"EMVF in 65mm: Movies for Your Ears"
The 70mm Newsletter
by: James Tavella, film
The idea for the
"EMVF in 65mm: Movies for Your Ears" shoot was not an original concept but stems
from an earlier production that the Director Bruce Sears and myself have
been developing for some time. This earlier project focused on the
idea of telling a story through scene action and content motivated by
grand symphonic sound design with limited dialog. Together we
developed a 60-page screenplay detailing the creation and evolution of the
universe. We also agreed that a grand picture was needed to
characterize and accompany such a broad theme.
in 70mm reading:
"EMVF in 65mm: Movies for your ears"
- GO TO GALLEY
A recent 65mm Production
Super Panavision 70
Cast and credits
only format that came to mind was IMAX. However, in order to garner
any interest from IMAX on such an ambitious project, we realized that some
kind of forerunner or preview was required to show and express the value of
this story to be told in such a large format. Depth and clarity of
picture was essential and the only way to accomplish that for "EMVF
in 65mm: Movies for Your Ears"
was in 70mm.
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Bruce Sears and producer James Tavella discuss an up and coming setup
involving the Technocrane system. Photo by Mako Kowai
We additionally realized that a musical group capable of orchestrating
such a soundscape composition for this preliminary vision was needed. This
broad sound ironically came not from a large orchestra but from a 4 piece
symphonic musical group. The group was EMVF led by musical director
and accomplished Warr/Bass guitarist Michael Hamernik and consisted of
guitarist Steve Chandler; electric violinist Jeff Sullivan; &
percussionist David Sears.
Bruce Sears (left) discusses with Cinematographer Neil Moore (right)
blocking for steadicam
Together with the other executive producers, we began discussions with
Woodland Hills & Kodak in Hollywood. Both companies eagerly jumped on the
project & donated their services. Panavision loaned all five of their 65mm
cameras to the shoot & Kodak donated all stock in 5298 & 5277. Out of the
total camera packages, both System 65 cameras originally designed to shoot
“Far & Away” & one handheld pellicle 65 would end up being
chosen for the times on set.
of the crew. Photo by Rodney Lockett
Press for enlargement
In preproduction, Bruce knew that a highly capable DP
would have to be brought in who knew how to expressively light large format.
After much review, he found that quality & skill in Cinematographer Neil
Moore. Neil offered an unmatched ambition along with a truly creative
look. He in turn teamed up with veteran gaffer Foster Denker.
(Makofoto) operates the technocrane camera as Director Bruce Sears watches.
Photo by Matt petrosky
During preliminary discussions, we all understood that the scope of the
original story had to be greatly downsized & centered more towards the
individual elements of the design of the original script. The decision was
made to detail more of the soundscape involved in telling the story-a
large sound to accompany a large format. One of the executive producers
made the decision that in order to show the musical group’s versatility we
should shoot them playing live. This added a whole new level of production
decisions that increased the burden on the Director and the Production. So
in a short period of time, as is typical in productions, we went from a
65mm concept preview to a live multicamera shoot; but we were up to the
challenge. Bruce designed an animatic preview script as well as several
contingency plans for this challenge knowing full well that shooting live
would be more like live switching than a multiple take shoot.
of photography Neil Moore views a setup on the System 65 "A" camera.
Photo by Matt Petrosky
Press for enlargement
The limited film stock also challenged him to be required to call roll & cut
live during continuous camera coverage as well as live lense changes to
accomplish his vision. The vision for this film became one surrounding our
new cast which was the four musical members. Each member would have his
own theme & scene lasting between about 4 min & all coverage would revolve
around telling his story for that scene. Since the original 60 min
screenplay involved creation, we chose to give each member a symbolic
reference to creation based on the elements-earth, wind, fire & water.
Earth would be the foundation which was the percussionist; wind would be
the violinist who was able to bend & lead the music or spiritually follow
it at will; fire would be the guitarist based on his ability to burn
through the soundscaping & change its direction; & water would be the
bassist whose sound flowed along side the percussionist & melded with him.
With the focus now on evolving a story around the musicians, extensive
discussions began between Bruce & Neil about the design of the lighting.
Dickson, 65mm & CircleVision SFX specialist, joined the team
& was a great help in preparing us for the requirements of lighting &
lensing 65mm. The thought was to try & use the old anamorphic 65 lenses to
achieve a 2.75 ratio but we discovered that the remaining three “Ben
Hur” Panavision lenses had fungus growing on the glass & weren’t
usable. So the decision was made to frame for 2.40 with the idea of being
able to project this as a combination of a promo for a larger story either
standing alone or as a pre-show instructive piece about the synergy of
picture & sound shown before a film’s trailer. Bruce & Neil decided on a
look specific to each member. Since live switching & playback would not be
possible, the use of two continuity supervisors was added as a safety &
each camera would be monitored at video village. I set the production up
with a crew of 40 & Sal Gomez, AD, scheduled a 3-day shoot.
Radzik (Stedicam Operator), James Tavella (Producer), Jim Dickson (65mm
specialist) and Bruce Sears (Director).
Photo by Rod Lockett
During production the single location, Panavision Stage 1, was lit by Neil
to give the sense of a surreal, ambiguous atmosphere that focused on the
musicians while at the same time providing depth & ambiance. The use of
fog enhanced this vision. One system 65 would be flown on a 30 ft
Technocrane provided by Andy Romanoff of Panavision Remote Systems &
operated by Mako Koiwai, the second system 65 would track on dolly & the
handheld pellicle would shoot coverage on steadicam operated by John Radzik.
Both the crane & the steadicam would have a 40mm (for the steadicam it was
an issue of weight).
Douglas (right) interviews Don Earl (Panavision). Photo by Rod Lockett
The dolly camera would be switched live in shot between a 75mm & a Zeiss 300mm. Since no control trailer was
available, the video village was constructed on the noisy set &
communication between the director & the camera crew was maintained using
headsets. Once Bruce called “action” the cameras performed beautifully.
All cameras were rolled & cut live to preserve film with each camera
positioned to cover a specific action in shot. We rolled through footage
with the director calling “cut” once he felt like he had enough coverage
to satisfy the scene. The shooting script was designed to be organized and
give freedom to improvise as needed. Principal photography consisted of
two days with one day each for two musicians. During that time, the crew
worked magnificently and a high constant moral was always maintained
on-set. We were encouraged & thrilled by the visit of Don Earl on set
during principal & it gave us added motivation to be true to the history
of these cameras in our behind the scenes documentary.
Postproduction would be handled by CFI for processing. This shoot has lead
to much interest from the New York Film Festival & several magazines &
newsletters. We are proud to be included in the In70mm.com - The 70mm
Newsletter & website & hope we have an opportunity to screen this piece at
the the widescreen
weekend in Bradford.
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