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I am incredibly happy for my friends Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan, Jared Raab, Matthew Miller and Josh Boles of Echo Pictures Pictures for premiering their feature film THE DIRTIES later this month at the Slamdance Film Festival. I got the chance to do some additional camerawork alongside Jared back in 2010 on this project and it was a really inspiring and thrilling way to shoot: vérité on HD camcorders, and in the mindset of high school media arts students behind the lens capturing the horrors of bullying and the ups and downs of teenage infatuation.
See the Echo Pictures Pictures website here for more details on this tremendous film, additional press and screening times in Park City. Check out the link at the top of this post for IndieWire’s review and the official trailer.
In 2009 I had the privilege of shooting SATURNIA, a feature length documentary, for directors/producers Lilia Topouzova and Ferdinando Dell’Omo. The film chronicles the lives of Italian immigrants across Canada – from Vancouver and Edmonton to Toronto, Montreal and Halifax – whose lives share a common thread: they all arrived between 1950 and 1965 via the SS Saturnia.
Lilia and Ferdinando’s elegant and poetic filmmaking sensibilities translated into a visual language of carefully composed static frames and slow, contemplative camera movement. In a film that’s a thematic blend of nostalgia, heartache, celebration and resilience, this was the perfect interpretation for five stories that range in narrative and emotional tone. I am eager to celebrate the film’s premiere as part of opening night at the Moving Image Film Festival in Toronto this Friday, November 2nd at the Royal Cinema. Screening times are below.
Friday, November 2nd 2012 at 11:30pm the Royal Cinema on 608 College Street West, Toronto.
Sunday, November 4th 2012 at 9:30pm the Annex Live on 296 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto.
Very happy to say that Inflo’s Broken Heart Syndrome will be playing TIFF this year – click the still to watch a clip!
Congratulations to Dusty Mancinelli and Harry Cherniak of Inflo Films, as well as co-producer Brent Martin of Canova Media. And huge thanks to my incredible crew – we worked hard, and I hope you’re as happy with the results as I am. Thank you.
Happy to announce that both THE PEDESTRIAN JAR (dir. Evan Morgan) and PATHWAYS (dir. Dusty Mancinelli) will be premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival this year.
Congratulations to Evan and Dusty, as well as our wonderful producers Jamie Cussen and Harry Cherniak.
The Pedestrian Jar will screen on September 11 and 12 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and Jackman Hall at the AGO, and Pathways will screen on September 14 and 15, also at Lightbox.
Big congrats to Zaheed Mawani for taking home the award for Documentary Short at the Atlanta Film Festival. Great news for all involved with THREE WALLS.
11/08/23: Read a great opinion piece in the New York Times that discusses the documentary and related ideas, as well as the nature of office design here.
Spring is one of my favourite times to be in Toronto for many reasons but mostly because HOT DOCS takes over a bunch of theater screens and everybody in town flips through the schedule and makes a list of things to see. I’m happy to say that this year THREE WALLS will be screening at the festival, marking its Canadian premiere. Zaheed Mawani’s doc about office cubicles (and the people who spend their days working in and making the most of them) will be screening on Saturday, April 30th (9pm) at TIFF Bell Lightbox and on Monday, May 2nd (1:45pm) at the ROM. It will play alongside Abner Benaim’s MAIDS & BOSSES in the “Workers of the World” program.
You can read more about how we shot THREE WALLS in this post, which I wrote in July 09 after we wrapped shooting.
Here’s a frame of one of our participants, Dionne, in New York City:
If you’re in Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver you can see SLIP, along with a bunch of other hand-selected shorts from the Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival, screen as part of this NATIONAL TOUR! Dates: MONTREAL – Nov. 16, CALGARY – Nov. 24, VANCOUVER – Nov. 30.
SLIP will also be screening in Amsterdam in December as part of CINEDANS – its first screening across the pond.
Back in May I shot a musical with director Sonia Hong and producers Olga Barsky and Claire Lowery called A DRAGGED OUT AFFAIR – a campy satirical tale about forbidden love between drag queens from competing nightcubs and rival social circles. Starring four of Toronto’s most well-known queens in outrageous, vibrant costumes designed by Donnarama (one of our leads and a brilliant performer), we shot the musical short over four days on the theatre stage at St. Vladimir’s in downtown Toronto. Sonia and I talked a wide range of references within the musical genre, from Glee and All That Jazz to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and agreed that our visual priorities had to be movement and colour. The production design, headed by Miranda Morricone and art directed by Summer Gaal, made that challenge easier on my team: the sets pop off the screen, and it was a pleasure lighting and framing scenes so rich with colour and texture (not to mention humour!). The project was shot on the Red in 4K, then later colour graded at Alter Ego in Toronto by Tricia Hagoriles. Special thanks must go out to Videoscope and Charles Street Video for supplying the camera, lighting and grip, as well as Mike Armstrong (gaffer), Todd Thompson (key grip and fantastic jib op) and Josh Fraiman (1st AC).
