Canadian Cinematographer Magazine April 2021

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April 2021



Peter Simonite csc, asc

Fugitive Dreams

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A publication of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers

FEATURES – VOLUME 13, NO. 1 APRIL 2021 Fostering cinematography in Canada since 1957. The Canadian Society of Cinematographers was founded by a group of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa cameramen. Since then over 800 cinematographers and persons in associated occupations have joined the organization. The CSC provides tangible recognition of the common bonds that link film and digital professionals, from the aspiring student and camera assistant to the news veteran and senior director of photography.

CORPORATE SPONSORS AC Lighting Arri Canada Blackmagic Design Cinetx Inc. Company 3 Cooke Americas Frame Discreet Fujifilm, North America Corporation Fujifilm, Optical Devices Division Fusion Cine Grande Camera Henry’s HD Source Inspired Image Keslow Camera Kino Flo Matrix Video Communications Corp. Mole-Richardson MOSS LED Nikon Canada Panasonic Canada Panavision Canada Red Digital Cinema REDLABdigital Rosco Canada Rotolight Sigma SIM SIMMOD LENS Sony of Canada The Source Shop Technicolor Urban Post Production Vistek Walter Klassen FX William F. White International Zeiss

Jouer avec le feu : Un entretien avec Jonathan Decoste csc Playing with Fire: An Interview with Jonathan Decoste csc


Par/By Claudine Sauvé csc

Credit: Chemistry Laboratories

The CSC is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteer board members of the society. Thank you to our sponsors for their continued support.

Credit: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

We facilitate the dissemination and exchange of technical information and endeavor to advance the knowledge and status of our members within the industry. As an organization dedicated to furthering technical assistance, we maintain contact with nonpartisan groups in our industry but have no political or union affiliation.

Grey Matter Meets Greyscale: Peter Simonite

csc, asc

By Roman Sokal, Special to Canadian Cinematographer

COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS 2 4 6 9 10 12 37 38

From the Editor-In-Chief From the President In the News What's Up at the CSC CSC Member Spotlight – Anthony Metchie On Set Tech Column Production Notes/Calendar/Classifieds


Cover Cover: (L-R) Éléonore Loiselle and Kelly Depeault. Éléonore Loiselle et Kelly Depeault. Credit: Coop Vidéo de Montréal


on Fugitive Dreams

Canadian Cinematographer April 2021  Vol. 13, No. 1 EDITORIAL BOARD JOAN HUTTON csc, Editor-in-Chief FANEN CHIAHEMEN, Editor, JANEK LOWE, Photo Editor PATTY GUYADER, Copy Editor SIMON EVERS, Graphic Designer GUIDO KONDRUSS, Advertising Manager, GEORGE WILLIS, csc sasc CLAUDINE SAUVÉ csc SUSAN SARANCHUK, CSC BOARD OF DIRECTORS Zoe Dirse csc Jeremy Benning csc Rion Gonzales Joan Hutton csc Kristin Fieldhouse Guy Godfree csc Claudine Sauvé csc George Willis csc, sasc CSC EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT George Willis csc, sasc PAST PRESIDENT, ADVISOR Joan Hutton csc VICE PRESIDENTS Philip Lanyon csc Bruno Philip csc Penny Watier MEMBERSHIP CHAIRS Arthur Cooper csc Zoe Dirse csc EDUCATION CHAIRS George Willis csc, sasc Martin Wojtunik AWARDS CHAIR Arthur Cooper csc ONLINE CONTENT COMMITTEE Jeremy Benning csc – Co-Chair Christina Ienna – Co-Chair Carolyn Wong – Co-Chair DIVERSITY COMMITTEE Kristin Fieldhouse - Co-Chair Nyssa Glück - Co-Chair Rion Gonzales - Co-Chair Samy Inayeh csc - Co-Chair MENTORSHIP COMMITTEE Nyssa Glück – Co-Chair Iris Ng – Co-Chair RELATIONSHIPS Gaston Bernier OFFICE / MEMBERSHIP / SUBSCRIPTIONS 131–3085 Kingston Road Toronto, Canada M1M 1P1 Tel: 416-266-0591; Fax: 416-266-3996 Email:, Canadian Cinematographer makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it publishes; however, it cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors or omissions. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the publisher. The opinions expressed within the magazine are those of the authors and not necessarily of the publisher. Upon publication, Canadian Cinematographer acquires Canadian Serial Rights; copyright reverts to the writer after publication.Canadian Cinematographer is printed by Winnipeg Sun Commercial Print and is published 10 times a year. One-year subscriptions are available in Canada for $40.00 for individuals and $80.00 for institutions, including HST. In U.S. rates are $45.00 and $90.00 for institutions in U.S. funds. International subscriptions are $50.00 for individuals and $100.00 for institutions. Subscribe online at

ISSN 1918-8781 Canadian Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40013776 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses 131–3085 Kingston Road Toronto M1M 1P1 THE CANADIAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION.

