The Patriarch

In Film & Video Production I at American University the class was divided into several groups of 3 to 4 students each. Each group had to come up with a production company name. I liked Tick Tock Productions. It reminded me that we had a lot of work to do and the clock was ticking. Plus, it’s onomatopoeically like Alfred Hitchcock.

Director Yuri taking a look at the frame.

The Patriarch is the result of our Swap Project, which was one of two final projects due for the class.  The Swap Project works like this: someone not in the group writes a 5 minute fictional script with no dialogue. Each group gets assigned a script  and turns it into a film. Although The Patriarch is a dramatic piece we decided to go for a handheld look. My Canon HV20 is a GREAT lightweight camera and handles very well with my Panasonic wides angle lens adapter. Combined with the HV20’s cinematic shooting mode we were able to get a nice film look. It’s a great alternative to shelling out $800 for a Letus 35mm adapter.

Shallow depth of field.

I really enjoyed being cinematographer as this was my first time shooting a fiction piece. If I were able to go back in time I would have made sure we used bounce cards to even out the lighting on the actors faces. Speaking of the actors, they were great to work with. On the first day of our two day shoot we only had Gary DiNardo. He’s really pro and easy going. I highly recommend him for any indie/student filmmakers looking for a male lead.

Jessica Ross and Gary DiNardo have chemistry.

Jessica Ross played the woman and she was equally great to work with. She came through on extremely short notice when our original actress bailed at the last possible moment.

The post production was a bit difficult. It’s in post where you figure out “holy shit, we’re missing key shots”. We worked around it, improvised, and were able to cut the film without doing any reshoots. Big props to Yuri Ozeryan who directed and did sound design. Andrew Gay came through in a big way keeping us on time during the shoot and composing original music for the film!

Yuri and I discuss at least two ways The Patriarch could go.

Finally, it came down to color correction. I really want to get good at using Apple’s Color. I added basic primary correction of the blacks and highlights. Then in secondaries I tried to saturate the actors skin where possible. Plus, I upped the blue gain to give the whole thing a “cold” look. Finally, in the color fx room I added a vignette and film look, hence the graininess. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn about Color, but working on The Patriarch was great practice. I’ve got to hand it to my brother, Peter, who put together a great tutorial for anyone looking to hop right into Apple Color. Check it out here. Below is The Patriarch (same cut) pre color correction.

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