Filming "According To Otto"

Welcome to the world of sixteen year old Otto Brooks, today he is coming out!

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According to Otto is a new independent Australian feature film. It’s a coming of age story about a young man who "comes out" on his sixteenth birthday. It is based on the award winning play by writer/director Wayne Tunks and made by the producers of After Nightfall, and production took place between the 7th and 26th of January in Sydney.

FILMING IN A SYDNEY SUMMER

Why would anyone choose to shoot a film in Sydney during the hottest month of the year... welcome to the world of micro budget filmmaking. According to Otto is set in two key locations, the Brooks house (which some people might recognise as the McLeavey house from After Nightfall)and Otto’s private school, with a bunch of minor locations including a hospital, an office and several dream sequences. 

In terms of sourcing locations, we knew Sydney Props would be perfect for the hospital and dream sequences, so that only left Otto’s high school. Luckily Newtown High School of the Performing Arts said we could use their campus during the summer holidays, and just like that we were off and away, filming an indie feature film in the middle of an Australian summer. 

FROM THE PRODUCERS OF AFTER NIGHTFALL

In early 2018 Wayne and I were in the final stages of post production on After Nightfall season 1, while he was also rehearsing his new play According to Otto. I was lucky enough to see the play performed live at The Depot Theatre in Marrickville as part of the Mardi Gras Festivaland it was obvious how filmic the story was - think Ferris Bueller meets Love Simon - and immediately Wayne and I were talking about it being our next project. Looking back it seems a little presumptuous considering After Nightfall hadn’t even been released, yet we did it anyway. 

In March After Nightfall went live, in May we started filming After Nightfall Season 2, and in November we won Best Mystery/Thriller Web Series in New York Web Fest. 

We were on a roll and decided the best way to keep the momentum going was to shoot our first feature film. Wayne was adamant about keeping the original cast, so we shot a video for a fundraising campaign (via Pozible), organised a reading and some rehearsal dates, and by January 2019 we were ready to start filming. 

FILMING ON A TIGHT SCHEDULE 

With such a tight shooting window - between New Years and the end of the January school holidays - and a talented cast who already knew the material, we decided on a shooting schedule of just 18 days. We had to do it all in three weeks straight, with just two Sundays off for recovery. 

We had a week of pre-production from the 1st-6th of January, during which Wayne was trying to cast new characters, find extras, organise locations and source a whole bunch of school uniforms. Of course it’s a terrible time of the year because nothing is open! Sydney was empty with everyone away on their summer holidays.

A lot of the locations, like Sydney Props, I couldn’t organise until we were shooting, luckily for me Lemac was open and I was able to organise some gear, including a mini jib for what would be the first shot of the film; Otto waking up in his bed. I also got a set of the Schneider Hollywood Black Magic diffusion filters, which I would use in different amounts for reality, flashback and dream sequences. 

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Otto_dream

FILMING STARTS ON ACCORDING TO OTTO

We started filming on Monday the 7th of January, and the first shot was also the first shot of the film, Otto waking up on his 16th birthday.

Our first 6 shoot days were spent in Killara filming at the Brooks house, including interiors, exteriors and in the playground around the corner. It was such a luxury to be filming in an air-conditioned house during the second week of January, when predictably the weather was all over the place. We had two forty degree days followed by three days of rain.

We tried three times to shoot a scene where Otto walks out his front door delivering a monologue to camera; I was adamant that it had to be a sunny morning and the only time of day when the sun was in the right place was between five pm and sunset. Of course the days would begin hot and sunny and by the afternoon a thunderstorm would roll in and it would pour with rain. It wasn't until the last day at the location when the sun finally made an appearance and we got the shot.

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CAST AND CREW 

Being in the one location allowed the cast and crew to get used to one another. The transition from stage to screen is a difficult one for everybody but most of all for the cast who are used to the instant reaction of a live audience. With film there’s lots of waiting around, then a bunch of takes and the moment it works the director yells cut, a host of crew walk onto set moving everything around and the cast can often be left wondering what just happened. Sometimes simply letting the actors know we’re doing multiple takes for camera and not for performance can make the process much easier, as does letting the director speak to the cast for a moment before moving on to the next shot. 

We had a fantastic camera crew for According to Otto. Shooting on a micro budget meant there was no money for grips or gaffers, instead I had a really tight knit camera department of Dean Strothers, Soumya Lakmé Iyengar and Cayla Blanch. Between the four of us we lit and shot the entire film, which included shooting full frame with a shallow depth of field and working with a lot of available light. We were all exhausted by the end of the shoot but it was a wonderful experience and I’m so happy to have been able to share it with this amazing team.

