Deserted in Paris (short film)

Please share the film with the hashtag below:

#desertedinparis


Travel Vlogs & Behind The Scenes:


How it Started:

Sometimes when you write short films they either never happen due to funding, actors pulling out or some other reason you can’t control

 This time I teamed up with Panasonic to create this film and everything turned out great

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 Well…..that’s a lie

I almost gave up before I got out to Palm Springs but lets save that for a bit later on in the post


The Relevance of The Story:

reality

 I often stay in Airbnb‘s while travelling a lot for shoots with clients

 The more I did this I noticed a few things changing very fast

 Normally you book a motel, check in and check out…very simple

 Airbnb is the same, but the person you meet is the owner of the property….well kinda

 First one I booked… I met someone completely different to the person I was speaking with through the Airbnb app

 Second one was the same except it wasn’t an Airbnb… it was a different version of an Airbnb

Even Motels now leave a key code sent by text and you never see anyone on check in or check out

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

 I like writing from life experiences but twisting reality

so I came up with ‘Deserted in Paris

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 As I was writing the film, something similar also happened where the cleaner hired out a property and tried to make money without the owner knowing

 As my story unfolded I wanted you to be interested in the characters but once the issue happened, I didn’t want you to care anymore…

kinda like the News… you want to know what happened but could careless after the fact

  So I wanted to introduce new characters that had a reason to stumble across the property and a means to steal

 Having lived in America before …I met a lot of people who have never left the state let alone the country

So I wrote a character that is never seen (due to budget) that is jealous of a friends lifestyle and wants to do more things in life, a romantic trip away

 A lot of Americans like Europe so I made an attachment to Paris, triggering the ornament as a visual reference for them/Eric’s Character


 

Production Nightmare 

 Every shoot has hiccups

It’s how you deal with them to avoid them ruining the possibility of your film not getting made

 I mentioned earlier in this post that I nearly gave up and didn’t go ahead with the shoot

 So let me explain more…

 I pitched a short film to Panasonic to shoot it all on the GH5 with audio using the XLR1 Adapter

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 Panasonic jumped on board so I started to plan production

 Like any company funding a film no matter how big or small

they want to know why and where their money is going, so you need to know your plan when they ask these questions

 The main concern for them was the amount spent on flights and location

 Why can’t we film it in Europe or the UK?

I mentioned my vision is in a deserted location with lots of travelling/driving involved with the characters, so I wanted nice open desert roads

 Spain would have similar views but the actual location was never right

everything was too much like a Villa…anything similar to what I was after was right by the beach, so not very secluded

 Like most stories the location is at least 70% of the film and a character of the film

since many things can go wrong on set…you don’t want to give up so easy on locations

but also be open to compromise

I continued to push my location, plus the good actors I wanted would have to fly over and the costs would turn out the same

 Finally I got the 100% go ahead to film it in Palm Springs….

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but not without more issues

 I sourced the location, booked the actors and priced up the travel/flights

Then I emailed the Airbnb to mention I want to film in the location to avoid any law suits, the property owner got back to me and mentioned it was fine

 A week before the shoot the main actress pulled out mentioning she had a shoot

even though she knew the dates a few weeks back, she wouldn’t budge and wasn’t available for awhile after

 So I searched around and managed to find another actress

I didn’t want anything else going wrong so I wanted to book the location

 By the time I found another actress the dates I had planned for the Airbnb got booked by someone else

 I agreed a new set of dates with the actors and Panasonic to match the new dates available at the Airbnb location

 Then I get an email from the Airbnb saying she doesn’t want me filming at the property anymore due to a previous renter messing a few things up doing the same thing

I tried to persude the owner but had no luck

 Now I have to find a similar location with a similar price and that allows me to film

 First I keep getting a lot of unlucky emails mentioning no filming allowed

 I managed to find another location, available at the new dates later then original planned and they agreed for me to film

 Was it similar to the first location….Kinda

Was it the same price…. NO, more expensive

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l1

 Without anymore nightmares I booked the property, which only had a half price returnable cancellation fee

 So if anything else went wrong…I can either cancel and go in debt because no company will fund money for no return, or I book flights, car and hope for the best

 Now I have to book the flights, which have also gone up due to later dates then originally planned and its now during the holiday season

 I booked the flights which unfortunately had no cancellation refund and a location that only allows half a refund

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 Not going well so far with the shoot supposed to be going ahead next week

 Here is where things get even funnier…

I also had to sell some of my own gear to fund the rest of the film as I went over budget now due to the location change with added fees and airlines fees.