2 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Joan Hutton csc I’ve always had a deep fascination with cameras and their applications, both good and not so good. On the upside, cameras have become integral to exploring the universe and that was never more evident than last February when the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. The size of a VW Bug, Perseverance bristles with cameras – 23 of them to be exact. In an upgrade from earlier rover missions, Perseverance’s cameras sport wider lenses and can produce colour images with enhanced resolution. Its photos and videos have been spectacular. It’s been nearly 200 years since Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce captured the world’s first photographic etching using a single camera obscura. Since then, the popularity of the camera has grown exponentially, with a huge boost thanks to digital technology. It is estimated that by 2022 there will be an incredible 45 billion cameras across the globe. That’s almost six cameras for every person on Earth. Cameras in today’s world are literally found everywhere. Own a smartphone, for example, and anyone is potentially an instant cinematographer, with the ability to shoot whatever may be. There are entire Internet and streaming channels devoted to this form of democratized filmmaking. Also, hardly a television newscast goes by without video from a “citizen” journalist who happened to be in the right place at the right time with their smartphone to document a news event. However, the shadiest growth spurt for cameras concerns surveillance. Most recent figures show that there are a mind-boggling 770 million surveillance cameras globally, ostensibly to combat crime and terrorism. The most wired city in the western hemisphere is London, U.K., where the average person is caught more than 300 times a day by the city’s nearly 630,000 closed circuit cameras. By contrast, Canada’s top surveillance city is Toronto with a little over 17,000 cameras. But none of these hold a candle to China where nearly 416 million cameras monitor the country’s population. Shanghai and Beijing alone account for more than one million cameras each. Add in facial recognition technology, geo tracking and video analytics, the ground is set for a litany of potential human rights abuses. Experts say that world camera surveillance will breach the 1 billion mark in 2022, and that is a terrifying Orwellian thought.

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FROM THE PRESIDENT George A. Willis csc, sasc

There have never been more ways for us to communicate than there are today, and this offers so many options for learning. The CSC Mentorship Program is proving to be extremely successful, and now with more than 80 pairings of mentors and mentees, it offers a diverse group of its membership to engage in this unique way of learning. One of my mentees said just before we commenced our Mentorship Program together, “My goal as a cinematographer is to learn, experiment and achieve.” I find that his words aptly describe what mentorship means to him and what he hopes to achieve as a part of the process. It is vital to the future of our cinematographers, therefore, and it is incumbent upon us to provide whatever information we can to allow for this process and progress to take place. Prior to beginning my career in the film industry, I spent three years in art school and then moved into the world of advertising. During this period, it was not the norm to seek mentorship, and the learning process was more akin to climbing a ladder – one step at a time – but I never viewed this as anything negative because there was no other way to move ahead. However, when I transitioned into the film industry, from literally my first day, I suddenly became aware of the need to gather as much information as I could. The question was how I was going to address that need, 4 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

and the only answer I could come up with was to pay attention, as well as ask questions. This might sound as if everything was available for the taking. Not so. Being available for whatever presented itself was only the beginning. The rest of the learning process, for me anyway, was to make connections with people whom I admired and respected in the industry. To me, this is an extremely important part of the process because we are also in a people business. From my early days in the industry, I have been very fortunate to have had many mentors to whom I will always be grateful. One thing that I realize time and time again is the fact that while so much of what we need to know in filmmaking is available online these days, there is no substitute for making a connection with someone who can open one’s eyes to the process of learning. The results of sharing information, whether in person or even via a phone call, can and should never be underestimated. The times that we are experiencing are difficult, which adds more of a challenge to the mentoring process, but I have found that it continues to be most rewarding. Aside from a phone call, it’s possible for a mentee to send a visual example that relates to a specific question and then take the time to connect and explore the answers. If there is a willingness to learn, the CSC will provide it.









© 2021 William F. White International Inc.

In The News CSC Members among ASC Award Nominees The CSC congratulates the following members who are among the nominees for the 35th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards for Outstanding Achievement: Motion Picture, Limited Series, or Pilot Made for Television Gregory Middleton csc, asc for Watchmen, “This Extraordinary Being” - category sponsored by RED Digital Cinema Episode of a One-Hour Television Series – Commercial François Dagenais csc for Project Blue Book, “Area 51” C. Kim Miles csc, asc, mysc for Project Blue Book, “Operation Mainbrace” - category sponsored by FotoKem Episode of a One-Hour Television Series – Non-Commercial David Greene csc, asc for Impulse, “The Moroi” Winners will be revealed at the ASC’s April 18 ceremony in Los Angeles. Netflix Plans To Establish Office in Canada

doned or interrupted due to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis on the set or an outbreak on the production Netflix plans to establish a new home in Canada, team. opening an office and hiring a dedicated content executive to work directly with the Canadian creative William F. White Hires Rob Rowan To community, the streaming company’s CEO Ted Sa- Head Calgary and Winnipeg Offices randos, announced recently. Since 2017, Netflix has spent more than $2.5 billion on productions in Can- William F. White International recently announced ada. Over the last three years, the company has also industry veteran Rob Rowan as the general managfocused on working with organizations nationwide er of its Calgary and Winnipeg offices. Rowan joins to support the development of creators from under- WFW with more than 30 years of production experirepresented communities. In addition, through more ence. He has enjoyed a lengthy career as a business than 20 local partnerships, it has helped support the agent for IATSE Local 856 and ICG 669 and brings career development of more than 600 Canadian cre- a wealth of on-set experience to the role, including experience as gaffer, best boy electric, and rigging gafators to date. fer on several feature films and television series across Federal Government Extends, Increases the prairies including Capote, Shall We Dance?, and Nothing but the Truth. Rowan will assume the role Short-Term Compensation Fund from Michael Drabot, the company’s previous GM of The Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guil- Winnipeg, who will continue in his position as VP/ beault announced in February that $50 million has GM of Toronto. Rowan also inherits the role origibeen added to the initial funding for the Short-Term nally established by the previous EVP/COO, and Compensation Fund for Canadian Audiovisual Pro- current Executive Consultant Paul Roscorla. Rowan ductions (STCF). The fund was launched last fall assumed the role on March 1. to support audiovisual industry productions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCF funding has Amazon Prime Video Commits increased to $100 million, which allows more pro- $1.25 Million To Support BIPOC ductions to make use of the program during the busi- Production Community est time of the year for the industry. Telefilm, which administers the program, can now compensate a Amazon Prime Video recently announced a $1.25 production company whose project had to be aban- million commitment to support the Canadian 6 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

