothers cast Ruth Morris – a 29-year-old social worker and student who was born without a left forearm. Morris has more screen time in the film than Marvel.

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In South Africa economics is directly determinant. The evolution, structure and ideological complications of South African cinema begin in the context of the history and social contradictions that developed as a result of the mining revolution. This revolution in South African economic history occurred following the discovery of diamonds and gold in the 1860s and 1880s in Kimberly and Johannesburg respectively. The effect of this discovery was the industrialization of the country through the mining industry, and it had consequences nationally and internationally. Internationally, it facilitated British national capital’s deeper penetration into the country, where British exploitative ventures continue today protected by conservative ideology.

Nationally, the effects of this historical event were even more profound. It made possible the accumulation of capital from the surplus extracted from labor, particularly black labor. It transformed the demographic composition of the country qualitatively and quantitatively, shifting the population from rural areas to the cities. In other words, the economic revolution impelled by mining created the context in which British imperialism, supported by other European imperialisms, cemented its stranglehold on the many strands of cultural formation which were then emerging. It altered the country’s cultural coordinates in immeasurable ways. Specifically in relation to film, music halls changed into cinema halls, thus making way for the penetration of a new film culture.

The first serious theoretical formulations of the ideology and philosophy of apartheid, which has had horrendous consequences on South African film culture, found expression in mining publications.  Apartheid ideology completely shaped the structure of South African films. From the moment of its emergence, South African cinema has been obsessed with the ideology of apartheid — not in opposition to it but rather attempting to imprint it on the historical imagination and consciousness of black people (Africans, Indians and so-called Coloureds). In contrast, South African cinema in exile has contested such an imposition of cultural hegemony.

Although films were shown on a permanent basis in the country from about 1909 on, the first film was shown in Johannesburg, Monday, May 11, 1896.  The cultural formation of the audiences for early films had been prepared for indirectly by the mining industry. The cinema audience in mining compounds consisted of two large groups: a black peasantry in the process of being proletarianized into mineworkers, and white agricultural workers in the process of being transformed into an industrial proletariat. Miners had previously been entertained through the musical hall art forms. Film now destroyed the previous art forms and colonized that cultural space. Many immigrants also constituted a large portion of the audience, especially Jews from Eastern Europe fleeing constant pogroms who had come to South Africa seeking fortunes in the mining industry. In the major towns, the emerging white middle class patronized film; some of their wealth came from the developing manufacturing industries, industries which were given impetus by the diversification of expanding mining capital. In other words, it was the mining industry which gave impetus to the development of film culture in South Africa.

The mining revolution also led to the outbreak of a modern imperialist war in Africa. It was modern in the sense that it was not over land and territory but rather over who controlled the State and industrialization processes. The Boer War of 1899-1901 between British imperial interests and Boer (Afrikaans) national interests provides the historical context in which perhaps for the first time South African propaganda films were made. Major British film companies (British Mutoscope and Biograph Co., R.W. Paul, and the Warwick Trading Company) and various other companies (Pathé, Gaumont, Gibbons, Edison and others) were at the center of this propaganda warfare. As Elizabeth Grottle Strebel, social historian of films, writes, the British film companies were merely interested in perpetuating “the myths and symbols of British imperialist iconography.” Two kinds of films were made during this imperialist war: raw documentary films and staged propaganda films. As Strebel continues, these anti-Boer propaganda films had the same preoccupations as those present at the birth of cinema: the realism of Lumière and the magic of Mélies.

The early, marked influence of propaganda filmmaking has had profound consequences for the development and history of film culture in South Africa. First, this is a particular form of the imperialist transplanting of film culture. That is, if we look at film as the battleground of iconographic representations and interests, we will see that until recently film production in South Africa was never considered an artistic creative act but rather as a propaganda instrument against what one perceived as one’s enemies. If in 1900, imperialist British film iconography depicted Afrikaner people and culture as the very essence of “barbarism,” from 1910 (the date of the political formation of present day South Africa), the very same Afrikaaner people, now to defend white state interests, have developed a complex film iconography at whose center Blacks (Africans, Indians and so-called Coloured) are depicted as demons. In other words, South African film iconography has a history constructed on lies and falsehood, not on authentic representations. Hegemonic film culture in South Africa is currently controlled by the Broederbond, an elite cultural organization whose intent is to perpetuate the hegemonic control of Afrikaans culture and the dominance of white nationalism.

Not surprisingly, the “national culture” is one of mediocrity. No film of outstanding quality has emerged from imposing the ideology of white supremacy on cinema. Interestingly and paradoxically, the two most important film features made in the history of South African cinema, were made by two U.S. film directors. (They will be referred to in a moment, for they represent the two opposed extremes apparent in South African film history. They both indicate clearly that the history of our film culture is Janus-faced.)

The second major factor in South African film history is the penetration of U.S. and British film companies from the very beginnings of a national film-viewing culture. The transformations in our film culture mentioned earlier were effected by many of these foreign companies. Between the closing phase of the Boor War in 1901 and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, mostly by British companies made many short films, especially documentaries. South Africa was still in many ways a British colony, though the provinces of Transvaal and Orange Free State had already become independent republics in the second half of the nineteenth century. At this moment, the British film company, Warwick Trading Company, dominated our film screen through production, distribution and exhibition. The first feature film in South Africa, THE GREAT KIMBERLEY DIAMOND ROBBERY, was made in 1910 by the Springbok Production Company.  The film’s tide indicates the importance of the mining revolution to the then developing historical imagination in our film culture.

