When creating a film, there are countless things a moviemaker should be worrying about. Is the production on budget? On schedule? Are all the crew members doing their jobs? Are we getting good performances from the actors? What are we going to do with this thing after it’s made?
So it must have been nice for writers-producers-directors Noah Stanik and Skyler Stever not to have to worry about their image quality. For their short film Tether Me, they went with Canon HD-EC prime and zoom lenses, which allowed them to shoot in digital format while still having their finished product look like film. Stanik and Stever took the time to answer some of MovieMaker’s questions about the benefits of shooting with Canon lenses and why they wanted that much-sought-after film look in the first place.
Rebecca Pahle (MM): Which aspects of Tether Me made you want to give it a film look as opposed to the normal digital picture quality? Were you going for a specific tone?
Noah Stanik (NS): Tether Me is about an introverted woman, Abby (played by Lindsae Klein). Her struggle is so inwardly focused and quiet that it required a big, beautiful palette to play on to show the feeling of being lost and alone in a big, big world. A cinematic approach was the best way tell the story of Abby and her helping-hand neighbor, Miles (played by Brian Weaver) and to show how, ultimately, Miles would help Abby “see the light” and experience life to its fullest.
Skyler Stever (SS): When developing the look and feel for Tether Me, we knew we wanted it to have a cinematic look and feel. We wanted Tether Me to feel like it was of its own time; not present tense or past, but its own unique place. We looked at a lot of different color palettes and finally settled on muted earth tones—browns with highlights of red and blue. The resulting feel is lush and warm.
MM: Now that you’ve shot with the Canon HD-EC prime and zoom lenses, do you think you’ll use them on your future projects? Or does it all depend on the individual film?
NS: It depends on the film: Camera, crew, script and more impact the tools and techniques used to make a movie. I would certainly never count them out, though. We were continually impressed with our setups.
SS: I agree with Noah. Each project has its own set of demands and we choose the best tools to tell any particular story.
MM: What were some of the greatest practical benefits of using the Canon lenses? It’s good for shooting in tight spaces; what are some of the other benefits?
NS: The ability to shoot in tight spaces can’t be discounted at all—for Tether Me, that was huge. We were dealing with many small spaces and couldn’t afford the time or money to build sets—we had to shoot practically. We simply wouldn’t have achieved the shallow depth of field we were looking for without this kit of lenses. Apart from that, they were really quick to work with. We started out in large part sticking with the primes. But as the shoot progressed, we’d start sneaking the zoom in, and eventually it became primary. It just performed so well and made setups quick; it didn’t make sense to mandate using the primes. We still used them, but not exclusively. Don’t overlook the zoom lens.
SS: The Canon lenses enabled us to get a great look that matched what we were going for in the story—big, warm and inviting. Once I saw the initial look of the shots coming out of the camera, as lensed by the Canon kit, I knew I didn’t have to worry about the look of the film and I could focus on directing.
MM: What do you think of the final look of the footage? Are you pleased with how everything came out?
NS: Yes, it’s all there. Abby and Miles jump off the screen; their world comes to life. The details are crisp, spaces dramatic and you are transported into this special place they live in.
SS: I have been very pleased with the final look—the images just look that great. We will push some scenes a little but for the most part what we saw in the lens is what will be in the final product of the film. That is a testament to a great DP Kevin Ebel, camera technician Mark Haleston and a really nice set of lenses.
MM: What Canon products would you recommend for beginning moviemakers?
NS: The Canon imaging products tend to have a special “Canon look,” and it’s one people really like. So just grab a camera (a camcorder, DSLR that shoots video, whatever) and tell your story. The great thing is that if it’s Canon it will have some of that look inherent in it.
For more information, visit www.tetherme.com.