The Making of PAWN // Shot on Sony FX6
Hey guys, Bry here. (If you don't want any spoilers, watch the videos, then read the blog!)
So I thought it would be fun to journal a little bit of my process of PAWN from start to finish. It all started with an idea I really wanted to do a very simple short with only one camera and one light. Sometimes I, like everyone else in this industry, get caught up in the idea that more is better. And sometimes it is, but sometimes it's fun to strip down to the bare essentials (being one camera and one light) and see what we can come up with. So that's where it started, from there I wrote a poem and tried to come up with ideas and visuals for a story. I thought the game of chess would be a good analogy for the concept of life, that you are playing against no one but yourself. (sorry for the spoiler) haha.
So once I had the poem and the story, I decided I also wanted to do a full storyboard. Most of the time I just wing it, use some loose mood boards and inspiration visuals to get the creative juices flowing, but since I really wanted to direct, and had a good buddy of mine camera op, I thought it would be best to sit down and make a real story board. I used this app I really like that let's me mock the framing and see the lighting all at the same time. It was pretty expensive, but it's an incredible software and cuts your storyboarding time in half or makes it easy if you hate doing it in general (like me!). In "The Making of Pawn" below, you will see screenshots of the storyboarding that really helped me get my vision across clearly to the camera op, so I could stay back and direct.
Being a cinematographer and director based in Las Vegas means that most of the time, I work with people creatives from LA for neighboring cities. Las Vegas doesn't have a very big film production scene, so when it comes to my own personal projects, I have to keep them pretty simple if I want to do them here in Las Vegas. But it definitely helps to have a small but tight knit group of friends here in Las Vegas to work with, like my camera op for this project Chris. Our buddy Sam also did the BTS photos and video.
I set up a nice black duvetyne backdrop to represent the darkness of our minds. I don't mean that our minds are dark in the evil way, but in the literal way that there is just us and our thoughts together most of the time. And to emphasize the black backdrop I really went full into film noir theme and opted for a very contrasty lighting look. It really reflected well off of Stu's head quite well haha ;)
From there we spent two nights filming. Night one involved setting everything up, testing the lighting against the storyboard, and shooting the detail shots of the chess board and chess pieces on the lowa macro probe lens. This definitely made for some interesting shots. Night two was all about audio and shots. We didn't rehearse, so it was actually kind of fun to just wing that part. Stu is a great actor, and with only one talent to deal with, it made it easy. The poem is quite long, so we did quite a few takes in different ways, and pulled the best sound bites and takes into the final edit to make it rise and fall.
I really love artistic poetic pieces, and this is just the piece of obscure art that is right up my alley. I totally get that some people might not like it, but they can appreciate that is has a style, and the shots look good! The Sony fx6 was the camera of choice for this shoot because of it's low light capabilities. I think it's pretty comparable to other cameras in it's range, but it beats them all out when it comes to low light. And since I needed a camera to be able to perform with it came to the darkness, it was a simple choice. We kept it simple with the one camera, but didn't skimp when it came to monitors, jib, mics and lenses. The jib was really useful when it came to the overhead shots, and the lenses on this project ranged from a 24mm lowa probe lens all the way up to the sigma 105mm.
You can watch the full shot below.
Till next time,