Mario Sainz, after having had a lot of success with the The Run web series promo/pilot we did back in September has now flashed out an awesome storyline for the whole series and strong to our finalist place at the Raindance Web Series Film Festival (we lost the win by ONE vote!), has now decided to ask the world at large for a hand, please help him as his story deserves to be told.
“IERI SERA A CENA” (Yesterday’s dinner) is a short film written and directed by the young Cristiano Pedrocco, a first time director at the time of the shoot, who has a background in photography and who, later on, attended a film school’s cinematography course in Rome. Cristiano is now working as a filmmaker in Rome.
I met Cristiano through relatives and when he proposed the film to me, upon reading the script I was instantly hooked. I like uplifting stories, maybe it’s because I’m a child of the Eighties (b. 1979) and I grew up with films such as E.T. and Back To The Future, that this story resonated with me from the start.
Cristiano spent months preparing for the shoot and albeit a minimal budget he flashed out of his own pocket, he managed to have everything in place for the shoot. And it was well worth it, the film has won many National and International festivals since it was released a couple of years ago. Now that its festival run is over I can finally post it here. I will get a subtitled version in English soon as well, meanwhile, unless you speak Italian, have a look at the pictures!
It was shot on a Canon 5D with Zeiss Compact Prime 2 Lenses.
I shot this advert for Shaven Ape, directed by Ben Fogg – with whom is a pleasure to work.
Shot on Red Epic with Zeiss Distagon Prime lenses.
Less than a couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be involved in shooting the Europcar and Arsenal FC partnership campaign. Here’s the full edit. I shot the Trudy Mertesacker bit (the bakery) without the headshot interview of Trudy and Per.
Directed by the brilliant Ben Fogg
Produced by the lovely Jade Fitton for Shaven Ape
Shot on Red Scarlet with Canon EF zoom lenses.
Here’s a funny making of video of the first half of CoM.
Some time have passed now from when we had to flee Erbil in Kurdistan Iraq for fear of being caught in between Isis advance and the US air strikes, meanwhile our director, Lauand Omar, has been busy tweaking the script in Istanbul first and then editing complete scenes as well as a second teaser of the film to show potential investors and fans alike. Here’s a link to the teaser, I hope you enjoy. Peace!
Shot on Arri Alexa with Zeiss Superspeed Primes.
Here’s the first teaser for Curse of Mesopotamia, a horror/fantasy feature film I’ve been shooting this summer in Erbil, (Kurdistan) Iraq.
We shot 50% of the movie but had to go due to the war that was looming over us. We’ll reprise production at the beginning of the winter.
Produced by Visual K Production and written and directed by Lauand Omar.
Shot on Arri Alexa in 2K Apple ProRes 4444 with Arri Superspeed prime lenses.
Check the film’s FB page:
I’ve been recently called to shoot a horror/fantasy movie in the Middle East. After many discussions and considerations we ended up choosing to shoot in with an Alexa (Plus HS Classic, with a 16:9 sensor) in 2K Apple ProRes 4444. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Alexa and its dynamic range, as well as its gentle roll off on the shoulder of the curve as well as its incredible handling of underexposure, but in this case the script required so many low key lighting scenarios that it was simply impossible to do it with a Red Epic for instance, even in its latest Dragon iteration. I’d say the Sony F65 (and the F55 maybe too) may have been able to handle that but there was also to consider the amount of data we were going to later have to ingest and since the region we were in wasn’t the easiest place to find professional hard drives’ suppliers we decided that the Alexa would also help streamline our workflow and it did.
Before principal photography began I organised a simple set-up for costume, make-up/hair and lighting test. I tested various lenses, exposures, filters and ISO rating. I decided to go for a 1/4 ProMist on the lens for the “period scenes” (half the film was set 600BC, the rest nowadays) to take a little bit of the digital edge off. If I had to find one thing I don’t like about the Alexa is that sometimes it feels a little bit too sharp – in fact I also decided to use a set of the old and trustworthy Zeiss Superspeed Prime lenses, which gave the image a more vintage look but also had the speed but not the cleaniness of say the Zeiss Master Primes for example.
The Alexa performed well with the various set-ups but upon rating it 400 ISO, moving the dynamic range towards the bottom of the curve gave that extra crispness to the shadows that was quite striking to be honest. It really allowed a 4+ stop underexposure to look clean and noise free. The setting basically add one stop to the already striking low light capturing capabilities of the German camera. This has allowed me to play with low light levels as well as to push the underexposed zones of the image without ever looking muddy. The feel is almost that of an added third dimension to an area of exposure that sometimes can look really flat. It benefited me by also allowing me not worry too much if I had an area I could not for some reason bring as up exposure wise as I would have wanted. I would then bring it up during grading without it ever adding noticeable noise.
For daylight scenes I would always go back to its standard 800 ISO rating though.
The 400 ISO rating can be a double edge sword only when you’re playing with too little light overall. The setting obviously forces you to open one stop on the lens so that has to be kept in mind. If with the light available your stop is T2 at 800 ISO then at 400 you’ll have T1.3 and that to me is way too extreme as base stop (although I would use it if that was the only way to bring a shot home).
In conclusion as long as lighting is not an issue, for a contrasty low-key lighting approach 400 ISO on the Alexa is a good trick of the trade.