In fact, historical imagination characterized the film which begins South African cinema: DE VOORTREKKERS/ WINNING A CONTINENT. This 1916 film was produced by a South-African-owned company, African Film Productions Limited, under the directorship of I.W. Schlesinger. The formation of this film company and the making of this film were shaped by the historical conditions of the First World War. During the war period, because of blockages and shortages, Hollywood’s dominance in supplying films to the world market was seriously affected. In Russia the war created the material and cultural conditions which facilitated the emergence of the cinema of Dziga Vertov, Pudovkin, Kuleshov and others, however much they drew their inspiration from the work of Griffith.

At a lower level of intellectual inspiration and cultural richness, the war ended the dominance of foreign film companies in South Africa. The market for films was expanding while the supply of films was contracting. This was the historical logic in founding companies like African Film Productions Limited and making blockbuster films like WINNING A CONTINENT. Unlike in Russia, which developed intellectual capital in the process of building socialism, in South Africa, as capitalism consolidated itself, the capitalist market itself needed an absence of originality in our historical imagination.

This poverty of historical imagination is in full display in WINNING A CONTINENT, which defines our (both black and white South Africans) cultural origins in cinema. The film reveals the shortage of intellectual capital then which continues to the present. The making of DE VOORTREKKERS/ WINNING A CONTINENT necessitated importing a U.S. film director, Harold Shaw, who earlier had worked for Edison. The film itself has been a subject of many essays. The racist iconography blighting this film was modeled on Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION. Whereas for the Russians what was fascinating about Griffith was his invention of a new film grammar and syntax, our white compatriots were most fascinated with his racist iconography. This iconography would poison the whole film culture in South Africa for approximately four decades (until another U.S. independent film director was to overturn the terms of its dominance). DE VOORTREKKERS articulates the complex structure of South African history in Manichean terms, a Manicheanism so characteristic of the philosophy and ideology of apartheid. It assumes an unending struggle between the forces of civilization (read, white South Africans) and the demons of barbarism (read, black South Africa). DE VOORTREKKERS reveals the fragmentation and distortion of South African history, even much more than it reveals British imperialist ideology or Afrikaanerdom.

This fragmentation of South African history corresponds to the fragmentation of our social reality, in class and racial terms. The ideology of apartheid dictated that there should be separate and distinct cinemas for the “different” public spheres in South Africa. In this way we have a cinema which can best be designated as apartheid black cinema. It was founded in 1920 on the suggestion of a U.S. pastor, Ray Phillips of the American Board of Missions.  Black apartheid cinema was originally directed at the African public sphere in the mining compounds; it had the intent of “sublimating criminal tendencies.” The Chamber of Mines and the Municipal Native Affairs Department took an interest in developing this kind of cinema. With time the apartheid government was to fund it extensively through various ministerial departments.

Apartheid black cinema is made by white South Africans (directors, cameramen, editors, etc.) on the basis of the dominant ideology of apartheid and fed to the black public sphere. With the passage of time, it has extended its diabolical tentacles from mining compounds to black urban areas and Bantustans (Homelands). While the production side has been absolutely controlled by whites, who reap enormous profits, the performers are usually Africans. Recently, Africans have also entered the production side. These films are usually made in the Zulu language. The specific aim of apartheid black cinema is to corrupt and demobilize the historical and political imagination of black people. Such a cinema reveals another way in which the ideology of apartheid has spelled mediocrity and disaster for South African cinema.

Parallel with this making of apartheid black cinema was the making of Afrikaans-language cinema. On the whole, the structure of films in this tradition, as Keyan Tomaselli has convincingly argued, depends on a dialectic of insider versus outsider. According to Tomaselli, the fact that the gold mining industry was dominated by British imperial interests against Afrikaaner national interests, the theme of xenophobia pervades this cinema. With time, xenophobia became projected against blacks. Originating in the economic sphere (white versus white), this xenophobia moved to the political plane (white against black), where it remains. In its essentials, xenophobia was part of the ideological shield of Afrikaanerdom (white nationalism).

In contrast, thirty years ago a film was shot secretly in South Africa which, with the passage of time, has prefigured what an authentic national cinema in our country could possibly be. COME BACK AFRICA, by the independent U.S. film director, Lionel Rogosin, is undoubtedly the highest achievement of film culture in South Africa. The film was banned in 1959. It was indeed a momentous occasion on May 1, 1988, when Rogosin’s film made its first public appearance in our troubled country.

Lionel Rogosin’s first film, ON THE BOWERY (1955) depicted New York City’s skid row. It made possible the emergence of the New American Cinema of Jonas Mekas, John Cassavettes, Fredrick Wiseman, and the consolidation of the British Free Cinema of John Schlesinger, Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz. One has only to consult Basil Wright’s superlative praise of Rogosin’s first film at its premiere, even comparing it to Dovzhenko and Dostoeyevsky, to understand what a momentous occasion its appearance was.[12] Its poetic intermixture of documentary and fiction was a culmination of Flaherty’s documentary tradition as well the beginnings of a lyrical experimental documentary form that was to find supreme expression in the work of Santiago Alvarez.

