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"Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?

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Jason Roberts
"Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:42:14 pm

I think I have stated this before - I teach filmmaking at the high school level. I have a student who graduated two years ago, and instead of going to film school decided to strike out on his own (I won't comment one way or the other on that issue). He's an excellent cinematographer, an OK director and editor. Fortunately, he's paired up with someone who can write, and they have a "bottle movie" they'd like to shoot - 2 characters in a room (living room of an abandoned apartment, two characters in chairs, for about 75 minutes - four scenes in the bathroom, otherwise just the two of them talking. I read the script, it's more engaging than it sounds). He has come to me for equipment advice, and so that's where I turn to you all (he is being privately funded by his parents for this little project - suffice to say a decently well-off family, but they've privately stated to me they won't spend a penny more than necessary)

Anyway - pretty standard sized living room (16 x 20 is what they measured). They plan on using 8 point lighting, and their shooting strategy is such - they want to use the same method that Lumet used in 12 Angry Men - start of with short focal lengths and upper perspectives, and as the movie goes on, increase focal length and bring perspective down -shrink the room as the movie goes on, in other words. There will be no handheld work, no dollies (only a gear-based slider) - so basically all tripod.

He cannot decide on a couple of things. He knows he wants to shoot in 4K to an external recorder with monitor. He cannot decide between the GH4 and the A7S. Reasons for indecision: MFT vs Full Frame, the latter allowing for exact focal lengths, no calculation, etc. He also likes the idea of Slog2 and its color grading possibilities. Finally, he cannot decide on prime lenses vs zoom lenses. I've told him that a prime will be a sharper image in ether case, though the zoom will offer greater flexibility / choices in terms of his shooting strategy and a slightly softer image. And so for the purposes of this microbudget film (he already has a good computer that can handle 4K in post), considering setting - is the full frame & Slog of the A7s worth the $1,000 over the GH4? I apologize in advance if this question starts any heated arguments of one vs the other. I've done a lot of reading by "experts" (who often are schills in disguise it seems), and having had no hands-on experience with either camera (I still work on a 5D Mark II), I turn to you. I'd recommend he rent each one for a weekend with a kit and see which he likes better, but the closest rental house is four hours away.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 7:21:50 pm

Well I won't comment on most of this, although I do have opinions about them (which range from "Good for him!" to "Oh, my..." to quietly shaking my head)....

But I will comment on two things....

Primes. Definitely primes. They will look better, be much faster (allowing for easier/faster lighting with much lower levels), and in a setup/situation like this I can think of no compelling reasons at all to shoot zooms.

And lastly...

[Jason Roberts] "I'd recommend he rent each one for a weekend with a kit and see which he likes better, but the closest rental house is four hours away."

Good advice, but the distance shouldn't matter. Virtually every pro camera rental house is used to shipping gear all the time, to anywhere and everywhere. I've rented camera bodies, lenses, support gear... all shipped. In fact before we bought our own PL lenses we use to regularly rent a superspeed primes set from a camera house about two hours away. They'd put them on a Greyhound bus and we'd pick 'em up (the bus station is only two blocks from our studio, so convenient). The first couple of times I though it was pretty nerve wracking... they fact that they were willing to put a set of glass worth about $100K (in a conveniently-stealable small case, with a handle on it) on a bus (which doesn't typically attract upscale travelers)... but they do it all the time.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:00:45 pm

I don't get why these kids don't rent the entire setup just for the duration of the shoot. That's how the cool kids do it (Businessmen).

Or is the script the excuse for buying a lot of gear that will be re-purposed for other projects year-round?


A Bottle episode, and they wanna play with short DOF, but no budget for any dolly or slider or anything but a tripod? That's going to be one very static-looking picture. I'd want some kind of motion shot option to work in tightly with faces, since there's no background to intrude, your actors have to communicate everything with faces and body language in one spot for ninety-odd minutes. This almost demands some dolly work, I'd think.


Have the kids re-watch the original "Little Shop Of Horrors" with the sound turned off, to get an idea of what can be done with a single room.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:18:47 pm

I'd be as much (or more) worried about talent on this project... something that weighs so heavy on just two actors constantly on screen is going to require Anthony-Hopkinsesque acting ability to pull it off... or you are going to wind up with something 10x more boring than "My Dinner with Andre."

And Mark... interesting observation about Little Shop of Horrors. You said "original"...meaning the 1960 Roger Corman version? Worth watching, but I certainly wouldn't hold that up as any example of fine filmmaking. Now, the '86 Frank Oz version is fantastic.

And this forces me down memory lane... way back in my wannabe-actor days my very first role (1988) was in a stage production of LSOH, and was one of the most fun things I ever did in my entire life (and I "borrowed" the engineer boots from wardrobe... still have 'em)....




