EROSION is our latest piece - a collaboration between Brandon Bloch, Tim Sessler and Brandon Bray. Featuring the dancers Dayrome “Bad Day” Wright, Kester “Flexx” Estephane, Anthony “Laiden” John and Makaveli Qu.
While most of this piece was shot with a bare-bones crew (mostly me and Brandon Bloch), we most definitely didn't want this to feel like a documentary or low-budget production.The goal was to make a visually stylized piece that captures how we see New York City changing around us. Every New Yorker is familiar with Showtime dancers cheering up a full subway car - though these days dancers get arrested instead of earning tips for their talents. Dancers are being forced out of the subway and now have alternative events like “Its Showtime NYC” to legally dance above ground.
This was the original inspiration for EROSION - a changing city, that is losing culture and character while it gets cleaned up. Moving towards a landscape of sterile glass high rises. It is a a safe, clean, boring new world!
LOOK: Lensing and filtration
The main goal was to very carefully design the look for the three different eras that we wanted to feature. Past NYC as a colorful place, filled with culture and art, a busy place - its not clean and the cinematography should reflect this. I’ve experimented with prisms before and the idea to use them - not to fully distort the image, but to add another layer to it - seemed perfect. The past isn’t a clear-cut construction, it has many facets to it and using both prisms and diopters in front of the lens allows us to get a dreamy and unique look, with a peripheral view that could only be done practically (as actual information from left, right, below and above the field of view of your lens is being captured). The second major stylistic choice was the use of Smoque-filters, that show similar characteristic than uncoated lenses. Adding a hazy/diffused look with Smoque filters 2 and 3 for the past, a lowered effect with the 1 filter for the present and a completely clean image for the future.
Similar to our lens and filtration choices, the camera support should align with the story and era. Starting with some handheld shots, progressing into purely MoVI-stabilized shots up to the very stable and composed final shot of the piece.
The original plan was handheld for the past, MoVI for the present and tripod and dollies for the future. Though when we started actually shooting we quickly realized that we'd have to rely on the Movi for the bulk of the piece to move fast enough to get all the coverage we'd need.
Brandon and I started brainstorming the original idea for this piece right after the Freefly Alta had been released. After shooting the Alta short film, Nostalgia, I was inspired to find interesting top-mounted drone shots that could make our film better. Though the goal always was to not make it look like a drone shot - using shallow DOF and the same prism techniques we were able to get some very interesting shots and new moves that would have been impossible to pull off any other way.