Screen Gems’ horror-thriller Cadaver is the first major motion picture shot entirely on Sony A7S II camera, but is also the first to use sustainable technology for set construction.
First things first: Screen Gems is the specialty production division at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which was created to finance and produce moderately budgeted films that are marketed to targeted audiences. The connection suggests, immediately, that this may be a way to promote the camera, something that, after all, makes sense. Why shouldn’t Sony use anything they can to sell their products?
Even if it may be so, to a certain extent, the truth is that the use of the Sony A7S II as the A camera for a major motion picture comes as a result of Screen Gem’s previous experience using the camera to complement the action captured with Sony’s professional video cameras like the FS5. Glenn Gainor, the executive producer of Cadaver and also President of Physical Production at Screen Gems, praises the low-light capability and the small size of the camera, which allows its use in difficult situations.
“Not only is the A7S II right for my studio production,” says Glenn Gainor, “but it will help democratize storytelling around the world because it is a powerful camera accessible to people who may not otherwise be empowered to tell their story.”
So, that’s how the Sony A7S II, a consumer camera, got to be the only camera used to shoot a whole motion picture from a major studio. It all makes sense, as Sony designed the camera to allow storytellers to express their vision under virtually any budget with its 35mm full frame sensor and high sensitivity.
Still, the camera used to shoot Cadaver is not the regular A7S II you buy from your local store. The cameras are paired with large format Hawk 65 Anamorphic Lenses from Vantage in Germany and Atomos Shogun external recorders from Australia, built into Dallas-based Red Rock Micro’s rigs and wireless follow focus systems. Tiffen, of Los Angeles, provided its camera filters and Aero 30 Steadicam system for stabilized movement, and Small HD is providing electronic viewfinders and on-camera monitors.
When it comes to lighting, Cadaver uses Digital Sputnik modular LED lights, which are highly efficient and can create wide range of high precision white light (1500K – 10000K) with capability to mix in any primary or secondary colors. This approach enables cinematographers to work with a visual toolset allowing them to achieve the look that they want with grading the lights instead of grading the image.
While the use of small cameras, DSLRs and Mirrorless, for video is nothing new, they usually serve as secondary cameras, paired with bigger video cameras. The use of a small model like the Sony A7S II to realize a high-quality motion picture, even if modestly budgeted, opens new paths for exploration by independent cinematographers. It will be interesting to see if the experience of Cadaver opens new options for the future.
Cadaver is also pioneering the use of eco-friendly materials on set, and that’s, again, something that may interest independent creators, and anyone with a small budget and concerns about our planet. The film is the first to employ the EmagiBlock System — a new, sustainable building block technology for set construction from Emagispace, Inc.. While traditional sets are typically unrecyclable wooden flats, these sets are made of reusable and recyclable materials, meaning they are constructed without the hassle, cost, or environmental waste of traditional construction.
The film Cadaver will be in U.S. theaters this August. In the film, disgraced ex-cop and recovering addict Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) must take a graveyard shift at the morgue in the hospital where she got sober, but things get out of control when a suspicious cadaver is delivered. Cadaver stars Shay Mitchell (“Pretty Little Liars”) along with Stana Katic (“Castle”), Grey Damon, Nick Thune, Jacob Ming-Trent, Max McNamara, Louis Herthum and Kirby Johnson. Diederik Van Rooijen directs from a script by Brian Sieve. The producers are Todd Garner and Sean Robins of Broken Road Productions, while Glenn Gainor is executive producer and Andrea Ajemian is co-producer.