In September, I was asked by HD Videopro to do a story about a new feature that was shot completely using the 5D Mark II. I happened to be in Los Angeles for PhotoCine Expo, so I called the offices of Director Mark Pellington and spoke to his associate producer Matt Roe about their experiences shooting with HDSLR. However, the feature, I Melt With You, wasn’t their first trip to the rodeo…
What I found was that Mark, Matt and Eric Schmidt their DP had produced three music videos besides the feature. Director/Producer Mark Pellington already had a long list of features when he came into contact with the HDSLR, including Mothman Prophecies and Arlington Road, he also had a slew of award winning music videos for bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails and of course U2. What attracted this team was the speed, agility and of course the price point of the camera system.
Mark got his first introduction to the 7D through his associate producer in charge of technology and workflow, Matt Roe. After a few tests in 2009 they finally shot the Moby video One Time We Lived with the 7D and a crew of about three or four people.
They followed with Laredo by Band of Horses. Every project they produced was a learning experience, and fortunately for them they were open to the process.
Finally, after producing the video New Morning by Alpha Rev, Mark, Matt and Eric perfected a workflow from prep to post.
I Melt with You centers around an annual reunion of a group of longtime friends who seem to be in the grips of a mid-life crisis fueled by regret and drug abuse.
They shot a trailer in Mark’s office with actor and producer Thomas Jane using the 5D Mark II. Once they pitched the film to the investors, they totally embraced the use of HDSLRs. The actors embraced the cameras as well. The film’s cast includes Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Thomas Jane and Christian McKay. According to Eric, the miniaturized camera set up made it much easier for the actors to concentrate on their performance instead of being hindered by the technical aspects of production.
I Melt With You shot for eighteen days with a crew of about thirty people and had three locations. The feature came in under a million dollars. When asked why they didn’t use a standard cinema camera like the Red One, Eric admits they could have done it, but at a cost of two-thousand dollars a week, and they would have been stuck with only one camera. Instead they used the HDSLR and had multiple cameras at their disposal. Besides saving money, the shear weight and size of the Red One would have been totally restrictive. 75% of the the picture was hand held, and according to Eric Schmidt, DP, they never would have been able to do this with any other camera system.
After getting a cut of the film, Mark delivered it to Sundance in September. 12/2/10 Sundance announced their line up, and Mark and company will be in the house! Read the announcement here: I Melt With You at Sundance 2011
Congratulations to Mark, Matt and Eric for elevating the format of the HDSLR to the status of a Sundance worthy feature.
Find out how they did it with details on their work flow and some great surprises in the February issue of HD Videopro.