I shot a short film for CAA (Creative Artist Agency) trainee program a few weeks ago. It was a spoof on the movie The Hangover, where the agents were the characters in the film. The film was directed by David Shafei and starred Adam Pally, Kevin Zegers and Patrick Wilkins as the agent leads. The film also features an amazing cast with The Rock, Paul Reuben, Cindy Crawford, David Koechner, George Lopez, Nate Torrance, Danny Devito, Paul Reubens, Jerry Weintraub, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Lowndes, Ryan Bingham, Bobby Lee, Peter Gallagher and Morgan Freeman’s amazing voice over.
We shot on the RED for most of the project with Arri Ultra primes (provided by The Camera House). For the intro to the film we used a tilt and shift lens with my canon 5D mark II package. Most of the time the RED was mounted on the Fisher 11 dolly to give us freedom of movement. We had a lot of shots to accomplish and limited time with the actors…that coupled with a small crew and minimal lighting package makes shooting somewhat difficult. However I think limitations are good sometimes and allow you to be creative with what you have…for example at some point we even put the talent to work.
Because of the time issues I certainly used a lot of wider lenses than I normally would have liked. However being a comedy it certainly served the story better and allowed the actors freedom in their performances. Normally If Ishot this way I would place a big lighting unit through the window to allow the actors their freedom. However the biggest light we had was a 1.2 HMI (all wall power) so our team had to be creative in how we placed the lights. That said it worked out pretty well considering our limitations. Ill put up frame grabs as soon as I have them.
Working with Actors of this caliber is certainly a dream. None more so than seeing Paul Reubens and Danny Devito in a scene together, where Devito throws scripts at Paul’s head. It was hard to keep the camera steady I was laughing so hard. Lighting wise this was certainly the most difficult considering we only had 5 minutes to light it because the actors had to leave. We had to be super wide and there was nowhere to put the light. We ended up aiming the light at the window and letting it bounce naturally around the room.
As I mentioned before we used the Canon 5D mark II for the intro shots of the film, showing how the employees of CAA start their day (similar to the wedding scene in The Hangover). We had a nikon 45mm tilt and shift lens and shot with only available or practical lighting. The 5D held up really well for the landscape style shots in the CAA building. It was great being incognito with the small camera and running around the building shooting without a crew. When we did our color correction at New Hat Post Production later on I was really amazed at how well the 5D footage looked projected. Very sharp and the colors held up very well in the natural lighting situations…fluorescent looked decent when color corrected.
In addition we also used it for a scene with Anne Hathaway in which she was project on the video conference screen. It was a locked off shot, straight on of Anne and I have to say that to turned out great. When you don’t have to worry about precision focusing or precise camera movement, I think the 5D can look beautiful. This scene shot with Anne fit perfectly into the film.
As for thanks we shot it over two weekends and had a lot of help in making it happen from some amazing people and incredibly generous companies (believe it or not it was a no budget film). Rufus Burnham and Mel Mathis at The Camera House supplied our lens package, the Arri ultra primes, and a few accessories. Our RED camera came from Cisco Ruiz at Lockbox entertainment. Manny Barreras at Hollywood rentals and ESS supplied us with a couple amazing Brute 30 LED lights. Kenneth Berkhout at Illumination Dynamics gave us our lighting package. Stuart Heising set us up with an amazing color correction job on their baseline suite at New Hat Post production in Santa Monica. The color correction was done by Michael Mintz who did an excellent job. And of course everyone at CAA from the trainees on up were amazing…tons of helping hands on set.