One of the things that makes COME BACK AFRICA one of the serious documents of our cultural history is that it is the last intellectual snapshot of a brilliant literary generation before its destruction in the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. In the film we encounter Bloke Modisane, Lewis Nkosi, Can Themba, Miriam Makeba and others. Lewis Nkosi, who wrote the script of COME BACK AFRICA with Lionel Rogosin and Bloke Modisane, and who acted in the film, was always aware of the film’s historic importance. In an article immediately following the film’s international premiere, Nkosi, one of Africa’s foremost literary critics, praised it in the following terms:

“The film is not great by any standard. There are too many technical weaknesses in the development of the story. However, with all these faults, the story emerges as a powerful document of social truth such as no other producer’s camera has unfolded in this country.”

On the linguistic plane, as much as in its historical projection of reality, the film displays its certainties and certitudes. Linguistically, the film employs three South African languages which are at the center of our historical and cultural experiences. Zulu is spoken by workers in the mining compound. Afrikaans is spoken by policemen arresting Africans. And English is spoken by African intellectuals in a shebeen and also by businessmen. In other words, the film projects the Zulu language as the language of class solidarity, the Afrikaans language as the language of coercion and repression, and the English language as the language of commerce and intellectual exchange. Though in a sense the film’s imaginative designations are simple, they nonetheless capture an element of historical truth. For example, iconographically, the film opens with a silhouetted scene of the mining compounds to which the miners are coming. This opening reveals Rosogin’s intuitive brilliance, for as the present essay has attempted to indicate, the mining revolution was at the center of the South African historical experience. In other words, the film opens on the question of labour and capital. It is the dialectic between the two which determines the structural working out of the film.

Still on the iconographic plane, COME BACK AFRICA uniquely displays a positive image of Africans on the screen from beginning to end. It does not offer a romanticization or distortion of black imagery but concretizes Black cultural forms. From the first appearance of Zacharia, the chief protagonist, among a group of workers, to the closing moments of the film, when crying in despair at the death of his wife, he bangs the table, we sense the film is attempting to convey the sense and structure of South African history. The film equally attempts to draw attention to the tension between city and country, the latter supposedly the center of traditionalism and the latter the locale of cosmopolitanism. In the famous shebeen scene, if Zacharia represents the force of traditionalism, then Lewis Nkosi playing himself represents the pole of cosmopolitanism. Can Themba in the film represents anarchism; no doubt, Miriam Makeba represents spirituality. In other words, the film is a rich tableau of representations, of historical and iconographic contrasts. The true significance of COME BACK AFRICA is that since its making thirty years ago, and its first appearance on the public screens today back at home, it poses one fundamental question: What ought to be the nature and structure of an authentic South African national cinema?

One wishes that this film by an independent U.S-Jewish film director had been made by Lionel Ngakane, the father of South African cinema. A film like COME BACK AFRICA compels us South Africans to pose to ourselves a critical question concerning Lionel Ngakane: Why has he been unable in exile to establish the guideposts of the South African cinema, despite the fact that he is its unacknowledged father. What are the historical blockages which have prevented Ngakane from constructing a solid historical vision in our cinema! We cannot answer this question right now for we do not possess adequate intellectual instruments with which to unravel its intractable complexities. With the passage of time, however, this question will become crucial in our cultural history.

In the meantime, within the past decade, an independent film culture has been flourishing in South Africa. Undoubtedly, still more outstanding things are still to be expected from the post-Ngakane independent filmmakers like, Barry Feinberg, Harriet Gavshon and others. The new film culture’s defining center is its unmitigated hostility to the cultural politics of apartheid. With the unbanning of COME BACK AFRICA and its historical rendezvous with that film, this emerging independent film and video movement will find its cultural history mirrored in this older work. Judging by the quality of films and videos shown in Amsterdam in a two-week festival, “Culture in Another South Africa,” from December 8 to December 21, 1987, in a few years time an independent film culture in South Africa will command world-wide recognition.


 

 

Tetro is a 2009 drama film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Vincent Gallo ,Alden Ehrenreich and Maribel Verdú. Filming took place in 2008 in Buenos AiresPatagonia, and  SpainTetro was limitedly released in the United States on June 11, 2009.

Plot

 

“Set in Argentina, with the reunion of two brothers, the story follows the rivalries born out of creative differences passed down through generations of an artistic Italian immigrant family.”

 

Production

In February 2007, director Francis Ford Coppola announced that he would produce and direct the film Tetro, based on a script that he had written while editing Youth Without Youth. Production was scheduled to begin in Buenos Aires,  Argentina in late 2007.[11] Coppola was attracted to Argentina as a location, “I knew Argentina has a great cultural, artistic, literary, musical, cinema tradition, and I like those kinds of atmospheres very much because you usually find creative people to work with.”  Production did not begin as scheduled, and by March 2008, Vincent Gallo and Maribel Verdú  joined the cast.  The Spanish company Tornasol Films and the Italian company BIM Distribuzione signed with the director to co-produce the film.  Production began on March 31, 2008 with a budget of $15 million, with Coppola using the production style similar to his previous filmYouth Without Youth.  Filming took place in La Boca in Buenos Aires and other parts of the capital city. Filming also followed in the Andean foothills in Patagonia and at the Ciudad de la Luz studios in AlicanteSpain.  Production concluded in June.  