CSC Field of View Mentorship Program comes into focus

Supported by

#CSCfieldofview • #CSCmentorship Connect with the Mentorship Program here

Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


BIPOC TV and film production creative community with a donation to the Solidarity Fund and the Indigenous Development Program, and a new pitch program, with 10 grants of $10,000 to creators who are Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour, in partnership with the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO). The initiatives will support the BIPOC creative community faced with ongoing hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. The donation to the Solidarity Fund – launched by the ISO, the Racial Equity in Media Collective (REMC), and BIPOC TV & Film – and the Indigenous Development Program, will support diverse creators with funding for projects and professional development for both individuals and BIPOCowned companies. Additionally, Prime Video and the ISO will launch a pitch program that will award $10,000 grants to 10 selected diverse creators who will have an opportunity to pitch their scripted or unscripted projects to Amazon Studios. ISO will work with the Black Screen Office on the pitch program as well as engage with a number of BIPOC-led groups and organizations on outreach.

Matt Graham, GM of the AMC Networks-owned Acorn TV streaming service. Shaftesbury is the studio behind such titles as Murdoch Mysteries. Sony, IMAGO Technical Committee Announce Update to RAW Viewer

Sony and the IMAGO Technical Committee recently announced that control of sharpness for X-OCN and RAW materials is now available in the new version 3.5 of the Sony RAW viewer, application software that allows you to view RAW/X-OCN/XAVC/SStP files recorded using the F65/PMW-F55/PMW-F5/NEXFS700/MPC-3610 (VENICE/CineAltaV) unit or a combination of the unit and the SR-R4/AXS-R5 / AXS-R7 portable memory recorder). The sharpness range is -300 to 500, and the default value is 0. For cinematographers who want to use the F65, F55, F5 and VENICE cameras with high-contrast lenses but avoid a clinical or overly sharp appearance, as well as for colourists or postproduction supervisors, access to this setting improves dramaturgy and streamlines special effects. The ITC also highlighted a new tool from Sony to enhance creativity on set – the new .ART (Advanced AMC Networks, Shaftesbury Enter into New Strategic Partnership Rendering Transform) file system. With LUTs generally having a limited quality used on set in today’s cameras, AMC Networks and production company Shaft- the .ART file system offers optimization to overcome esbury announced recently they have entered into a these situations during on-set monitoring. new strategic partnership. Through its investment in Shaftesbury, AMC Networks will gain access to Shaft- Producer, Director Derek Mazur Dies esbury’s award-winning slate and expand its content and development capabilities in Canada. Shaftesbury Producer and director Derek Mazur died on FebruCEO and Chairman Christina Jennings will continue ary 11 after a battle with lung cancer. Mazur was one to spearhead the creative focus of the company and of the founding members of Credo Group in 1974, lead the day-to-day operational control alongside Ex- where he grew and sustained the industry in Manitoecutive Vice President Scott Garvie. Jennings, Garvie ba and gave many their first break in the industry. He and Shaftesbury board member Michael Levine will continued his career once Credo Group folded in the remain on Shaftesbury’s Board of Directors. They early 2000s as a producer for the National Film Board. will be joined by two new AMC Networks direc- In 2011, he took his work to Iqaluit where he was tors, Harold Gronenthal, EVP of Programming and the CEO of the Nunavut Film Corporation until his Marketing for AMC Networks International, and retirement in 2017. ACCEPTANCES / AWARDS / NOMINATIONS Christopher Ball csc (camera operator) The Lighthouse (feature) nominee: Operators Award 2020, April 2021 Kelly Mason, associate member (director/DP) Pave the Road (feature documentary) finalist (cinematography), The New York Cinematography Awards, New York, August 2, 2021

8 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

What’s Up at the CSC The CSC is a not-for-profit volunteer-run organization which serves to foster the art and craft of cinematography in Canada. We encourage our members to volunteer on the various committees dedicated to different aspects of our society. Being part of a committee is also a benefit of being a member; it’s a great way to network and get to know other cinematographers and to come together with shared visions to create new initiatives or assist with ongoing ones.

4. #DOPART #CSCDOPART 1. AWARDS The nominations for the 2021 CSC Awards will be announced in April via email and social media. They will be published in the June issue of Canadian Cinematographer. The announcement of winners is still being finalized.

2. MENTORSHIP The Mentorship program is in motion with mentors getting creative by arranging virtual or on-set visits, Zoom calls and live grade sessions with mentees. More than 80 mentees have been matched up with CSC mentors!

3. SPONSORS The CSC welcomes a new sponsor, Blackmagic Design.

Credit: Hugh Tull

CSC Member Spotlight

Anthony Metchie csc What films or other works of art have made the biggest impression on you? The films that made the biggest impact on me are Gladiator, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Raging Bull, Space Odyssey, Cabaret, Glory, Life of Pi and Hugo. It’s a wide selection, but I felt that each of them implemented unique styles which I draw upon.

I shared DP duties with Rod Parkhurst csc.

How did you get started in the business?