Screen Grab: Daytona B Itch on the set of a sketchy nightclub dressing room
A DRAGGED OUT AFFAIR will premiere at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival on Thursday, November 11th, 2010.
ADOA screened at Toronto’s InsideOut film festival in May ’11 and the lovely Sonia Hong was awarded “Best Up-and-Coming Filmmaker”. Sonia, Olga Barksy and Claire Lowery make an awesome team, and I’m happy to have been a part of it on this film.
Good friend and director Joyce Wong asked me to shoot this trailer for the 2010 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. Thanks to gaffer Jeff Hanley and key grip Todd Thompson for the great time we had on set, as well as William F. White Ltd. for the equipment and Deluxe Toronto for their work on the post. The festival runs from November 9 – 15, 2010.
If you’re in Calgary and want to check out SLIP, it’ll be screening at the Calgary International Film Festival on September 28th as part of the “You, Me & Everybody” programme. Coincidentally, Chelsea McMullan and I will be touring Alberta shooting her next doc while on tour with RAE SPOON between now and early October.
Dusty Mancinelli’s short film SOAP will have its national television debut on Sunday, July 4th at Midnight (making that July 5th), on the CBC’s Canadian Reflections program. If you have a TV set that you can plug into a wall in Canada, check it out!
SOAP has also recently been accepted to screen at the LA Shorts Fest, marking Soap’s 15th festival screening following its premiere at TIFF in 09. Congratulations to Inflo Films!
Chelsea McMullan’s beautifully haunting dance film SLIP will be screening tomorrow, June 4th, and Saturday June 5th at the 2010 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival. We shot the film back in ’08 upon immediate arrival back to Toronto after shooting DEADMAN (we were still living in a trailer in rural B.C when Chelsea found out she got the Bravo!FACT grant to make the film.) Here’s what the festival has to say about SLIP:
“In one perfectly orchestrated tracking shot, the most private of spaces – a women’s change room – is fluidly explored. Female bodies of all shapes and sizes dance across the space, creating an endearing movement piece.”
After we wrapped I had posted something about the making of the film here. SLIP was my first project on the Red and the cool, clean image quality proved to be a perfect fit for the atmosphere we were hoping to achieve with this piece. A while back the film aired on Bravo, but tomorrow will mark its big screen premiere. A huge thank you must go out again to Sean Sealey, whose Steadicam work is simply incredible. See for yourself…here’s a sample of SLIP on my website.
SLIP TOOK HOME TWO AWARDS ON JUNE 6th @ THE CFC WSFF AWARDS CEREMONY: Best Experimental Film and the Kodak Award for Best Cinematography. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped bring SLIP to the screen.
Official site of the Canadian Film Centre’s WSFF
Website of director Chelsea McMullan
I’ll be heading to Vancouver and Edmonton this week with Lilia Topouzova and Ferdinando Dell’omo for the documentary SATURNIA, a feature doc project we have been shooting together since early 2009. The documentary weaves together the stories of Italian-Canadians from Canada’s East coast to the West as they recount their journeys to Canada via the SS Saturnia. The subjects, who have been in Canada for over forty years (the Saturnia was scrapped in 1966) , offer heartwarming and often heartbreaking insights into what their ideas of life in Canada once were in relation to how the stories of their lives ultimately unfolded. I haven’t been out to Vancouver since Deadman wrapped back in the summer of 2008, so I am very eager to return and get some great scenic shots of the city.
On another note, SOAP will be screening at the 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest in June- if you’re in the area and want to see the short (which has already screened at FIVE festivals including Toronto International and Cinéfest, with another two fast approaching!) you should definitely check it out. If you are in Canada and want to see the film you can catch the TV broadcast on the CBC’s Canadian Reflections program starting July 4th, 2010.
And finally, Sunday marked the wrap of the short film HAEDO… more pictures from the 550D shoot coming soon!