 

Pre-Production

 When filming any piece whether it’s a short film or corporate piece, its always best to scout the location/lighting before you film

 Sometimes you may not get the option so you may only rely on the client to send you pictures or google the area yourself

 In my case I arrived 2 days before filming

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 This allowed me to scout and film wide car cutaways without the actors

The car I chose to hire was the Hyundai Sonata

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I thought the car looked nice but not too flashy

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car

It was also very nice to drive & had light interior that I wanted which I explain about in my behind the scenes video

I also needed to mount the camera on the outside of the car

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 I only have 2 days with the actors to film and nail all the scenes

why not add more days?

…budget, it always comes down to budget

The first day we drove around scouting roads to film that looked nice but also safe

That way we can pull over anywhere to mount the camera on the car

Then switch mounting sides with no issues of getting pulled over or causing anyone to be unsafe

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 The second day we checked into the shoot location

This allowed me to check camera angles, lens choices and when the light looked right for the scenes in the home and what time it looked perfect to shoot outside the home

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 Script Change & Back Up Plans

 When shooting a film, besides production surprises you can also get some surprises with the shots/script

 So be prepared to make changes on the fly

The film also had 5 characters but I could only afford 3 actors

So I created 5 characters out of the 3 actors in the film and chose to shoot it in a way you wouldn’t notice

Every morning I hit the local iHop to go over the script

ihop

I made sure to go over my shot list and review any changes I may have to make

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 This can be down to a location you weren’t able to see and scout until you arrive or one of the actors may not agree to a shot they are supposed to be in

 So I had to make some changes while filming, but also making sure I didn’t take away a feeling or important piece of the film

Plus every one needs a good breakfast before a long day of filming

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We also had some very un-predictable weather, luckily I’m used to this from the UK and managed to work around it

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Working with Preston & Teresa was also a blast

I think they had great chemistry and I think it shows in the film

Working with Sam Loya was amazing and a weird experience

For those that don’t know, Sam Loya works a lot with Andrew Kramer at Video Co-pilot but Sam was also my neighbour/friend back when I lived in Long Beach California

So besides this shoot, the last time I saw Sammy I was 9 years old


The Real Gear Used On Set 

 Despite bringing everything I mention in my BTS video

 The whole film was shot with GH5 with XLR1 Adapter with 2 lavs as sound with one lens… a 25mm Lumix lens

xlr1

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 Why did I choose to shoot everything on the 25mm, well this is interesting

 The plan was to shoot the whole film twice, once on lumix spherical lenses and again on anamorphic lenses

 I only had one anamorphic lens which was the slr magic 50mm 2.8

 This was matched with the Metabones XL Speedbooster as it was too tight in the car scenes with just a standard EF to micro four thirds adapter

But having the metabones actually caused more issues

The anamorphic lens close focus distance was quite far away around 3 feet, adding the metabones made it about 5 feet

So now the focus for the car mount was off so I had to find a +1 close focus/diopter to reach focus marks

Found one but only a 77mm when the slr magic is a 82mm thread

So I had to use bluetac to attach it haha

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lenses

 So back to why I used the 25mm lumix lens

Its basically the same look/focal length as a 50mm anamorphic lens with the metabones

The 20mm and 25mm matched best but I preferred the look and size of the lens the control focus as the 20mm is pretty much a pancake lens

Lets not forget all lumix lenses are focus fly by wire so managing focus is already tricky enough haha

 I love the 12mm leica lens but for narrative it can make people look too flat within the environment and objects in the background don’t look to scale/life size