T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:04:00 pm

[Todd Terry] "'d be as much (or more) worried about talent on this project... something that weighs so heavy on just two actors constantly on screen is going to require Anthony-Hopkinsesque acting ability to pull it off... or you are going to wind up with something 10x more boring than "My Dinner with Andre.""

I think we spent almost five straight hours talking about this very problem. My other career is acting / directing stage stuff. Six years ago I played the lead in "Talk Radio", and described the experience for having to deliver a performance sitting behind a desk and wearing aviator sungalsses for an hour forty five minutes - and having 70 percent of the lines - as the most mentally grueling experience of my life. If you know the play or the movie - the mental breakdown that Barry has at the climax of the play? Yeah, I didn't have to "fake" that too hard when I did it, I was at the point of nervous exhaustion every night from sheer intensity. And their emotional climax - it's a whopper to pull off, and they want to shoot in sequence - and I could not imagine delivering what the script calls for on the 14th day. Just to give you reference - they said their ideal Hollywood actors would be Paul Giamatti (guy who doesn't move) and Paul Dano (guy who does move, and there needs to be a significant age difference between the two). I can the Hopkinese idea - I will maintain "Remains of the Day" is two year's worth of acting master classes in two hours.

They don't have actors cast yet - they want to do open call / auditions and are willing to pay scale, which means they better pray for some kind of unseen miracle to come out of local talent.

And goddamit, great pic - as a younger man I really wanted to play The Dentist. A little too much grey in my hair and a little less swagger in my step now to make it believable.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:18:15 pm

[Jason Roberts] "...and they want to shoot in sequence..."

Which is technically crazy, but from an actor's standpoint isn't a bad idea. Being his first movie, John Hughes shot The Breakfast Club in sequence because, unbelievably, he didn't know you didn't have to do that. Which did make for a crazy shoot for the crew, but allowed for perfect character growth for the actors... so in this case it might not be a bad idea.

And yes, I think Hopkins is our finest living actor. I would gladly give a year's salary just to sharpen his pencils for a week. His ability stuns me.


[Jason Roberts] "as a younger man I really wanted to play The Dentist."

Yep, as I said, most fun I ever had. It's really the perfect supporting role, because it can totally steal the show yet you're really only working about 15 minutes, and napping in the dressing room the rest of the time. I got to ride a motorcycle on stage (which always cranked, thank God), sing (I'm really more of a "vocal stylist"), dance (much like the singing), wear lots of leather, slap Audrey around, rough up my best friend who happened to be Seymour, die a great death night after night, and be eaten by Audrey II. Oh, and sometimes made kids in the front rows cry. What actor could ask for more??

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:27:01 pm

And oh... meant to mention... if they are willing to pay (especially if willing to pay scale), they need to submit a casting call to Breakdown Services/Breakdown Express. We've started using them directly instead of casting agents for commercial projects. I'll put out a casting call, they take care of sending the breakdowns to all appropriate talent agents within your part of the country (or beyond), and you get in headshots/resumes/reels. You can then request custom auditions for whomever you like.

Best thing about it (besides being free) is that it is fast. When I put out casting calls myself through the usual channels, it usually takes several days for auditionees to filter in. If I send a casting call to Breakdown Express, I'll usually have anywhere from 100 to 200 submissions within an hour or two. They jump right on distributing the breakdown, and since most agencies use them and are constantly checking them (or being alerted), the agents typically immediately make their appropriate submissions. Works great.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:35:29 pm

[Todd Terry] "Which is technically crazy, but from an actor's standpoint isn't a bad idea. Being his first movie, John Hughes shot The Breakfast Club in sequence because, unbelievably, he didn't know you didn't have to do that. Which did make for a crazy shoot for the crew, but allowed for perfect character growth for the actors... so in this case it might not be a bad idea."

You know, I love it when a director doesn't "know any better", and amazing stuff happens as a result(Citizen Kane, anyone?). That shooting in sequence did allow the actors to improvise the whole "why are you in detention" sequence, which may have had a few moments that were a little too on the nose, but goddamn if there aren't some of the most honest moments about being a teenager ever captured on film in that sequence. We have talked about the in sequence idea for this project, and it may be the only way to go because of the nature of the conflict and its climax.

[Todd Terry] "And yes, I think Hopkins is our finest living actor. I would gladly give a year's salary just to sharpen his pencils for a week. His ability stuns me.
"


Can you imagine being Bryan Cranston when he got that letter from Hopkins about Breaking Bad? If I had been Cranston, I would have framed that sucker and retired immediately - because where the hell do you go from there?

