Community Spotlight: Dan Banici, Independent Filmmaker

Dan Banici
Independent Filmmaker
Southington, Connecticut
networking.studentfilmmakers.com/optionquest

GETTING STARTED:
About two years ago I was hired to get a company’s image out of the rut, and I made a video in a hurry, talking about paradigm shifts. A viewer criticized the work and his remarks hit hard. It pushed me to hire an actor, then to learn about cameras, lights, and as time passed, I now have literally studied over 20 essential books, invested half my income in equipment and courses, and I never looked back. As my friends say, ‘I’ve been bitten by the film bug.’

CAMERAS:
I shoot film with a Canon Rebel T3i with the Magic Lantern hack and a variety of vintage manual lenses. For example, I do indoor work with a Carl Zeiss Jena f1:1.8 and moderate lighting; needs very little light to work even in the darkest environments. I do outdoor work with a 75-210mm Yashica Yashinon with a Polaroid adjustable ND filter. Wide screen anamorphic work I do with two setups. For scheduled, blocked shots I put a Kollmorgen anamorphic lens at the end of the Yashinon lens and I use a diopter to focus on close shots. For quick on the go widescreen filming, I pack a Pentacon 135mm (in mint condition) with a Proskar 16mm anamorphic (a rare find) and together they give superb results. For aerial shots on the quad copter, I use the stock Canon 18-55mm lens for weight considerations.

For any work that ends up viewed on a TV, including interviews and documentaries, I use a shoulder-mount Panasonic AG-AC7. I know interlaced footage gets a bad rap; however, it has its place. If you do good work nobody will ever stop to ask what camera you used. This camera gives me excellent sound from the internal microphone, and I also keep a Sennheiser shotgun microphone on it for times when ambient sounds are too distracting. A 160 LED light also sits on it, and with a 4 hour battery and a spare, and a bag of sound toys, it is the quickest and most reliable workhorse to grab when I don’t want to spend time thinking what I’m going to need on site. Because it is a low price camera, possibly the cheapest shoulder mount out there, it is the kind of tool that I won’t have a heart attack if something accidentally happens to it; and when working in manual mode, the footage never disappoints me.

Dan's Canon T3i anamorphic lens setup.

Dan’s Canon T3i anamorphic lens setup.

UNIQUE EXPERIENCE WORKING ON THE SET:
I do a lot of interviews for local activists and businesses, and I have set up a large room in my house as a studio on one side and 26 foot green wall on the other. Over the last year I have collected countless bloopers from people who think they can say their lines without a teleprompter.

CURRENT PROJECTS :
Just like any other passionate filmmaker, I have some ideas in the burner about work good enough to show at indie festivals, but it’s the small jobs that currently pay the bills. So I focus on local work and I use my recently acquired film knowledge as an extension of my marketing work. My most recent work was filming TV spots and other video work for a local senatorial candidate, as part of a more elaborate campaign.

CAMERA TIPS:
(1.)
Use your HDSLR every day and learn it well. Focus on what you find difficult until you resolve it, so you don’t botch a real job. For example, if you’re returning from night film trips with grainy footage, figure out why and resolve it. Don’t wait until you shoot a wedding to end up delivering mediocre work.

(2.) Have a decent low light prime lens for indoor work, and a decent prime telephoto for outdoor work. I am not saying a zoom lens is always bad, but less glass means more professional detail. Learn lighting because it’s important, but don’t think watts will compensate for F stops, because it’s not the same thing and it shows in the results.

(3.) Budget for decent sound equipment (wired, shotgun, lavalier), lights and backdrops, slider, crane, dollies, and a solid lightweight tripod. Learn everything you can get your hands on about proper shot composition, timing and cutting. Above all else, never stop learning.

Sign Up for Free! (click here)
Join the studentfilmmakers.com Network today.

  • Members have an opportunity to be featured in StudentFilmmakers Magazine and StudentFilmmakers.com.
  • Connect with Filmmakers, Crew and Talent around the world.
  • Find people to work with in your area, and be found by people looking for crew.
  • Share your production stills and production blogs.
  • See what others in the creative communities are working on and achieving.
  • Broadcast your Reels and post your videos in the video showcase.

Click here to create your FREE network profile and start networking online now. See you in the Network!

Leave a Comment