ARLO - SHORT FILM

ARLO - Short Film

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BLACKTOWN SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

Over the past two years I have been collaborating with writer-director Wayne Tunks. Together we have created two seasons of the award winning mystery web series After Nightfall, and an indie feature film According to Otto, both of which were filmed in locations around Wayne’s home in suburban Blacktown. So when Blacktown City Council recently announced an initiative to fund local filmmakers we leapt at the chance.

“Blacktown Shorts is a new western Sydney film festival, delivered as part of Blacktown Arts’ upcoming Magnify 2019 festival in Blacktown. We are currently open to short film proposals from emerging and established filmmakers, with a focus on finding and supporting Western Sydney talent.” (https://blacktownarts.com.au/blacktown-shorts-eoi/)

ARLO

Wayne wrote a short drama called Arlo, set entirely in a suburban house in Blacktown. Arlo is about a young boy’s freedom to express himself in the face of his grandmother’s narrow-minded views on gender. The script was a lovely story so we immediately got the band back together, bringing back crew from both After Nightfall and According to Otto.

FILMING ARLO

Fearing the weather was going to be terrible on our shoot day I snuck out to Blacktown during rehearsals and shot some late afternoon establishing shots of the house with a lovely big sun flare smashing into the lens. I wanted the film to feel like it takes place on a lazy Sunday morning, with light pouring in through the windows and Arlo’s parents lounging around in their pyjamas; the perfect morning interrupted by an impromptu drop in from the in-laws!

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That evening as I was driving home from location it started raining and continued all weekend. Luckily I had the establishing shot in the can already. I arrived on set at 7am the following morning and setup an Arri M18 outside the window to simulate the morning sun. With such an overcast rainy day the light levels inside the house hardly changed at all throughout the day, so once we set the lights we were right to shoot all day.

Wayne assembled a fantastic cast with Janine Penfold (Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo) as Arlo’s grandmother who has entirely too many opinions on how little boys should dress and act. The film takes place almost entirely in the lounge room with Arlo’s parents and grandparents, so all our coverage was contained to the one space. We had the big M18 outside and a smaller Creamsource inside for level and that was it. We also used a haze machine to give the ‘ray of light’ effect to the sunlight smashing in through the window.

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For the last scene of the day we had to get some shots of Arlo playing in his cubby house. We ran up the street between rain showers to use a neighbour’s cubby house, taking the Creamsource, camera on an easyrig and the lens box with us. These shots aren’t quite as full of sun flares as the rest of the film so we might have to see what we can achieve in post.

We now have two months of post-production before Arlo premieres at Blacktown Shorts and we’re super excited!

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Arlo was filmed on the Red Monstro with Schneider Xenon FF lenses and Rhodium FSND.
Writer | Director | Wayne Tunks
DOP | Nicholas Price
Sound Recordist | Johno Purdon
Focus Puller | Soumya Lakmé Iyengar
AC | Cayla Blanch
Editor | Samuel Fitzpatrick
Colourist | Keiran Lee
Sound Design | Mixer | PJ Johnson
Producers | Wayne Tunks & Nicholas Price

CAST
Janine Penfold, Kelly Monisse, Tom Harwood & Kim Knuckey, with Kaden Monroe as Arlo.

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. 

ASC MASTERCLASS

THE ASC (AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS)

One of the most challenging parts of being a filmmaker, and a cinematographer in particular, is that we have a tendency to not share information with one another. So when the opportunity came up to spend a week at the ASC I leapt at the chance. The ASC is dedicated to passing on knowledge and skills, and gives you the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the best cinematographers in the world.

“The American Society of Cinematographers was founded in Hollywood in 1919 with the dual purpose of advancing the art and science of cinematography and bringing cinematographers together to exchange ideas, discuss techniques and promote the motion picture as an art form—a mission that continues today.”

The ASC clubhouse is located just behind Hollywood Boulevard and is an amazing building. Inside is a homage to the studio era of Hollywood, with old Panavision 35mm cameras, and black and white framed photos of legendary cinematographers at work.

The ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood at night. Photo by Isidore Mankofsky, ASC.
https://theasc.com/asc/asc-clubhouse

DAY 1 MORNING: STEPHEN H. BURUM, ASC

I arrived for breakfast at 7:30am on Monday morning and met the students that I would be spending the week with. I wasn’t the only one that had travelled a long way, the students came from all four corners of the world and from all walks of life.

Our first speaker of the day was the amazing Stephen H. Burum, ASC, cinematographer on Rumble Fish, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Hoffa, Mission Impossible, and my personal favourite, St Elmo’s Fire. Stephen came up through the studio system and has an astonishing body of work and knowledge to go with it. He walked us through a few of his scenes as well as scenes from Hollywood classics to get us thinking about how we cast shadows, what type of shadows (hard or soft), and how we fill them and manipulate them to separate planes within the frame. He mentioned that we should try not to focus too much on the mechanics and think more about the ‘why?’ If the character’s ugly shoot them ugly, or progress the lighting from ugly to flattering as the character changes.

I didn’t realise at the time but Stephen and a number of other great cinematographers would be there with us for the entire week and I was able to ask him questions as they popped up. He knows all the tricks, such as seamless iris pulls on the move or how to frame with actors moving in all directions. (His advice by the way was to lock the left side of frame and the headroom, and not to worry too much if other actors drifted in and out of the frame.)

The question I would end up asking every cinematographer that we met was how do they deal with shooting dialogue scenes outside in natural light over the course of a full day or multiple days. Shooting in Australia under a harsh sun makes it really difficult to match shots as the sun moves over head and becomes ‘toppy’ and ugly. Everyone had the same answer: with great difficulty, but the key is lots of planning; keep the sun behind each character throughout the day and try to shoot close-ups with a scrim through the middle of the day when the sun is high overhead. It’s amazing how many questions you already know the answer to but you’re just looking for reassurance from those that know to tell you that you’re on the right track.

DAY 1 AFTERNOON: DON McCUAIG, ASC

After a great lunch we met up with Don McCuaig, ASC to learn about shooting second unit in Hollywood. Don has had an amazing career shooting second unit on some of the biggest films in the world. A lot of second unit involves pre-vis, heavy CGI and trying to match seamlessly to scenes that have already been shot by the main unit. Second unit also gets to shoot a lot of the big stunts and action scenes, which are often the most exciting work on the film. Working second unit in the studio system seems an absolute world away from what I’m doing (small independent films and video clips in Australia) but it’s an interesting peek through the shutters at what possibly lies beyond.

DAY 1 EVENING: SPONSORS

While we were with Don McCuaig, ASC, the staff at the clubhouse had been busy turning the main room into a mini expo. Representatives from Panavision, Arri, Schneider, Zeiss, Red, Panasonic, Kino Flo and many others had set up displays and gear for us.

It was a great opportunity for me to catch up with Christopher D'Anna from Schneider because I needed a bunch of filters. He was able to organise a couple of Rhodium ND filters to fill in the gaps in my collection and a set of Hollywood Blackmagic, my favourite diffusion filters. He also organised a tour of their new Burbank facility as well.

DAY 1: SOCIAL DINNER

While the mini expo was happening inside, the ASC crew were setting up tables and chairs outside preparing a huge meal. We had a wonderful dinner that night with all the sponsors and a number of ASC cinematographers who came to meet the students. I had a chance to meet another Australian, Peter Moss, ACS ASC, who is an amazing cinematographer living in LA. Mossy embodies the ideas behind both the ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) and ASC, and is happy to encourage and share knowledge with the next generation. It’s so easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of getting jobs, funding and even awards that we feel like we can’t ask questions or pass on the techniques that we learn along the way. It was so refreshing to just spend a day learning and sharing.

I went home exhausted that night to my Airbnb in West Hollywood and set my alarm for 6:00am. That was just Day 1, there were still four more days to go.


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.

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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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