The following post is an interview with our stellar DP - Ben Bach. Ben gives valuable insights into our equipment choices and the challenges of this production.
Q: What first attracted you to work on Side Order?
Ben: Most of my work is in corporate, commercial, and doc/reality projects, so I don’t often get the chance to shoot narrative, which I really enjoy. So when Ashley initially contacted me, I jumped at the chance. I’m particularly drawn to dramatic, emotional stories with a hint of darkness and pain. I’m not sure what that says about me... but Side Order had all these elements. It was a joy to capture all three actors plying their craft within the world Ashley had created.
Q: What new challenges did you face during this project?
Ben: I was pulled onto the project very late in the pre-production process because there were complications with the original DP slated to shoot Side Order. By the time Ashley contacted me, they were just six days out from production. Having such a short amount of time to prep was a first for me. Getting up to speed on storyboards, shot list, etc. and making sure I was on the same page with Ashley's vision in so little time was easily one of the biggest challenges during this project. On other shorts, I’ve had as much as two months from reading the script to actual production. In contrast, six days was very little time!
Q: How did you balance selecting quality equipment with working on a low-budget film?
Ben: As with most short films, there was a very small budget for equipment. Thankfully, Timothy Wildgoose (Gaffer), Gabe Twigg (1st AC) and I all were able to bring our own gear onto the project to help it all come together. We also had lighting donated by another local PDX Gaffer (and good friend of mine) - Tristan Stoch. What rental money we did have went towards renting a set of TLS rehoused Cooke Panchros and a set of Black ProMist filters from Koerner Camera, and a Movi Pro from Picture This (two rental houses in Portland, Oregon). I want to give a big shout out and thank you to all the people and businesses I just mentioned! Without their willingness to hook up the production - this film would not be what it is.
Q: What did you use to shoot Side Order? Were there any surprises during production with this equipment?
Ben: We shot this film on the Red Epic Dragon at 5K Widescreen (2.35:1). Although the Dragon can do 6K, the Cooke Panchros are S35 lenses. So punching in to 5K on the sensor helped minimize the extreme vignetting that the Panchros have - even at longer focal lengths. Sharegrid did a fantastic series of videos, in conjunction with Duclos and Old Fast Glass, comparing qualities of almost every line of lenses out there. So, although I didn’t have time to test the lenses beforehand, I had a great knowledge base going into production. My one surprise with these lenses, once on set, was how much color loss there is in the vignetted areas. To combat that, in certain scenes, we gelled the practicals that were at the edge of frame, giving them enough color to appear normal.
Q: What other strategies did you use to light the film?
Ben: Most of our interior lighting was done with Westcott Flex lights and Litegear Lite Mats. Shooting in such small spaces, we really needed the flexibility and small footprint of those lights. Timothy Wildgoose was super creative with rigging solutions - often attaching them to ceilings or high up on walls to keep them out of the shot and remove the need for a stand. Our exterior lighting was a mixture of tungsten pars and softboxes, gelled to 8000k. This gave us the blue of moonlight through any windows in frame. Because we were working with 15amp circuits, Goose often needed to run the exterior lights off of multiple circuits. Credit to him for keeping track of our power usage. I believe we didn’t trip a single circuit!
Q: Do you have any final thoughts?
Ben: I hope this has been an enjoyable read, and has given some insight into the lensing and lighting of this film! I can’t wait for this film to come out.
SIDE ORDER CAMERA & LIGHTING CREW
Ben Bach: https://benwbach.com/
Timothy Wildgoose: http://timothywildgoose.com/
Gabe Twigg: https://gabetwigg.wixsite.com/home