With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a filmmaker. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Reelbros about their work. This is what they said:
What is your name and where are you from?
Reelbros: We are the Reelbros and we are a boutique production company based out of Phoenix Arizona.
What is your primary role on set?
Reelbros: Our primary role on set is a little bit of everything. We are a smaller production company so we each fulfill multiple roles when on a shoot. Between the three of us, our main roles are Director of Photography, Creative/Art Director, and Director. We also get our hands dirty doing a lot of creative development and script writing for our larger projects. We have a habit of never saying “No we can’t do that”, which causes a lot of late night studying and researching, but it’s always valuable to think of any production from multiple perspectives.
Who is a person in the industry that is on top of his or her game in your role?
Reelbros: There are so many people and companies right now that are killing it, but if we had to pick, it would have to be the team at Abandoned Visuals. Their team is killer and over the past few years, we’ve watched their team grow as filmmakers and release some spectacular projects. In a lot of ways, they actually inspired us to start our team and just go for it. One of their latest projects, “Legend of Solorzano”, follows a class 5 VW Baja Bug 1000 driver in Mexico and it’s a must-see. These guys know how to tell a story and capture your attention, and if you don’t know who they are go check them out!
If you had to impress someone with your work, what would be the most “well-known” content that you’ve worked on?
Reelbros: We have a wide range of work that we do, but one of our most successful pieces has been a short film that we created in under 72 hours for an Arizona film festival. “The Memory Broker” was a psychological thriller that we wrote and shot in a weekend as part of the festival guidelines. It took home the prize for best cinematography and even got complimented by our state film commissioner. This was a great example of what our team is capable of when we focus in on the essence of the story that we are trying to tell.
Best craft service food?
Reelbros: Chick fil a is our go too for most productions unless its Sunday than were screwed. Typically we take Sundays off.
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on before?
Reelbros: We recently created and produced our first spec commercial for Gym Shark in collaboration with Studio Black Films. This involved a story about a boxer who remembers the moment he developed his vision of success. This project gave us a lot of creative freedom with our storytelling, character development, camera movement, and lighting design. It was a great wholistic filmmaking experience for both teams and it tested our ability to work under tight timelines. All in all, we are extremely happy with the results of our hard work and dedication on this project.
What’s the first thing you do on set?
Reelbros: From the moment we get on set, we are thinking about lighting. Lighting is the backbone of filmmaking and can influence the story in so many ways. Our team can be heard calling out where we want stands, lights, and diffusion as we are scoping out the location. Once that has been established, we typically look for some coffee, because nothing gets done on set without coffee.
How did you break into the industry?
Reelbros: We are still a rather young production company, and we believe our real break hasn’t happened yet. We work really hard and it only took a few months to really focus in on creating a professional website, portfolio, and Instagram account. This really demonstrates not only our filmmaking ability but also who were are as people. We put a lot of personality and comedy into our brand, and that is something that resonates with other filmmakers and viewers. You have to be able to make fun of the idiosyncrasy’s of the film production world, so we find a balance between being serious and not taking ourselves too seriously.
Current TV obsession?
Reelbros: People are still watching that thing called cable television? We don’t have a lot of free time with all our upcoming projects, but when we do get some downtime, our current NETFLIX obsessions would have to be Mindhunter and Ozark. The cinematography and storylines are insanely good in these shows, and the storylines always leave you on the edge of your seat. We also like to geek out on the behind the scenes photos, as well as the fact that Mindhunters had a custom built RED Camera specifically made for their production.
Do you binge-watch shows or pace them out?
Reelbros: Binge watch and pace depends on how much we like the show and how much time we have. If something really catches our eye, or the story is that addictive, we will lock ourselves in a room with some snacks and come out about a week later.
What piece of gear do you have your eye on?
Reelbros: Well, at the moment, a lot! The one thing we are wanting to get our hands on is the Motocrane system, which is a mobile automotive camera crane system that can easily be transported. We all grew up as automotive enthusiasts and can remember filming cars with our first cameras, so this is a great tool to capture cars in movement. We believe the MotoCrane would be an awesome addition to our special operations kit.
Camera – Should you own or rent?
Reelbros: Depending on the project, we do a little of both. When you are first getting started, we would say focus more on learning lighting and practicing your storytelling skills. In-house, we own all of our cameras, but when it comes to a larger production, we like to rent the best package the project can afford. Depending on the project scope, we might go with an Alexa Mini or RED 8k, but the majority of our rentals are RED Cameras.
Lenses – Should you own or rent?
Reelbros: We like to say invest in the glass. A great set of cinema lenses can really improve your image quality, even on smaller camera packages such as the Sony A7SII. In-house we carry a variety of cine lenses, but we especially like the affordable Rokinon Xeen’s and the Canon Cine Primes. If the lens is within the project budget and fits the look we are going for, then we would typically rent.
What is your preferred camera system?
Reelbros: At the moment, Sony and Red cameras fit our needs perfectly. Both of these camera systems are a breeze to work with and the images they capture are super crispy. Each camera system has its own purpose. For example, our Sony’s are better at low light, but the RED has a much wider dynamic range and delivers RAW footage that can be manipulated in post. It really comes down to what we are shooting, and what camera package are the most practical for that specific production.
Someone that is starting out in the industry, what advice would you give them?
Reelbros: Practice non-stop on your craft and make an effort to learn something new every day. Take the time to learn the basics and don’t get discouraged when you see other filmmakers shooting on expensive equipment or working with your dream client. You will get there with hard work. Make opportunities for yourself to get your hands on professional equipment, meet people who already work in the industry, and try and get on some actual sets so that you can watch and see what the workflow on a professional production is like. Always try to submerge yourself into this ever-evolving industry… and don’t stop.
Where can people see your work?
Where can people follow you on social?