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As a cinematographer I’m always thankful whenever I get to work with talented and professional actors - working with great people makes my job so much easier. It was also a learning process for me, translating the comedic moments from stage to screen. Many of the jokes had previously worked for a live audience, which means a much bigger performance, but that all changes when the audience is seeing the same joke on a close up. Lens choices can have a huge effect on both performance and delivery, and it was amazing to watch the actors make subtle changes to their performance based on our lens choices. 

It was also a great week to establish the colour palette of the film, introduce the transitions in and out of the fantasy and flashback sequences, and shoot most of Otto’s pieces to camera. I was conscious of wanting to give According to Otto quite a different look to After Nightfall, which has more of a contrasty, dark, noir feel to it; I wanted Otto to be softer, less contrasty, with an overall warmer feel to it. I chose the Schneider Hollywood Black Magic Filters to give the film a dreamy quality, plus the diffusion would help deal with the super bright summer light.

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Otto

WEEKS 2 & 3

The second week of shooting was on the road around Sydney. We had to bump in and out of a make-shift gay bar on Oxford Street, guerrilla shoot on an oval in the middle of Alexandria, spend a day in a studio at Sydney Props, and brave through a couple of crazy hot days outside. The highlight of this week was shooting the dream sequences, including one with Mr Darcy himself. 

We had managed to stay on schedule through the first two weeks but we knew we had left the most difficult scenes until last. We only had five days to shoot all of the school and library scenes, and Newtown High School of the Performing Arts had very kindly allowed us to use their campus as a shooting location during the last week of school holidays. We were restricted to eight hour shooting days, had a construction site next door, planes overhead and a week of hot, humid and wet weather. It was a massive challenge to get through but when Friday afternoon rolled around we had managed to shoot all of the school scenes. The relief of finishing in such a tough location felt like we were wrapping the film but there was still one day left.

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Given the choice I would much prefer to shoot in an Australian winter; our winters are often very dry and the sun sits low in the sky throughout the day. I had been spoilt on After Nightfall as whenever we shot outdoors we had lovely natural light that would either sidelight or back light the actors. In summer time however, the sun is high in the sky by 10am and stays that way until 3pm. As well as being brutal to work under it also gives the actors a very unflattering Panda eye look. Luckily shooting in the concrete school yard meant there was lots of natural bounce to go along with the heat and humidity.

FINAL DAY OF SHOOTING

Our final day of shooting was January 26th, Australia day, in Glenorie, a rural suburb on the outskirts of Sydney. All the key cast were present for the big wedding scene and of course it was the hottest day of summer. For each shot we would assemble the cast on the verandah, wait until the shot was set and then the actors would sit in for two or three takes before they melted in the scorching heat. 

As tough as the weather was it was wonderful to have most of the cast and crew present for such a lovely final shot and to celebrate the achievement of finishing the film. 

I also want to say a huge thank you to the very talented Wayne Tunks, who has been my partner in crime on this journey. Together we’ve now made two seasons of After Nightfall and shot a feature film. It’s been a great ride so far and I’m looking forward to what comes next. 

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According to Otto shot on the Red Monstro VV
with Schneider Xenon FF Prime Lenses
Schneider Hollywood Black Magic Filters
Schneider 4 x 5.65" Rhodium Full Spectrum Neutral Density Filters
Schneider 4 x 5.65" Linear True-Pol Polarizing Filter

Nicholas Price
DOP | Cinematographer
nicholaspricedp.com

AUSCREW
P. (02) 9427 4444
E. auscrew@auscrew.com.au

Nicholas Price is a Sydney based DOP | Producer who has made commercials, video clips, TV, documentary and short films. Nick is a Masters graduate of AFTRS and is always striving to bring a unique visual style to any project he works on. He recently shot the award winning web series After Nightfall and feature film According To Otto. 

AFTER NIGHTFALL SEASON 2

For the last two years, winter time in Sydney has meant filming After Nightfall, a gritty film noir web series about the death of 18 year-old Troy McLeavey.

GEARING UP FOR SEASON 2

As with any project that has a sequel, or a season 2, you feel the need to step it up from the first season. As Wayne Tunks (writer/director/co-producer) was writing the scripts he kept calling and asking things like: can we devote an entire episode to the funeral and have every character feature in the one scene? “Sure,” I said. I was on holidays, it was still summer, and the logistics of co-ordinating a huge cast including interstate actors hadn’t crossed my mind; can we go back in time and shoot some scenes from before season 1? “No worries,” I said, again having no idea if the locations had changed or if one of the cast had cut off all their hair over summer.

THE NEW RED MONSTRO VV

My mind was also side-tracked because I was in the midst of upgrading camera gear and had settled on the new Red Monstro Vista Vision. After Nightfall would be a great way of working out all the quirks of a new camera including workflow. Speaking to my colour grader and the guys from Dragon Image it soon became apparent that shooting 8k raw would use less data and provide more options in post than shooting 4k Pro Res. Did it seem a little ridiculous to shoot a web series in 8k raw? Yes. Did I do it anyway? Of course.

