X-TrEEM Indie Filmmaking 2011 Style

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that american elsewhere (2012).
that american elsewhere (2012).


The photographed world is topsy turvy, perhaps never more so than when its background falls out of focus, leaving you or just your eyes the only delineated point in a universe become theatre. If the history of cinema is a history of characters in their surroundings, then it is necessarily also a history of depth of field. Always subject to changing fashions and technological innovations, the digital era now threatens to suck the art right out of the question. Who are all those winsome people lurking against blurry urban landscapes? Why does the world defer to them? Could they cope in a deep-focus world?

If people like the budding “filmmaker” below had their way, our world would hardly be in focus at all (a circumstance which would be greeted with relief by many architecture critics).


RE: what camera should i use…

Hi guys,

I am currently in development/pre-production on my debut 3D digital feature that american elsewhere, a romantic comedy/tech espionage thriller set in 2011-12 Palo Alto and at a late 90s anti-globalization protest. I am directing, producing and playing the lead role!

Only thing is i’m going crazy trying to figure out which camera to use ’cause I AM A SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD MANIAC!!!!

There is no written down script at this juncture but settings include:

-An organic food supermarket

-The concept store of well known computer manufacturer

-A McMansion

-Meet cute city park/main street etc.

Cameras, Les Puces. Photo © 2010 Alan Miller.
Cameras, Les Puces. Photo © 2010 Alan Miller.

I’ve been collecting cameras during the pre-prod period and now own two (for 3d, duh!!!!!) of each of:

-Red Epic

-Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL

-Bolex (thought it was a piece o’ crap ‘till i got it 70mm converted lol)

-Canon 1d mk4, 5d, 7d, 660d

-Nikon (can’t think of the name)

-Arri Alexa

-Sony F3, F5

-leica S2 (would be awesome if it had video…firmware update pls?!?!

-iphone 5 (ok so i got connections ;-)…)

and I don’t want to use lights or anything just run and gun (I’ve tested up to iso 12800 and i.q. is still better than 35mm!!!!).

I have a ton of lenses and just tape them wide open at 1.2 or 0.9 (my Leica noctilux). Sometimes with the 1.2 like the person’s eye will be in focus AND also there eyelash — you guys know if this means the lens is FUBAR? It’s rillly frustrating if you want that SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD look WHICH SPELLS C-I-N-E-M-A.

Also do any of you guys know if upgrading to os x lion will give me SHALLOWER DEPTH OF FIELD?

Alsoo, anyone know if i can still get a Dogma certificate if I use my sweet slider rig for some shots? Same thing with variable ND filter?

Thing is principal photography starts tomorrow so ASAP would be good, ok?

BTW, you guys ever think about how good citizen kane (1941) would be if O.W. had known about SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD?

peace y’all and check out my dope test reel below

(btw, i did this indie imagemakers visioning retreat last weekend out half moon bay way and they did this AMAZING exercise where first you meditate an adverb and then an adjective like of how a critic would describe your movie i was totally blank and thought i’d wasted the 10 grand and then right at the end before the guru clapped his hands i had this vision: “HAUNTINGLY WINSOME”

livin’ the dream/stayin’ positive

payin’ the lease to keep the peace,


Dichotomies/seimotohciD from Groovy Beige on Vimeo.

6 thoughts on “X-TrEEM Indie Filmmaking 2011 Style

  1. Time to reread Thorold Dickinson’s A Discovery of Cinema. London (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971). A great auteur in his own right, who belies all the clichés about British cinema, he tells the history of the sound film as an attempt to regain what was lost by the switch from orthochromatic to panchromatic film stock. With the new film it was no longer necessary to use white pancake makeup on actors, but it could not render the considerable depth of field possible with ortho film. See his Gaslight (way better than the Hollywood remake!) and Queen of Spades to see what he meant.

    1. And:

      Los Angeles = shallow focus/montage

      New York = deep focus/mise en scène

  2. With iOS 5 now launched and on the table, we’re planning to move our offices from Palo Alto to a loft in Rome, Italy. The decision is an arbitrary one, perked by tax incentives. (Geography and architecture are no longer obstructions to our business model, thanks to iCloud.)

    We’ve been keeping a v-log on this transition and, like Chad, we’re keen on the shallow depth of field / cinema look. Indeed, we emphasized this in our talks with DoP, Sandy Bunchmann ASC.

    We’re shooting on the latest pre-production model of iPhone 5 and can confirm that Apple is really stepping up the game with this one, not least in terms of progressive HD video recording. Not only does this baby record in full 1080p HD, it has two sets of built-in cameras, front and back (yes: iTalk is now 3D capable!!!). And FCP X, now available on App Store, comes with a hot new Depth of Field Reducer filter.

    We’re on the cutting edge of a mighty wave. What will the future bring? Only iPhone 6 can tell.

    Terrence Manning, App Designer / Videographer

  3. wow. totally BLOWN AWAY by your response, terrence.:-)

    when I posted I never would have expected someone of your stature to respond. thank you so much for your tips. i will deffinilly be integrating them into my creative agenda on this shoot. i already learned a few tricks from watching your TRANSCENDANT (sp?) v-log.

    it’s amazing that you’re transitioning to rome ’cause one of my visual through-lines on that american elsewhere is the famous ancient roman painter carvoggio (sp?). merging c’s kiaroscuro (sp?) lighting agenda plus SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD plus an awesome meet cute in an awesomely winsome new urbanist street is DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY that THINKS OUTSIDE THE BOX as we GO FORWARD!!!!!

    let’s ichat/coffee after i wrap. my desired professional through-line is to gain indy film patina in order to redeploy in the app space.

    i am especially interested in any tips/pointers you might have on how to make my story more “app-like.”

    (sorry about the ALL LOWER CASE, ’cause principal photography is now underway it saves time.)

    now before my focus puller kills me i gotta roll

    -chadwick (never chad :-))

  4. ok, y’all i really believe deepl-y that indy filmmaking is all about sharing the knowledge so since we’re waiting for a dominos delivery here on set i thought i’d share actually what camera we ended up running finally.

    so this is a great rig for any low budget content looking for that SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD LOOK. basically i mounted six leica s2s on turntables (three for left eye, three for right — the turntables run on simple guerrilla-style egg timers from wal mart!). each camera takes an 8fps burst of RAW stills, then rotates to the next leica s2, which takes an 8fps burst and so on for the third. thus 24 fps of SHALLOW DEPTH of field leica RAW goodness gets captured per eye and sent to 6 12 core mac pro towers which are also mounted on the rig. a LUT is applied to achieve that rich TOBACCO-Y look i want and a 1920×1080 “video tap” is sent to my iPad 3 for monitoring.

    so basically the rig is low budget, lightweight, stealth, 3d, RAW, ultra-high resolution, oh yeah and did i mention SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD for that RICH CREAMY C-I-N-E-M-A LOOK. my actors say they forget the CAMERA IS EVEN THERE!!!!!

    ADVANTAGES: see above.
    DISADVANTAGES: can’t think of any except you might want to tape over the (6) red leica logos like henry cartier-breadsong did.
    chadwick's awesome leica s2 rig

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