Film Racing with DSLRs? Barry Teitelbaum shares tips.


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<p><em>Barry Teitelbaum shares a little behind-the-scenes information on DSLR short, "A Meal To Die For," which won multiple awards.</em></p>
<p><strong>CAMERA:</strong><BR />
<strong>Barry Teitelbaum: </strong> The rules state that you can use up to 3 cameras. But our approach was bare minimum. With such little time for prep, we wanted to keep things as simple and as manageable as possible so we used only one camera, a Canon 60D. I had bought this camera over the summer and it has worked out beautifully, very cost effective and excellent image quality for this type/level of filmmaking. Especially effective in low light, given the little to no budget spent on this project, that was huge.</p>
<p><strong>LENSES:</strong><BR />
<strong>Barry Teitelbaum:</strong> I rented all Carl Zeiss lenses. They have such an amazing feel and intense depth of field. We had gotten the lenses before knowing the story or scouting the location so we were flying somewhat blind, but we had a 35mm/2.0, an 18mm/3.5, and a 50mm/1.4. We ended up using the 50mm for most of the shoot. </p>
<p><strong>CREW:</strong><BR />
<strong>Barry Teitelbaum: </strong>We had a skeleton crew of 7. Uday Jhala and I split duties as Producer, Director and Editor. Our DP was Camilla Foschi. She brought a Camera Op Lluis Marti, and for sound we used Michael Hawkins, the nephew of one of the Actors and our boom was Dennis Keefe. We had one PA, Brenda Abromowitz, she did everything from Clapboard to document wrangler.</p>
<p><strong>LIGHTING:</strong><BR />
<strong>Barry Teitelbaum: </strong>we had a basic VIP light kit, and I had rented 2 Lowel Tota-Lights (500w) with Barndoors and 1 Lowel Omni Light (600w) with umbrellas and Barndoors. Really bare bones minimum stuff. Our approach to the day was once we got on set Cammy and I sat down and discussed a basic shot list and lighting feel and tried to get a sense of the flow for the day. We made it up on the spot and there wasn't a lot of time for debate, we were losing the day, we needed to film our outside shots first to take advantage of the natural light (it was overcast and gloomy, perfect!) We had two scenes to film outside, so we blocked those. But also needed to dress the inside. While the Actors were going over lines with Uday, Cammy and Lluis were all biz setting up the lighting for the first setup. We quickly realized that our initial shot plan was too over ambitious given the time constraint, so we condensed everything down to one basic interior where everyone is tied up and the Chef reveals his plan. Our goal was to get basic coverage first, (Master, 1-shots, 2-shots and 3 shots and close ups) and then work on some fun shots and angles. But unfortunately, we ran out of time for the fun stuff and were left with only basic coverage. But at least we had that, otherwise we got no film.</p>
<strong>Barry Teitelbaum: </strong>I think first it comes down to looking at your idea and really asking yourself how can I present this in a way that has not been overdone. Really look at every angle and put your personal stamp on it. I also think that often times contest submissions for young filmmakers will excel in one of two areas: Production Value or Story. I see a lot of films, including my own, that excel in one but not the other. You could have the most amazing production value, but if the story falls flat, you won't get far. Look at <em>Speed Racer</em>, they made that movie for $285MM and it only made $85MM at the box office. Why? Story. But then you look at <em>Juno</em>, which they made for $8MM and it took in nearly $250MM, why? Story. It's when you can meld the two within whatever your budget is that your film will really shine. For me, the story comes first.</p>
<p>As far as film racing goes, the best advice I can give is to make sure you have a tight crew with the right attitude and be sure to delegate. Whenever I try to do too much, it always backfires. And it really is okay if you don't have a big crew, as long as the crew you have is committed to the project. I would rather go out and shoot with five people with little or no experience but are focused and excited to be part of the film then to go out with 10 extremely talented crew members who didn't care about the project and couldn't wait to get out of there.</p>
<p>Finally anyone familiar with the exquisite hell that is film racing, knows how insane it is to try and make a movie in 48 hours. It really is the antithesis of how you would normally go about doing things, but one of the greatest takeaways is that you really don't have any time to over analyze things. </p>
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