A few months ago I traveled to Minneapolis to start DPing a documentary called Royalty Etc. The documentary follows the lives of two guys (Ty and Jon) as they grow up around the music scene in Minneapolis and eventually form a record label known as Royalty Etc. There is a pretty amazing series of events that leads to the eventual formation of the label, which makes this story a great one to document. It is still early in terms of shooting and the whole story has yet to unfold but I’m excited to see what comes next. I’m shooting on an Sony EX3, which I like better than it’s predecessor, the EX1 that I shot my first two doc. features on. The image quality is the same but the changes that were made ergonomically really help. I’m a fan of the eye piece/flip LCD and the built in “shoulder mount” that were added. The shooting I have done so far has consisted of a bunch of sit down interviews as well as various b-roll around Minneapolis. For exterior interviews I used as much of the fall foliage as I could as it looked great as a backdrop. The story has a loose and relaxed feel so I opted to not lock the camera off completely for interviews. I paned and tilted the camera slightly while riding the zoom a bit as if I was constantly searching for a frame. I liked this look for talking heads, it’s something I’ve never done before and I think it makes them feel a lot less rigid.
It was cloudy most of the time while shooting exterior interviews which was a negative and a positive in terms of image quality. It was good as I didn’t have to worry about trying to control highlights while maintaining proper exposure on the faces but at the same time the image always looks a bit flat when there is no sun. I would rather have a slightly flatter image than an image with uncontrolled highlights so in the end I was happy with the way the exterior interview footage came out. For interiors I had (2) 2′ 4 bank kinos to work with. It was nice to a have a fixture with both daylight/tungsten capabilities as I was in a lot of situations where I was dealing with existing daylight spill from windows etc. One of my favorite set ups was an interview we shot in a basement (ABOVE LEFT). The subject matter was pretty dark so I wanted the lighting to reflect this for that particular interview. There was a bit of daylight spill coming in through a basement window in the background which looked nice but it was too much so I stopped down a bit and then keyed pretty sidey for a more contrasty look. I think this lighting set up really draws your eye into the subject’s face without drawing attention to anything else in the background. I mixed up the key angle and intensity for other interviews depending on how I wanted them to feel. It’s been a great shooting experience so far and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds as we continue to put the pieces together.