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Director's Blog

December 21, 2011

Nothing’s revolutionized filmmaking more than inexpensive, high quality digital cameras.

In the 80’s we shot everything on 35mm film. Our Arri BL4S cost over a quarter of a million dollars. Eleven minutes of film cost roughly a thousand dollars. Today pro HD cameras start at under ten thousand dollars and there’s no cost for film.

That makes it affordable to shoot with several cameras simultaneously which saves a ton of time. When we’re filming in an open area – such as The Tennessean’s newsroom – we typically roll three or even four cameras. In film-style shooting you’d usually only have one camera, so you’d have to film your master shot and close ups one after another. Not only does that take longer, it makes editing more challenging due to matching issues, since actors seldom perform each take exactly the same way.

But even more than saving time, the biggest benefit to shooting with multiple cameras is what it does for the actors. Instead of having to come back after lunch to shoot their close ups, all the actors are getting their close ups at the same time, so each actor is working at performance level all the time. And when that magical take happens, you’re immediately on to the next scene. We actually had days at The Tennessean where we shot almost ten pages in a day, which is twice what would be considered a good day.