8 EPS FOR Season 2

So we now had scripts for 8 episodes instead of 6, Ep1 featuring the entire cast together, a massive flashback sequence, fight scenes, deaths and a prison breakout...and we were shooting in 8k raw. So it’s safe to say we were definitely stepping it up for season 2. 

Then came the news that one of our key cast was moving to L.A. It soon became apparent what the biggest difficulty would be in season 2. Not meaning to sound callous but first time around we could re-cast around actors availabilities, but now we were locked in so we had to work around the cast.

SHOOTING SEASON 2

We started filming Day 1 of After Nightfall season 2 in May and we finished with Day 16 in September. I think the scheduling of this season came close to breaking Wayne but got there in the end, and what a season it is. The cast was amazing and I can’t wait for people to see what we have in stall for them. 

Filming on the Red Monstro was a revelation for me. Shooting large format with full frame lenses and shallow depth of field presented a lot of challenges for a small crew but also gave us some amazing images. Shooting hand held close ups on a 50mm prime and having the focus puller asking which eye would you like in focus can get a bit scary.

One of the most difficult aspects of season 2 for me was pushing the noir feel even though we had fewer night scenes. We decided to embrace a broader colour palette 2 to highlight certain characters and to seperate the time lines. We also used slow-mo for the first time in the funeral procession and then integrated it further throughout the series.

Just after we wrapped season 2 Wayne and I flew to New York where After Nightfall won Best Mystery/Thriller at New York Web Fest. It was an amazing three day festival and it felt great knowing that we had finished season 2 as well. Although “finished” means 16TB of footage, which is quite ridiculous for a web series, but in the end it’s all worth it because everyone involved loves After Nightfall and now we can’t wait for it to be seen by an audience!

Nicholas Price

DOP | Cinematographer

nicholaspricedp.com

AUSCREW

P. (02) 9427 4444

E. auscrew@auscrew.com.au

Nicholas Price is a Sydney based DOP | Producer who has made commercials, video clips, TV, documentary and short films. Nick is a Masters graduate of AFTRS and is always striving to bring a unique visual style to any project he works on. He recently shot the award winning web series After Nightfall and feature film According To Otto.

AFTER NIGHTFALL WINS IN NEW YORK

November was a huge month for After Nightfall with big wins in Baltimore, New York and Sydney.

TRAVELLING TO NEW YORK

Wayne Tunks and I made a pact that if After Nightfall got into New York Web Fest then we would fly over for the screening. We had just finished filming Season 2 when the nomination came through, but not only did we get into New York, we also got into Baltimore New Media Festival as well, which was the week before New York.

Unfortunately I was booked on another job, eight days filming on a fifty-foot boat off the Great Barrier Reef, so I missed Baltimore. Wayne flew out to the U.S. a week before I did and when I arrived back on dry land I received a phone call from Wayne in Baltimore, not only had we won Best Mystery/Thriller but also Best Cinematography as well.

Two days later I was on a plane for New York where I met up with Wayne (writer/director), PJ Johnson (sound designer/mixer who was nominated for Best Sound) and Jacinta Moses (one of the main cast members). Meeting up in New York was a wonderful experience; it was amazing to remember that After Nightfall was conceived in a small house in Blacktown (Western Sydney). I still remember the day that Wayne sent me the scripts, I phoned him up after reading them and said “Let’s start shooting ASAP!” A week later we had our first shoot day under our belts, it took ten days to complete and a year later we were all in New York. Wayne was still on a high from his week in Baltimore while the rest of us were just excited to be in New York. 

NEW YORK WEB FEST

NYC Web Fest ran over three days and it was great to meet filmmakers from all over the world. We got to see a bunch of screenings, attend seminars and soak up the world of new media and web series. The three days culminated in an awards ceremony where, to our great surprise, After Nightfall won Best Mystery/Thriller Web Series. 

MADE IN THE WEST AND CFIFF

We had an amazing time in New York, it would have been great if PJ could have picked up an award as well but the nomination was incredible and to win best series with the team there made it really special. We flew back on a high to discover that we had also been nominated for a bunch of awards at The Changing Face International Film Festival in Sydney and Made In The West film festival in Western Sydney. Changing Face was hugely successful for After Nightfall, winning Best Web Series, Best Editor for Paul Anthony Nelson, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Actor for Rob Miniter.

The following day we went to the Made In The West Festival, celebrating films and filmmakers from Western Sydney, where PJ won Best Sound. We were all stoked for PJ to have a win and it turns out he didn’t need to go to New York to win awards, he could do it right here in his own backyard.