In May 2008, during filming in Argentina, the Argentina Actors Association, an actors’ union, claimed that production of Tetro was shut down due to union members working on the film without a contract. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Local press reports say that script changes and communication problems between the multi-national cast and crew have extended filming days beyond regularly scheduled hours, and that some of the Argentine actors are still not certain of their salary.” The director’s spokesperson, Kathleen Talbert, denied that production was halted, saying, “There are no holds on shooting, no problem with actors. In fact, the majority of the Argentine actors have already wrapped the shooting.” By the end of the month, the union said the issue was resolved, reporting, “The lawyers for the producers presented the necessary documentation and recognized the errors that they had made. So now they are able to continue with production.” In contrast, Talbert reiterated that there had been no issue, and production was never halted.

 

Interview with Francis Ford Coppola & Alden Ehrenreich at SIFF

The entire project was edited using Final Cut Pro on Apple Mac computers in a specially designed large screen edit suite built by Masa Tsuyuki.

 

Reception

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the film has an average metascore of 63% based on 19 reviews.  Rotten Tomatoes reported that 68% of critics gave positive reviews based on 71 reviews with an average score of 5.6/10. Among Rotten Tomatoes’ Cream of the Crop, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television, and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 71% based on 24 reviews.  Overall, the Rotten Tomatoes consensus was: “A complex meditation on family dynamics, Tetro’s arresting visuals and emotional core compensate for its uneven narrative.”

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars, praising the film for being “boldly operatic, involving family drama, secrets, generations at war, melodrama, romance and violence”. Ebert also praised Vincent Gallo’s performance, but claimed Alden Ehrenreich is “the new Leonardo DiCaprio“. Todd McCarthy of  Variety gave the film a B+ judging that “when [Coppola] finds creative nirvana, he frequently has trouble delivering the full goods.”  Richard Corliss of TIME  gave the film a mixed review, praising Ehrenreich’s performance, but claiming Coppola “has made a movie in which plenty happens but nothing rings true.”

 

 

The Hobbit is to break an industry habit of a lifetime.  It is being shot at 48 frames per seconds and in 3D, compared to 24fps for every other film for the past 90 years. This is a very welcome change and I for one can’t wait to see the results. Smoother motion less blurring of movement. The hobbit is being shot at the moment using 30 RED EPIC cameras. According to Peter Jackson from his Facebook page:

“We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920’s). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we’ve all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or “strobe.”    Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues.  It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D.”

I believe once this film hits the cinemas in 3D, it will change the way future films are shot. 24fps is just too few fps for smooth motion required by 3D Filmmaking. It should also help with the eye strain and headaches associated with 3D viewing.

EPIC !  The name is not an overstatement. The much anticipated addition to the RED family is the answer to the professional’s wildest dreams and exists as the most sophisticated and capable camera ever engineered and built. In a package one third the size of a RED ONE, resides a 5K Mysterium-X™ sensor and a 27 layer ASIC, the most advanced processor of its type in the world, enabling EPIC to capture up to 120 frames per second, each frame at full 14MP resolution. EPIC is engineered to be a DSMC™ (Digital Still & Motion Camera), a camera that excels in both worlds … by design. Providing native dynamic range of over 13 stops and resolution that exceeds 35 mm motion picture film, this is the camera of the epoch. Add to that RED’s newly developed HDRx™ extended dynamic range technology and EPIC boasts an amazing dynamic range of up to 18 stops. Purpose-built for perfect multi-camera synchronization, EPIC comes to market at a time when 3D capture requires the sophistication of a new generation of innovative technology. EPIC, very simply, is EPIC .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article by Digital Cinematography and RED Digital Cinema

 

 

In the spirit of conversation I worked with Todd Looby  on a post almost exactly the opposite of Scott’s. Todd sees micro-budget filmmaking as a skill, a tool, and somewhat of a stepping-stone. Our conversation wouldn’t be a conversation without this point of view.

 

To me, microfilmmaking is not an end that anyone in his or her right mind should be pursuing. Of course, as people interested in filmmaking, we are not necessarily right in the mind. There are those — many of whom read or write for this column — who live and die by a microfilmmaking manifesto. They hope that somehow, through their work, audiences will “see the light” and figure out that all is lost in Hollywood and at festivals, and that we must return to our roots by watching a shaky film about a character wrapped up in an über-personal struggle. And, once audiences come around, a viable market will develop for that work. Even if that happens, the sheer volume of microfilms in existence ensures the fact that any revenue will be spread thin and you’ll still struggle to get seen.

Don’t get me wrong, people have had continued success as microfilmmakers, and I applaud their efforts and success. However, what you will find is that these people, conscious or not, were attached to some genre or movement which served as an automatic marketing device. Like it or not, effective marketing — ie. Hype — is the only means by which they may eventually make a living doing what they love. In any industry, marketing also plays a role in the degree of revenue earned, but in film, it is the only means by which revenue is earned. Since film/art has no material value, it is bought solely on the value attributed it by others who deem it trustworthy — friends, critics, fest programmers. There is no inherent “usefulness” in art that demands an exchange of currency, despite how moving or enlightening it may be. Needless to say, if you make a good film, it will get seen, but if you can’t market the film, and you’ve tapped-out your family/friend funding sources, you’re more or less done, regardless of how low you can budget.

To be honest, publicity is a huge reason I’m even writing this. Most people who read this will have never heard my name, but now they will — and thus may be potentially interested in my films. That’s my story; perhaps for you it’s different. Some of you may continue to make films that don’t earn revenue because you are on a trust fund, you are supported by your government, you have a lot of gullible, rich friends, you are independently wealthy, or you wish to devote 100% of your free-time from your day job to making films. At this point in my life, as my wife and I start a family, I fit into absolutely none of these categories. I aspire to make a viable living from filmmaking and am not married to the idea of microfilmmaking as some sort of ideal — nor was I ever. And, besides it is completely exhausting — at least the way I work.