The cinematographers who inspired me are Sir Roger Deakins asc, bsc, cbe, Robert Elswit asc, Robert Richardson asc, Dion Beebe acs, asc, Bradford Young asc, Bill Pope asc and Claudio Miranda asc.

I attended Vancouver Film School the first year the school opened. After I graduated, I worked my way up through the lighting department before becoming a director of photography. My break came in 1998 with the series The New Addams Family when

10 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Who have been your mentors or teachers?

Cinematographers who directly and indirectly I consider as mentors are Maris H. Jansons, Mark Irwin csc, asc, Rod Parkhurst csc and Laszlo George csc, hsc. From them, I learned how to maintain a calm and solution-oriented set.

What cinematographers inspire you?

Name some of your professional highlights.

Some of my professional highlights include working on The New Adams Family (1998-1999) series as this was my big break and was a fun and colourful series to work on. Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010) is a sci-fi movie using a lot of wide-angle lenses for coverage. 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013), a movie with intense chase scenes and using water as a reflective surface for dramatic effect. Hailey Dean TV series, Episode 7 (2019) where I incorporated interesting camera movements and organic scene transitions. The Charm Bracelet (2020) a scene shot in a nondescript train station that was transformed into a romantic New York train station for a period piece party. Winter’s Dream (2017) night scene when they parade down the mountain with torches creating a beautiful visual lighting with fireworks. And Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding (2020) for the opportunity to work with a primarily black cast in a beautiful Christmas setting.



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What is one of your most memorable moments on set?

Over the last 30 years, I’ve had many memorable moments shooting in all types of weather conditions and locations. The one that comes to mind is on the set of Perfect Child when Golden Ears Park, a forest outside the Greater Vancouver Area, was turned from day to night. The transition while filming really impacted me on how lighting can be so instrumental in the feel and texture of the film.

What do you like best about what you do?

I enjoy being part of a collaboration between all the departments in transforming the script into the visual story. The way lighting can affect the mood of a story, giving it texture and depth. I love to transform plain backdrops into romantic, electrifying and interesting places that help to move the story and viewers’ experience.

What do you like least about what you do?

The long hours and all-night shooting that some productions require is hard on the body after a time.

What do you think has been the greatest invention (related to your craft)?

The advancement of digital cameras, CGI and LED lighting is helping lower the cost of production. This is making it possible for more diverse lower-budget movies to be made.

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How can others follow your work?

My website is My work is also listed on IMDB. Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •




Credit: Michel Bisson csc

On Set

A camera and director of photography Michel Bisson csc with Dom Bisson (B camera and Steadicam operator) on the set of the TV thriller movie Hippocratic Oath.

Credit: Landed Entertainment Inc.

Credit: Jason Jarret

Left photo: Associate member Ian Macmillan (left) on the set of the short film Spaceman.

DP/Associate producer Sarah Thomas Moffat (associate member) operatin member) operating B-cam on the set of kwêskosîw (She Whistles).

12 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Credit: Mark Irwin

Associate member Keith Murphy (A Cam Op) with daughter Bridgette Murphy (B cam 2nd AC) on the set of Coroner Season Three.

Credit: Seneca Aaron

Associate member Matt Irwin on the set of Scaredy Cats in Victoria, B.C.

ng A-cam, with Ashely Iris Gill (associate

Canadian Cinematographer - March 2021 •


Credit: Courtesy of Nyssa Glück

DP Nyssa Glück (associate member) on the set of a Telefilm 1st feature.

LED screen technology and virtual production (Mixed Reality) Part II T

oronto-based Jeremy Benning csc has used virtual sets in a different way. For the last few years, set designers for The Expanse build Benning and his crew a virtual set. “This allows us to actually see the set and virtually walk through it before the set designers build it. It allows us to completely see the set and make modifications as well as plan our production. We actually developed a plugin for a director’s finder so if you hold up your right hand, you see a floating frame with whatever aspect ratio you want to shoot with. You can see what an 18 mm would look like and you can take pictures of the best angles,” says Benning. A view of the Mixed Reality Stage at MELS Studios in Montreal. Benning adds, “Not only can we refine the set before we build it, but we can prep with so, we are able to integrate VFX more fully background plates.” Sara Mishara the director and be in the same virtual space to plan the set and the into the filmmaking process and make it a lot smoother.” – Martin Carrier 3) Develop a relationship with production.” the VR crew on set But with all of the benefits virtual 2) Know what you want to do “Once the images come in (onto the LED production brings, it is a new technology. “We are at the beginning of this wall), they are not necessarily the way It requires a new crew on set and new technology. Virtual production is going you want them to look. To get them to that ways to communicate, so we checked to be very different a few years down place is still a little clunky. Every little step with cinematographers who have used the line than what we’re working with is a big learning curve. It takes patience, virtual production to get their tips on how now. Currently it is a very constraining and the more precise you are in prep, to speed up the learning curve. technology because we’re not used the better.” With an entirely new set of to it. It’s hard to improvise right now crew members now on set, Mishara also 1) Not a linear process because of how heavy it is. You are taking points out that it is important to integrate “We have to stop thinking of the the whole postproduction process and and develop a relationship with this team. filmmaking process as linear. It’s a much sticking it on set so you have so much Mishara helped facilitate communication more collaborative process when you more technology and people involved that and understanding on set by sitting integrate virtual production, which means are not used to being involved or on set. amongst the virtual production crew you want to bring key people on board They aren’t used to communicating in the during her own shoot with MELS Studio. early. Your VFX artists, VFX supervisors, way that production crews communicate. This way, Mishara would understand how and producers need to be involved when I think [to be successful] you need an changes made to the virtual production you’re planning how you’re going to film open mind and a solid grasp of what would impact the crew and whether it things. That way, you can really integrate you want to do with it. It’s not for playing was something that could be done in five and do a lot of the legwork beforehand. around and, ‘Hey, we’ll see.’ You really minutes or would need to be sent off-site. That’s where it’s really going to pay have to know what the shots you’re off. We learned to stop thinking about doing, the storyboard, your lenses. You 4) Put on VR goggles postproduction. We focused on visual have to have very clear references for the Both Benning and CSC associate member effects production in real time. By doing

