Spotlight on gaffer Jeff Ferrero
As a gaffer, Jeff Ferrero must constantly assess the quality of lighting fixtures to perform his craft. As owner of Nova Lite, a Los Angeles-based rental facility, he must evaluate his investment in equipment and how it performs long term. Recently Ferrero welcomed ARRI M40/25s and M18s to his inventory - two versatile additions he is thrilled to include in Nova's arsenal. "They put out a much better quality of light and provide a lot more options on how you would use that light," he says.
The 1800W M18 combines the award-winning lens-less MAX Technology of the ARRIMAX with ARRIs innovative True Blue design. The result is a powerful HMI that is as small as a 1200W PAR but with a 70% higher light output. Similarly, the M40/25 also utilizes MAX Technology; the unit is open face and very bright, yet focusable over a range of 18-52° HPA, casting a crisp shadow.
Ferrero appreciates the M40/25 for its intensity and compact size. "It seems to me the M40/25 is lighter than anything else on the market," he says. "I love that you can plug it into a Honda 6500 generator and get almost as much output as a 6K. The 6500 is the biggest putt-putt generator on the market that Ive seen, and you can run the M40/25 on it all day, which is great. Before, you were limited to a 4K, but a 4K PAR doesn't put out as much light as the M40/25."
Having to expect the unexpected on commercial, music video and feature film shoots abroad, Ferrero devised a special road kit for the M18 and hopes to do the same with the M40/25. "I think other gaffers and DPs would agree that it's nice to know you have the lights you need when traveling to distant locations," he notes. "I've flown all over the world with the two M18 kits. Each M18 goes in a case with a medium Chimera and egg crate; the case weighs under 100 pounds and is within 100 square inches, which is fine for most oversized and media airline requirements."
SAVAGES, directed by Oliver Stone and shot by Dan Mindel, BSC, ASC utilized M18s carried in special kits to Indonesia from Gaffer Jeff Ferrero.
The M18 road kits recently traveled with Ferrero to Indonesia for additional photography on Oliver Stones film SAVAGES, with second unit DP Matt Lloyd (Dan Mindel, BSC, ASC, was on first unit). The film is based on the acclaimed novel by Don Winslow and stars John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson. "The ARRI ballasts read the amount of power coming in, which is great because it means you can plug them in anywhere in the world," says the gaffer. "Whether its 110v or 220v - it doesn't matter. We accomplished a lot with those two M18s."
Commercials allow Ferrero to light in a myriad of styles and work with scores of different cinematographers. "Being a gaffer is like going on 50 first dates a year, he says. I meet so many DPs and they all have their different style. For me, I like to figure out each person and try to accomplish their vision."
He has collaborated on commercials with DP Matthew Libatique, ASC (BLACK SWAN, COWBOYS & ALIENS). Last year the two were reunited on the ALEXA-shot feature RUBY SPARKS, a romantic comedy starring Paul Dano as a novelist struggling with writers block. "Small movie, small crew, small trucks; I think it was about as minimal as you could go with crews and pre-rigs, but it worked well for this type of film," notes Ferrero, who describes the look of RUBY SPARKS as moody and dark. "We really worked at some very low light levels, shooting a lot in natural light around Hollywood."
The gaffer appreciates being able to create looks that serve the story and having the right tools at his disposal to accomplish this. "I love what I do," he says. "I know I can do my job with ARRI HMIs on the set. With other companies' products there can be problems, but I'm at ease when I have ARRI around."