Gritty Filmmaking: (Rise of Docu+Cinema)
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Gritty Filmmaking: (Rise of Docu+Cinema)

Beautiful even masterful cinematography can be created using compact rigs now: encouraging cinematic storytellers to adopt many of the techniques previously relegated to documentary films. Because some of the specs on new cameras and lenses are sooooo crazy mind-blowing awesome, we can now do stuff we thought even a few years ago was impossible.

What it means for cinematic feature films is that stories can be told using much more raw, immediate, and intimate techniques.

Nage Canchola, a post-production guru and part-time gearhead, invited me to an event at the Canon Live Learning showcase, where they screened the indy feature, Negative. In the Q&A with director and cinematographer Joshua Caldwel, they explored many of the ideas and techniques Joshua employed in adapting new tech into traditional cinema. The discussion about how the run-and-gun style of docs is converging with the preparation and production value of feature filmmaking, lead to the term loosely interpreted as “docu+cinema.”

Most of Negative was shot on the Canon C100 and C300, which in itself is kind of amazing. And for intense low-light he was able to use Canon’s new ME-20F-SH which produced stunning scenes in the desert night. For an example of applying low-light and hand-held tech in scripted cinema check out this behind the scene short from Joshua’s upcoming film Assassin


I’m still in love with the Canon 70D for micro-budget docs, which is a distant cousin’s stepchild of these rigs but the quality of the image and the thinking behind what’s possible are much the same. You can see some of that influence in this 1-min short from FlowTown Fims…


What this means for someone interested in employing micro-budget film production is simple enough, setup for an interview in an unfamiliar location is much faster, being able to engender trust in the person being interviewed and keeping them focused on the conversation and not the camera, and still delivering gorgeous shots, sometimes in challenging and unconventional ways is now much more accessible.

And for true gearheads here’s the mind bending possibilities of the ME-20F-SH in these camera tests…