Now, let me make sure I’m clear in my views that I respect microfilmmakers more than any other filmmaker, simply because it’s more difficult. I also tend to like the first films by many directors more than their subsequent studio efforts, simply because you see the inventiveness and the brilliant ways they worked around constraints, pushing the boundaries of the medium and brilliantly transforming the subtle and ordinary to the profound. People can talk all day about Jim Cameron’s “pushing the medium” and I couldn’t give two shits. Whatever he does visually is not going to connect me to a character in a new way. And every time I hear a big Hollywood director bitch about the constraints put on them by the studio I have to laugh because it is mostly their own fault. They put themselves in a position to have their vision compromised. People seek the studio system for security, for the big toys, access to “stars,” for the red carpet, etc., and then they bitch when it compromises their art. What did they expect — a blank check? Now, once again, there have been a few that have made this transition successfully and I applaud their success. Others simply found out the grass wasn’t greener. Will I be one of them? Probably not, for two reasons: one, I won’t make it that high, and two, if I did, I would be honest about why I sought the backing of a studio.

One of the saddest stories I ever heard was at the inaugural Iowa Independent Film Festival in 2007. The fest is the brainchild of Indie-icon Henry Jaglom. Henry was one of Orson Welles’ few and closest friends toward the end of his life. Henry announced the “Orson Welles Award” given to the filmmaker who most inventively employed the medium. While introducing the award, Henry told the story about how Welles simply could not get another film funded after F is for Fake, and he died sad and frustrated. was at the fest premiering my micro-budget first feature, The Site. So, I was completely dumfounded by the fact that the medium’s arguably most respected director could not get a film made.

 

Now, to be fair, Welles could have been considered a microfilmmaker in his day. In reading his bio, he always tried to defy convention and work around the budget constraints that were heaped upon him as his reputation became less trustworthy. However, I think his problem was that although he had the heart and desire to be a low budget filmmaker, he simply never learned how to do it. And truly, the only way to know how to do it is to go through the process from start to finish. To have non-actors in roles, to figure out a schedule that meets logistical constraints, to work without a crew, to have no locations — in short, to have your hand in every possible detail that leads to sculpting an engaging character or an engaging story. Since the director must always see the big picture in the tiniest of details so should he or she, at one point, be responsible for conceiving of the ideas behind each and every aspect.

Directors like Steven Soderbergh and Richard Linklater, who had come up during the previous indie revolution, will never run into the same problem as Welles. And they seem to continue to exercise that microfilmmaking muscle so that they will have the skills to survive while budgets continue to shrink. This is the fact that filmmakers on all levels — except those at the top tier — have to face. Dramas, personal stories, melodramas, low-key comedies, romantic comedies, will all have budgets slashed drastically in the coming years as revenue from these types of films becomes more scarce. So, microfilmmakers are at an advantage because we will all know how to get around any and every constraint. Some filmmakers, regardless of how successful, simply do not know how to do that. Others will sit on great scripts until the budget they imagined becomes available. Sure, suffer for your art, but do it during the producing and marketing period, not in pre-pre-pre-production.

For me, microfilmmaking is a tool like any other in the process of filmmaking: it is a means to an end. And it is a means I will continue to employ as long as I am able, or until people think it wise to pay me money to make films. Through microfilmmaking I have developed a small, but engaged audience, I found my voice, and I may have even attracted investors to my next projects. Finally, if I am able to reach the level to make films for a living — regardless of how meager — I will always know of a way to do it cheaper than the other guy without sacrificing the content. For each of these reasons, it is an invaluable exercise and incredibly exhilarating. But do not expect microfilmmaking itself to ever be a sustainable way of making a living. And do not think that filmmaking of any other kind is impure. Be honest with yourself and remember the bigger budget, if not Hollywood films, that made you want to be a filmmaker. — Todd Looby

Todd Looby  is is a mostly self-taught, award-winning filmmaker based in Chicago. The Site (2007), Todd’s first narrative feature, premiered at Henry Jaglom’s Iowa Independent Film Festival and screened as part of IFP’s “Meet the Filmmaker” Series. LEFTY (2009), Todd’s second narrative feature, was named one of the “Top 10 Movies of 2009…” by the Chicago Tribune’s metromix and is currently being distributed by IndieFlix, Inc. Currently, Todd is adapting the non-fiction book, A Saint on Death Row — written by New York Times Bestselling author, Thomas Cahill — into a narrative feature film. Finally, Todd is set to shoot a new microfilm, Be Good, in late June, 2011. Be Good will star Amy Seimetz (Off Hours) and Thomas Madden (LEFTY). Looby and Joe Swamberg (Uncle Kent) will also appear. Mike Gibbiser (Finally Lilly and Dan) will shoot and Frank V. Ross (Audrey the Trainwreck) will record sound.

I am one of those folks Todd speaks about early on in his article — I live and die to make films, and I also see micro-budget as a final destination instead of a stepping-stone. My goal is to make micro a fiscally viable endeavor. BUT, this is a place where all ideas are welcome and all voices pondered. I love Todd’s honesty and I really dig what he’s saying about taking those lessons learned in micro to the big boys. If we could learn to be less wasteful, more resourceful, and rely on good writing and acting to tell our stories, we may have a chance at reforming this industry, or at least steering it in a better direction. Every day more and more people pick up a camera for the first time and the people who are used to large budgets are pushing themselves into territories that challenge their abilities. Whatever your motivation is, please keep challenging yourself, our industry, and your viewers.

