Shot on EPIC M-X: FreddieW in “Skyhook”

Shot on RED Epic + Kowa Anamorphics by DP Jon Salmon for RocketJump. Directed by friend of 3GR Dez Dolly and Matt Arnold. Colored by Narbeh Tatoussian at Blacklist Digital.

Watch the behind the scenes here.

1st AC — Shaun Dixon
2nd AC  — Alicia Varela
Gaffer — Fernando Montes
Best Boy Electrician — Josh Coffman
Electrician — Danny Franco
Key Grip — Frank Garbutt
Best Boy Grip — Jason Gray
Grip — Michael Rha

Shot on EPIC M-X: Chevy “Engage The Unknown”

Directed by Brent McHenry. Produced and Edited by Nick Wenger. Shot on RED Epic + Angenieux Optimo DP Zooms, GoPro Hero 3, and Canon DSLRs by DP Adam Bricker.

Color: Narbeh Tatoussian @ Blacklist Digital.

Aerial Operator: Adam Goral

Roller Blade Operator: Armando Colunga

1st AC: Chloe Weaver

Shot on EPIC M-X: “The Kings of Summer”

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Shot by DP Ross Riege on RED Epic + Panavision Anamorphic glass.

Colored by Narbeh Tatoussian at Blacklist Productions.

Released in theaters this weekend in New York and Los Angeles.

Shot on SCARLET M-X: “The Opportunist”

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Last November, I had an idea – I wanted to write and direct a character-driven drama centered around a single protagonist who would drive the film. The character would be played by best friend and roommate Nick Clifford, with whom I’d long talked about collaborating. Nick is a good-looking guy who a books a lot of all-American roles,  but I had in mind something a little darker. So I started writing. The result was “The Opportunist,” my first short as a writer/director. The film tells the story of a night in the life of a social shape-shifter addicted to the visceral thrill of invading the lives of others. I’ve always been fascinated by the hyper-social, people who just seem to know how to effortlessly work a room, but I became increasing fixated on the idea of someone who had that skill, but who used it for less than pure ends… We started pre-production in December and were shooting in February.

From the outset, it was clear that we would try to shoot Scarlet – it’s small, versatile camera perfect for our all-handheld shoot. I’m a big fan of the 16mm character-driven dramas by European filmmakers like the Dardenne brothers and Jacques Audiard and I wanted the film to feel like we were hovering over our protagonists shoulder for the whole film, watching him work, hanging on his every move. Early on we talked about shooting with RED Pro Primes, but when 3GR’s Adam Bricker mentioned a project that was shooting 2K with old 16mm primes, the idea simply stuck – 2K made the world of the film feel smaller, grainer, and more intimate – just what we were looking for. We shot tests to feel out the limits of the sensor – 2K is definitely noisier, especially in the shadows, so we wanted to make sure we were shooting the cleanest possible image given the decreased resolution. Our DP Mike Fuchs flew out from New York and we shot and projected a series of tests to make sure the image would hold up on the big screen. We were pleasantly surprised at how good the image looked at 3:1 compression and 800 ISO. Also, by shooting on 16mm primes, we were able to shoot extremely low-light environments wide open without losing all of our depth of field.

2K really helped out our data-management and post work-flow as well, especially given the relatively small file sizes – a 128GB card suddenly held almost 90 minutes of footage! Working at Final Cut in Santa Monica, our editor Chris Amos turned out our first assembly edit 7 days after we wrapped. From there, we edited for another six weeks before turning the project over to our dear friend Tyler Roth at Company 3 in Chicago for final color. And then, just as the end was coming into view, we got some really unexpected news: the work-in-progress cut we’d sent overseas at the beginning of March had been accepted to Critics’ Week at the Cannes film festival, one of 10 shorts selected from over 1,700 submissions – and not only that, we were selected as the only American short in competition at Cannes…!

The last few weeks have been chaotic to say the least as we burn through the final stages of post: VFX, sound mix, conform, and DCP authoring. I’m pleased to report that after screening our DCP at Technicolor in Hollywood, the Scarlet’s 2K image holds up beautifully on the big-screen. We shot a few scenes a little brighter than we intended so that we could time them down for the final version and minimize noise, but even the lowest-light scenes showed very little sign of unwanted noise. The image just sort of “sizzles” in the way old 16mm film does. I’m obviously a little biased, but I think this is the most “16mm” feeling footage I’ve ever seen come from a RED.

A huge thanks to Adam, Brett and Charlie at 3GR and Tims Johnson at Blacklist for helping us put this package together – we were a very modest production and they made it happen for us for at a great price. Thanks also to Mike, Chris, and Tyler for shepherding the image from start to finish. This has been a remarkable six months, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you happen to be in Cannes next week, look us up – we have our world premiere at Espace Miramar at 2PM on May 18th!

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Shot on EPIC M-X: “xPhobia (x, Marie)”

This project was brought to me as part of a 4-part campaign put on by Cornetto, an Italy-based ice cream company. By the time I was reached, they had already chosen three London based RSA directors and were looking for a fourth director in the US. The stories all had the common theme of a new romantic relationship and all had a cupid narrator. I was giving a short story written by a 17-year old British girl and asked to adapt it however I saw fit for my installment.

It was a pleasure to be offered a paying job and to be able to tell an extended narrative story. It’s quite uncommon to have this opportunity. After so many years of commercial and music videos, it was great to have time to really spend on a character and work on interactions between actors. Telling a longer story with no limitations, allowed me to finesse the more subtle elements of storytelling that I hadn’t used in a long time. Production was a blast, we shot for three days in a few different areas of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It was great fun to play with old cars and see the inner workings of a junkyard.

It was my first time shooting anamorphic and instantly fell in love with it. Particularly these lenses, the Kowas, gave such a unique texture to the image that I didn’t expect. The bokeh is unreal, super stylish and the flares are very cool. Instead of a hard blue line, these lenses produce a glowy white line that is much softer than other anamorphics. It didn’t scream “I’m anamorphic, check this out!” instead my favorite aspect was the softening it did to the HD image. We shot as often as possible into large lighting sources (windows, the sun, etc) to keep this light haze over every shot, which I think gave it a fresh and consistent look. When these sources weren’t available we used hazers to keep the look uniform. I knew early on that I wanted to shoot the entire film handheld. We also decided early on that every shot would be from the main character’s perspective. This rule that we set for ourselves dictated a lot of camera positions and especially how to cover the action. Every time we broke the rule the shot instantly felt wrong. It was a very cool learning experience.

Overall, I’m happy with how the film came out and the freedom that Cornetto gave me to tell the story however I wanted to. They were very hands off, which is something that would never happen working with an American company. For better or for worse.

Producer: Sean-Michael Smith
Director of Photography:  Stephen Pierce Ringer
Gaffer: Trevor Crist
Key Grip: Jeffrey Carolan