On the hottest day of 2013 I was asked by Director, Marty Stalker to capture some production stills of a music video for renowned Belfast artist Circuit21. The music video was to be filmed in a warm, dark and enclosed environment featuring two cage fighters and an array of extras.
Sin City meets Fight Club this was to be a gritty production with dense smoke and artificial rain. In this section of the narrative video ‘Circuit21‘ played the role of cage fight referee. You can keep up to date with future releases via the Circuit21 website here.
Please note these are not frames from the actual music video but simply a documentary of the creation. They are behind the scenes images that also feature the crew and production team.
I was only able to make it for a few hours of the production but I think I managed the best few hours. The shoot was remarkable relaxed and the tight production team rattled through the shot list with ease. Many of the team had previously worked on Marty’s epic short film ‘To Lose Control‘.
From multiple “super soakers” to fake blood the set was virtual liquidised so I was particularly aware of my gear. I was using three cameras on set as given the amount of water involved I didn’t want to start changings lenses nor juggling bodies in the range of a super soaker.
Finally I also packed the X-Pro1 that came in really handy for wider shots (see above) and I also used the Fujinon 60mm lens for some external portrait shots of the actors involved during setups but these images have not been posted publicly at this time.
As Sin City was the inspiration I attempted to capture the artificial rain with the plan of creating detailed black and white images in pre-production using Lightroom 5.
I did dance around the edges of the water spray with the X100s and was able to capture moody shots of the actors but at the same time capture the falling water lines.
The image above was captured on the X100s. You can see the photo before it was processed to this dark, gritty mono over on flickr. I think both work really well but I thought I would restrict this post to just the monos.
Although these production shots I still wanted to capture the gritty and raw environment as closely as I could. The first challenge was the sheer amount of dense smoke pumped out between takes.
I created a degree of clarity in Lightroom by increasing the clarity and contrast then carefully increasing the blacks and adjusting the colour balance.
It was an effective process, increasing the contrast brought out the browns of the location so I made some slight adjustments by reducing the saturation and vibrancy of the final image. The X100s was really able to pick up the light rays through the smoke as Katie Larmour made her way around the cage.
I converted some of the images to black and white and created a slight grittier look by really pushing the clarity even higher, reducing the highlights and then adding a little grain.
Production stills aren’t normally processed but it suits the whole feel of the film production.[box]
I really love the true 50mm focal length but both the X-Pro1 and X100s also really excelled in a gear laden environment where people expect you to have a monster camera. Someone needs to design a waterproof cover the X100s or I need to lose the fear of getting it wet.
It was great to be part of the production; it was certainly one of the best afternoons out with the camera even despite the heat. If are interested in film production in Northern Ireland then I would encourage to check out Marty’s website (see below) it is a great source of inspiration and learning.
You can also gain a better sense of the experience and see the rain in the larger versions of the images over on flickr.