An indy vampire drama in San Francisco


On the darker side of things, I shot this indy vampire drama–Sacred Blood–in San Francisco for director Christopher Coppola. Some 2nd unit work shot by Andrew Gianetta in the country of Georgia in Russia illustrates the back story at around minute 12.  

A lot of the film plays out amongst night exteriors. We had a very small crew with extremely limited resources and needed to work fast. So I was only able to have one battery operated light source.

We were able to augment our one light with donated AC powered units for some of the bigger interiors. But our crew size was still small so we could only handle so much.

A lot of work was done during prep and production to achieve a consistent look despite these restrictions. We shot on the Blackmagic Cinema camera and a Blackmagic pocket camera. Time for prep was also limited. So, we focused our efforts on how to best expose for the night exteriors without any augmented lighting. Secondly, we worked out how to match the two sensors and two lens systems between the two cameras. We pushed the sensors as far as made sense for the story. Thankfully, a certain amount of grain was helpful in evoking a dark and seedy indy vampire drama theme. And pushing the cameras at high iso’s became our modus operandi. We could have dialed it down for the interiors but I opted to expose them the same in order to retain the same texture (grain). Similarly–for the day scenes–I used ND and the f-stop to rate the cameras as high as I could within our parameters.

A lot of this detailed work was significantly compromised because I wasn’t given the opportunity to supervise the final colorgrade. However, I was able to make adjustments to the selected shots in this montage where I hope you can see the original intent.

A film about autism

Here are some shots from The Boy Who Cried Fish–a film about autism that I shot for Director Dalia Musaad. The story centers around a boy reacting to news footage of a female protestor getting brutalized by the Egyptian military. As she was beaten, her top was torn off revealing a bright blue bra and the media coined the incident as “The Girl in the Blue Bra.”

I started production on this short with no prep. So it was the first day of shooting that set the bar. I was immediately drawn in by Musaads impeccable taste–her casting choices were top drawer and her attention to detail was evidence of a real artist in the making. Therefore, I couldn’t help but set the bar as high as possible with the resources we had.

As the schedule got tighter It became an ongoing challenge to stay ahold of that bar. It didn’t feel right to compromise the lighting and camera work because the script and performances were so good. And therefore Dalia insisted I take the necessary time. Thankfully I had a great crew–they got inspired by the quality of work we were doing and really stepped up to the plate.

Another challenge during the shoot was with a school yard location we got stuck with. Dalia had lost her preferred location last minute and we had no choice but to shoot the scenes in a parking lot. If anything else it resembled a prison yard. I encouraged her to embrace this location for what it was and not what she wanted it to be. We focused on using lenses and angles that could hide or obscure the unpleasant surroundings. And at the end of the day we were happy.

This small sensitive film about autism received an Award of Excellence at the IndieFest in March. And it will be hitting more festivals this summer.