When it comes to filming History, the photographic benchmark is particularly high. So when I was asked to shoot a history drama with long time collaborator Chris Holt we poured over the many great examples of period photography. There are several inspired approaches to the past, but we were particularly drawn to Justin Kurzel and Adam Arkapaw's breathtaking Macbeth and to the challenge set by Barry Lyndon's bold reliance on candle light.
After some testing we settled on Zeiss Arri Ultra Primes for the shoot and these all stayed wide open at T1.9 for the duration (hats off to AC Dan DiMartino for keeping it all sharp) I had leaned towards the Master primes originally, and in some of our candle lit scenes could well have done with the extra half stop, but there is a touch of the 'vintage' in the UPs wide open that was perfect for the piece.
We ran across 3 cameras, A and B bodies ( with B camera operator Charlie Stoddard staying on longer lenses for alternate angles on all scenes) with a third Red Epic Dragon permanently mounted in our 6 axis stabilized rig.
We were particular keen to keep the camera moving as much as possible but in a way that might evoke some of the courtly power play and regal nature of our subjects... settling on a 6 axis stabilisation system of Easyrig, Serene Arm and Puppeteer cradling a Ronin system which would manage the other 3 axis.
Given the constantly moving, 360 style that the Ronin brought I lit almost exclusively from the windows by day and with fire and candles for night... large amounts of haze providing all of the fill that was needed. Although I love the Skintone OLPF in the Dragon I ran with the Low Light filter given my dependence on sometimes terrifyingly low levels ambience.
Always love working with Chris who brings the eye of a painter to each new project.
The locations, costumes and textures were always going to play a part as characters in the piece and I was spoiled for choice with these