14 • Canadian Cinematographer - Arri Advertorial - April 2021

Director Mathieu Ratthé watches as camera stabilization specialist Alan Lennox controls the ARRI SRH-3, stabilized remote head, on set.

Karl Janisse suggest putting on a set of VR goggles to get accustomed to a virtual set. Benning offers, “Once you orient yourself, you realize the power of virtual production. You can simulate new ways to shoot and get new ideas, which you wouldn’t be able to do on set because they would require planning ahead of time. With a virtual production, you can just be creative. You can design a sequence, which you can then implement for a real production. I worked with Mavericks, and they are actually doing this on The Handmaid’s Tale. They let me go into Handmaid’s virtual set. It really helps with creativity and planning the production.”

panels as both the background and as a light source. You can add a window, and although it’s off screen, it still emits light so that you don’t have to build it into a set wall and add an additional light.”

5) Think of the LED panels as light sources Both Mishara and Fraser also highlight the ability to use the LED panels as light sources. This of course does not mean you can eliminate on set lighting, but it can help eliminate the need to intervene as much. Mishara adds, “I went in with a ton of lighting because I didn’t know what to expect. I think of the LED

7) Faster than you’d expect Carrier says, “There’s iteration involved, and we saw that. Experience pays off. We’ll see the process smooth itself out over time. The best part is to see the end results at the end of the day, and that’s very satisfying. And at the same time, to see VFX come together so quickly is a bit surprising.”

All images courtesy of MELS

6) The tech is more tricky “When it came to the sensor and the movement tracker, that was very complicated. I think this has more to do with the tracking system, and how it responds. For example, on our shoot we had an actor who was wearing a shirt from Lululemon. There were certain fibers in the shirt that made the tracker go crazy and get confused.”

MELS used the ARRI ALEXA LF, Signature Primes and SRH-3 for their Mixed Reality spot. Canadian Cinematographer - Arri Advertorial - April 2021 •


16 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Jouer avec le feu : Un entretien/Playing with Fire: An Interview avec/with

Jonathan Decoste csc Par/By Claudine Sauvé csc


Credit: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

près un passage remarqué à la Berlinale en février 2020, « La déesse des mouches à feu » d’Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, l’adaptation du roman de Geneviève Pettersen qui raconte l’adolescence de Catherine (Kelly Depeault) dans le Québec des années ‘90, a été lancé à l’automne suivant dans plus de 60 salles, en pleine pandémie mondiale. Cinq jours après un engouement remarqué du public et l’ascension du film en tête des palmarès, le gouvernement du Québec annonçait la fermeture des salles de cinéma en réaction à la deuxième vague. Le film fut alors retiré de nos écrans, pour mieux y revenir à la fin de février, juste à temps pour la relâche scolaire.

Kelly Depeault et/and Antoine DesRochers.

Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Credit: Laurent Guerin/Coop Vidéo de Montréal

Claudine Sauvé csc : Ce film est d’une grande intimité, très proche de ses personnages, et plus particulièrement de Catherine. Ta caméra y est pour beaucoup, toujours près d’elle, l’entourant de ta propre sensibilité. Il y a un côté presque protecteur de la part de cette caméra qui danse avec elle.

préparation comme celle-là. On a d’abord validé tout de suite, Anaïs et moi, qu’on serait à l’épaule, toujours dans le point de vue de Catherine. Qu’on la précède ou qu’on la suive, on allait entrer dans chaque scène avec elle. Anaïs a dit aussi qu’elle voulait vraiment qu’on croit à sa gang d’amis. Moi, j’ai encore mes amis du primaire et du secondaire, je sais à quel point une gang c’est homogène. Quand Jonathan Decoste csc : Dans tous les projets que tu fais un film, ces jeunes-là ne se connaissent pas j’ai faits auparavant, je n’ai jamais eu accès à une au départ. Il faut créer cette camaraderie. Anaïs a 18 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021


fter being well received at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival, the feature film Goddess of the Fireflies was released last fall in more than 60 theatres in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Directed by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, the film is an adaptation of Geneviève Pettersen’s novel that centres on a teenage girl named Catherine (Kelly Depeault) in 1990s Quebec. The film was leading at the box office in the province just five days after its release when movie theatres were closed as the pandemic surged. It returned to theatres in late February in time for March break.

Claudine Sauvé csc: This film is very intimate, very close to the characters and especially to Catherine, thanks to your camerawork – you stay close to her in a way that is almost protective.

Une scène du film La déesse des mouches à feu. On the set of Goddess of the Fireflies.

