Development shoot for the documentary
MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN
Development shoot for the documentary
MICHAEL SHANNON MICHAEL SHANNON JOHN
I am very proud to be part of an incredibly smart, heartfelt and inspiring independent feature film going to camera later this month. Director Kate Johnston and I have been working hard at scouting some remarkable locations in Toronto’s Cabbagetown, Ward’s Island and other pockets throughout the city for what will be a beautiful film about romantic love, friendship, mothers and daughters. The plot’s central love triangle features Kate Trotter, Christine Horne and the film’s own brilliant producer and co-writer Shauna MacDonald.
I’m very excited to capture this project on the RED Scarlet and work with some of my favourite people in bringing the cinematography to life for this project. Many thanks must already go out to PS Production Services for coming on board to help us bring this story to the screen.
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 proud to have shot this spot for the World Wildlife Fund with director/producers Will and Jamie at Aircastle Films – alongside the two of them it was a pleasure working with the creative talent over at John St. again to bring this project together.
Special thanks must go out to Mikhail Petrenko for providing us with some truly adorable close ups on B Cam, and to Tony Smith and Max Putintsev for the fun we had lighting this dream location, an architect’s home in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood.
Armed with X-acto knives and scissors, this epic feat of a live-action-turned-animated video was carefully hand-constructed by us and our team of supremely talented and fastidious collage artists. Produced by Peter and Josh at Vulture Culture Films, the video was shot over two days at Pie in the Sky studios and on location in the west end of Toronto.
"On Paper" is now in heavy rotation on MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and MuchLoud.
For publishers/distributors Random House and Hazlitt, director Sarah Goodman came up with this brilliant video interpretation for the new book by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, DAYS OF DESTRUCTION, DAYS OF REVOLT. To create the piece we spent an afternoon shooting and chatting in Toronto’s historic Fox Theatre with students from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, capturing their thoughts on the book and the issues it explores.
Special thanks to Matt Steadman for helping me out with this shoot.
Here is a link to the final product:
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.
After a brief but beautiful music video shoot in Jamaica I returned to Toronto and dove right into my third film with INFLO, working alongside Dusty to bring Broken Heart Syndrome (also known as BHS) to life. We shot the film over eight days in locations across Ontario, including Brantford, Creemore, Mississauga, and all over Toronto. I’m particularly excited to have featured in the film my own neighbourhood in the west end, as we did a ton of shooting in and around the Trinity Bellwoods part of town. Running up and down the streets with Steadicam operator Mike Heathcote on an unnaturally warm day in early February reminded me again of why I love shooting movies.
We captured BHS on the RED MX, for which I need to give thanks to Panavision Toronto. Alongside me was 1st AC Alex Leung (seen above), Gaffer Dan Whitton (also in the photo, standing by our 12-by griff in a classroom at Central Tech high school) and Key Grip Justin Yaroski – the dream team.
More on BHS as the edit unfolds…
Will and Jamie at Aircastle called me on the phone and said “Do you want to come and do a cat shoot with us? Cats on computers, cats roaming across desks, boardroom meetings with cats. Cats in costumes, cats fighting cats, cats cuddling with other cats.” Naturally, I said OF COURSE. So Mikhail Petrenko and I spent a wonderful day with Will and Jamie shooting this hilarious video for Toronto ad agency John St. We captured it all on 5D and 7D. Here’s a link to the finished product*:
Arkells talked to us about doing a music video for a new one off of their upcoming album, Michigan Left. Citing our use of text in past work and our documentary aesthetic leanings, the band entrusted us with their vision for KISS CAM… and here it is:
A huge thank you must go out to all of the fans who became a part of this project, and to all of the participants who enthusiastically looked into our cameras for Kiss Cam.
Nadia and I created this behind the scenes documentary on the set of our buddy Jared Raab’s innovative new music video for Arkells’ WHISTLEBLOWER. Spinner launched the doc yesterday – click on the picture to see how Jared’s holographic masterpiece came together:
Special thanks to Vulture Culture’s Pete and Josh for bringing us on board!
Click still to watch a clip:
by Nadia and me.
Thanks to all of the beautiful people in this video.
“The Stand” by Mother Mother.