November feels like a turning point for After Nightfall, winning awards at international festivals and standing out in a very crowded market of high quality web series. With Season 2 almost completed editing and Season 1 still to screen in Miami and Seoul, there is still plenty to look forward to in the months ahead.

Nicholas Price

DOP | Cinematographer

nicholaspricedp.com

AUSCREW

P. (02) 9427 4444

E. auscrew@auscrew.com.au

Nicholas Price is a Sydney based DOP | Producer who has made commercials, video clips, TV, documentary and short films. Nick is a Masters graduate of AFTRS and is always striving to bring a unique visual style to any project he works on. He recently shot the award winning web series  After Nightfall and feature film According To Otto.

LINKS

NYC WEB FEST BALTIMORE NEW MEDIA WEB FEST CFIFF MADE IN THE WEST

FULL FRAME RED MONSTRO VISTA VISION

Nicholas Price | DOP | Producer
Owner operator Red Weapon Monstro VV 8K

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FULL FRAME AND THE RED WEAPON MONSTRO VV

I recently took delivery of a brand spanking new Red Weapon Monstro Vista Vision. It's a big name for a big sensor, capable of shooting full frame, high resolution at 8k.

We are in the midst of a full frame cinema explosion at the moment, with all the big manufacturers releasing large format sensors, including Arri, Panavision, Sony and Red.

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The first thing I did after receiving the camera was call a friend and head down to Sydney's Vivid festival. It was a cold Tuesday evening and we wondered amongst the crowds for an hour or so, the Red tucked inconspicuously under my arm. I was using the new evf and a 50mm Schneider Xenon FF lens. I couldn't believe how easy it was to walk around and shoot hand held, the camera is modular so you can easily rig it up for a big studio shoot or pair it right back to a doco setup.

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TECH STUFF

The Monstro is RED’s premier sensor and provides cinematic full frame lens coverage with 17+ stops of dynamic range. It will shoot up to 60 fps in 8K and record in Raw and Apple ProRes. Best of all, I can shoot ProRes at 4k and utilise the full frame and shallow depth of field look of the Monstro sensor. In other words I can have 4k ProRes without cropping, which is fantastic!

I own a set of Schneider Xenon Full Frame lenses and I shoot wide open at T2.1 as much as possible. They have a lovely consistent look, not too contrasty and a beautiful bokeh.

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shooting on the new red weapon monstro

The first job I shot with the Monstro was a series of spots for LinkedIn, all shot on green screen at 8K, which gave the designers huge scope for reworking the frames in post production. This camera is amazing for visual effects work, shooting at 8k there is so much room for reframing and reworking the image. We shot in studio in Sydney and I had only just received the camera from Red, so it was literally the first time I'd put my lenses on and had a look at the image. I've been so used to shooting super35 with full frame lenses that I couldn't believe how wide the field of view is on this camera. Head to toe shots in a small studio with a 35mm prime lens, wow!

AFTER NIGHTFALL SEASON 2

I followed the LinkedIn spots with day 1, Season 2 of After Nightfall, an award winning Australian web series. For this project we decided to shoot 4k ProRes, using the full frame of the Monstro sensor. Shooting a full day of low budget drama, including a stabbing scene is a baptism of fire for any new camera but It's also great way to get to know it, plus you also find out what bits and pieces you're going to need to make life easier on set (such as a lot of ND).

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Its nice to have the flexibility of ProRes, especially for TVC work but I think the 8K raw is actually a better workflow. Premiere Pro will read the files natively, create proxies and apply a LUT for the editor to work with. Plus the ability to re frame the 8k footage in post is a nice luxury to have.

I'm really looking forward to pushing this camera into different environments and situations as well as experimenting with the different aspect ratios, including widescreen and anamorphic.

If you're interested in working with Nicholas or have a project that you think would suit the Red Monstro, contact AusCrew on (02) 9427 4444 or email auscrew@auscrew.com.au

Nicholas Price | DOP | Producer

nicholaspricedp.com

Nicholas Price is a Sydney based DOP | Producer who has made commercials, video clips, TV, documentary and short films. Nick is a graduate of AFTRS and is always striving to bring a unique visual style to any project he works on. He recently shot the award winning web series After Nightfall.

Nicholas Price dp
Red Weapon Monstro 8K
Schneider Xenon FF Cine Lenses

CONTACT DETAILS
nick@nicholasprice.tv
+61 (0)410 311 344

RMK CREW
rmkcrew.com.au
Phone: 1300 834 229

NICHOLAS PRICE SHOWREEL

For more information on the Red Weapon Monstro check out the Red Website
RED WEAPON MONSTRO

Or take a look at the Schneider Xenon FF lenses
SCHNEIDER XENON FF LENSES

After Nightfall Web Series
AFTERNIGHFALLSERIES.COM

GALLERY

 

Check out Nick's showreel here: http://rmkcrew.com.au/crew/nicholas-price/