Jonathan Decoste csc: During prep, Anaïs and I established from the get-go that we would shoot handheld and always be in Catherine’s point of view. Whether preceding or following her, we would enter into each scene with her. Anaïs also wanted to make sure the friendships were believable. I still have my friends from elementary and high school, so I know how homogeneous a group of friends can be. When you make a movie, these young people don’t know each other at first; we needed to create a friendship. So Anaïs wanted to work with them from the ground up, invite them to her cottage, talk about the scenes, their experiences, as well as ours. Because this story is of our generation, Anaïs’ and mine. I had chosen the Sony Venice for the shoot, and MELS lent us one for the prep. The proximity and trust between the actors and myself developed during these sessions. It helped us find the sensibility and the language of the film so much so that we had two months of history together when we officially started shooting. CS: Which is very rare and precious… JD: Some material shot during that time even found its way into the film. It wasn’t planned, but the editor Stéphane Lafleur and Anaïs managed to use this raw material. Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Kelly Depeault.

donc voulu travailler en amont avec eux, les inviter à son chalet, parler des scènes, de leurs propres expériences, et de nous, notre expérience. Parce que cette histoire-là parle de notre génération à Anaïs et moi. MELS nous a prêté une Sony Venice, la caméra que j’avais choisie d’utiliser pour le tournage et j’ai tourné avec eux. La proximité et la confiance entre les comédiens et moi s’est développée pendant ces rencontres-là, en préparation. C’est là qu’on a trouvé le film et son langage. Et quand on a officiellement commencé à tourner, on avait déjà 2 mois d’historique ensemble.

CS : La « vibe » est en effet différente, très libre, comme si c’était un rêve d’amitié qui n’est pas entaché des blessures récentes qu’on vient de les voir subir dans le film…

JD : Exact. Et tu sens la fragilité du truc… dans la mesure où c’est moi qui ai tiré le point, c’était super improvisé, il y a un côté imparfait, ça donne un côté encore plus réel à mon avis. Les comédiens c’est leur look, c’est leur affaire… tu sens qu’il n’y a aucune intervention là-dedans. C’est ce qui fait que cette scène-là devient si forte. Et plein de gens l’ont interprété de façon différente. C’est intéressant de faire CS : Ce qui est très rare et précieux… des essais et qu’au final ces essais-là s’imbriquent JD : Il y a même du matériel qui a été tourné à ce dans tout ce que tu as réussi à créer une fois que tu moment-là qui s’est retrouvé dans le film. Ce n’était as le contrôle sur tout. Si on a réussi à intégrer une pas planifié, mais Stéphane Lafleur, le monteur, et séquence aussi naturelle au montage, c’est qu’à mon avis on a réussi le film. C’était ça l’idée, qu’on ne Anaïs ont réussi à utiliser ce matériel brut. sente pas qu’on est dans un film, dans une époque précise, que ce ne soit pas maniéré. CS : Est-ce la fin du film? JD : Toute la séquence de fin oui, les jeunes en CS : J’ai lu qu’Anaïs voulait faire un automne, fait partie du tournage qu’on a fait en film punk et qu’elle t’a dit qu’il ne fallait pas que ce soit trop beau. répétition au chalet d’Anaïs.

20 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Credits: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

Kelly Depeault et/and Antoine DesRochers.

CS: Is it at the end of the film? JD: Yes, the whole sequence at the end comes from the prep shooting at Anaïs’ cottage. CS: The vibe is actually different, very free – the friendships seem untainted by the wounds we see them receive in the film… JD: Exactly, and you feel the fragility of it in the sense that I pull focus myself, it was totally improvised, and the imperfection makes it more realistic in my point of view; the actors being themselves without any interference. That’s what makes that scene so strong. And many people have interpreted it differently. It’s interesting when things you do as tests end up in the film. If you can integrate test sequences during editing, that’s a sign of success. That was the idea, that we don’t feel like we are in a film or in a specific era. That it doesn’t feel contrived. CS: I read that Anaïs wanted to make a punk movie and said it should not be too beautiful.

JD: We both agreed that it had to be something rough, punk, dirty, rugged. Our fear was that too much aesthetics would create a detachment from the reality. I did several tests with our colourist Jérôme Cloutier to find that punk side and emulate the film look. Then we started shooting and, as usual, you create lighting and atmosphere, and that’s when sometimes Anaïs would tell me jokingly, “Careful, it’s starting to look too smooth!” The punk aspect also came about because I wasn’t always comfortable operating the camera. I wanted to be as vulnerable as the actors, and it felt gratifying to be so responsive. Selecting the Sony Venice with its Rialto module was tremendously helpful. The Rialto was highly recommended by Frédéric Boucher, MELS’ camera department manager. It allows you to shoot handheld with all the advantages of a small-scale camera without the weight of the camera, its accessories and batteries. But the camera needs to be cable linked to the Rialto at all times. It felt like holding a DSLR. I had a lot of mobility despite the cable. My key grip, Jean-François Burt, found all kinds of ways to manage the recorder and cable and make the camera more ergonomic. And at the end of the day, I would still have energy even after wearing it on my shoulder the whole time. Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Une scène du film La déesse des mouches à feu. A scene from Goddess of the Fireflies.