And sorry to all Cinematographers that this has turned into an acting discussion. Well, not really - after all, the performance can be the greatest in the world, but if it's not filmed properly, it won't work. Think of "Silence of the Lambs" without those straight-on closeups of Foster and Hopkins in the jail - I think done with a 50mm lens to make it almost perfect eye-like perspective, like you were right in their face. Demme and Fujimoto made such a brilliant choice with those shots - Hopkins staring directly at you with eyes of evil. I'm shivering thinking of what it must have been like to look through a viewfinder for a full day looking at that facial expression.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:42:42 pm

Yes those almost-straight-on closeups in "Lambs" are bone-chilling. Tak is one of my favorite (and I think under-appreciated) cinematographers. He had a little flag juuuuuust off the lens axis for his actors' eyelines in those shots. I just re-watched The Sixth Sense a couple of nights ago... just beautiful. And I take some joy in that he started as a DP doing commercials. His stuff is so beautiful.

And Hopkins' Lecter is, like the Dentist in LSOH, one of those total-show-stealers. Hard to believe he has less than 15 minutes of screen time in it.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:07:43 am

Play the scene of when Clarice first meets Lecter, and listen on headphones, eyes closed. The sound design and scoring that builds the suspense and fear is some of the greatest ever done. This amateur movie is going to need very good audio, or even good camerawork will fall flat.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:17:48 pm

[Mark Suszko] "This amateur movie is going to need very good audio, or even good camerawork will fall flat."

You're absolutely right, and when I did a site visit, that was another point of discussion (disadvantage, or maybe an advantage of being a high school-level filmmaker, is that you have to know a little about pretty much damn everything). One great advantage of the apartment is that is a hundred year old wooden floor - nice and creaky and clunky. We talked about how he was going to need to use a lot of that kind of noise for mood and tension - maybe even use a wooden chair for the younger actor, because that in combination with the wooden floor would make for some excellent use of ambient sound at the right times.

He knows the importance of sound design. He did a short film his junior year for me (8 minute variation on "The Most Dangerous Game" that mostly took place in a huge abandoned barn) that he entered in a local film festival. Excellently shot, but the sound - it was terrible. He got rid of most the natural sound in favor of overbearing musical score to jack up tension. He didn't place. His senior year I hooked him up with another student of mine who was interested only in sound design and musical composition, and they spent six weeks completely redoing it - almost all of the music was gone, replaced almost entirely with environmental sound (wind howling outside, creaks, crashes, etc). I also had him cut 45 seconds out of it (and man, who would he look at me with near-hate when I'd say things like "you need to cut the last five frames from this shot"), and he submitted to another film festival, and won the Drama category. Based on that and our conversation they've become almost adamant about using no music, which isn't as far as I would go - but hey, it's not my movie, I'm just trying to provide a bit of advice.

I emailed his parents last night and said they're just going to have to let him rent a package of each camera with some primes for the weekend and see what he likes better. I know I'd personally go with the A7S just because I'm a full-frame man and I get so particular about color grading it borders on OCD, but then again it's not my money.


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 4:27:04 pm

[Jason Roberts] "You know, I love it when a director doesn't "know any better", and amazing stuff happens as a result(Citizen Kane, anyone?). "

Which isn't true. Everyone had a lot of experience by the time it came to Citizen Kane, they weren't a bunch of newbies who had never done anything similar before.


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Mark Suszko
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 6:08:27 pm

"Oh no, you di-in't"

Kane had the finest people working on it that RKO had available.

I think what you probably meant was that Welles came into the deal with a radio and stage background, and wasn't up to speed on the movie-making process as studios were doing it, but he was "coached" along by Gregg Toland thru the entire thing. I will say that many of the things that make KANE so great and different were because Welles came to the process with a fresh eye and not a lot of preconceptions or habits of other film directors. His use of deep focus and long master shots, with Toland's help, allowed him to use a lot of theater style techniques to direct and re-direct the eye around the frame with lighting, with movement and position. These stage acting tricks are part of what makes KANE easy to re-watch time after time, because you can choose to look at different parts of the frame every time you view it. So not to pile on, but, Welles was hardly an amateur storyteller at this point, he was just approaching things differently... and not always successfully. There are a number of anecdotes of things Welles experimented with, that didn't work out.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 6:28:51 pm

[Gary Huff] "Which isn't true. Everyone had a lot of experience by the time it came to Citizen Kane, they weren't a bunch of newbies who had never done anything similar before.
"


I am referring to Wells as a first-time director. Yes, he was surrounded with incredible talent, coached by a great producer - yet at the end of the day, he was the guy with the bullseye on his head. I know he spent a lot of time studying John Ford to learn technique and technical information (I have yet to see anyone do a talk of the influence of John Ford on Wells and I'd love for someone to do it), and he was an incredibly accomplished storyteller, actor, writer - but not in the medium of film. I live in both the theatrical world and the film world, and they're so vastly different it makes my brain hurt to think of it. So to think that he was able to take the fantastic visual imagery of his stage work and his words and turn them into the shots he did - while being supported and surrounded by all the right people - into the visual astoundingness that is that movie (I know it's not a word, but I'm going to use it anyway). That's what I mean by "didn't know any better" - I don't think there's a better first film by any first-time director than that. He knew what he was doing by not knowing what he was doing - he learned technique and also trusted his instinct, and to see that in a first-timer is rare to never.


