FIFA WOMEN WORLD CUP 2019

In order to establish a bigger presence of the Women National Football Team among the people the advertising department of the Italian state television (RAI) asked me to follow and film in cinematic way our most recognisable female players. This is what actually came out of it.

Shot on Red Helium S35 with Cooke S3 Panchro Primes and Alexa Mini with Cooke S4 Primes

 

KOWA ANAMORPHICS WITH THE BRMC IN BERLIN

In December 2017 we filmed four music video for the American band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in the famous Babelsberg Studios in Postdam, just outside Berlin. Excited by the job, filming one of my favourite rock and roll band, and with the rare chance to design the lighting from scratch and control it fully I devised a set of color schemes for each song, helped by the use of specific gels and a set of Arri SkyPanel S-60C all connected to a DMX board.

More recently, last March I believed, I met with Anna Piffl at the AIC micro salon in Rome, excited by the fact that I had used lenses that were rehoused by the company she now manages, the brilliant P+S Technik, she asked me to write a few lines explaining my choices. Here they are coupled with a few pictures of the day and a backstage video (shot and edited by Luca Previtali):

“Filming BRMC music videos in Berlin – December 2017 – released spring 2018

When Giorgio Testi, my long-time friend and collaborator, asked me to join him on a new job financed by Apple Music he was going to direct, about filming the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club band in Berlin I was elated, not only because of the coolness of the job itself but also because I’d always loved their music. Giorgio and I have been very lucky over the years working for some of our idols like the Rolling Stones, Gorillaz, Pixies, Killers and Blur, just to name a few, but BRMC held a special place in our heart. A band for true rock and roll music lovers, their latest album was one of the best ones yet…

In the last few years size and high sensitivity on high end digital cameras’ sensors has meant a rediscovery of anamorphic glass, of each and every kind. We had recently filmed a show using old Kowa anamorphic lenses that Giorgio had fallen in love with. In contrast with the vintage Lomo anamorphic lenses, which we had used in the past, Kowa’s were lighter and warmer. I liked their look and I thought it was going to be perfect in a rock and roll scenario. However I, on the other hand, wasn’t a big fan of their original housing, often hearing complaints by my camera department on their user unfriendliness and overall stiffness. As I was trying to weigh my options I was given the opportunity from SeeYou Rent (where Gunnar Weber’s Bear Films, our production on the ground in Berlin, was renting the camera kit from), of hiring the P+S Technik rehoused Kowa Anamorphic lens set instead (provided by Ludwig), I jumped at it. I went to test the lenses the day prior the shoot at the rental house, where I was joined by my focus puller, Sebastian Katzer, who had been brilliant prepping the kit for me as he would be assisting me during filming.

I found the new housing very solid, made of high quality and precision. The bigger barrel, common front diameter of 80mm and 77mm thread for screw in filters render the lenses more easily employed on all sorts of application as well as more easily coupled with modern wireless lens control systems that the older design wasn’t particularly friendly with, given its inherent stiffness and small size. I find the Kowas to be quite soft generally, within the set I was given the 50mm seemed particularly so, in fact I ended using it less than the other three focal lengths and avoided using any diffusion filter with that particular focal length. I am not a fan of very shallow depth of field in and on itself, I like it but it has to serve a storytelling or visual purpose at least for me. In this particular case, being old glass, the lenses have a greater degree of optical and chromatic aberrations around the edges, especially on the two wider focal lengths, than we are used with newly designed anamorphic sets (the optical distortion found on the outer edges of the 40mm is more similar to the 35mm anamorphic JDC Xtal Xpress lens than that of the new Cooke 40mm anamorphic for example, which still has some contrary to for instance the ARRI Master Anamorphic who have almost none). For this reason I tried to keep them within a T4 to T2.8 throughout the shoot, only a couple of times going wide open as I was also asked to film mostly at 50fps and my lighting set ups where under at times. Doing so would not cancel out the optical shortcomings of the lens design itself but would help make them match more closely to each other as I found that when these lenses are used wide open (as with most vintage lenses, anamorphic or spherical), they tend to sway one way or the other often losing contrast and definition more so than when they operate slightly stopped down. Indeed, at T4 they were truly beautiful. The warmer flaring on this lens compared to the archetypal blue anamorphic flaring is spectacular, however harsh point light needs to be used as any slightly softer source, even a straight down the barrel Fresnel unit will only give you a wash more than a proper line. The rehoused lenses worked very well on both our Alexa Mini, one on a 360degrees dolly track around the built set operated by me, and the other on a Steadicam rig, operated by the relentless David Willert with focus puller Leo Kairat. Most of the time the 40mm was employed on the dolly whereas the 75mm on the Steadicam rig. We ened up filming four music videos in one day, within Studio 10 at Babelsberg Studio in Postdam, just outside Berlin. It was great to be given the chance to design the lighting from scratch, pick a colour scheme for each song and program the lighting movements from the ground up. On top of the two filming cameras, we had three video camera operators manning smaller prosumer cameras linked to a video mixer that was feeding their live feed as well as previously made graphics live onto the screens we had rigged within the set.

