How many now have said, in varied phrasings, that if Racing Daylight were coming from Europe we would be considered novel, interesting, and marketable. Its simple pace, its lack of overt sex and violence, the lyric storytelling, so many wonderfully textured performances. I'm a fan of single camera films made in Europe and when I was teaching myself what a director does I included a book by Mike Crisp who directed for the BBC; "Directing Single Camera Drama", clear and to the point. But, I am an American who tells a story that, while steeped in our Civil War history, is truly a human story, one of love, loss, and hope. The stuff that can happen anywhere, to anyone on the planet.
Our budget would not allow for more than one expensive piece of equipment, (meaning the camera), and since we had no hope of a post budget, we needed to do as much with this camera as possible. It was a Panasonic HVX 200 .... which uses disks in a p-2 format, instead of tape. Each disk has the capacity for twenty minutes of footage, and the camera can hold two cards at once. The disks are downloaded in the same amount of time, 20 minutes per card, into a hard drive and backed up to a second firewire drive. There is no archival byproduct from this system, so if you worry and have the funds transfer to tape at some point, as these containment systems have a finite shelf life, 25 years, though we have replaced one faulty hard drive already. The picture has the clarity of HD and the diffusion of film. In the hands of an artistic genius like Stephen M. Harris the results are stunning. So little did so much. By the time we wrapped Stephen said he saw no reason to shoot on film again ... though he has.
We had a wobbly set of sticks, which we replaced with expensive sturdy legs on the few occasions we locked off to disappear our characters. We decided to let the actors tell the story, to trust their performances and not manipulate the camera too much, for they are complicated and subtly simple psychological journeys the characters take. We also had Shaun Harkins and his Cabletrak Jib for 4 days which, as I've said, put a lot of money on the screen.
(*Shaun has since given us a Moviola dolly with a lift arm and crabbing capabilities. I think he got it off the "Goodmorning America" set when they were changing over to new equipment. Our next film, Slap&Tickle" will benefit greatly by this wondrous new asset.)
Stephen also drove the "Fig-rig" so-called for its creator, Mike Figgis, who modified a steering wheel as a means of doing handheld shots with more control, less expensive than a steady-cam.
We decided to divide the look of the three films, and to do so in-camera, again because we had no $ for post. Sadie's look is technicolor, old fashioned in the present day. Edmund, which is set in the 1860s, has a silver chromium overlay, like a Deguerrotype. Henry is hyper present and so we went for an almost sodium vapor like tone. These treatments are subtle but add so much to the character of each short film. Stephen and Jason Martin's color correct, done in "Afterworks" , is brilliant.
There's a fan base growing for our movie-that-could. We are exploring all manner of digital delivery in an effort to reach our niche audience. We started digitally, it seems prudent to let the nature of its creation dictate its method of dissemination. We are proud to be an American Made film that does not fit the mold. We are storytellers. We are thinkers. We are movie viewers ourselves.
Next: SOUND DESIGNERS and the COMPOSER