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David Mullen ASC

"The Astronaut Farmer" on DVD

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Looks great David,

 

I look forward to renting it the dvd. Are there special features with concerning cinematography?

 

Did you pre-visualize and knew exactly that the film's title will be in that shot? Or was it decided in post?

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We shot the opening sequence MOS while running around sand dunes at White Sands, NM. The script indicated that credits would run through the scene, though the final ones did not match the descriptions in the script. We shot a couple of shots with a spherical fish-eye lens that were supposed to be treated in post to look like a reflection in a space helmet, with credits curving over the surface, but that idea was dropped, partly because we didn't want to establish his face in the opening, and we didn't want to cheat and use a mirrored faceplate when the helmet would have have only a clear glass faceplate for the rest of the movie.

 

We did shoot a plate though of Billy Bob Thornton's face, wearing the helmet with no glass visor -- to put behind the fish-eye shots treated to look like a reflection, but the composites were never done, probably because, like I said, it was better to delay the reveal on his face until he arrives at the house.

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It looks amazing David! I find it interesting that the frames you've chosen are low key, quite dark and moody any reason for that?

 

Kieran.

 

I wish I could do more of that...

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Love the barrel distortion on the shot of the hearing. What lens was that?

As far as the dvd release goes, it was just a pity that they settled for DVD-5 rather than DVD-9. Whilst it looks good on anything up to about a 42" , the compression begins to break it up when projected...do you know if there's any plans for a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray release?

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Love the barrel distortion on the shot of the hearing. What lens was that?

...do you know if there's any plans for a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray release?

 

I think it was the 40mm Primo anamorphic. I did carry a 35mm but only used it a couple of times.

 

Don't know about an HD home video release.

 

The compression on the DVD of "Akeelah and the Bee" was some of the worst I've ever seen.

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Mr. Mullen, thanks for posting those grabs. It's always a nice way to analyze good lighting. I have a couple questions concerning the 2nd, 3rd an 6th images from your first post. I liked the moody office shoot a lot and was wondering if you used any kind of extra fill or if the big source coming through the window just bounced around enough to give you the fill you wanted? For the outside carnival, did you add any extra light from units off screen or were all those practicals and the source at the lop left giving you what you wanted. Also, do you remember what globes you used on those and in your lanterns? Furthermore, did you have to push that scene at all to not over power the background carnival lights? Lastly, that great blue green color in the hallway shot brings up my last question... did you achieve that nice color with gels on your lights, a filter, in post, or a combination of some sort? I wonder about this when I see shoots or scenes that have a distinct color cast.

 

Sorry about all the questions at once but those shoots are great and really get me thinking. Also I know those questions are rather specific and that you shoot the film a while ago so you might not remember such details but any insight you can given would be greatly appreciated even if you don?t have time to answer all of them.

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That office was on the second floor -- I think I had an 18K HMI through a 6x6 Light Grid coming straight in, and then a 4K Xenon on a condor crane coming down from a higher angle. Or maybe both were on the same condor, I can't remember now.

 

The carnival stuff was pushed one-stop on Fuji Eterna 500T, rated at 640 ASA, and shot at T/2.8. I had 500w photofloods in each Chinese Lantern. In the far corners of the carnival were some telephone poles to which I had 9-light tungsten MaxiBrutes.

 

The hallway was shot at night; the background windows were papered over and I had a 2.5K HMI behind them. I think there was a 1200w HMI PAR with a narrow lens creating that slash of light. It was shot on 500T without the 85 filter.

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Thanks for all the info! 18Ks and Xenon's are still a little out of my reach so forgive my ignorance but they seem like they put out so much light that they would have to be backed off quite far to not overwhelm the shoot. How far off do you, or anyone, back those types of big units off from windows so you don't get way too much light?

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The lights are probably 20' from the window, but remember I'm shooting in anamorphic on 250D stock rated at 160 ASA, and I'm probably shooting at an f/5.6 or maybe even an f/8.

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Today I received the only Blu-Ray version of the movie -- released in Germany! But luckily it is region-free and plays fine here. Looks great, much nicer than the DVD. I got it off of Amazon.co.uk.

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Today I received the only Blu-Ray version of the movie -- released in Germany! But luckily it is region-free and plays fine here. Looks great, much nicer than the DVD. I got it off of Amazon.co.uk.

That's great! I've noticed that with a couple of the low budget films shot here in Australia, you can only buy the Blu-ray version in Europe and not in Australia...

 

I loved this movie by the way. When I first watched it, it was the first movie that made me cry in a long time

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