I am very proud of the results, Echo being probably the best of the four pieces we made that day. It was all possible thanks to the hard work of my entire camera crew (David Willert, Sebastian Katzer, Leo Kairat and Xaver Neumann our Tech Assistant), lighting crew (Felix Fisher and Jonathan Beck),  grip crew (Levent Suzen), the sound crew (Dirk Feistel was the sound recordist, Marta Bala our VJ and the video camera operators (Simone Pellegrini, Claus Kuhlmann and Brian Zajak), the production company and its people (our bro and sis Gunnar Weber and Julia Kempe and PA Konstantin Munzel), the studio, the band and of course the director, Giorgio Testi. A big thank you finally goes to editor Luca Previtali (who also filmed and edited the BTS video) and colourist Paul Diamond from My Brother Bob studio in London.”

WE ARE VENOM – LENS CHOICE

This is what I had to say when the guys at Cooke Optics asked me why I chose their lenses for filming that particular commercial”

“I shot Arri RAW using one Alexa SXT and one Alexa Mini, the latter being the A camera on steadicam, the former used for most SFX shots and inserts.

Cookes are usually my lenses of choice, for their beautiful warm, organic and three-dimensional look, however in this particular case the choice was not a given, I had to mix spherical and anamorphic lenses and needed a package that would match seamlessly, with glass that had the same characteristics of color and contrast between the two formats. I considered a few different options but ended up picking Cooke Anamorphic lenses and Cooke S4i primes once again, their look and coupling being the best I could find. In the end it transpired that the same lenses were also used during the filming of “Venom” itself, which was a lucky coincidence as at the time of choosing my lens package no specific information was yet available. In deciding the mood and colours of the commercial I was directly inspired by the film’s trailer, specifically tuning in on it’s neo-noir approach, rich dense shadows and clean strong highlights alongside the use of a color dominant. In this particular instance I picked a blue gel (Lee Glacier Blue) that seemed coherent to the one used on some scenes within the movie, with which I gelled some of my lights and kept it throughout as colour dominant in the shadows. We had to reverse engineer the SFX, as given our tight schedule and copyright restrictions we could not generate brand new effects on time and had to use templates handed to us by the people at Sony US that were working on the effects of the actual feature film. I used the Cooke Anamorphic 50mm as main focal length, for it’s beautiful bokeh and lack of optical distortion, coupled with 40mm and 75mm whereas the Cooke S4i 32mm, 40mm and 50mm have been mostly on camera for SFX plates. Atmospheric haze and Tiffen SFX filters were also employed at times.”

Color and SFX were carried out at Frame By Frame in Rome.

 

 

BLOGOTHEQUE: MENGONI – HOLA MAKING OF

Filming long takes is always challenging. Filming long takes that in involve 360 turns and a walk through an entire building as well as outside with real street lighting is even more and even more so if you the building is a XVI century beauty that now serves as a museum, where it’s impossible to attach anything anywhere nor even raise the temperature more than 5 degrees Celsius lest the endangerment of its art collection. Plus there’s live sound being recorded and a boom operator walking by the camera at all times! But when a company cool as Blogotheque calls, giving you the chance to work on a project this satisfying you have got to deliver. Here’s a nice behind the scenes video of that experience. Edited by Luca Previtali.

Ps: I forgot to add we could not get in until 6.30PM and had to finish by 2AM…

 

SIMONE CRISTICCHI – ABBI CURA DI ME

Early last January I was called to film two music videos back to back from well known and beloved Italian artists. One was Argento vivo by Daniele Silvestri, the other Abbi Cura Di Me by Simone Cristicchi can be admired here. They both went on playing successfully at the most prestigious San Remo festival, sweeping all critics’ as well as people choice’s awards (but not the festival crown itself).

We filmed one long take from beginning to end, all lighting was cued up with the music thanks to a dimming board and a gang of uncompromising lighting technicians and dolly grips. I was on camera. We filmed at Lumina studios in Rome. Post production was carried on at InLusion VFX in Rome.

Shot on Red Helium s35 with Zeiss Ultra Primes.

Directed by Giorgio Testi

Art direction by Laura Latorre with the support of Flaminia Ciabatti

Costumes by Noemi Intino.