Article by Filmmaker
If you wanna be apart of this conversation e-mail Todd Looby and John Yost

braveandthekind@gmail.com

 

It has been nearly three years since Canon, Nikon and Panasonic started putting high-definition video technology into some of their medium-priced DSLR cameras. They did this without realizing how useful these new cameras could be to the professional filmmaking community. Tim Smith of Canon USA recently joked in an interview that most of the filmmakers he’d met did not know where to find the still-photograph function on their new cameras. In a way he’s right, but at this year’s NAB it was apparent that it is camera manufacturers who need to figure out how to make videography an even more efficient function on HDSLRs. None of the most useful innovations presented at NAB for these cameras were developed by Canon, Nikon or Panasonic. PL mounts for 35mm film lenses, remote control focusing and zoom software operated with iPhones, professional in-camera sound-recording systems, matte boxes and shoulder mounts were for the most part unveiled by small entrepreneurial companies and rental houses more closely attuned to the needs of filmmakers.

More and more still-camera companies (including cell phone manufacturers) are hopping on the HD video wagon, yet some of the d.p.s I spoke to for this article remain challenged by the limitations posed by HDSLRs at this stage of their development.  Take for example the elaborate workaround Chris Chomyn and his crew devised on a video for Swiss recording artist Patje to make up for the fact that there’s no easy way to monitor the live HD signal of the Panasonic GH1 on an external monitor:  “When we mounted the Panasonic GH1 on a Steadicam… the challenge became, ‘How does one operate a Steadicam without a monitor?’  By mounting another camera, an LX2, on a flex arm behind the GH1 and using the manual macrofocus function, we were able to shoot a full frame of the LCD on the back of the GH1.  Then using the video out from the LX2, we sent that video signal to the Steadicam monitor and were able to both shoot HD as well as record the SD video on the LX2 of the LCD to give an alternative image for use in editing.”  Whew!  But for Chomyn as with many cinematographers, the quality and uniqueness of the image is what makes this technology a part of his regular arsenal.  And isn’t half the fun of filmmaking overcoming obstacles such as these?

Nevertheless one of the most popular “after market” companies at NAB this year was Hot Rod Cameras, so I contacted its president, Illya Friedman, and asked why he thought the camera manufacturers are not anticipating the needs of filmmakers and why they seem content to play such a game of catch-up. “You could say the same thing about the journalists and d.p.s that initially dismissed HDSLR cameras as a ‘novelty’ but now realize the impact of these little cameras,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s fair to characterize it as ‘catch-up.’  Nikon and Canon are obviously very large companies. They’re diversified and build products to maximize return on investment. HDSLR cameras weren’t designed for professional use. The manufacturers were surprised by the swift acceptance on the sets of real professional productions.  The fact that low-cost HDSLR cameras are being used in these capacities proves that the technological hurdles have been cleared to create not just acceptable but truly high-quality filmlike full-motion HD images. A new baseline for image quality has been set.  I predict that much like computers and automobiles, HD camera technology is just entering an era where there will be many high-quality and relatively inexpensive products, and modest improvements in image quality will come with a premium price tag.”

Of course, it’s also possible that the well-publicized discovery by high-profile ASC cinematographers and A-list directors of what is possible with small and un-tethered HDSLRs just might raise the price of these miraculous tools.  When you have veteran cinematographers like Brian Reynolds shooting TV shows (The Good Guys) with Sony F-35s as well as Canon 7Ds and Kodak Pocket Video cameras (used as “eyemos”), a successful show like House using nothing but Canon 5Ds on their season finale, and none other than George Lucas researching HDSLR technology for future projects, how long before more professional, higher-priced versions enter the market?

PANASONIC

Take the AG-AF100 as an example of what might be in store.  Panasonic is putting much of their GH1 large-sensor technology into a body that will better meet the technical and ergonomic needs specific to narrative filmmakers.  It will sell for $6,000 when it’s hatched at the end of 2010. Compare that to the $1,500 price tag on their first HDSLR, the GH1. The AG-AF100 camera uses a micro 4/3 short depth-of-field sensor like that on the GH1, but the body of the camera will actually be shaped like a small video camera.

  Like the original GH1 it will be inexpensively compatible with anamorphic and other motion picture lenses by use of a PL lens adaptor.  No other DSLR offers such easy compatibility right from the factory, at least not yet. The GH1 was also the first camera to take into account the need for built-in professional quality sound recording.  But the AG-AF100 (also called the AVCCAM HD camcorder) moves forward in this area as well.  It will feature a pair of XLR inputs, 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio recording, and support LPCM/Dolby-AC3, and a built-in stereo mic.  And one more giant step forward still missing on other HDSLRs: time-code recording.

But the trade-off in using a Panasonic system is that compared to Canon and Nikon HDSLRs, all  their  models provide the least filmlike depth of field because of their relatively smaller 4/3 sensors.  It’s still an incredible image though, and the new camcorder does record in both 1080 and 720 HD at 60, 30, 25 and 24 frames per second, right from the factory, even if it does require deinterlacing later (something friendly hackers at the discussion website DVXuser seem to have corrected).  This, compatibility with PL-mounted lenses, and in-camera professional quality sound make Panasonic quite competitive with Canon and Nikon.

