If Abba and Fleetwood Mac had a baby I think she would come out looking—and sounding—a lot like the Pierces. Kinga Burza, the gifted young director, identified this duo’s bloodlines perfectly by referencing photographer David Hamilton and every other glorious gesture associated with that 70s oeuvre, along with some unexpected modern flourishes. Her style boards for this shoot are a masterpiece in their own right.
Of course, digital didn’t even exist in the 70s, and shooting on a Canon 7D would make it impossible to create in-camera double exposures, film roll-outs, and flash frames. Another considerable challenge was to recreate the soft flaring or “fogging” of so many David Hamilton pictures. Adding to our travail was the extreme low budget, short winter day, and impossibly tight schedule.
What to do? First, I try to look at situations like these as “insurmountable opportunities,” (an expression apparently coined by Robert Zemekis).
1. Film Roll-outs, flash frames, and speed ramps: The Arri III is the best camera for flash frames and roll-outs. The Arri III also has a dial for ramping the frame rate. Clairmont camera essentially loaned me an old Arri III to go along with the 7D package we rented from them. For film stock the production bought a half-dozen super cheap 60’-70’ expired short ends. We could risk expired film because it didn’t matter if the negative was compromised. And we didn’t actually want full loads. My assistants kept the Arri III close by, loaded with a short-end and built in hand-held mode. Here and there I would grab additional coverage of our set-ups; making the flash frames and speed ramps; rolling the film out at the end of each short load. This is how we created that “analog” layer.
2. Flares, fogging, and other stuff: Over the decades all sorts of weird effects filters and lenses have been created. Clarimont in particular have always been keen to add any and all gimmicky lenses and filters to their inventory⎯and never throw them away. They have a drawer in their filter room that is like the “island of misfit” toys for filters. There was one dust-covered filter I discovered that would produce the David Hamilton fogging look when just the right amount of sun hit the lens. I also found a filter that yielded a prismatic rainbow starburst, yet another that tripled the image. Finally, I used a lens baby to get that swing-shift focus effect on a number of set-ups. Sometimes I had multiple effects filters stacked on top of each other.
3. The double-exposure effect was primarily achieved through painstaking layering in the Avid. However, there were some in-camera effects. The in-camera multiple exposure effect was achieved by holding the image splitting filter at just the right angle to double or treble the image and also reflect the overhead canopy of leaves and branches.