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:44:13 am
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 1:01:04 pm

[Jason Roberts] "I am referring to Wells as a first-time director"

He was by no means a first time director on Citizen Kane. He was very experienced in both stage and radio at this point.

And Toland was the DP, not the producer.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:39:31 pm

Children... please.... quit sniping like a bunch of six year olds. This is not a Real Housewives audition... lets stop it before someone gets a drink thrown in their face.

All valid points... lets just concede that Kane was Welles' first major feature film and leave it at that, which is true.

And part of what made it great is the fact that it was his first big film, with those "fresh eyes" that were mentioned... and backed up by brilliant people like Toland.

I think it's a bit telling that out of his long and successful career, Welles' first film is considered his masterpiece, and many would argue that nothing else in the following two-thirds of a century even came close. Which is actually a bit sad.

And yes... I'm sure years of writing and radio directing and all that jazz helped immensely... but still.... it's a bit akin to commissioning a piece from a gifted artist renowned for his oil landscapes... but this time you are wanting a sculpture. Of a person. In bronze. The talent transcends to a degree, but it's still a very very different medium.

Play nice.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:54:38 pm
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:02:36 pm

[Todd Terry] "Children... please.... quit sniping like a bunch of six year olds."

Oh please, get over yourself. Did you really think it was proper judgement call to come out of the gate acting like a 12-year old playing everyone's mommy?

[Todd Terry] "Welles' first film is considered his masterpiece, and many would argue that nothing else in the following two-thirds of a century even came close. Which is actually a bit sad."

Perhaps because other people who made Citizen Kane what it was, and were overlooked, weren't along for the rest? Perhaps how there's a huge drop-off in quality as the Star Wars films continued on and key people who made the first two what they were moved on? I would say that what Toland meant with "fresh eyes" is inexperience that wouldn't fight him on very suggestion. That's what I would mean if I wanted a "fresh" director. And Toland's style was not dictated by Welles, it was well evident before he came on the scene.

What Welles primarily brought was the tenacity to write and film a piece essentially lampooning one of the most powerful men in the U.S. at that time, and paints a fascinating, if fictional, portrait of someone with that level of control.

[Todd Terry] " it's a bit akin to commissioning a piece from a gifted artist renowned for his oil landscapes... but this time you are wanting a sculpture. Of a person. In bronze. The talent transcends to a degree, but it's still a very very different medium."

It's not at all that different that your analogy would imply. Welles successfully translated from stage to radio as well, but why, for some odd reason, does that not seem such a ridiculous jump? If you have a talented, experienced cinematographer who can keep you from staging everything like a play (although there are plenty of staged moments in Kane), then what is left that is explicitly different from directing stage vs directing cinema?

In fact, I would say the blending of experiences in stage and radio is what made him perfectly situated to make a film in the first place. The stage experience with visuals and blocking, the radio experience for dialogue (especially in overlapping dialogue, something he experimented with during his tenure in radio), and this helps from dating his film by giving it a modern feel just from the sound work alone.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:48:38 pm
Last Edited By Jason Roberts on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:50:54 pm

[Gary Huff] "Oh please, get over yourself"

As much as I am not one to ruffle feathers - I have looked at many of your posts, and you have used this phrase quite often. Have you thought of applying it to yourself? Because as opposed to practicing kindness in intellectual debate, you tend to talk at people, and not with them. Let me ask this - had I inserted the word "film" in the phrase "first-time director", would you have decided to question whether I should be practicing my profession? If so, why? And I did mix up DP and Producer, that is a certainly a mistake - what I get for responding too quickly without checking the facts I'm sure of in my head.

[Gary Huff] "then what is left that is explicitly different from directing stage vs directing cinema"

As a director of both, I will be happy to offer my view on this.

Directing for stage - the fourth wall through which the audience looks is not moveable. There is no closeup, or 30 degree rule. Theatre is just as much a visual art as a performing art, and visual technique is used by way of levels, placement of actors in physical space - such as creating a diagonal across the downstage and upstage areas - in order to create emotional tension. Additionally varying levels can and are used. The visuals and physical placement and movement of actors are used to display and further emotion, because on stage an actor's primary tool is the body. In theatre, actors have more freedom of movement - there are times when actors must know their marks because of special lighting cues, and lighting and movement in combination with carefully crafted vocal work are all used together to direct the audience's focus at a given time. That being said, one night an actor may suddenly walk towards another actor as a result of an emotional response, and the next night walk away for another emotional reason. The whole body is used by an actor because of the distance between the furthest audience member and the actor. In additional to all those elements are sound and set design. Sound is meant to enhance the vocal work of the actors, and the set both establishes space as well as serving as an obstacle course for actors to traverse as they move about the stage, using them as barriers or something to tie into.

