Blaze of Glory: Viktor Jakovleski Used a Hi-Speed Slo-Mo Phantom Camera and Drones To Make Brimstone & Glory

Prev2 of 2Next
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

MM: What was the editing process like? With those slow-motion Phantom shots interspersed between the more traditional footage, the pacing is excellent.

VJ: I was in the editing room basically all the time. It was clear that we had a lot of amazing Phantom shots, so the challenge was “How do you build an edit around that without it appearing like it’s too much?” I’ve seen films where there are way too many slow-motion shots used without a concept. When that happens, you get on the audience’s nerves, and I wanted to prevent that from happening. I had to make some sacrifices and cut some of my absolute favorite shots down. The credit goes to my editor who is very musical and struck that balance just right. Once we had those two trigger points at the middle climax: the first with the towers transitioning into a montage with all those Phantom shots, then the second part after the bulls, I started to feel like the concept might work.

MM: So at times, you were operating the camera and other times it was the Mexican camera operator and also your German cinematographer. It seems like your whole crew was involved in shooting different aspects and wearing different hats.

VJ: Yes. For the burning of the bulls, we needed as many operators and as many angles as possible. Bill Ross (the Ross Brothers) came and helped us shoot. It was a collaboration of many people who were up for it because not everyone was up for to shoot a bunch of bulls in Mexico. My producer got some shots even—everybody contributed to the film in their own way.

MM: How big was your crew total for each shoot?

VJ: We were always a minimum of four or five. Myself, my German cinematographer, my local line producer, my sound person, an assistant and a local driver. So it was about six and then we went up to around ten during the festival.

The crowd interacts with a bull during the second half of the festival.

MM: Are you primarily interested in making documentaries?

VJ: I’m interested in telling stories. It’s a technique to get a story told and some stories require to be told in a certain way. Brimstone had to be told as a documentary—other stories, on the fiction side. I want to do a hybrid idea of something that looks like a documentary but has a much more scripted approach. I don’t set limitations; whatever the project demands, I use it.

MM: What was the standard digital camera you were using with the stabilizer?

VJ: It was a Blackmagic Pocket Camera, which is a very small camera that is very cheap. It has a beautiful small sensor. In this film market of big cameras and big sensors and more “K,” I loved the idea of filming on a digital camera that has the sensor that is the equivalent of the super 16mm film size.

MM: How does that camera work with light sensitivity with shots that move from very dark to very bright?

VJ: It has a great dynamic range for a small camera. It shoots Pro-Res 422HQ which is great for a documentary like us. Paired with a fast lens, it allowed us to get everything we wanted. Obviously, you have to adjust the aperture but when things get too bright I sometimes don’t mind it. It gives it a very cool look when it burns out.

MM: When you make a doc like this though that is meant to be seen on a big screen with a crowd, how do you perceive the life of this doc beyond its initial theater run? In a world where everybody is VOD-ing movies, how does one make a film like this and have it maintain its qualities?

VJ: I don’t really know. I would love for there to always be special screenings at specific locations around Fourth of July or New Years with midnight screenings. I dream of a long theatrical run and cinemas that choose to show it from time to time. I’m totally a believer in cinema and want to imagine there is still a market for small cinematic films.

MM: Did you ever worry about the music taking away from the visuals or vice versa?

VJ: Sometimes I felt the music would go a bit too far and fight the image. I would let the images speak for themselves and let the music enhance them—nothing too obvious or emotional. I had a good team where everyone was listening to each other.

MM: The guy who climbs the castle without a harness: did you just ask him if you could strap a GoPro on him?

VJ: That is exactly what we did. We scouted who was going up on the tower and asked their superiors if it was OK to put a GoPro on them, and they were all like, “Yeah. Go ahead.” They felt honored and happy to collaborate. There was an aspect of danger, but it is a normal part of their work and life; we didn’t interfere with that.

MM: You were documenting what would have happened regardless of your presence there.

VJ: Exactly. We weren’t trying to change anything. MM

Brimstone & Glory opens in theaters on October, 27 2017, courtesy of Oscilloscope. All images courtesy of Oscilloscope.

Prev2 of 2Next
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.