The 42.5mm is also nice but due to locations it looked nicer framing both my actors with the 25mm

 Other gear used was my Tripod was Sachtler Ace L, Kessler Slider and Camtree Car Mount & Movcam Cage

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A lot of people think because you have a small camera you can use small cheap tripods

But try getting a smooth locked off shot in high winds and watching the footage back

 Always get a nice tripod as you will never switch it out and its much better in high winds

especially in the desert

 I’ve had my Kessler slider for years but can do for an upgrade as mine has had a bit of wear and tear from all my travelling

 Besides recording audio all to camera, ready for this?!

I also recorded all my audio with lav mics, sennheiser mics

 Why no boom mic or sound recordist?

I couldn’t source a Sound Recordist with the date change and had no one confident enough to use a boom

 So it was either cancel the shoot, do everything locked off so I can also boom mic it or quit making excuses and make the best out of what I had

 The car scenes already worked out best with lav mics rather then the boom

I used Rycote covers and fluffys to minimize ruffling under the shirt so I did my best to carry on the whole film this way

 I’m not saying sound recordists are not needed because they definitely are and they will make a film much better

But just because something is done a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t try recording sound with lavs, especially if you have to do everything alone

When recording to lavs you still want to treat this as if a professional sound recordist was booked

So make sure you record room ambience, car ambience, foot steps, keys etc

Doing things his way you can also get rid of any unwanted crackling noises with nice ambience you recorded before or after

 That’s kind of what my point was with this movie

Make a short film good enough with one lens and lavs for sound and a great affordable camera that you pay more attention to the story and stop caring about the gear

I hear so many people say and ask me about gear and do they need such and such to film

Yes …sometimes you do need certain gear to a certain extent

But look at what you can do with a camera, one lens and lavs

you can do wonders with little gear

If you need more gear remember to always rent

Most of the time a fancy bit of kit can sometimes hardly ever get used

 Another neat trick I did was record sound separately to another GH5

So for the camera mounted on the car, all the audio was going through the XLR1 plugged into the other GH5

This freed up wires dangling in scenes and if I needed to fix anything sounding wrong it was right in front of me, rather then reaching out the window or having to pull over

Using the Atomos Ninja Inferno made it nice to see the image with LUT applied on a bigger screen

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Plus it was much easier shooting anamorphic due to its de-squeeze mode for any anamorphic crop

The 10bit prores recording and the high brightness/hdr mode to see in that bright desert sun

 But as a personal preference on performance and look I went with the Spherical Lumix Version rather then Anamorphic

 Regarding recording with the GH5’s.

I shot both versions in v-log as I love that profile and want to maintain as much highlight detail as possible

I filmed using my LUTS as the preview in camera and installed on the inferno

GH5 LUTS:

https://sellfy.com/p/I93b/

This allowed me to see a rough finished look

This also allows me to push my scene/highlights with the LUT

knowing I’ll still have room using the v-log profile after in post if I decide to change my look

Color grading should be treated the same as chosen a lens, the right sound

It can help tie everything together and drive the mood of the story further

I wanted a warm punchy look in the day to fit the mood of the desert

Towards the night I wanted something more moody to fit the mood of the characters

Here are some examples of the original v-log profile and where I took the grade:

v-log

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graded

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v-log

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graded

prestongrade

v-log

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graded

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I also used Formatt Hi-tech IRND Filters

one broke in the field 😦

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Gear links used on film:

GH5 UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MT7AK63/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

GH5 US

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZ3LQQ5/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Atomos Inferno UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0713Y1YY8/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Atomos Inferno US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XRHH367/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Lumix 25mm lens UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B014X35XLU/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Lumix 25mm Lens US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014RD6RC0/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Lumix XLR1 Audio Adapter UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MS78UCC/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Lumix XLR1 Audio Adapter US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7KU4SG/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Rycote Covers UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004TGNHBA/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Rycote Covers US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004TGNHBA/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Sennheiser EW100 Lav Mics UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0007IOYF2/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Sennheiser EW100 Lav Mics US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/BB002CWUKCC/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Camtree G-10 Car Mount Gripper UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XWTX2H2/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21

