Test shoot for the feature 'TEPUI'
That was one of the hardest and most breathtaking shoots I have ever done. We spent two days shooting in a 600 metres high vertical wall in the Austrian Alps and two days shooting in a rainy forest and on a lake. For the climbing scenes the crew had to be as small as possible to get it done as fast as possible because the weather in this region is known unpredictable. With the help of Heli Putz, a well known alpinist, photographer, rigger for filming in steep terrain and definitely a crazy guy, we were lucky and got it done in that short time. He rigged a 600 meter line from the top to the base of the wall. That gave me the opportunity to move up and down and to the sides as well.
In such an environment it is hard to focus just on the cinematography. There was a lot of rockfall and wind. Being safe was rule number one. The equipment had to be safe as well, so I put the camera in a haul bag attached to my harness, hanging 3 feet below me. That means if you are jumaring up or rappeling down, there is always the weight of the camera underneath you. That keeps you kind of busy...But it was not enough shooting under these conditions, the plan was to shoot as much as possible during blue hour. With the unpredictable weather it wasn't really possible. We decided to shoot everything as soon as possible to get the shots anyway.
We had two different setups, for all the scenes taking place in the present we shot on a Sony Alpha SII with a Zeiss CZ 28-80mm 2.9 zoom lens combined with a 1/8 Tiffen Pro Mist Filter. The camera was easy to handle and lightweight, a good setup especially for the climbing scenes. We filmed the low contrast scenes in the Cine Gamma 4, S Gammut Cine 3 setting. For postproduction was it the best solution. In comparison to the S Log 3, there is not so much noise and the camera can be rated lower than 1600 ASA. A good way to reduce the weight concerning the use of ND filters. With higher contrast in the frame we switched to S Log 3. With that setting we could use the whole dynamic range of the camera. All that scenes were shot with natural light, there wasn't even a single bounce board or anything similar.
For all the flashbacks we shot on 16mm film (Kodak Vision 3 7207) with a Bolex camera and a old zoom lens 9,5-100mm. With this camera I wanted to have a very rough feeling. When the light was not enough shooting on film we switched to the Sony Alpha SII and rated it between 28000 and 64000 (!!!) ASA to get a similar feeling. I wanted to have a noisy image right away so we did it in camera. With your eyes it was nearly impossible to see while for the camera it was still fine. Unbelievable! To get a more abstract feeling in these scenes we used a BBS LED Flyer with 'Cornflower' filter (LEE 366). During blue hour we used it as side/ backlight. It gave a pale- blue metallic highlight to the actors and separated them from the background. Because this lamp is so powerful on batteries, lightweight and easy to transport it was the ideal choice for the project.
Shooting in these extreme conditions is always full of surprises and I am very glad that there were no major injuries and no one got harmed by mother nature!
Thank you Frank & Alex for your performance, Heli & Christian for your great and ultra fast support in the wall and the new route, Francesco for helping me with everything, Joachim & Petra for the support back on the ground and for the photos, Ronald for the camera and the support up in the north, Stephan Düll and Gabi Huber (ARRI Berlin) for the technical support.