JD : On était d’accord tous les deux pour dire que ça allait prendre quelque chose de rough, punk, sale, rugueux… pour ce film-là. On avait peur que si on esthétisait trop ça créerait un détachement de la réalité. J’ai fait beaucoup de tests avec Jérôme Cloutier, le coloriste du film, pour arriver à trouver ce côté un peu punk à l’image et émuler le look film. Puis on est tombé en tournage, et là tout d’un coup tu crées des lumières, tu crées des ambiances et c’est là que des fois Anaïs me disait à la rigolade : Attention, ça commence à être trop lisse! Le côté punk passait aussi par le fait que je n’étais pas toujours à l’aise pour opérer la caméra. Je voulais être aussi vulnérable que les acteurs. Je ne me suis jamais senti aussi réceptif, sensible et primé. Une chose qui a terriblement aidé, c’est d’avoir choisi la Sony Venice avec son module d’enregistrement Rialto, sous les conseils et l’aide précieuse de Frédéric Boucher, le directeur du département caméra chez MELS. Le Rialto permet d’avoir une version réduite de la caméra entre les mains, en conservant tous ses avantages, sans le port d’une grande partie de son poids, des accessoires, des batteries. Par contre, la caméra doit être reliée au Rialto par un câble en tout temps. Quand je l’avais dans mes mains, j’avais l’impression de porter 22 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

un DSLR. Ça m’a donné un côté instable et très mobile, malgré le câble. Mon chef-machiniste, Jean-François Burt, a trouvé toutes sortes de façons de bien gérer câble et boîtier et de rendre la caméra ergonomique. Et à la fin de mes journées, j’avais encore de l’énergie, même si je la portais à l’épaule en tout temps. CS : Et avec quels objectifs as-tu tourné? JD : J’ai choisi les Zeiss Ultra Primes. C’est l’objectif qui avait l’ergonomie recherchée, c’est tout petit, léger, rapide, avec très peu d’aberrations. Anaïs, elle aime ça proche, c’est sa signature. Souvent on commençait nos scènes au 65mm close close close. Et elle réussissait à nous convaincre d’y aller sans filet. Je lui ai fait confiance. Et on a réussi à tenir ça sur tout le film. CS : Parle-moi de la présence de l’eau… JD : Anaïs est très proche de la nature, de son territoire, son pays, elle a un fort rapport à l’environnement. Là où l’histoire se passe, à Chicoutimi, c’est le Saguenay, c’est le Fjord du Saguenay… donc il fallait avoir cette connexion à l’eau. En plus, le roman

Credits: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

Robin L'Houmeau et/and Kelly Depeault.

CS: What lenses did you use? JD: I chose the Zeiss Ultra Primes. It has the ergonomics I wanted – very small, light, fast with very little aberration. Anaïs likes closeups; it’s her signature. We would often start our scenes using a 65 mm really close and Anaïs would encourage us to push the envelope. I trusted her and we managed to keep it up throughout the whole film.

CS: And the presence of fire, in opposition to that…

JD: Yes, exactly. Like when she becomes the goddess of the fireflies, the queen, mostly in the fire scenes, where the fire becomes the lighting. With the Sony Venice at 2500 ISO, we were able to light with the fire. The fire was made by pyrotechnicians, and for the embers they used coal powder. We started with just a little, but by the end of the evening, I CS: Tell me about the presence of water in the film. went nuts with it. I found it so beautiful. There were four people putting some in the fire to create emJD: Anaïs is very close to nature and the land; she bers while Kelly was dancing. When we cut, I saw has a close relationship with the environment. Louis Pedneault, the pyrotechnician, with a black The story is set in Chicoutimi. It’s the Saguenay face and hands like a coal miner! river, the Saguenay Fjord, so we needed that connection with water. Plus the novel ends with the CS: Wonderful! Speaking of fireflies, the historic 1996 Saguenay flood. During our prep, firefly scene is also really beautiful. we realized that we couldn’t shoot there for more than a week and we couldn’t have access to the JD: I remember a production meeting when we disfjord, so we had to cheat it visually. We managed cussed that scene. The special effects folks wanted to to find a house by the shore near Montreal. We do it in 3D, and André-Line Beauparlant, the artisevoked Catherine’s drug trips with water sound tic director, did a search and found a firefly breeder. effects; we shot one day in a basin. Water is a con- No kidding! A guy arrived on set with a small box of stant presence. hatching flies that we were able to use. But fireflies Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Éléonore Loiselle.

se terminait pendant le déluge historique de 1996 au Saguenay. Quand on faisait la préparation et on voyait bien qu’on ne pouvait pas tourner là-bas plus d’une semaine, qu’on ne pouvait pas avoir accès au fjord, visuellement on a dû tricher. On a réussi à trouver une maison près de Montréal sur le bord d’un cours d’eau. On a évoqué les trips de drogue de Catherine par toute sorte d’effets sonores d’eau, on a tourné une journée dans un bassin… Au final, la présence de l’eau est continuelle. CS : La présence du feu en opposition à ça aussi… JD : Exactement aaaah oui! Comme lorsqu’elle devient la déesse des mouches à feu, la reine! Principalement, dans les scènes de feu, l’éclairage c’est le feu lui-même. Avec la Sony Venice et sa sensibilité à 2 500 ISO, on a pu éclairer avec le feu. Le feu a été fait avec les artificiers et pour les scènes avec les tisons, ils ont utilisé de la poudre de charbon. Au départ, on en mettait un peu et en fin de soirée, je suis un peu viré fou! Je trouvais ça tellement beau! À la fin, ils étaient 4 personnes à en mettre dans le feu pour créer constamment des tisons pendant que Kelly dansait. Quand on a coupé, j’ai vu Louis Pedneault, 24 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

l’artificier, le visage et les mains noirs comme un mineur! CS : Magnifique! D’ailleurs parlant de mouche à feu, la scène de la mouche à feu est aussi d’une grande beauté. JD : Ça c’est exceptionnel! Je me souviens d’un meeting de production où on a parlé de cette scène-là. Les gens des effets spéciaux disaient qu’ils allaient la créer en 3D… et André-Line Beauparlant, la directrice artistique, a fait une recherche et a trouvé un éleveur de mouche à feu. Pas de farce! Il y a un gars qui est venu avec une petite boîte sur le plateau et on était tributaire de l’éclosion de ses mouches. Par contre, jeunes comme ça, elles ne font pas encore de lumière. Donc on l’a fait marcher sur nos personnages, ils se la passaient d’une main à l’autre et on a rajouté sa petite lumière en post. Elles font de la lumière pour la reproduction. Elles se parlent par signaux lumineux et quand ceux-ci se synchronisent, c’est qu’ils sont faits l’un pour l’autre. On a tourné une heure et demie de matériel avec une macro 100mm… et l’équipe entière s’est perdue dans la fascination de la mouche à feu! Un moment d’exception!

