Sunday, February 9, 2014

Good Hands, A Canon T2i Action Film

                Good Hands, A Canon T2i Action Film

This post will be a break from my series on Found Footage. I have been waiting to do an interview with Geir M.V. Andersen about his film Good Hands. The interview below will be part one of a two part interview on the making of Good Hands. I have been searching a long time for someone who has shoot a feature using the t2i and the second part of this interview will, I hope, focus more on the pros and cons of using that digital camera to get the job done on a feature.

Q) I interview film makers for my blog because I wish to learn something new with each interview. While most indie film makers are going for an ultra crisp and digital look to their films, your film has more of a grindhouse look. Visually it looks a great deal like one of my favorite films of the last few years, Hobo With A Shotgun. The first question is what inspired the look of the film?

A) I grew up watching a lot of action and martial arts movies from the late 80s / early 90s, and most of them where B - movies.
This was in the VHS days so these films where usually a 3rd generation copy of a copy before it ended up in my hands.
I remember watching them in poor quality, but it did not matter, i still got blown away by these films.

Films like No Retreat no Surrender, The Perfect Weapon, Bloodsport and The Terminator inspired me to make this movie.
I still love watching these films, the use of lighting, bright colors, cheesy heroes and the over the top use of synth music and baby oil makes my day.

My movie is both a tribute and a parody of those movies from that era. And that called for the same tricks with lighting and cinematography as well as the use of synth music.
I wanted the style of my movie to look more like a 80s film with a slightly more subtle look rather than going the full distance with the grindhouse look.
So i did lots of trial and error prior to shooting before i had determined the right look.

Q) What did you use to shoot the film on and if you had a larger budget would you have made a different choice in cameras?

A) I used a Canon 550D (or Rebel T2i in the US).

I enjoy using DSLR`s they are reliable, light, easy to use and has a nice shallow depth of field.
But the H264 compression and limited dynamic range (even with the Cinestyle preset) of the 550D can be challenging, especially if you`re going for the film-look.

But since my film was supposed to look like a worn B-movie from the late 80s this camera turned out great.
However if i had a big budget i would have shot it with Red Epic with 4K resolution.
A more future proof choice because of its greater dynamic range and better resolution.

Q) What is the film about?

A) The film is about a young easygoing man called Angus, with a gifted set of hands with a great future and a seemingly loving girlfriend. His dream to become a professional guitarplayer is really close, suddenly he gets a call from his older brother who got himself tangled in with the wrong people.
He meets up with him in the shady parts of town to help him, but they end up trapped by the sadistic gang his brother owes big money.

His brother gets killed and Angus barely survives seriously injured with his beloved hands destroyed, he falls into a coma and wakes up months later discovering his brother is dead, his girlfriend took off with someone else and his hands are destroyed.

Angus swears revenge for his brothers death. With the help of his strange friend Naley, a thrill seeking local security guard who've seen way too many action films.
They embark on a life changing and dangerous journey with explotions, training montages, fist fights and lots of comic reliefs.

Q) I notice some CGI effects in your trailer for the film. Are you pleased with using CGI for your effects or given a larger budget would you have used more practical effect?

A) I have always been a practial effects kind of guy, I've done work as a propmaker in the industry, i build miniature sets to be used as set extensions instead of resorting to CGI and i generally think practical effects always looks better especially on a tight budget.  So if i where given the choice and funds I would definitely go for practical effects.

Q) Good Hands looks like a very violent film. Did your actors do many of their own stunts? If they did do their own stunts how did you balance the risk vs. the reward? If a lead actor gets injured then the film can shut down for weeks.

A) The total budget of the film was 12 000 NOK, thats approx 1500 dollars. These modest funds where to cover lighting equipment, audio equipment, costumes, props, smoke machine and much more. That meant we had to do all our own stunts.

I played the lead role myself and luckily I got a martial arts background as well as some experience in fight choreography and stunts.
Safety first has always been my motto. We would rig the stunts then carefully practice them in a safe way until everybody felt confident about doing them.
So the balance between risk and reward where always accounted for... At least most of the time.

DigitalRev - Camera Superstore 
Q) On your Youtube channel you highlight many of the tracks from the soundtrack of Good Hands. Most low budget digital films have to use some free music or find a composer who is willing to work for the film credit. Who did your cool soundtrack?

A) I knew exactly the kind of music i was looking for, it had to be a kind of dark and suspenceful synth score. I've always been a DIY kind of guy, I made all the props in the movie so i decided to make the soundtrack myself as well.
So I started experimenting with a lot of different sounds, in the begining it was mostly guitar tracks. But then i discovered "Garage Band" for ipad, and i was immediately hooked. You could even play individual notes on the touch-keyboard, this was perfect for me.

So I recorded the synth tracks in Garage Band, then I mixed the tracks in Sony Vegas and added some real guitar tracks as well as some custom drums from a programme called "Beatcraft". I got very pleased with the results and i own the rights to the music myself. Also it was free as well as tailormade for the movie.

Q) One of the things that has always surprised me from one low budget film to the next is the amount of time it took to shoot the film. I have interviewed film makers who have shot a feature length film in less than a week and I have interviewed one film maker who took more than two years to finish his film. How long did it take to shoot your film and looking back at the process knowing what you know now was your time well spent?

A) We set out to make this film as a weekend project since everyone involved had to work at their daytime jobs during the weekdays. And i knew from the start that this would be a project spanning over years rather than weeks or months. To be honest the film is not yet completed, we still need to shoot the opening as well a very complicated action scene early in the movie.
Its a long road no doubt, but its been an incredibly fun and educational process that I'm glad to say is not over yet.

Q) Every film maker has the that one film maker or film that inspired them to get started. Who was that film maker or what was that film?

A) The film that has inspired me the most was a film i first saw when I was 10 years old, a film i watch at least once a year every year. The cinematography was incredible to me, the special effects blew me away, and the plot had me on edge of the seat all the way. Later i learned this was also a low budget film, which made it even more awesome. This film inspired me to pursue my dreams of becoming a filmmaker (still a work in progress but I'll get there). "The Terminator" 1984 by James Cameron

This concludes part one of the Good Hands interview. If you would not take the time to share this interview on Twitter or posting it on your facebook page that would be great. This site grows through sharing. I get my encouragement from the number of views each day and the questions and comments that come in. The next post will be about film trailers that I have seen recently and answering a few questions that have come in. Then I hope to have the second half of this interview as the following post before we get back to the found footage topic. Good luck with your projects and did I mention that my first book On Low Budget Filmmaking is now available at Createspace(Amazon) . To those of you who teach film classes this little book would make for a great basic teaching tool. Also for those who know a beginning film maker this would be a great starters guide.  Hey we all have our own favorite film making book. For me it was John Russo's  Making Movies, The Inside Guide to Independent Movie Production.

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