Stéphane Dirschauer, writer/director of A DISPLAY OF EMOTION, contacted me in September 09 with his latest script VOL DE NUIT. With the NFB and Ontario Arts Council already on board, we got prep underway early – a full year before going to camera. It was so early, in fact, that the 7D was still just a rumour, but I had a feeling that this would be a better system for us than film or the RED (the other options we were seriously considering and pricing out) because we needed something we could use under low light with minimal noise and artifacting and, especially, something small. I started looking at Philip Bloom’s 7D samples, specifically the now-iconic Dublin’s People video, and thought that this might be our best option for the night-heavy story, much of which also includes the characters talking in a moving taxi cab through the city.
See DUBLIN’S PEOPLE by Philip Bloom:
Stéphane saw the link and brought up a good point: he didn’t want the lushness of the shallow depth of field and the vibrancy of the colours and bokeh to distract viewers from the performances on screen. Not having heard much criticism of the HDSLR “look” that people had otherwise already started falling in love with I thought that this, from a directorial standpoint, was a very valid concern. Agreeing that the practical benefits of the 7D were otherwise perfectly suited to our needs, I spent the year shooting as much as I could on DSLRs to see what the differences in the visual and technical approach would actually prove to be.
For the most part, many of the commercials and shorts I’ve done on DSLRs so far have called for the loose, improvised style that is now the quintessential 7D aesthetic: breathing focus, shallow depth of field and handheld. But none of this suited the style we had in mind for Vol de Nuit. We didn’t want to date the film or equate it with a look that is too current and overly reminiscent of the format we would be capturing it on. We wanted a very controlled look – classical, stark and precise. As we all now know, pulling focus and achieving pin sharp accuracy on DSLR still photography lenses is extremely difficult. So back in August I began talking to my friend Mike Reid about his new 7D, modified with a PL mount by Illya Friedman in LA at Hot Rod Cameras. The 7DPL with 35mm cine lenses was the system we went with and it worked beautifully.
VOL DE NUIT is the story about Karine (played by the brilliant Montreal-based actress Marilyn Castonguay), a young woman working for a catering company at an upscale reception and finding out that her father is in critical condition following a car accident. Karine gets caught stealing a guest’s purse in an attempt to find some fast cash for a trip home to her family in Quebec. Gauthier (Bernard Arène) sympathizes with Karine and helps her flee the scene.
This project had some amazing challenges. For one, we needed to light a two-level reception hall encased by 25′ windows at night (the Assembly Hall venue in Etobicoke – a tricky location technically but the most beautiful one we saw). The scene involved 35 extras, a wipe-out of champagne flutes and some indoor/outdoor window action. I needed to tie all of this visually with the dingy hallway and industrial kitchen of another location. To give the two worlds a very different feel, I used 1/4 Warm Black Pro Mist filters on the reception scene and very soft, warm light. We abandoned our filters for the bowels of the reception hall, shooting under our own overhead daylight fluorescent tubes and 3200K on the camera for the hallway and kitchen sequences. You can see the difference in these screen grabs, taken straight off of the raw footage:
I ended up grabbing a small set of Zeiss Super Speeds from Complete (25mm, 50mm and 85mm, as well as a 14mm that was used on some tracking shots in the narrow hallway, as seen in the garbage bag shot above). All interiors were shot ISO 100, and night car interiors/exteriors were shot at ISO 400. Here are some shots from our night car scenes, lit with the help of some soft tungsten and HMI lighting in the stationary scenes and a 9″ Mini Flo kit in the moving shots:
Much thanks goes out to 1st AC Alex Leung (who, like me and the guys at Complete, was also loving the ARRI follow focus and cine lenses on the 7D), Misha Petrenko for his care and his eye with our lighting, Jason McKendry and Cliff Ramnauth.
Can’t wait to see the finished product (and hear the score!) of what is bound to be a beautiful and elegant piece. Post-production will be completed at Technicolor in Toronto in February 2011.
Chelsea McMullan, Alejandro Coronado, producer Heather Phenix and I followed Rae Spoon on their tour through the Canadian prairies in September and early October for Chelsea’s new doc. I joined them in Calgary on week 2 and from there we hit the road in a minivan (and took the occasional 16 hour voyage on a Greyhound) and shot Rae’s shows in Jasper, Prince George, Edmonton, Calgary again, Brandon and Winnipeg. I can’t say much more about it yet as there’s still shooting to do, but here are some 35mm stills from the trip (and if you want to see more, please visit my flickr album!):
Joyce Wong put together this sequence of out takes from our homemade hot air balloon shoot – we got what we needed so we let the thing burn and continued shooting in slo mo as it happened…
Come see the film, called HOW TO PARTY AND MAKE GOOD BALLOON (which features the balloon actually in flight!) screening as part of the 7-part omnibus feature SUITE SUITE CHINATOWN with live foley and score by an orchestra of high school music students alongside the Exercisers this Friday, November 13 at the Royal in Toronto.
