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Assassination of a High School President


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Thanks for posting these, I like the look of that film. The frame of the guy at the phone booth at night is beautiful. Can you tell me how you lit that, e.g. what is creating the pool of light he's standing in and also the light on the big tank in the background. The frame below it with the couple dancing is also interesting. Are those blue circles a particular lens flare from shooting a certain lens wide open? Overall most of the daylight shots look somewhat soft and pastel, is that the nature of the stock or some art direction also? Generally to me it looks a bit '70s/'80s, in a good way.

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We had a small condor with a couple of 1K PAR's on it -- one was aimed down to create the pool of light, gelled with Cyan 60, one was aimed at the water tower and one at the trussle thing. I also had a Maxi-Brute with Cyan 60 gel way off to the right side, just raking the side of the building. I shot on a Master Prime at T/1.4-ish on Fuji Eterna 500T, pushed a stop I think.

 

The dance had these balls of blue LED lights hanging all around, quite lovely, so I tried to get them into the foreground.

 

We smoked the day scenes, or used the Smoque filter, this combined with the soft light, Fuji Eterna stocks, and art direction gave it a pastel feeling.

 

 

Thanks for posting these, I like the look of that film. The frame of the guy at the phone booth at night is beautiful. Can you tell me how you lit that, e.g. what is creating the pool of light he's standing in and also the light on the big tank in the background. The frame below it with the couple dancing is also interesting. Are those blue circles a particular lens flare from shooting a certain lens wide open? Overall most of the daylight shots look somewhat soft and pastel, is that the nature of the stock or some art direction also? Generally to me it looks a bit '70s/'80s, in a good way.
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The dance had these balls of blue LED lights hanging all around, quite lovely, so I tried to get them into the foreground

I'll be stealing that idea for my holiday season event photography.

 

Another thing I like about the dance scene is that they let the actress be visibly taller than the actor. Could someone please tell Hollywood that it's OK for women to sometimes be taller than men?

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assassination16.jpg

 

One thing I love about this scene is that there is many layers, you have the have the phone box and water tower, then darkness, then light again.

 

Particularly also how one of the unlit structures in the distance is outlined by what resemble the ambient light-pollution in the distant sky. Is this for real - i suppose so if its 1000T at T1.3 or was it shot just after dusk?

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One thing I love about this scene is that there is many layers, you have the have the phone box and water tower, then darkness, then light again.

 

Particularly also how one of the unlit structures in the distance is outlined by what resemble the ambient light-pollution in the distant sky. Is this for real - i suppose so if its 1000T at T1.3 or was it shot just after dusk?

 

I think I rated it at 640 ASA, maybe 800 ASA, with the one-stop push -- yes, at T/1.3 you get the real industrial light ambience in the sky, like you see in some digitally-shot movies. Did mean that not only is this shot lit mostly with three 1K PAR's, other than the Maxi raking the side of the building, but all the lights had to be knocked way down.

 

Shooting wide shots in the city at night on the Master Primes wide-open is an amazing experience.

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Particularly also how one of the unlit structures in the distance is outlined by what resemble the ambient light-pollution in the distant sky. Is this for real - i suppose so if its 1000T at T1.3 or was it shot just after dusk?

Although I don't think David did this trick, Andrzej Sekula did a simple and clever in-camera trick for this kind of shot in American Psycho. When shooting Christian Bale running at night on ISO 50 film with New York in the background, he shot a few minutes of the skyline in the upper background at something like ten frames per second so it would be exposed correctly. Then he rewound the film and shot Bale lit in the foreground at normal speed as a double exposure.

 

Nowadays I guess it's easier to do a composite in post than in camera.

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Great work David! Too bad we couldn't catch it in the theaters.

 

That flashlight was really keying the face of that kid? it's amazing, Master prime, wide open?

Beautiful!

 

We only had the Master Primes for a few days, for large night exterior work, so I think that was the Ultra Primes wide-open at T/2. Yes, we used bright flashlights so that the actors were lit by the real beam bouncing off of the papers they were holding.

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  • 1 month later...

Nice work, David. For some reason, I recall that scene at the amusement park as being at the end of a miserable day, but it sure looks great.

 

2 thoughts:

About your use of lights in the shot (a technique I "borrow" as much as I can) ... I'm curious whether that was part of your "photographic plan" as it related to the script and a film-noir look, or, were you just using all those bare kino bulbs as a substitute for production design that you knew wouldn't be happening given the budget and schedule of the shoot.

 

Also, am I crazy or is this Fuji film a lot "truer" than Kodak 5219?

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Nice work, David. For some reason, I recall that scene at the amusement park as being at the end of a miserable day, but it sure looks great.

 

2 thoughts:

About your use of lights in the shot (a technique I "borrow" as much as I can) ... I'm curious whether that was part of your "photographic plan" as it related to the script and a film-noir look, or, were you just using all those bare kino bulbs as a substitute for production design that you knew wouldn't be happening given the budget and schedule of the shoot.

 

Also, am I crazy or is this Fuji film a lot "truer" than Kodak 5219?

 

That day we did all the bicycling shots through the industrial landscape with a camera car, then hopped back to the docks for the amusement park night exterior, then hopped back to the industrial landscape for that night exterior of him at the phone booth -- so process stuff and two night exteriors, two location moves in one day. Yes, it was a very long day/night...

 

The production design by Sharon Lomofsky was great, so I wasn't trying to substitute for anything other than the fact that we didn't have the budget to dress the whole gym for the prom dance, just half of it, so Sharon and I planned on hiding the space a bit with lighting effects. I ringed the space with a few PAR's on stands to point back into the lens and hide some of the background in shafts of colored light. Sharon hung these balls of blue LED lights around the set which looked great.

 

But I like seeing light sources in the frame in general and look for opportunities to do that. It's adds depth and contrast to the frame. Yes, there are times when it can create a bit of extra production value.

 

I'm not sure I'd say that Fuji is "truer", in some ways, I tend to feel that Kodak images tend to look more accurate whereas Fuji adds a painterly patina sometimes. But the lower contrast of Eterna 500T over '19, the softer colors, does create a muted natural look, less "slick".

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  • 1 year later...
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I caught it to on streaming and really enjoyed it. Of course, for some reason it was 1.85:1... and a composition or two felt "wrong because of it.

I wanted to ask you David, for the night exts on Mila's house, specifically when the lead goes to pick her up for homecoming what was your lighting plan?

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I caught it to on streaming and really enjoyed it. Of course, for some reason it was 1.85:1... and a composition or two felt "wrong because of it.

I wanted to ask you David, for the night exts on Mila's house, specifically when the lead goes to pick her up for homecoming what was your lighting plan?

 

The plan was to somehow get light on a house boxed in by tall trees... We had a big light on a condor for moonlight, knowing my gaffer there, it was a Dino or something tungsten, gelled blue, not an HMI. But I had to use lights on the ground too because of the tree problem. On a conceptual level, the idea was to go for a Gregory Crewdson look, or a Todd Hido look, with a noir edge.

 

The backside of the house was even harder to light, it had an extreme downhill slope, trees, etc. so the only way to light that was with an HMI balloon.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Just watched it for a second time on Netflix and I plan to pick up the dvd (I thought the streaming version seemed odd quality wise, not the picture but the audio just sounded very compressed, I can assume from streaming on my not so great home network). But very inspiring work! I tried to read what I could on here before watching it again so I could pause and pay closer attention to the little details. I must say it's amazing to be able to hear you views on the film and keep those in mind while watching. It's the best way to learn! Great job Mr. Mullen!

 

P.s. the second time around I watched it with some friends who are non-film people and from a causal audience perspective they all loved it!

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