Friday, August 9, 2013

Canon hv40 Feature, Mk Outlier- The Interview Part 1

Canon hv40 Feature, Mk Outlier- The Interview Part 1

I would like to introduce you to Chris Jacobs the film maker behind the Canon hv 40 sci-fi film MK Outlier. He has produced a feature length sci-fi film on a micro budget. Many film makers, even those in the digital film making world, believe that this cannot be done. That it requires millions of dollars to even attempt one. Guys it does not. All that it does require is time and effort and the willingness to do most of it yourself.

The film that you are planning to produce is your dream. It will always be more important to you that to anyone else. You can see the finish product everyday in your imagination. You know how it will turn out in the end, but those around you only hear about what you want to do or are planning to do. You can show them a script and story boards and a budget and the equipment that you will use to make the film, but until they see the film in some form then you are the only champion that your film will have.


 Okay let’s get to the interview. It will be divided into two parts. All answers are provided by the film maker of MK Outlier, Chris Jacobs.

I understand that you used the Canon HV40. I am a big fan of the Hv series of cameras. They were on their way to become a standard in micro budget film making world until the Dslr revolution hit. Did you use the bare camcorder or did you add lenses or a depth of field adapter?

-A: We started making MK OUTLIER right as DSLRs were becoming big in late 2009, however we were making a hand held action movie and the rolling shutter issues meant a DSLR was not an option. Also I just didn't love the sharpness of the DSLR footage, which at the time was quite harsh and 'video like' in a bad way to my eyes. I looked at a lot of test footage from a lot of camera set ups and settled on an HV40 with lens adapter. We used a basic Jag35 lens adapter (Vibrating Ground Glass) and Canon FD Lenses. Most of the film was shot on a 50mm lens, which was the fastest lens we had (the slower ones vignetted horribly). The other main lenses used are a 24mm and a 110mm. The 50mm was great for a wide variety of hand held work, and kept the frame on the action, rather than our lack of 'production values'. We also used a large on camera LCD, which really was too heavy, and was exhausting when shooting long days. We found out too late that this monitor didn't show the full frame being recorded so often we would have bad vignetting or shadow from the lens adapter motor that would end up in frame. For the most part it's easily fixed in post with a little digital push in, but of course at the cost of precious resolution. Eventually I got better at checking for this, and adjusting accordingly. I made a hand held rig out of bits and pieces from the hardware, and the camera was mounted upside down on an Indie Rails Pro, to counter the lens adapter flipping the image.-

After your experience with the camera would you shoot with it again?

-A: I would not do anything the same way again haha! With enough light the HV40 and adapter gets amazing footage that to my eye (and many others comments) looks far closer to 16mm film than any DSLR I've seen. I couldn't be happier with the look of the film. There are only a few scenes where a different camera would have been advantageous, and that was really just due to low light. The only other niggle is that it's incredibly easy to bump the zoom rocker and throw out focus in the lens adapter, which is already hard to find on an LCD in the sun, so if I was to shoot anything serious on one again I'd look at locking the zoom somehow. I did upgrade to a smaller sharper LCD which really helped with this, but it's still an issue. I'd also use an external recorder like the one from Blackmagic Design, rather than tapes. Tapes are just awful, and there is slightly more colour info when you record from the HDMI out, apparently. Recently I showed the MK OUTLIER trailer to a very critical friend of mine who didn't yet know much about how I'd made the film, who turned to me half way through and said "You obviously had a professional DOP" I was extremely proud of my work and my little HV set up at that point. If I could get Canon EF glass to work with my HV40 I would seriously look at it as an option, but it also really depends on the distribution format. -

