With 2018 winding down to a close, it seemed like the perfect time to sit back and reflect on a year full of production. Going in to 2018 - I knew that I wanted to spend more time working in pre-production. The idea was to film with more intent and direction by properly scouting locations and building lighting diagrams that would make it easy to execute on the day of production. I'm glad to say a few of the passion projects we produced this year gave us that opportunity and made this list.
Of course, some things just can't be planned and as a cinematographer I always have to be aware of the situations around me on set. A couple of the shots that made this list were just a consequence of being in the right place at the right time. Overall, 2018 was definitely a year of growth and learning and I'm pumped to see what 2019 will hold.
1) Inishmore, Ireland
Not much needs to be said for why this was included. The island of Inishmore - located off the Western coast of Ireland - is beautiful. Home to some 1,300 residents, Inishmore was the perfect place to bring the drone and have some fun in the isolated Irish countryside. It was tough to decide between these golden hour country side shots and the majestic cliffs that were less than a mile from our AirBnB...so I've included some stills from those as well.
Also - it was an incredible experience hiking these cliffs to set up for drone operating (I'm the little red dot sitting on the edge).
2) Memory Video
This film has been in and out of production for almost 2 years now. Thanks to the director, Roy Power, we were able to find a story that fit his vision for the documentary. One of the best things about this project was Roy's execution and follow through. We spent a long time working on location and set dec before we were able to film this scene of the boy in the video store. It is pretty great to see how close the end product is to the illustrations Roy had drawn up.
It was also a challenge to film this scene with how Roy intended - a long, drawn out dolly shot along the floor. We rented a pocket jib and doorway dolly and had some fun putting it all together on the day of filming. Behind the Scenes
3) Burning My Tongue
There were a lot of things that I liked about this shoot. For one, our director Murphy McCann did a great job of securing a location that fit the script perfectly and allowed us to film with a relatively easy set up.
Another DP practice that I wanted to use more in 2018 was the use of practical lighting. The first thing we did in the diner here was replace the old fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling with new Philips 5500K daylight bulbs to give us a consistent top light. We then bounced an Arri Skypanel s60 through the window on the left to give us a soft keylight throughout the day. Between these two light sources, we didn't have to do much to dial in for the look that we wanted between setups. We also added some ND to the windows to bring down the exposure in our establishing shot and made minor adjustments for the close-ups / different angles.
Second - we had a great camera package to work with. Shot on RED Epic with Tokina Vista Primes with Pro Mist filtration.
I shot and directed this short film for a local non-profit, College Visions. It was a great experience that came with many lessons learned for how to best approach these types of projects going forward.
These shots were a good example for you gotta be flexible on set. Going in to this day of filming, I had an idea for a dark, silhoutted scene where our character would be journaling. After about 45 minutes of trying to light the scene correctly in the basement of our location, we realized that the shot just wasn't going to happen. This is a mood board I had put together beforehand to model our cinematography after.
I was going for a dark / noir style that may not have actually served the story for the better. In the end, I think the brighter, vibrant scene complemented the message and mission of CollegeVisions.
5) Nest - Kickstarter Video
Lastly, Nest was a fun shoot because of how visual the process of producing cast iron cookware is. Matt, a friend of Animus', came to us to help with a Kickstarter video for a new product line he came out with and we were excited to collaborate with him. These shots were really a product of having a great location to work in. I loved the studio that Matt works in - the big skylights offered us the chance to create little pools of light throughout the scene.
On to 2019!