Movie production stills: "All Hallow's Eve"

This weekend I had the unique opportunity to shoot some production stills for an independent movie my friends Ed and Tim are making.A little known fact about me (I guess), in a past life I was on film sets ALLL the time. I majored in cinematography in college so I'm familiar with a lot of the equipment, lingo, positions, and nature of film crews and film sets. It's been years, though; as much as I enjoyed it, I didn't pursue cinematography as a career because I decided that the lifestyle didn't suit me. Seriously, most of the time moviemaking only sounds glamorous.Anyway, I didn't wind up on this production due to any of my film school contacts, many of whom I still keep in touch with. No, I know Ed and Tim from weddings! They're both videographers who work in "the biz" from time to time on the side.So it was fun to be on set again and this time leisurely taking pictures instead of rigging lights, or coiling cables, or fretting over schedules like how it was in college. The film was a horror movie and the scenes I was present for involved a Halloween costume party, which is why people are dressed in literal costumes.I had fun.

Tim is such a huge goofball. Here he is groping a set prop.Andrew, an 18-year-old gripOne of the actors, Phillip, just prior to shooting a scene.I love this image, it reminds me of something I'd see in Life. It's just the gaffer (light rigger) goofing off. There is usually lots of fooling around on sets.Ed being director-lyEd and Amy, the producerI also really like this shotTimAndrew having some fun on the makeshift "dolly"---a wheelchair.This picture of one of the actors in costume isn't really one of my favorites, I'm just including it because I marvel at how much beer they had on set. Whether it was for the cast, crew, or set dressing, I am entirely unsure. I've never seen so many cases of liquor on a movie set before.

Inspiration of Baraka

Some of you (OK well, maybe just a few of you) already know I'm gearing up to head to Israel next week. I'll be visiting my father, who is a scholar on sabbatical there.One of the movies I always like to watch before I head to another country with my camera is the 1992 film Baraka. My parents have been National Geographic subscribers since before I was born, so as I grew up I developed a tremendous amount of respect for the photojournalistic style of photography that I came to admire through that magazine: the style that portrays the colors, textures, and emotions of us as a human race.Baraka does the same, only it's not just about the human race; the film might as well be a love song to human civilization. The director/cinematographer, Ron Fricke, traveled to 24 different countries (including Israel, I might add...a complete list of places in the film is here) to film common aspects of human life, including religion, dance, work, poverty, and more. He filmed it in on large format (70mm!) and when it debuted on IMAX it received high critical acclaim. Let me just say that Fricke must have the patience of a saint---the footage he produces is mind-blowing, and I have little to no idea as to how he acquired much of it.Don't get me wrong---this is not a high-octane blockbuster, or even a nature special. There is no narration and no titles, so much of what is shown blends into one amazing work of art that is simply rife with natural and humanistic beauty, and symbolism. You may not find it at your local video store, but it you appreciate intense cinematography WITHOUT special effects, you'll love this and want to pick it up from Amazon or somewhere. The stuff Fricke does with time-lapse is eye-popping.I was quite thrilled to recently learn that Fricke is finally developing a sequel to Baraka. He photographed the similarly-styled trilogy known as the Qatsi triology, but they are directed by someone else and while equally artistic, do not hold that breath-taking element that I'd always found Baraka to have. I can't wait to see the next one.Here's a clip I found on YouTube that's probably one of the most interesting parts of the movie. Sadly, without narration or titles, much of the cultural features in the film may remain a mystery to some viewers, though I think anything can be researched online nowadays. I was fortunate enough to discover what this clip is about due to a World Music class I took in college:This is a traditional dance called the "ketjak," (monkey chant) performed in Bali. It depicts a scene from the Hindu epic "Ramayana" in which a monkey army comes to protagonist Prince Rama's aid against the evil King Ravana.
I suppose it's a little weird if you're used to Discovery Channel specials with narration, or if you're not used to Discovery Channel-type stuff at all, but I absolutely love this kind of thing. I simply adore culture.Here's another clip that probably better illustrates the film:You may recognize Tokyo in this one!