Directing for film - the fourth wall is somewhat to totally moveable (depending on how one wishes to use the 180 degree rule and 30 degree rules, from slavish to throwing it out the window). Film is, at its core, a visual art - at its most basic, film does not NEED actors, dialogue, sound, or anything else except a series of images juxtaposed against each other to create tension and meaning. Of course the vast majority of people prefer their movies with good actors and sound and dialogue. In film, the primary tool of the actor is the face, particularly the eyes, because of the popularity in mainstream film of using a medium shot or closer. In film we see much more of an actor's emotion and thinking in their eyes because of how most directors chose to place a camera, whereas on stage the whole body must be used to convey such things. Example: look at Jessie Eisenberg's performance in "The Social Network". He barely, if ever, moves his head to look at people, or to think - but his eyes quickly move from point to point, and we can see what he's thinking. Or Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight", and he choses to look directly at someone with his eyes as opposed to when they're looking at something else, even when his face is turned towards them. This is an entirely different mode of acting than on stage, a different mindset, and both the director and actor need to be on that wavelength. In film, focus of the audience is decided quite often by the use of focus on camera - a shallow depth of field and the audience has little to no choice where to look, whereas deep focus gives an audience much more choice where to look, how to interpret an image. Focus of an audience is also directed through use of lighting and color (which is also done on stage of course). In film, unless truly deep focus is used, there is little room for an actor to be spontaneous in terms of movement - they must hit their marks as the focus dictates. If the actor deviates from that, and the director decides it works, lighting and focus must be completely changed and the movement replicated - and what if on the second or third or fourth take the movement has lost its emotional authenticity? Also, an actor on stage, if they are a lead, is working for about two hours straight, lights up to curtain call - there is a immersion in the world, the ability live truthfully in imaginary circumstances that is sustained over a long period of time. If shooting on 35mm film, the longest an actor is immersed in the world (unless they decide to never break character even when cameras aren't rolling) is 11 minutes (I believe that's the running time of a 1000ft of film?). Then there is a break, the changing of lights and setting up for a new shot, etc - the imaginary circumstances are "broken" for a period of time. Vocal work is much different for film than for stage. On stage, unless you are wearing a mic, you must know how to train and use your diaphragm in order to project properly so that the cheap seats can hear and understand you - and with that amplified voice, still approach something that resembles natural speech. In film, one always allows for a mic, so that the actor does not have to think about intonation and inflection in combination with projection (which is much different from loudness vs softness of course, and why actors who grow up in one world often have difficulty moving successfully into another medium. The same goes for writers and directors). I know that I have talked much about the differences for actors, and that's because a director has to know these differences and coach actors differently for each medium. That would be one of the key points. The other key point would be using the camera's focus and light and color to direct the audience's attention, whereas on stage it's lighting, physical placement on the stage, levels, lines & diagonals, and voice.

Here is my final argument - once a play starts rolling, it's the actors who are really in charge, along with the stage manager. They can decide what to do on a given night to give a performance, and the technical crew is usually good and fast enough to change things as necessary if an actor does something spontaneous - the performance isn't going to stop for anything short of a heart attack or fire. On a contemporary film set, the director is theoretically the one in charge, and can stop things at any time, and dictate every aspect of what will be caught on the camera, and what of those captured items will make up the final product.

I am not bothered if you disagree with my breakdown of what I feel is different, this is reflective of my experience in the two worlds. I only ask that if you wish to engage in debate with me, please do not condescend. I have no interest in being "right" with someone I do not know and will never meet - I don't have that interest with most people I know, to be honest. Yes, I enjoy debate, because I enjoy listening and responding to what others have to say. I responded to only two of your sentences because I felt they were the most relevant to respond to - there is much more I could give my opinion on, but I get the feeling this missive will be dismissed. If that is the case then so be it - really, if your dismissal of others because of your sureity of your expertise gives you pleasure, then by all means enjoy any pleasure you may derive from me. Personally, I don't feed people who think in such ways, and I would like to believe that you don't either Mr. Huff.


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 5:20:59 pm
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 5:22:08 pm

[Jason Roberts] "I have no interest in being "right" with someone I do not know and will never meet - I don't have that interest with most people I know, to be honest. "

You should be right if you want to teach, because if you're wrong, then what is the value of what you are teaching?

I do agree with the breakdown, but in no way does it mean that someone who is successful at the former cannot transition that to the latter.

I don't disagree that there is a lot of subjectivity in topics of this nature, but if you want to position Welles as having no experience then you are sadly mistaken. You should not just sum up what he brought to the experience that eliminates the nuance of what went down, nor should you simply ignore that Tolland literally brought the difference between theatrical staging and directing the audiences' eyes in the way that film does and lay all of that success on Welles. In fact, I think auteur attitudes would do your students a great disservice in not discussing the equal contributions of everyone who was involved, from Toland having a "fresh" director that allowed his suggestions to be implemented for the visual style, Robert Wise's editing (a man who went on to also leave his mark on cinema), to Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane and others, many of which were very experienced and undoubtedly their performance was a mixture of Welles' direction and their own suggestions and ideas.

