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TRINITY Operator Junior Lucano on Chinese film “Hidden Man”

As the one of the very first users of TRINITY, Junior Lucano is carving out a niche as a “go-to” ARRI TRINITY operator in China. So far, he has completed four films. One of his most memorable projects to date, “Hidden Man,” allowed him to showcase his skills with the TRINITY stabilization rig.

Nominated in the category Best film from Mainland China and Taiwan at the Hong Kong Film Awards later this month, the Chinese action comedy “Hidden Man” has been entertaining audiences around the world. This was also the first film in China to be filmed with the help of the ARRI TRINITY. Operator Junior Lucano talked to ARRI about his experience of working on the film—and his blossoming love affair with TRINITY. He even made a showreel.

“Hidden Man,” directed by Jiang Wen, is set in China in the 1930s and tells the story of a swordsman who returns home to investigate an unsolved murder. DP Zhengyu Xie was keen to use the TRINITY right from the start of filming. “Actually the TRINITY arrived at the perfect time,” Lucano says, “because we were in Yunnan shooting all the rooftop scenes. These involved a lot of action, with the actor running within a small space in windy conditions.” Looking back on the production, Lucano also describes director Jiang Wen as a perfectionist, “he wanted every shot to be precise and go beyond a perfect shot. He pushed his team to the limit in order to create something new.”

“Hidden Man” provided Lucano with a great opportunity to push the TRINITY’s limits—and his own. “With any other stabilizing devices, it wouldn’t have been possible for the cameraman to run forward, while pointing the camera back from low angle, at the same time watching the monitor and thinking about where I was putting my feet.”

Lucano chose two scenes to feature in sharing his fondest memories of working on “Hidden Man” with us. The first scene is the rooftop running sequence. Lucano explains: “In this shot, the actor Eddie Peng, was running on the rooftops between three buildings. He had to jump between each gap and run seamlessly onto the next rooftop. The director wanted the camera positioned at a low angle so that we could see part of the roofs, putting Eddie in the same frame with the sun. I had to run faster than him and track him over an uneven surface while maintaining a steady pace. The audience may think it is a cool shot, though they probably won’t appreciate just how difficult it was. But people who work in the industry will.”

“Hidden Man” was shot on ALEXA SXT, with an ALEXA Mini on the TRINITY along with Master Prime and Master Anamorphic lenses. “I feel the combination of ALEXA Mini and Master Primes was perfect for me,” says Junior, “but I am also able to mount the ALEXA SXT and even the new ALEXA LF on TRINITY without any problem.”

Another scene that brought back fond memories for Lucano was the hallway scene. This sequence can also be seen in the showreel. Lucano recalls: “Eddie Peng was walking and talking with actress Yun Zhou in narrow hallways. The director wanted the camera to follow them from the front, which may sound easy, but the space was very narrow, and there were wild plants growing everywhere, and the zigzagging pathway had low ceilings. I remember I was sweating a lot, I kept bumping myself and the TRINITY into walls. The director even asked me if it shot was possible. I was, however, convinced that I could do it and finally, I was able to get the shot he wanted.”

Lucano describes the scene in detail: “The actors entered the frame from the right. I waited until I got a medium shot of them together, then I started following them pulling back the camera. They turned to their left, then to their right, then they walked straight a little bit and turned right and left again. There was a bit of space next to the road that allowed me to pull the camera to the left of the actors at the right time. When they finished their dialogue, I got them in profile, and then allowed them to go out of frame.” 

Lucano describes working on “Hidden Man” as “an unforgettable experience.” Beginning his career in Italy as a Steadicam Operator ten years ago, Lucano started out on short films and music videos, then moved on to commercials and feature films. He moved to Beijing four years ago. “I really had to start over,” he says, “it wasn’t easy for me, but then, little by little, I began to do films again.” He heard about the TRINITY four years ago and was one of the first operators to actually use it. “As a Steadicam operator I was always looking for new ways to achieve better balance, and to be faster and more precise.” 

Junior Lucano has recently been involved in two other films as a TRINITY operator: “Cellphone 2” by director Feng Xiaogang and “Magic 7” by director Gerard Krawczyk. He is currently shooting a new film titled “Jiong Ma” by director Xu Zheng. We look forward to seeing more of Lucano’s craft in the nearer future.

Photos: 张湸ZhangLiang