Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guest Post


I received an email  recently from some filmmakers asking to do a guest post. I get a few of these every so often and usually discard them. This one, though, interested me. The director had written a short post about the movement in his film and I thought, "Why not?" I haven't seen the film, so I can't speak about it one way or the other, but I did find it interesting. So check it out....

Creating the Cinematic Camera Movement for LA Riots Short, April’s Way

By: Robert Nyerges, Director

Originally, April’s Way, my latest short about a Korean store owner struggling to protect his family and his market during the looting of the 1992 LA race riots, was conceived as one single shot. An evolving narrative, as well as location and budget constraints forced our hand to trim that concept down into a series of long sweeping takes with multiple hand-offs to help accentuate the multicultural collisions that are featured in the story. 

I’ve always been inspired by the Spielberg approach of turning two shots into one. Obviously, he adopted it from the old studio style of shooting movies but I think the impact and practicality still remains. I prefer to shoot my projects dynamically for time and efficiency’s sake. For example, one of the long takes early in April’s Way follows two characters down a grocery store aisle in a medium shot, until the end where they round a corner and dip out of frame. We continue the shot by introducing another character in a wider shot who eventually walks towards the camera to create a close up. End shot. 

Cinematographer, Nicholas Wiesnet, was also on board with this style from the moment I presented the project to him. “We are both very much drawn toward classic movies. We wanted this to feel grounded in reality but we also wanted it to feel cinematic.” Niko said of our similar preference for aesthetic. He even referred to the style that we both wanted to achieve as that of a ‘Movie-movie’. “By movie-movie, I just mean you’re enhancing reality. You’re making reality slightly magical so that it hits certain emotional chords. Whether that means starting on someones back and pushing in really slowly, etc…You’re enhancing the drama and just responding to the script.” 

To accomplish these types of shots, we knew that a Steadicam was the best approach. Our operator, Neal Bryant, was such a champ and definitely the right man for the job. He used the Steadicam M-1 with the Arricam LT, and we also had to cut all of our film down into 400’ rolls to accommodate the size and weight needed to fly the camera on the sled. 

Unfortunately, further location limitations, as well as technical issues with our camera and video gear resulted in an even further reduction of our cherished long sweeping Steadicam shots. Inevitably, only two of the long takes remain in the film and the rest fell into more traditional coverage to facilitate quick turn-arounds. Niko said, “We had limited time and didn’t have much time to improvise. We had to move fast. The fact that Robert storyboarded was really critical to us making our days and getting all the shots that we needed to tell a story.” We remained on the Steadicam for the majority of the shoot for the sake of speed and since our budget didn’t allow us to carry a Chapman in our arsenal. Poor Neal, with all of his talent, ended up feeling like a ‘Human Dolly’.

Overall, I think the style still shines through and we successfully achieved a cinematic look to the film that still feels gritty and down to earth. I’m super happy with the way the film looks and we couldn’t have achieved that authentically if we had shot on digital. 

We are currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to finish the film. Please head to the link to support and share. every little bit counts!

Check it out here: http://kck.st/1MRUKrU

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