Sometimes (or rather quite often) other filmmakers may venture into projects or shoot films that are inspiring for me to watch (or even wish that I had been part of). Sometimes it can be aspects of a film, such as visuals, cinematography, editing, grading, special effects, the acting, choice of genre, etc. Sometimes it’s the entire concept, the way a project is executed, the manners and context of its conduct, the resulting production value, etc. Some few projects may be so inspiring for me to have experienced on YouTube or Vimeo, that I would like to make a special note of them here, on my blog. That I would like to share this experience so that perhaps you may be inspired as well. I’m talking about those projects that have the same aspirations as myself and that same guerilla style of execution with zero budgets and small (or minimal) crews, working with similar gear as myself. The first one to get this special attention from me is the filmmaker and author David Simpson, who has made a short / promotion film based on his book Post-Human. The topic of post-humanism or transhumanism, is one that intrigues me, although I belong to the more dystopical school that preceded it, i.e. the cyberpunk / tech noir / future noir genre. But the science fiction aspect of filmmaking is what is dearest to me, regardless of our viewpoints and predictions of the future. So, here we have a sci-fi authour who has taken a giant leap and entered the world of films, trying to picture his visions of the future in the short Post-Human (2015), as a prelude to a possible feature. Here is the story about his project:
Blackmagic Design is for indie filmmakers today what Kindle has been for authours for many years; we have had self-publishing authors and now we have self-producing filmmakers. It is therefore joyous for me to listen to Simpson comparing between and choosing to buy his own Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera over renting a expensive RED or the Arri ALEXA, keeping his budget under control in the process. These are my sentiments as well; I have listened to advice from established filmmakers that renting is the only option. I respectfully disregard that advice. Like Simpson, I want to learn my camera inside out, to squeeze out the most of its capacity to capture a decent image, over having to hire a cinematographer and rent his gear. I’m not a professional cinematographer or director; I aspire to be a true independent filmmaker, the auteur. Being both producer, writer, director and cintematographer, all in one person. That requires from me to own my own basic film kit, learning it so that operating it becomes my second nature, to pull off a project such as Simpson’s. Talking about gear, I really like how he used natural light exclusively, just to keep his costs down and to be able to rig and dissasemble his equipment within a moments notice – true guerilla style! It was entertaining to see how he could manage to execute his principal photagraphy in less than three hours, in this way. What is truly inspiring is to hear how he could pull off such as visually stunning movie with a crew of three people on the set, plus two actors. Watch the result here:
Athough, lacking in certain aspect of its excecution, as I really disliked the verbose narrative (he could had trusted his visuals more than he did) and found the acting to be a bit lame, as well as the score being a bit pompous, the production value of Simpson’s short is great. He really pulled off his shots and placed it against some great VFX compositing work done in post. All of this was executed with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, shooting ProRes 422 HQ, through a Sigma 18-35 mm and a Metabones speedboster, a couple of tripods, slider, Glidecam (and west), with sound take-up through a Røde and Zoom recorder, basically the same equipment that I either use already or am planning to aquire for my field kit. Even the colour correction was done in DaVinci Resolve 12.5, the software of my choice, although I would never compromise with shooting RAW for any reason. So Post-Human is a living proof of what can be done with the same equipment that I either have already or aspire to have, at least in terms of production value. As you may see in the finishing video, Hollywood producers have already shown interest in a possible big budget production of his book. Drawing from his experiences of the short, Simpson and his wife have produced their first feature lenght indie movie, a cabin in the woods thriller entitled Dangerous to Know, featuring the same actress in the leading role, although using a Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and a Sony DSLR, editing and grading in DaVinci Resolve. Images coming from that movie look promising.
“It is maybe the most indie movie that’s ever been made”. In both the short and his new feature, the film crew basically consists of Simpson and his wife, himself directing and operating the camera. This is something that reflects how we do movies in Gorilla Film Studios, which basically consists of me and my wife, switching the roles of directors and camera operators, as well as sound engineers. So, watching these behind the scenes documentaries, this is another confirmation that we are doing something right, that this is the sign of times and the future of independent cinema. Seeing Simpson and his wife together, in his series of vlogs, is a true inspiration for me to continue filming together with my wife. Yet another thing that me and David Simpson seem to have in common, is the idea to produce a short promo film, to pich and fund raise means to produce a feature length movie, in a similar way as Sam Raimi did three versions of the same movie, The Evil Dead, first as a short student’s project, then a indie low budget feature shot on 16 mm, and lastly a larger productions (i.e. The Evil Dead 2). I have a fully scripted zombie movie, entitled Foce Majeure, that I could extrapolate some scenes from, possible the setup for the whole movie. I also have a loose idea for a occult urban thriller, inspired by Taxi Driver, that I also could develop into a short, which could lead to a future feature lenght indie production. So, as you see, it makes me happy to watch a pair as the Simpsons, thinking in the same relative manners as myself and my wife are doing independently. It can be inspirational to watch a independent confirmation, to get back on track.