Camtree G-10 Car Mount Gripper US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LFFC3XU/?tag=wwwdanieljohn-21


 

Music

Music for films or any piece is very important because it can drive the emotion you are trying to tell & keep the pace of the film

Finding music is also important due to the ease of finding good music & the price

Not every site will allow you to purchase music for films

Sometimes its just web based & tricky to find music for commercial use

I also write music but nothing really quite fitted the mood of this film

Within about 10-15min I found really great pieces on Artist

web

What I also loved about this site was the cost

pricing

Everything seemed really affordable for $199 a month for unlimited music

Artlist.io


 

Why the GH5?

 First off I love the GH5 and have been mixing the lumix line up with RED cameras, Blackmagic cameras since the GH2/GH3 and have been amazed how well it mixes with those cameras

 The size of the camera is big plus and the in camera stablisation is nice to have too

 This would also come in very handy for the car scenes with the camera mounted on it

 Just be careful with some panning scenes as sometimes it can look too robotic

 I wanted to move fast with the cameras but not lose on quality and the GH5 is great for that

 The 10bit files I knew would handle the desert well in harsh sunlight/gradient situations

 I had 4K 10bit up to 60p if needed and I knew I could get a similar look out of it just like my Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K

 The 4.6k is a bit cleaner, bigger sensor for shallow depth of field and RAW of course

But the GH5 can hold up pretty well

 I like images to feel real and the noise grain is quite nice compared to other small sensor cameras

 Would I like to shoot everything on the Arri Alexa

 Of course but there is no more excuses why we cant create the best with what’s on offer


 

Why did I want to shoot Spherical and Anamorphic

 I wanted to show how different it can drive a mood of a story and how you can frame more of your vision while still maintaining a nice fall off in your frame compared to spherical

Here are some clips from the film shot with SLR Magic 50mm, GH5 & Atomos Ninja Inferno:

 Spherical lenses also look beautiful but in their own way

 I also wanted to showcase how different the film could look shooting anamorphic but delivering in 16X9

anamorphic 1.33x

(SLR magic 50mm 2.8 lens)

look

same shot anamorphic delivered 16×9

(SLR magic 50mm 2.8 lens)

look16x9

 Some people will cringe over that, throwing away information

but so many shows have a crystal clear sharp image, perfect color and it just takes away the feel of a show and emotional from the characters in a scene

 Its good to have something that’s not so perfect, a lot of TV Shows are also doing that

but networks won’t like the true anamorphic view so they deliver 16×9

 True Detective, Fear The Walking Dead, GlowGuerilla, Chance and the US Bridge shot anamorphic but delivered 16×9

 Thats whats great about the Atomos Ninja Inferno

It allows you to film and desqueeze anamorphic footage whether its 2x, 1.3x, 1.5x and view it with a 16×9 frame guide while still viewing the anamorphic frame behind it

 Unfortunately for me, having only one anamorphic lens led to me having limitations for close up shots due to the close focus distance being 3 feet

 I also only shot with the 25mm spherical as this is a 50mm equilavent to full frame and a similar look to the 50mm anamorphic lens with metabones on it

 When I was framing a scene the 25mm just looked right every time so it wasn’t until I finished the film that I realized I never took it off

 Just because you have access to many different lenses doesn’t mean you should use them

 I knew what I needed for the film once I arrived but it’s always good to have the lenses ready rather then oh…I’ll just bring a 25mm

 I also did a lot of car mount tests in the UK before flying over

but the hire car could make my scenes look different depending on the size of the car

 Some locations/scenes demand different lens set ups but the 25mm worked like a charm everytime


 

Post Production & Editing

 All footage was shot and recorded to 10bit Prores to the Atomos Ninja Inferno

I like using Adobe Premiere Pro so I always edit & grade within Premiere

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big grabs


 

Big thanks to Betty for helping on shoot, Love you 🙂

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