Shooting My First Micro-Budget Feature Film, Part 2: Weapon of Choice, Canon 5D Mark III

Why the Mark III?  Simple; I own one.  I’ve had it for almost three months and out of all the options we explored with our budget it proves to be the best bet.  I’ve shot two shorts, two music videos and a handful of photo shoots so I’ve gotten pretty familiar with its abilities.  Add this on top of dozens of 7D/5D films I’ve shot these past three years; it’s safe to say DSLR is a very familiar choice.  After this show, though, I expect to know a camera like I haven’t ever before.

Meet Leland, the 2nd AC.

 5D Mark III Cinestyle SOOC still

A little muddy SOOC.

  That’s not to say that we didn’t explore other options.  I would’ve killed to find something to record uncompressed. We looked renting an F3 (I’m a big fan of Log-C), but anyone that we could get priced was just out of reach.   The next step down was an AF100, but all tests online and experiences I’ve had with it render to highlights too blown.  This film is going to have extreme contrasts: bright highlights and very dim shadows.  It’s still a DSLR, but the Mark III lives up to the claim of having more dynamic range than other cameras.  Especially in Cinestyle.  Check out a graded still below.

Canon 5D Mark III Cinestyle graded

5D Mark III Cinestyle SOOC graded

A Blacks crushed, highlights upped.


The image looking flat and desaturated out of camera is a result of Cinestyle, the picture style we’re going to be shooting the film in.  It’s designed to be color corrected, and I’ve gotten used to telling clients who ask, “Why does it look so ‘blech’?” that exact answer.  It’s very effective and I’ve even started to shoot photos with it because it preserves that much more detail. 

The lighting is a test for our “nighttime” look.  The night interiors are going to be practically lit with a similar feel to the warm key in this still, maybe a little warmer.  The point is to have severely something that contrasts our “night-ambience”, which is our rim-light: tungsten fixtures with ½ CTB + Peacock blue.  We’re using mostly small tungsten fixtures and Kino-flos from the school, but we’re going to designing the light with a lot of contrast.  One of the things my gaffer, Ben Taylor, and I have discussed has been always having at least two different color lights in the room as much as possible.

I’m going to leave on that note because I have to go pick up the grip-truck.  Production starts tomorrow!  Our first week is mostly all-night shoots, with our first day off being next Tuesday.  I’ll try and find time then to discuss how my first week on a feature went.  In the meantime, feel free to post questions and comments and I’ll get back asap.   


  1. geofflevy posted this