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).
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.
Over the past 3 years I’ve been snapping photos of things that have been left on the side of the road for a series called “Discard”. Sometimes a photo happens because the upholstery creates an interesting contrast against its bland surroundings. Other times it’s not about the furniture as much as it’s about the environment in which I find it. Sometimes it’s the strangeness of the arrangement itself, like this pyramid in Langley, B.C:
Recently I decided to cut the prints up and start arranging them as collages. Here’s an example of how that got started:
I’ve shot banished couches, shelves, electronics, beds, pianos and TVs in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but my favourite are the collages of the suburbs of Toronto. Maybe it’s because I grew up there, so the dismissed items seem to have more personal history attached to them, as if they’d once played an important role in their homes before being ditched so unceremoniously to the curb:
AND LOOK! I’ve taught myself how to make an animated gif so that we can observe the collage process IN MOTION:
Almost a year after wrapping THE CHESTER KIDS I went back up to Stayner, ON and Wasaga Beach with Travis Ainley to shoot promotional photos with leads Stu Hammill and Brandon Coffey. We shot a few rolls of black and white 35mm film. Results of the day:
So back in late May I went on tour with Slakah the Beatchild because Nadia Tan and I (now known as SIX NINE THREE – we have a website and everything) were putting together a PromoFACT EPK on Slakah’s tour, his music and his diverse collaborations. Slakah is awesome, inspiring, and very much in tune with his creative vision. He was a pleasure to profile in this documentary. Also featured in the piece are Tingsek (from Sweden) and Ebrahim (Vancouver), joining Slakah in Toronto and Montreal for the first time for this unique Slakadeliqs mini-tour. I must also thank the wonderful and talented Jared Raab, a good friend of ours who did some beautiful additional shooting. We shot this on the Canon 550D T2i and it was the perfect choice for a visually-driven film using mostly studio recordings of music, casual conversations captured on the fly with camera audio and sit-down interviews going single-system with the Juicedlink Box. ENJOY.
The video’s been blogged about on dozens of music sites already, but read about it here from the man himself on SLAKAH’S BLOG.
I’m heading up to Creemore, Ontario tomorrow to shoot another short with Dusty Mancinelli and Harry Cherniak of Inflo. This one’s called Beautiful Imperfections and it’s about an 11 year old boy’s struggle with bullying and the consequences of his pent-up frustrations. I’m very excited to be working with kids again, even if they will be punching me in the custom-built pillow camera mount. I did a spot a couple weeks back for an ad agency featuring some fourteen-year-olds and remembered again that a great way to keep seeing things in new lights is to keep thinking like a kid once in a while.
Take a look at this example of the sensational landscapes we’ll be framing in glorious 2.35!
Dusty took this picture while scouting some locations in Creemore. It’s cool that we share a love for sparse terrain and bold geometry, because Dusty always comes back with inspiring shots that make me really excited to shoot with him.
Take a look at what Nadia cut together.
We spontaneously shot this a couple of weeks ago when Travis Ainley and Brandon Coffey came by. It has since been hitting music blogs as Blackbird Blackbird’s new video for their cover of FLOAT ON.
Turn on HD!
I’m in Banff at the moment wrapping up MADE IN CANADA at the International TV Festival here. So far we’ve got tons of insight from some interesting people in TV, like Kenny Hotz (Kenny vs. Spenny), Sharon Lewis (ZeD, a show that inspired MANY of us back in the day), and a personal hero of mine, Ricky Gervais, all against the stunning backdrop of Banff, Alberta. I’m sitting in the delegate lounge anxiously awaiting an interview with Jason Priestly (of 90210, in case you didn’t know).
On another note, while you’re here, you should check out the new teaser for THE CHESTER KIDS!
UPDATE: The Chester Kids found its way onto /Film with a very insightful review by Christopher Stipp (he definitely gleaned many accurate details from just the trailer alone). This guy definitely gets what we’re doing. Another review can be found on Quiet Earth, also very supportive of the film.
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!