[Jason Roberts] "You know, I love it when a director doesn't "know any better", and amazing stuff happens as a result(Citizen Kane, anyone?). "

I just really dislike this attitude, because a) it's not born out by the actual facts and b) it plays to the anti-education bias that America suffers from. "All those "edumacated" people couldn't churn out anything classic like Citizen Kane at the time. It's all street smarts!" when instead, the actual truth of the matter, is that a very technically-minded craftsman like Toland, someone who was very excited by all the new filmmaking technology of the time, wanted someone who wouldn't fight him on his ideas to try to implement something new, and the lightening in the bottle gave him an interesting script by someone who wasn't already integrated into the studio system. And let's not forget that Welles is not simply a man who only knows theatre and radio. Surely he went to the movies just like anyone else, and with his mind probably studied what he saw and what worked and what did not, and thus had a grasp on the differences before he stepped one foot onto set.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:00:18 pm

[Gary Huff] "You should be right if you want to teach, because if you're wrong, then what is the value of what you are teaching?
"


I'm referring to being emotionally right. There I have no interest because emotional arguments aren't ever really won, they just kind of stop. And when it comes to emotional argument, the worst is when you're trying to argue the "truth", because truth is a slippery thing. Intellectually, I will argue right and wrong when dealing with provable facts. Being in the arts, I tell my kids to stop worry about right and wrong when it comes to art, and worry instead about strong vs weak - make the bold choice in a shot, make the comment that uses the vocabulary to the discipline in a useful way - don't take the easy and quick way out.

[Gary Huff] "In fact, I think auteur attitudes would do your students a great disservice in not discussing the equal contributions of everyone who was involved, from Toland having a "fresh" director that allowed his suggestions to be implemented for the visual style, Robert Wise's editing (a man who went on to also leave his mark on cinema)"

I know auteur theory has come under a lot of fire, particularly in the past few years. And I understand why. Film, by its very nature, is a collaborative art form, with a lot of people working together to bring about something that's worth 90 minutes of people's time. Not everyone can be a Robert Rodiguez or Shane Carruth (director, writer, editor, cinematographer, composer, and who knows what else). At the end of the day, however, an army must have one central authority, a person who has the ability to say "Go this way" and everyone will go that way. Under current theory, that's the director. Years ago, at the height of the studio system, it was the producer. I have heard arguments in recent years that writers don't get enough credit (which I agree with). One of the most educational experiences I had learning about film in my youth was listening to the commentary track on "The Limey", done by Lem Dobbs and Soderbergh (and it tells you something that I can just say the last name of the director and people will know who I mention, whereas the writer I have to give the full name), in which Dobbs kept talking about what Soderbergh had done to "his" film, and Soderbergh remaining polite and nice throughout the almost-tirade, trying to explain that the page doesn't always make it to the screen in an exact way - and in fact, probably shouldn't (Soderbergh's point), and if Dobbs didn't like the end result, he should direct his own film. Listening to the compromises that were made along the path are fascinating, and the whole team is talked about when he talks about the process. Dobbs focuses on the differences between the script and the film.

But I digress. You're right, there are many great names that most kids don't learn about when it comes to filmmaking because of their role in the hierarchy. They may not know the names of Bert Glennon, Dede Allen, Gordon Willis, Thelma Schoolmaker - obviously I could on, but basically the names that aren't above the title on the marquee, and are buried somewhere mid-credits before the start of a movie. What I do encourage is for students to look at director's work over a period of time, and see who their most frequent collaborators are, and then have them analyze why that may be - beyond the shorthand that comes from individuals who collaborate often. And then look at the work of those individuals on films outside of those common collaborations. So while the director is a starting point and the general, the lieutenants do deserve credit, and I try as best I can to give it where it's due.


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:44:43 pm
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:57:04 pm

[Jason Roberts] "There I have no interest because emotional arguments aren't ever really won, they just kind of stop."

And this was not an emotional argument, so why bring it up? I absolutely stated this:

[Gary Huff] "I don't disagree that there is a lot of subjectivity in topics of this nature,"

and yet there has not been a single point brought up for discussion that does not have some evidence behind it or could be considered to be entirely subjective. In fact, by talking about "emotional arguments" that cannot be won, you seem to be dismissing what I am saying without directly contradicting anything I have said. I would hope that's not your intent.

Now for the subjective:

[Jason Roberts] "Not everyone can be a Robert Rodiguez or Shane Carruth (director, writer, editor, cinematographer, composer, and who knows what else)."