The most over looked part of film making is quality sound. The look of a film can be corrected in post, but bad audio is a nightmare to deal with. The audience will forgive low light and scenes that are hard to see, but millions of Batman fans went nuts because they had a problem understanding what the villain was saying. What did you use to record sound? -Can you hear me weeping? haha. We made MK OUTLIER 'guerrilla' style, running around grabbing shots here there and everywhere. I think our record was 67 'set ups' in a day. By set up I mean shots that involved moving the camera from one place to another. All our sound was recorded using either the on camera mic, or later an external mic bolted to the camera news style. Knowing how the movie would be shot, we decided early on to ADR all the dialogue, and just suck it up. We didn't have time to wait until the planes had gone past, and many locations had so much background noise that wouldn't suit the movie, that we knew we'd probably have to ADR much of it anyway. I had a lot of ideas for sound early on in production, as the world of MK OUTLIER doesn't sound like the world we're used to, so it made sense at the time. Having said that, doing ADR for an entire movie is a LOT of work, and it's depressing because it feels like covering the same ground you've already gone over. However on a low budget movie it's also an amazing opportunity to fix bad on-set sound, tweak performance, and add/remove lines as needed. In future I'd just grab a few takes of 'dry' sound, without the camera running, and I'd just hire a sound guy. The external mic produces pretty good results though. We are about to do ADR, so we'll see how that goes! I'm excited.- What is MK Outlier? What is the premise of the film? -A: MK OUTLIER is a (fictional) secret CIA program set up to predict statistical outliers before they happen. Statistical Outliers like stock exchanges crashes, rises of religions and ideas, and terrorist attacks. Private James Conroy, a soldier with some personal issues, finds himself fighting to survive after a mysterious apocalypse wipes away civilisation. On the brink of madness, he finally gets in touch with Gary Freeman, a forgotten astronaut orbiting the earth in an old space station. They have to work together to reach others and try to work out what caused the apocalypse, and maybe even save the world. -

From what I have read I understand that you built your space station set? That you built it in the garage? How long did it take to construct it?

-Yes, I built a Space Station set in the back shed of the house I'm renting. It took a few weeks to do the initial framing, that I had help with from a builder I know, then several months of weekends fitting out the interior. The set was the single most expensive thing we did for the movie, and I spent many a day cursing it, but it looks amazing on screen. I knew that the movie would be dead in the water if the audience didn't buy the Space Station Set, so I went all out. Given that we are renting the house, it was a big risk, but every low budget movie is all risk, so whatever. The set has got us a lot of press, so looking back it was a great decision haha! I'm sure we would not have got the mainstream press interest we've had without it. The lesson here is to look at your script and ask yourself if there is a hook. I never did this at the time, but I'd seriously consider it in future. Sadly, marketing is a big part of the 'craft' but it too can be fun and creative.-   

 How many hats did you wear on this project and did it ever become overwhelming?

A: I wore ALL the hats. Seriously, what was I thinking hahaha? I think I'd read Rebel Without a Crew too many times and decided I was invincible. Oh well. I had plenty of help, but I was the only person who was ever responsible for any of it. There was no one to turn to and ask where something was. I only forgot important stuff twice, and it wasn't the end of the world, but I recommend at least having one other person who really wants the movie made as much as you do, or at least has something invested in it. Having said that, now that we're into Post Production I've been able to get more people involved, and I have a lot more confidence in what we're making. With some of the money raised through Indiegogo I've been able to farm out various Post areas, and we now lots of work going on without me being present, which is a massive relief. I do have an amazingly supportive group of close friends, mentors etc. to turn to when it gets tough, and I could not have done any of this without them. This is vital, lifesaving. Don't go to war without your friends! So yeah I wrote the script, cast the actors, made the props, made the sets, production managed, operated the camera, did most of the lighting, directed the actors, drove the production vehicle, digitized the footage, edited the footage, designed the webpage, did the special effects, the list goes on.. haha.. It has always been overwhelming. It continues to be. A huge amount of bad/negative feelings arise whenever I work on the film, and self-doubt is my evil nemesis. There have been many nights where I've been unable to sleep, lying awake wondering how I'd ever finish this unwieldy beast of a movie. (why o why did I choose Sci-Fi Action?) However the fight against these feelings and the triumph of ploughing on the face of them has had an amazing transformative effect on my life. You have to learn to be very kind to yourself. You have to forgive yourself, give yourself permission to burn everything, and just forget it. Then get back on the horse and keep going.-

This concludes the first half of the interview with Chris Jacobs.

If you would like to pre-order a copy of the finished film you can by visiting;

You can visit the the MK Outlier Website at:

You can visit the facebook page at click here.  

I would like to thank Chris for doing this interview. I would suggest that you guys share this post with a friend via Twitter or Stumbleupon.

Think about so many of the movies that you have seen during your lifetime. The ones that surprised you and or impressed you most were seen because a friend told your about it. That is how people will learn about your film. You are not going to have fifty million dollars to advertise your project. It will be done through word of mouth. Thank you for visiting. - Great Deals, Just 24 Hours

No comments:

Post a Comment