Behind The Scenes

 

the-land-cover-shot
You may recognize this picture from the movie poster.  This is one of our camera locations that was considered for an establishing shot at the beginning of the film.  In the end, it didn’t make it into the opening scene, but it did make it in for the Third Act.  I loved this shot so much that I decided to use it as a key image in the marketing campaign.

 

 

Marcus & Aaron_Ext. Cabin
Here’s Marcus and Aaron Marshall hanging out while we work on a new setup.  In the background you can see a 4×8 sheet of insulation that I bought at Home depot as a make-shift reflector frame.  We shot so many exteriors, we needed lots of reflectors to help with fill in the shade.  There was no lighting done whatsoever on the exteriors except for reflector fill.  This made it a challenge, even on a bright day because of the cinemascope glass which took out about a stop of light.  Shooting with 250 ASA film means we were limited and had to be absolutely sure about the exposure before starting production.  Unlike digital cinema cameras, with film you cannot simply bump up the ASA with the push of a button.  Aaron made a doc about a 14 year old horror director making her first feature film.  It’s called “Zombie Girl”.

 

 

 

Marcus & Carson_Steadicam Prod Shot
Here’s a shot of Carson our DP working the “steady-cam” rig just before a take.  The story here is that we didn’t have money for a real Steadi-Cam, so we rented this Hollywood Lite from Kevin Triplett at Mopac Media.  Kevin was a true supporter of the indie film arts.  He beefed up the rig with custom engineered parts specifically for this production since our Arri SR with Cinemascope gear over-loaded our knock-off steadi-cam.  Even after the modifications, the camera rig was still about five pounds too heavy.  Carson is holding up the extra weight with his free hand while operating camera at the same time!

 

 

 

Blake Taylor Marcus_directing Trail Scene
Here, I’m rehearsing the trail scene with Taylor and Marcus.  This scene was difficult to shoot because we had to get about two thirds of it in just two long shots.  The long shot can be a lifesaver because it cuts down on the production schedule.  It can be a nightmare because the actors really have to hit everything perfect, lines, beat changes, blocking marks…pretty much everything that would normally be  broken up into ten or twenty short pieces.  They did a great job on both shots.  Carson and I had to trade off camera operation duties because the operator had to walk backwards, uphill with an unbalanced steadi-cam to get the shot.  After the second take on the second shot, he was worn out, understandably.  I compare the shots now and see that Carson did a better job than me, but hey, we got it done!  Teamwork!

 

 

 

Carson & Steadicam
This is the Arri SR with the cinemascope rig.  You can see the silver colored baseplate rods and the cinemascope anamorphic lens bracket mounted on the rods.  I had this support system custom built by Dan Morris at Unique Designs.  Dan was an engineer who designed and built robotic cranes in his back yard only a block away from the UT campus.  One of the projects he worked on was optics for a close up of the moon for a Terrence Malick film.  Shooting The Land in Cinemascope was a huge risk but it turns out that the anamorphics were one of the most reliable investments of the entire production! 
What’s the lesson here?  
TAKE A RISK!

 

 

 

Blake & Carson_Script
Carson, the DP and I go over the shot list for the day.  We lit this cabin with a lot of artificial light, but I wanted it to look like 100% natural light coming in through the windows.  It’s one of the hardest looks to light for, according to many cinematographers.  In this shot you can see the backlight coming in through the window giving Carson a nice halo.  The rest of the frame looks pretty flat except for a couple bright spots which look like natural light from other windows.  When the first round of dailies came back, I was ecstatic about the results.