If you’re in Toronto during the ReelWorld Film Festival, check out a feature I shot back in 2008, “A Touch of Grey”.
Here’s what festival programmer Bobby Del Rio has to say about the film:
“I think of this as a post-Sex and the City film. It’s not often that older women get a chance to get major roles on screen, and certainly not roles like these. Featuring some of the best performances at this year’s ReelWorld festival (including established Canadian actress Maria del Mar), A Touch of Grey is definitely a polished film – geared toward a female demographic. The story revolves around a group of middle-aged friends who reflect on their lives in the past 20 years or so of friendship – from high school to their current lives. What emerges is an explosive revelation of secrets, horrors and confessions.
In an industry dominated by 20-year old ingénues, it’s rare to see a woman over 40 play anything other than a stock character. It’s refreshing to see so many great roles for middle-aged women in the same film – and the result is a clinic for the actor in subtlety, depth of emotion and nuance. Four sharply defined characters take us through their roller coaster of emotions, and the culmination of their efforts is an utterly human film that is as honest as it is heartwarming.”
Still from "The White Ribbon", lit by Christian Berger's CRLS.
“I produce more than just a reproduction. There is a difference between photographing skin and photographing soul. I need to like the people in front of the camera- then I can do more to support them with light.”
-Christian Berger, AAC
Yesterday at the Berlinale a really great seminar was led by renowned Cinematographer Christian Berger, AAC, whose most recent work can be seen in The White Ribbon. A long time collaboration with Michael Haneke has allowed Berger to continue working in a very naturalistic style, often using available and minimal lighting. During the talk he frequently emphasized the importance of providing physical space to the actors, a philosophy that explains his ability to design long, moving takes (with Steadicam, as seen in The Piano Teacher) or minimalistic master shots that slowly reveal information or the essence of a situation.
It is this approach that inspired Berger to develop the B&B Cine Reflect Lighting System, an ingenious lighting solution based on reflectors of various textures and sizes used with a parabolic HMI “Panibeam” light. The unit itself provides a mere 1200 Watts, but the distance of the throw offered by the bounce material, called Paniflectors, is remarkable. Ultimately, the single unit can be redirected via Paniflectors to become any number of light sources of varying qualities and intensities.
Berger demonstrated how a mirrored Paniflector the size of a postcard redirected the light of the Panibeam unit (discreetly placed far from set in an adjacent alleyway) onto the rooftop of a neighbouring apartment building 75 feet from us. The benefits of lighting this way are obvious- less equipment, less power (the 1.2KW light can be run off of 15A household power, like any other) and, of course, greater emphasis on the ingenuity of a creative DP and crew (the rigging possibilities convinced us all that lighting this way was just much more fun). The lack of additional lighting units on set was particularly important to Berger when working with children on The White Ribbon. With his Paniflectors in place outside location windows, illuminating each scene with soft bounced light, he was able to keep his interior day sets entirely free of any film lighting equipment whatsoever. Lighting through windows on otherwise inaccessibly high apartment buildings also becomes much simpler with this system. I’m eager to give the rental houses in Toronto a call about this as soon as I get back!
On a side note, a bizarre debate was sparked today when Georgian director/producer Rusudan Pirveli, a guest on a Berlinale panel, discussed shooting Red on her debut feature. She gave a piece of advice to the crowd and told us to stop insisting that we shoot 35mm film when trying to get low budget projects financed. This prompted an audience member to declare that the Film and HD formats are as far removed from one another as music is from painting. Regarding HD technology he argued, “This is not cinema.” Good on Rusudan for her reply: “Technology means nothing- what is becoming more important now is taste and talent.” Do we really still need to be having this conversation?
I landed in Berlin today for the 2010 Berlinale Talent Campus, which is part of the Berlin International Film Festvial (Berlinale). I’ll spend the next eight days here meeting directors, producers, screenwriters, editors, sound designers, actors and other DPs from all over the world. Among the lectures we’ll be sitting in on is a workshop led by Director of Photography Christian Berger. I’m also excited to hear Stephen Frears, Christian Goldbeck, Stefan Ciupek and Lizzie Francke (among dozens of others) give talks throughout the week.
I’m staying near Alexanderplatz while I’m in Berlin and I’ve got a great view of the Fernsehturm, which is just a couple of blocks away. It looks incredible right now, lit up outside my window. Before I get too preoccupied with the festival tomorrow I’m going to go out and wander the streets a bit…