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A SUMMER HOME

December 13, 2010

Whew! It’s been a hot minute since my last post.

Please take a moment to check out my newest cinematographic work. During the summer, I went out to Cape Cod, MA with my lady and her family. Beyond being one of the greatest trips I’ve ever had, we shot this lovely little movie. A SUMMER HOME is about recognition. Our protagonist, Pru Pope, has spent some years away from home, living in the city as a somewhat successful, yet creatively drained sculptor. She decides to visit home to celebrate her mother’s birthday after not having been back for some time. Pru’s sister, Jane, lives her life taking care of their mother, who is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. When Pru arrives, she rediscovers her home, her youth, and the family that she has left behind.

As the cinematographer for this project, I wanted to utilize nature as the key ingredient to complement the writers’ use of recognition. Here we have tropes of losing memory, losing inspiration, and losing overall self-identity. There is a very strong bridge between our lives and the nature that we live in. The Pope house is a real place on Cape Cod, and I wanted it to play as a natural element to the story as well. So, I decided to keep things simple, handheld, and naturally lit. This is definitely where the 7D came in handy. Those dark interiors and evening shots are as natural looking on screen as they were in the moment.

This is how it all started. I wanted to shoot a new short for my application to the American Film Institute. I’m applying for a fellowship in the Cinematography MFA program and I always have trouble in the writing department. My lovely lady, Faye, passed the word on to her mother and brother, who are writers, and they thought up the idea over a few days of brainstorming, and filled me in as we were boarding the plane from Los Angeles to Boston. We shot the film in 6 days and split our time evenly between shooting and enjoying the vacation. Faye’s brother, Liam directed and everyone else helped in making things go easy.  Faye played Jane Pope, and her sister, Ceara, played Pru. Their mother, Jo-Ann, played Mrs. Pope. I shot it on a 7D with little shoulder rig and some fixed primes. Almost everything went very well, except the sound…I’m a camera guy, and I’ll never say that sound is something I’m qualified for. But, I had to make things work for dialogue so I brought a shotgun mic and some recording equipment. Well…my main sound setup ended up failing last minute when we began shooting, so I had to track sound in camera and on my iPhone (yes, you read that right). So yes, it doesn’t sound like it should, but Brian Peyton over at Lime Studios in Santa Monica did wonders mixing it in post. Before, I was convinced I would need to dub every line, but after Brian worked his magic, we had enough to let it slide and move on.

The short was primarily edited by my close collaborator and friend, Aaron Reiter. Aaron and I went to film school together and he has a great eye for composition and narrative movement within scenes. After Aaron completed a great pass, I went in and tightened things up for color timing and mixing sound. Coloring was an adventure all in its own for this piece. I shot in a neutral flat setting, and I liked how raw and natural it appeared. So color correction was carefully designed to keep things minimal, and make the right elements shine a little brighter. I wanted that nature to be powerful, but not too intense. After all was locked and well, I approached my good friend Jennifer Talesfore to help with the titles. Jenn is an extremely talented graphic designer, and her simple, yet refined choice of titles really helped tailor the ends of the short.

So there we have it. I hope that everyone enjoys it, and if there are any technical or story-related questions, feel free to ask.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. cihan permalink
    December 14, 2010 3:50 am

    Hi,
    Good work, I appreciated.

  2. Gordian permalink
    December 14, 2010 8:20 pm

    Really great work. sometimes i had preferred any less camera motion, but it´s only a little think to criticize.
    I love the film. What kind of lenses did you use? Did you make any color grading in the post?

    Greetings from Germany.
    Gordian.

  3. December 17, 2010 1:12 am

    i was absolutely blown away by this film… and reading your blog, it sounds like its something that u just whipped up and threw together. that just lives to show what can be accomplished with a group of reliables focusing on a common goal. Kudos.

  4. February 10, 2011 1:14 pm

    This is beautifully shot. I’m still blown away by the 7D. And such a poignant film. Particularly for me, as my life seems to be drawing so many parallels with Pru’s. This will resonate with a lot of people.

  5. May 30, 2011 7:53 am

    Thanks for making this. Very beautiful indeed.

    I noticed in the night shots, after the meal, there was hardly any noise in the picture. Did you clean things up in post or did you just record it that clean? 🙂

    Also, did you have any trouble with aliasing or moire?

    Thanks again.

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