But they can if they don't care about the end result. Neither Rodriguez nor Carruth are good actor directors. Their cinematography doesn't come to the level of any of the numerous talented individuals in the ASC. Their scores never on the "must-have" lists of collectors. Their material is merely serviceable, and if you're okay with that mediocrity in the end result, then have at it. Frankly, I would argue that both of those names aren't exactly the pinnacle of success (look at the dismal box office receipts and critical reception of Sin City 2 for instance) and that if you want to make something good, then perhaps auteur theory does need to be poo-pooed.

So yes, everyone can be a Rodriguez or a Carruth if they don't want to be honest with their own creative limitations and don't mind a sub-par output in some area they aren't that strong in. It's just when you want a beautiful orchestral score, well, then, you need to turn to a third-party. Want your movie to look nice? Hire an actual DP. Can't write good dialogue? Hire a talented scriptwriter.

And so on.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:53:12 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Or is the script the excuse for buying a lot of gear that will be re-purposed for other projects year-round?"

That was the first question I asked before reading the script. I read the script, and it's doesn't strike me as an excuse. I did explain that, if they were going to go with a full-on 4K rig purchased with either of those cameras, I didn't see getting out of it for less than $10K (tripod, sound equipment, external recorder, follow focus gear, etc).

One of the actors does get out of his chair and move around, the other cannot move around. There's dramatic purpose to it. I know, I'm being vague, I apologize. An

[Mark Suszko] "This almost demands some dolly work, I'd think."

They do actually wish to use a gear-based slider, one that can be center mounted on a tripod, so not utterly static.

[Mark Suszko] "I don't get why these kids don't rent the entire setup just for the duration of the shoot. That's how the cool kids do it (Businessmen)"

I checked on the three rental houses closest to us (as I said, four hours away), Sony A7S rents for $150 a day, body only, all three houses (New England). Their schedule calls for two days of camera tests (what they want to accomplish in the bathroom scenes will be a miracle if they can pull it off) and fourteen shooting days - so rental outstrips buying costs at that point. Family is pretty firm on this one - the fun of financiers

[Mark Suszko] "Have the kids re-watch the original "Little Shop Of Horrors" with the sound turned off, to get an idea of what can be done with a single room.
"


Believe it or not, I recommended that one! I directed a stage production of that years ago, and I watched the original so many times, had fond memories of it. I also recommended "The Sunset Limited", "Sleuth", and "Phone Booth".


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Emmanuel Joseph Reyes
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 9:33:15 am

Jason,


I highly recommend that your student definitely test both cameras in the same lighting conditions of that he was planning to film on. This way he can test the limits of both cameras and maybe even find the type of "look" he is searching for from one of the cameras.

I think that prime lenses are the way to go since they have a better range in capturing an image in the highest possible quality.

Personally I would go for the NEW Sony a7s mk2 since it has built in 5-axis stabilization. This way you can have nice smooth movement in the film without the need of getthing sliders or dollies.


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Rick Wise
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 6:30:39 pm

I am glad to see this thread is getting back to the point of the original question. In my view, disrespect has no place on this forum - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:04:26 pm

[Rick Wise] "I am glad to see this thread is getting back to the point of the original question. In my view, disrespect has no place on this forum - or anywhere else, for that matter.
"


Thank you. Getting back on track - he is renting a Sony A7S, a Metabones (non-Speedboost) adapter, a Shogun and some Canon EF primes for three days (35mm, 50mm, and 85mm). They should be arriving tomorrow I believe. I'm hoping he'll let me play with it a bit when it arrives - I'd love to play with the Slog 2 feature. Three days of that, and when the Sony is returned, he'll get the GH4 with the Metabones MFT adapter, and different lenses (I wish I could remember which ones, but I know they're much wider angle to compensate for the MFT, so it'll be interesting to see how he works with that) for three days as well. I'd like to play with that as well. I'll let you know how it goes and what he decides.


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Mark Suszko
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:36:53 pm

A good directing example for a "bottle" episode would be Hitchcock's "Lifeboat". Or some of his other movies like Rope, Dial M, and Rear Window.


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Jason Roberts
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:47:35 pm

Well, I promised to report back on my experience with the cameras if I got to play with them. I got to play. My student has decided to go with the Sony, and I agree. He is considering the A7sII for the OIS and greater flexibility. We both shoot footage and looked at it on a good-sized plasma, and I have to say, I liked the finished Sony footage better - a slightly softer look, felt good in the hands, and the low light blew my mind. Here's the impressions I came away with when I took the time to play:

