It’s amazing how long the gestation for a film can be.
I first met Colin and Cameron Cairnes AKA the brothers in 2008 through Madman’s Scott Alexander. They had a feature film script they were working on and wanted to know if I’d read it. Which is how I came to be attached to 100 Bloody Acres.
After reading the script I met up with the boys and they won me over with their laconic humour and charming good looks. On the surface you might even say they were broad in their comic intent, but it’s a deception. The brothers are both very astute film makers, and whats more, although they certainly appreciate the gorier and more bloodthirsty films, they are amongst the most film literate directors I’ve worked with.
I was lucky enough to be attached to the film while it went through the AFC’s now defunct Indivision development scheme, which is when the brothers met South Australian based producer Julie Ryan (Red Dog). The brothers needed to get some runs on the board though with the funding bodies, as it wasn’t likely that they’d get any feature funding until they’d done a funded short.
And so they applied to Screen Australia for short film funding for Celestial Avenue. You can watch and read about the making of Celestial Avenue here.
The short story of Celestial Avenue is that they made a corker of a film that won the IF awards, won at Flickerfest as well as several high profile international awards and official selection at Slamdance, which runs concurrently with Sundance. I had the very great pleasure of having a film in both festivals. The Perfect Host had it’s premiere at Sundance while Celestial Avenue literally played just up the road !
100 Bloody Acres is really coming along nicely now. The boys have been doing some terrific story boards for many of the films key scenes. I love this part of pre-production.
The film’s really about two bothers trying get their struggling new fertiliser blend into the market. The use of dead car crash victims in the Morgan Brothers’ “Blood and Bone” fertiliser has been a huge boon to business, but it’s been months since their last find and an important new customer is waiting on a big delivery. So when Reg Morgan, the undervalued junior partner in the company, comes across three young festival-goers stranded on a remote country road he sees not only a radical solution to their supply problems, but a way of finally gaining respect from his domineering big brother, Lindsay. But things don’t quite go to plan when Reg starts forming an attachment with one of their captives, gorgeous ex-country girl, Sophie. Our unlikely hero must now make a decision – go through with the plan and finally win the approval of the increasingly unhinged Lindsay, or save Sophie and her friends and destroy everything the brothers have worked for.
Next weekend I’ll be shooting some camera tests so we can lock into a shooting format for the film.
We’re very keen to look at shooting anamorphic again, as we did with Celestial Avenue. and I’ve actually had some 1.3x HAWK ANAMORPHIC lenses imported into the country especially to test with.
Most anamorphic lenses have a 2X squeeze, but the HAWKS offer a more modest 1.3 X squeeze, which means they are much better suited to super 35 / 1.78 cameras like the current Arri Alexa.
Check out the HAWK 1.3X here
There is a new version of the Alexa due out next year that will offer a full height sensor so that 2x Anamophics can be used without cropping but I suspect they won’t be ready by the time we’re shooting.
The cameras roll on 100 Bloody Acres in Adelaide on the 16th of January, and with xmas / new years to come, there isn’t really a lot of time.
We are also planning to look at the EPIC with 2x Lomo Anamorphic as well, and they may well provide a great option, but the brothers have already indicated they aren’t completely enamored with the EPIC / RED look. I was even thinking of shooting on Super 16 with the Hawk 1.3X’s to derive a 2.40 image but the lack of a film processing lab in Adelaide means the film has to then be freighted back to Deluxe in Melbourne and the extra cost on this low budget film can’t be sustained.
We’re even going to consider the Si2K, the so called Slum Dog camera. We shot Celestial Avenue using some home brew 1.3X anamorphics and the DCP was simply outstanding. It’s worth having in the mix, but I do worry about it’s reduced dynamic range in comparison to the EPIC and Alexa.
You can read about the unique way we shot Celestial Avenue here.
The interesting thing with the Si2K is that it’s a 2/3” chip, so with the 1.3X hawks, I’d end up with a lot more depth of field, but i’ll end up being a bit restricted on the wider side of things with the lenses.
We’re also going to compare the Alexa shooting ProRes with the new ASTRO Arri RAW recorder. It will be really interesting to see how this turns out. The Arri is a lot less expensive than the Codex. At the moment we probably can’t afford to shoot RAW if we had to use a CODEX, because of the gear itself and the back end data wrangling / processing as well.
So, next weekend, we’ll be shooting some scenes, using EPIC, Alexa (ProRes and Arri RAW) and the Si2K. We’ll be testing the 1.3X HAWKS, the LOMO anamorphics and regular S4 sphericals.
I’m planning to get the guys to cut the shorts together, much like my low light tests and getting Deluxe to then finish them to DCP and to 35mm Print as well. With luck I’ll be able to post the end results here for those interested.
Should be fascinating !