CANON

If engineers at Canon are not working nights and weekends trying to figure out how to make film camera lenses compatible with their HDSLRs, companies such as Hot Rod are stepping up to the task, and, according to cinematographers like Chomyn, doing so quite nicely.

Friedman tells me that for $3,250 you will be able to modify your Canon 7D so it accepts 35mm motion picture camera lenses natively without the loss of any light to the sensor or loss of edge-to-edge sharpness of the image, unlike a relay-lens adapter which before Hot Rod Cameras was the only way to put a PL-mount lens on an inexpensive HD camera.  It takes about two weeks for Hot Rod to perform the camera transformation.  Currently the company only converts the  Canon 7D and 5D Mk II, but a PL-mount system for the 1D Mk IV will be available in August of 2010.  The process is quite involved, but highly efficient. Friedman says they begin “by masking and sealing the imaging sensor cavity from the rest of the chamber so it’s not harmed for the rest of the process, then removing the mirror and original lens mount. The entire area is then flocked with an antireflective material and the penta prism is masked so that no light can flare the imaging sensor.” They then install “a PL-compatible lens mount and shim it so that the flange focal depth is accurate. If you are using calibrated lenses your focus marks will all line up.”  Cool beans, but all that work around the “sensor cavity” makes me cringe like when I think of laser eye surgery.  Hot Rods offers its own 2-year warranty for around $200 to replace the factory warranties nullified by making these kinds of changes to your camera.

 

The newest large-size sensor HDSLRs from Canon are the 1D and 7D. The 1D sells for around $5,000, but before you fall off your apple box over that price tag you should know you’re getting one of the largest sensors made for an HDSLR (27.9 x 18.6mm, or nearly the size of a 35mm frame) and an acceptably usable ISO (according to Canon) of 6400 — the best of all the Canons.  But that sensor is still slightly smaller than the full-size sensor on the Canon 5D which sells for half the price.  As you may recall, bigger sensor equals shallower depth of field, and that’s a good thing if you’re trying to get video to look like film.

 

When all the dust settles, what may well turn out to be the most popular camera with filmmakers (if it isn’t already) is the new 7D which sells for around $1,700 — $1,000 less than the 5D. Reynolds tells me that the 7D cuts seamlessly with the Sony F-35 and Panavision Genesis for action shots and that the studios he has worked for prefer the 7D over the 5D because the APS-C sensor on the 7D is smaller, enabling it to work with all motion picture lenses, whereas the larger sensors on the 5D or 1D severely limit the use of wider cine lenses that were not designed to cover such a large area.

 

I asked Chomyn what this difference in sensor sizes might mean in the field if different cameras were being used on the same shoot. He compared the 5D and 7D in his explanation:  “…[First of all,] the same focal-length lens used on the 5D will appear ‘wider’ than on the 7D.  All else being equal, the 5D will have shallower depth of field than the 7D….  In practical terms this means that under many close-up situations, using the 5D one would want a T-stop between 4 and 5.6 whereas for similar depth of field using the 7D, one might shoot at a 2.8 or 3.2.  If one chooses to shoot with a 5D at a wider stop, there may prove to be focus issues. This could be adopted as a style  or it may be distracting. Whatever the choice, it needs to be considered.”  Chris also mentioned another matching consideration, and that is that the 5D sensor exhibits a lower signal-to-noise ratio.

 

Both the 7D and 1D shoot 60, 25 and 24 frames per second right from the factory —something the Canon 5D cannot do, at least not off the assembly line.  But the good news for people with the 5D is that it is now finally able to shoot 25 and 24 frames per second as well as its original 30fps.  This is due the Canon website right into your camera.  The times we live in.  Firmware is like software, except that it’s injected right into the cerebral cortex of your camera’s operating system instead of just floating around in there like a plug-in, and you’ll never really have to think of it again.  An option for the new frames-per-second just appears on the menu like it came from the factory that way.  Still, it’s an additional step current and near-future Canon 5D owners have to take.

 

All of the above mentioned Canons shoot 1080 and 720 HD.  And in 720 mode, the 1D and 7D will also shoot at 60 frames per second.  Anyone that has ever wanted to shoot close-ups of hands performing a task or other convoluted processes will understand the need for such slight slowing of motion;  48 frames per second would be better.  It might seem puzzling why Canon would withhold these frame rates from the 5D firmware, but HD video on the 5D was developed for photojournalists and tourists that occasionally shoot video for Web or home use, and these are larger markets for Canon than the filmmaking community.

 

One more new offering this year from Canon of interest to indie filmmakers is the Rebel T2i.  Released in February at a price of around $900, this camera accepts interchangeable lenses, shoots 30, 25 and 24 frames per second at 1080p plus 60 and 50 fps at 720p.  The T2i uses the same APS-C sensor as on the 7D.

 

NIKON

 

The camera that Nikon has released recently that will most likely impress HD filmmakers is the D3S. Out since October of 2009, it sells for around $5,000 but is equipped with a much larger sensor than the similarly priced Canon 1D.  At 23.9 x 36mm the D3S sensor is actually a millimeter larger than a 35mm film frame as well as the full-size sensor in the Canon 5D.  It is about twice the size as the sensor in Nikon’s first HDSLR, the D90.  The larger sensor size gives Nikon a slight edge over Canon and Panasonic in extreme low light conditions when one would need to shoot higher than 6400 ISO.  But this is decidedly a special effects look of use mainly to wildlife videographers and people like private investigators not shooting a theatrical feature.