1. The Slog2 feature is . . . . I will say damn. I was able to grading like I've never done before. I managed to get the closest I've ever come to a Kodachrome look (I know, odd for filmmaking, but I've always wanted to try it). Couldn't get close with the GH4 like I did with the Sony. Used Premiere Pro for manual grading.
2. The menu system for both drives me insane - but that's because I'm so embedded in Canon's way of thinking.
3. The GH4 - I will admit, the ability to shoot 4:3 4K externally is ... enticing. To get a hold of 2x anamorphic lenses and shoot ultra-widescreen. I would love to try that. Not Lomos - much as I love the look, I'm not nearly a skilled enough cinematographer to get the most out of Lomos. I wonder if the SLR Magic 2x lenses will be worth a damn. And I know one can do a 1.3x on 16:9, I would just love to do something super widescreen, and not through a matte box in post. I have such fond memories of seeing Ben Hur in the local arthouse theatre when I was a teenager. Super widescreen cinematography astounds me.
4. All that being said about the GH4 - I'm not going to lie, the body felt a little cheap. I felt like I might break it if I had to do something risky or rough and tumble with it - I wouldn't want it within six feet of a fight scene for fear of it getting knocked over and shattering. Of course the Sony would probably shatter as well in that situation.
5. At the end of the day, it comes down to image quality, and shooting to a Shogun (10bit Pro Res), a little grading, and then export - the Sony did better with dark areas, shadows, blacks, etc, even when not in Slog 2 mode. I give them a lot of credit for that camera.

So that's my two cents on it, and I feel my former student is making the right choice on camera. I think he'll stick with the Canon lenses as well. So at this point, my work is done. Thank you for all your help (even when we got off topic - but hey, tangents can be fun and educational)


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Rick Wise
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 18, 2015 at 12:50:31 am

Can you post any brief samples, or better yet, post to Vimeo and post the links here?

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:51:55 pm

[Rick Wise] "In my view, disrespect has no place on this forum - or anywhere else, for that matter."

I think you meant to type "disagreeing" there.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:00:08 pm

No, I think Rick typed exactly what he meant. With which I agree.

Then again, maybe I just need to get over myself. I believe that has been suggested.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:03:01 pm

[Todd Terry] "Then again, maybe I just need to get over myself. I believe that has been suggested."

Perhaps if you'd treat other adults who bring up a valid point with respect instead of appealing to the basest human emotions, you would have garnered a better response? But I guess the lure of patronization was too much for you to combat?


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Rick Wise
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:02:42 pm

No, Gary, I meant disrespect. We can disagree, respectfully.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:03:23 pm

[Rick Wise] "We can disagree, respectfully."

Which means kowtowing to someone's point I take it.


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Rick Wise
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:18:27 pm

Disagreeing respectfully has zero to do with "kowtowing." I'm sorry you keep looking for a fight. This forum is not the place for it.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:23:38 pm
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:26:18 pm

[Rick Wise] "This forum is not the place for it."

And yet you decided to take a swipe directly at me with your comment right as this branch went on topic, so your own actions belie what your words put forth. You could've just left well enough alone, but you were unable to do that.

So you have yourself basically doing what you claim you don't want to see, and Todd Terry showing how much of an adult he is by resorting to name-calling. Wonderful.


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Todd Terry
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:25:55 pm
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:29:06 pm

Gary...

I loathe this kind of discussion in public, but you are forcing my hand. Plain and simply, you are behaving like a child.

Perhaps you are having a bad day, and if so, we are sorry. Maybe you got up late, or your dog is sick, or you accidently spilled milk. Or maybe it is just your usual MO of highjacking a thread with snarky and condescending comments (I don't know you or recognize your name but a five-second search of past threads leads me to believe that is the case).

You make very valid points, but they are cloaked in such a cloud of derision and condescension that it is hard to give them any merit.

It's a bit like Bob Zelin but without the humor or personality.

As an moderator in this usually very friendly and very helpful forum for the better part of a decade, it's very clear that whatever you are doing is not appropriate.

This is not the time or place for your behavior.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Gary Huff
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:30:54 pm
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Nov 9, 2015 at 8:33:59 pm

[Todd Terry] "Plain and simply, you are behaving like a child."

Name calling.

[Todd Terry] "Perhaps you hare having a bad day, and if so, we are sorry. Maybe you got up late, or your dog is sick, or you accidently spilled milk. Or maybe it is just your usual MO of highjacking a thread with snarky and condescending comments.

Patronizing.

[Todd Terry] (I don't know you or recognize your name but a five-second search of past threads leads me to believe that is the case)."

You have one other posting that's like this out of all the others and think you're on to something?

[Todd Terry] "You make very valid points, but they are cloaked in such a cloud of derision and condescension that it is hard to give them any merit."

Coming from someone who said:

[Todd Terry] "Children... please.... quit sniping like a bunch of six year olds. This is not a Real Housewives audition... lets stop it before someone gets a drink thrown in their face."

Really? You can say that to me with a straight face after that?

[Todd Terry] "It's a bit like Bob Zelin but without the humor or personality."

Personal insult (lame one too).

[Todd Terry] "As an moderator in this usually very friendly and very helpful forum for the better part of a decade, it's very clear that whatever you are doing is not appropriate."

But your response above is completely appropriate? How does that follow? Frankly, I am astounded at your utter lack of self-awareness here.


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Mark Suszko
Re: "Bottle" movie - GH4 or A7S?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:03:41 pm



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