ALEXA and SkyPanel on LIKE CRAZY
Director Paolo Virzì's new comedy drama film LIKE CRAZY (LA PAZZA GIOIA) tells the story of two women who strike up a friendship at a mental health clinic in Tuscany, from which they abscond, setting out on a road trip together. Cinematographer Vladan Radovic AIC here gives his account of shooting the film with ARRI ALEXA cameras and ARRI SkyPanel LED soft lights.
Director Paolo Virzì's comedy drama film LIKE CRAZY (LA PAZZA GIOIA) tells the story of two women who abscond from a mental health clinic in Tuscany, setting out on a road trip together. Cinematographer Vladan Radovic AIC worked with ALEXA cameras and SkyPanel LED soft lights.
In this movie Paolo and I, as we always do, tried to follow the story with the photography, and in this case it was a big challenge because the girls are crazy and they are running away from a treatment clinic, which means that they go to many different places. We were constantly trying to follow their emotions by means of cinematographic choices.
For the scenes we shot outside, I used the warm sun of Tuscany. But I tried not to use this kind of light -- the sun-like warm light -- when we were shooting inside the clinic. For the dramatic scenes inside the mental hospital I always used internal sources of cold light or cold reflections of the warm sun coming in from outside, so that you have warm light on the outside and cold reflections on the inside.
Sometimes a character's mood changes within a scene and we wanted to illustrate that with the visuals. For example there is a long single take in which I gradually changed the color temperature, which I was able to do thanks to the SkyPanel. The scene begins with a quiet conversation between Donatella and Beatrice, our two main characters, and for this you have nice warm light. Then Donatella's mood changes as she hears some bad news, so the color temperature gets colder and colder until she desperately hits her head against an advertising sign. The initial color temperature in this scene was 3,200 K and by the end it was 5,600 K. Mixing SkyPanel light with the sunset meant that the light in the scene changes in a very natural way, so you do not actually perceive what we did with the lamphead.
The ALEXA camera is perfectly balanced and is very ergonomic, so it is well suited to handheld shooting. When we shot this movie, ARRIRAW recording with the ALEXA Mini was not available yet; the ALEXA Mini would probably have been even better for this kind of work. However, thanks to ALEXA our camera operator was able to run after the actresses with a handheld camera, for example in a scene when the girls run for a bus. ALEXA was just perfect and really comfortable. We wanted to be as close as possible to the actors, and this of course influenced our choice of focal lengths as well.
I always shoot using Log C; I never use Rec 709. I think that shooting in Rec 709 with ALEXA is like driving a Porsche really slowly; you're only using a fraction of its potential!
In night scenes I like to explore very high sensitivities, like 1,600 or 2,500 ASA. With ALEXA, I know that I can choose whatever ASA I want because it will have no bad effects on what I shoot. I know that if a scene is well set, even if I use 2,500 ASA, I will have no digital grain at all. If you see grain in one of my movies shot on ALEXA, it is digital grain that has been added in postproduction, scanned from original film grain. I have not been able to see ALEXA's grain yet, actually!
I think that shooting in Rec 709 with ALEXA is like driving a Porsche really slowly; you're only using a fraction of its potential!
You know, I wanted to use film for my previous movie, BLACK SOULS, but the production asked me to give digital a try as well. So we compared a 35 mm camera to ALEXA, and with proper postproduction adjustments I could not tell ALEXA footage from film footage! So in the end we shot on ALEXA, and thanks to the camera we were able to explore very dark areas of Calabria, the Italian region in which the movie was shot. I find ALEXA and ARRIRAW perfect for me because I can be more daring in terms of underexposure.
I remember once we were shooting a very dark scene at 'magic hour' and I could not take my eye away from the viewfinder because the light conditions were changing fast and we were repeating the scene continuously. All of a sudden the director asked me, "Vladan, are you sure we can keep shooting?" and I replied, "Why are you asking me?" Then I looked away from the viewfinder and the place was so dark that you could see nothing -- but ALEXA was still seeing the scene and I could see it too in the viewfinder.