 

The D3S has other improvements over the D90 that will please Internet videographers especially.  Getting good quality sound onto the same card in the camera that’s recording the video has been a problem for both Nikon and Canon, but an external mic can be plugged directly into the D3S allowing stereo sound to be recorded. For narrative filmmakers, dual system sound is preferable anyway, but this is a great feature for grabbing an interview to put online or recording something like auditions.  And the D3S also has an in-camera editing (i.e. trimming) function.  Videographers on deadline will like being able to quickly shorten clips for relevant content before posting them on the Internet.

 

But what will continue to keep the Nikon from being as popular as the Canon 7D with filmmakers is its insistence on making HD available only in 720p.  While still an excellent HD image, 720p just does not have the clarity of detail that 1080p offers. It’s close, but psychologically most filmmakers want that full HD if their work is ever going to appear on a 60-foot screen.

 

The fatal blow as far as Nikon ever dominating the filmmaking market is that the D3S has chosen to record in MJPEG rather than the codecs used by Canon and Panasonic (H264 and AVCHD respectively).  MJPEG offer a slightly more degraded image than those codecs.  This is great when you’re loading video onto a computer or streaming on the Internet (it’s faster because MJPEG is a smaller, more compressed file), but the price for this is loss of data.  When it comes to HD video, Nikon seems to be aimed at photo-journalists and experimental filmmakers that shoot video for the Internet.  And for that, I guess they could use a Flip.

 

  VIDEOGRAPHY FOR THE WEB

If the cameras discussed so far are still more expensive than some budgets can handle, in addition to the Rebel T2i there were three new large-sensor cameras able to shoot HD with interchangeable lenses introduced this year that are worth looking into. The first is the Panasonic DMC-GF1, which retails for $800 and records in either AVDHC Lite or MJPEG.  It shoots in 720p at 60 frames per second in AVDHC Lite and 30 fps in Motion JPEG.  The other two cameras of interest to filmmakers whose work is not going beyond the Web sell for around $700.  They are the Olympus EP1 and Samsung’s NX-10. All three cameras are getting excellent reviews from techie websites.

The Olympus and the Panasonic use a micro four-thirds sensor.  Although the Olympus shoots true 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, it only does so on MJPEG. Samsung’s NX-10 shoots 720p in H264 and on an APS-C sensor which is slightly larger than the four-thirds system and only slightly smaller than the sensor on cameras that cost two or three times as much.

WHAT’S NEXT

These are thrilling times. For the first time in motion picture history there is a seamless “intercuttable” loop between a relatively inexpensive, portable consumer camera and professional, theatrical, high-end film or video systems. Film technology was never able to do this. The use of 8mm or 16mm film in 35mm productions was reserved for special effects sequences, scenes set in the past, delusions or dreams because consumer stock looked so grainy and contrasty compared to 35mm. HDSLR technology means people making movies on HD for theatrical release do not necessarily need large quantities of money to attain a big-budget look. What would El Mariachior The Brothers McMullen look like if made today? What would those movies have cost?

But we’re still waiting for that HDSLR hit.  The most successful high-profile use of these cameras has for the most part been with large productions that have full camera crews and a solid post department just standing by for data to be delivered. Andrew Disney, who just wrapped his full-length feature, Searching for Sonny, has this to say: “The DSLR is the reason I was able to make [my] movie. With the Canon 5D, I was able to create a spec trailer, a proof of concept, that looked superprofessional and filmic while costing very little. After I made the spec trailer, I found producers who saw potential, investors who wanted to back it, casting directors who wanted to cast it, and eventually actors who loved the script. The DSLR-shot trailer became my pitch, and it opened many doors.  Almost too many.  The project that I originally thought would be shot sort of guerrilla-style with friends became bigger than I ever imagined. We started getting names attached.  Many of them joined not just because they loved the script, but also because they saw the [DSLR] spec-trailer.  But then a funny thing happened.  We started seeing some of the pitfalls of shooting [a feature-length narrative film] with a DSLR.”

Although the Canon DSLR was still very useful on second-unit and as a second camera, Disney’s feature was ultimately shot on a RED ONE. “As awesome as the footage looks [with a DSLR], what you see is what you get.  There’s not much changing in post. Once we started asking the questions about DSLR, we instinctively looked at the RED. The freedom with white balance and color temperature became alluring. The ability to shoot RAW sounded pretty intoxicating. [And then] there’s the jelly effect — still a problem, especially when you want to shoot with longer lenses.” Monitoring at 480i doesn’t help either since the cameras can’t output at 1080 or even 720 when recording.

Richard Ulivella, who has worked with RED ONEs on features and Canons on commercials as a d.p. and gaffer agrees for the most part.  “The best part of these cameras is that they are the size and shape of an SLR,” he says. “Ironically, it’s also the worst part.  But they should be used for their strengths. If you routinely build them out to twice their weight and triple their size just rent a full-sized camera.” Ulivella feels that as amazing as the image achievable with an HDSLR is, the cameras are still best suited for commercials, documentaries, and as “eyemos” or B cameras.  For now, shooting a whole feature with a HDSLR is doable but remains difficult.  These cameras have achieved a secure position as a tool to be used for specific types of shots and sequences and as affordable cameras by cinematographers conscientious enough to test and plan for all the applications they will be asking of them and knowledgeable of what is going to happen to the image in post.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.  There is still no substitute for careful planning.

 

 

Article by Filmmakers magazine