Colorist Andrea Gargano

The Making Of Morning Blues

Here’s a very nice article about Rose’s music video I shot last year with the brilliant Gray Bryan at the helm.

https://elementtwentysix.com/morning-blues/

FABRI FIBRA feat. THEGIORNALISTI – PAMPLONA

Here we are again with yet another Italian mainstream music video for the renowned Italian rapper Fabri Fibra featuring the 2017 new pop sensation Thegiornalisti helmed by Tommaso Paradiso.

The music video was shot over the course of two very fun days in Trieste on the northern east side of Italy, close to the Slovakian border. The video uses the harbour area as main exterior setting, a local landmark that was used to replicate some of NY street in Sergio Leone’s classic “Once Upon a Time in America”.

The video was shot on a Red Dragon with Cooke S4s Primes.

Directed by Cosimo Alema’

Produced by Matteo Stefani for Brotalco.tv

Cinematography and Camera by me.

LEJOE – A SHORT FILM PROMO ETC.

During late spring 2016 I started collaborating with the Royal Central School of Speech and drama ending up delving into directing a couple of scenes and a short film promo, with their cast of talented young actors. It was interesting and refreshing for me to tackle all the filmmaking disciplines involved in making a movie. I directed two short scenes extrapolated from screenplays that already have been made into movies and had to direct two sets of actors I was given for them. Not having been able to cast the actors myself I had to adapt to their style and looks and make the most out of it and with the given material at hand, which was next to nothing as the budget was non-existent. I made a point of not try to recreate the movies in question as it would have been impossible, actor’s physiques aside, by our budget time and equipment. Plus I wanted to give it a go at shaping my own take on the script, without trying to mimic two successful existing films with big movies stars, it wouldn’t have been fair on everybody involved and most importantly it wouldn’t have been fun. During this time I rehearsed with the actors extensively and searched for the right locations and tried to figure out the appropriate camera and lighting style. We didn’t have much but we made the most of it. Having to be a real filmmaker for once was really exciting: directing, lighting, camera operating and then editing, sound mixing and grading was daunting for me and frightening at the same time but it turned out being extremely rewarding. While I was working on those scenes above I was approached by another student, Vanessa Calderon, who asked me to be the cinematographer of the graduation film she was starring in and producing. I agreed and the result is on my my WORKS page, titled Traces of a Soul, it was directed by the lovely Robin Rainsford who can be seen acting on one of the scenes I shot for the school shown below. At the same time Mannini Mokhotu, also acting in one of those scenes, asked me to do a short film promo for her, and lacking director, budget and any other key figure I undertook the task of doing it all myself. The result still makes me extremely proud. Mannini went on making a crowdfunding campaign and filming the whole thing during late summer last year, unfortunately by that time I was shooting on a BBC series and I could not free myself to light it for her. However here is the promo we did in all its glory.

Mannini conceived the idea and stars in it; I directed, shot, edited and graded it; the sound design and mix and graphics were done by Homebrew Film post-house in Cape Town, South Africa and the original song featured at the end was written and performed by the South African band Rheebongs (huge thanks to all of them for the amazing help they gave us, it made a real difference). Enjoy.

Below are the scenes I shot before filming Lejoe’s promo short:

 

GIORGIA – VANITA’ AN ITALIAN COMEBACK

2017 has begun with an unexpected job for me, a music video shoot from one of the most renowned and beloved Italian singers: Giorgia. It was my first Italian job in many many years and I welcomed the experience. Upon reconnecting with its director, the Italian music video director Cosimo Alema’, I was asked to join him into this journey. Commissioned by Sony and produced by the director’s companies Borotalco, Bmovie Italia and 99.9 Films through Andrea Biscaro and Fulvio Compagnucci, the video features three separate storylines loosely referring to the song’s lyric interwoven with the artist’s brilliant playback delivery. It was a fun two days shoot, enlightened by the wonderful company of the singer, who’s real persona is all you would hope her to be. A real pleasure.

Cosimo distinctive signature style called for hand held camera with 45º shutter, fast paced editing and use of natural lighting when available. I tried my best to keep it simple while at the same time give justice to Giorgia’s beautiful features.

Shot on Red Dragon with Zeiss Super Speed primes.

 

ANYA HINDMARCH SERIES

Here’s the latest show I shot for Anya Hindmarch during last London Fashion Week.

Produced by Audrey Davenport for Lut! Media

Directed by Bouha Kazmi

Shot on Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Amira, Canon C300 MKII with Cooke S4s Prime Lenses, Angenieux and Fujinon Zoom Lenses.

On Anya’s YouTube channel is possible to watch all other videos for the shows we shot during the last two and half years. Link below.

http://www.youtube.com/user/AnyaHindmarchMovies