Credits: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

A scene from Goddess of the Fireflies. Une scène du film La déesse des mouches à feu.

don’t emit light at a young age, so we had them walk around on the characters and then we added their tiny lights in post. They produce light for mating; they communicate by light signal, and when they are synchronized, it means they are made for each other. We shot an hour and a half of material with a 100 mm macro, and the crew got lost in the firefly fascination. It was an exceptional moment. CS: There seem to be a lot of macro shots in the movie.

monitor controlling the iris. In a single scene, we could do three to four exposure level changes to extend the shots as long as possible. Since we often shot in 360, we had to find a way to set up and hide the lighting according to the blocking of the scene. I always wanted to leave room for the acting. For example, in a camp party scene, I did not want to pretend that the camp had permanent electricity. I told myself that the young people had probably brought a power generator and backup lights for the occasion. But I didn’t like the lighting at the beginning; it looked like a boring party. I asked the crew to get their flashlights out and hide among the young people dancing and pass the lights around. It gave some depth to the image. It was like a happy accident. Daniel was adjusting the iris on the fly and I felt that we had found this grittier look that I was going for.

JD: For Anaïs, the closer the better. She is very sensitive to the material. I shot a lot with the focus pulled at minimum. I had a wonderful collaboration with Stéphane Caron, my focus puller, which was very helpful for the intimate scenes in the film. Those scenes were carefully choreographed; we didn’t just leave the kids to themselves to create intimacy. However, the improvisation happened at the cam- CS: How did you feel when the film was pulled era level and was left totally to my instinct. from the theatres due to the pandemic? CS: How did you manage to have such a perfect, even light while keeping this improv style?

JD: It hurt at first. After Berlin, we thought the film would have a fantastic run on the festival circuit, but COVID-19 killed all that. The film had been JD: Daniel Chrétien, my gaffer, was always at the picked by international markets and festivals that Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


CS : Il y a justement une impression de beaucoup de plans macro dans le film. JD : Pour Anaïs, plus c’est proche plus c’est beau. Elle a une grande sensibilité dans la matière. J’ai tourné beaucoup en dansant avec le foyer dans le minimum. Avec Stéphane Caron, mon pointeur, on a développé une grande complicité. Un beau gage de réussite sur les scènes d’intimité de ce film. Ces scènes avaient été chorégraphiées au niveau des mouvements des jeunes. On ne les a jamais laissés à eux-mêmes dans leur intimité. Par contre, l’improvisation a eu lieu au niveau de la caméra et a été complètement laissé à mon instinct.

CS : Comment as-tu fait pour que la lumière soit aussi parfaite et bien dosée tout en conservant cette part d’improvisation? JD : Daniel Chrétien, mon chef-électricien, était toujours au moniteur et avait toujours le contrôle d’iris en main. Dans une même scène, on pouvait faire 3-4 changements d’exposition pour faire vivre les plans le plus longtemps possible. Et puisque nous tournions souvent 360 degrés, il fallait trouver des astuces pour placer et cacher l’éclairage judicieusement en fonction de la mise-en-scène. Je voulais toujours laisser la place au jeu. Par exemple, dans une scène de party au camp, je ne voulais pas dénaturer le fait que le camp n’avait pas d’électricité permanente. Je me suis dit que les jeunes avaient probablement apporté une génératrice et des lumières de fortune pour l’occasion. Mais je n’aimais 26 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

pas l’éclairage au début. On avait l’air d’être dans un mauvais party! J’ai demandé à l’équipe de sortir leurs lampes de poche et de se cacher à travers les jeunes qui dansaient. Je leur ai fait faire des passages de lumière pendant la scène. C’est ce qui a donné de la profondeur à l’image. C’est devenu un heureux bordel improvisé! Daniel ajustait l’iris au fur et à mesure et j’ai senti qu’il y avait là enfin le côté plus sale que je cherchais. CS : Ça t’a fait quoi quand le film a été retiré des salles de cinéma, à cause de la pandémie, en plein élan de popularité? JD : Ça m’a fait mal sur le coup. Après Berlin, on se disait que le film aurait une vie en festival exceptionnelle… et cet élan-là a été coupé par la COVID-19. Le film en a évidemment souffert parce qu’il y avait des marchés et festivals internationaux qui l’avaient sélectionné et que tout ça n’a pas eu lieu. Cette rencontre avec les gens, les jeunes, les discussions à aborder dans les Q&A sur la relation des jeunes à la drogue… Cette rencontre-là avec le public n’a pas eu lieu, alors ce fut notre première déception. Après on ne pouvait pas imaginer que ça allait perdurer. Quand on a lancé le film au Québec, la réponse des jeunes qui avaient été privés de leurs amis depuis un bon moment a été très bonne. Le film avait une résonnance sur ce qu’ils vivaient. Ce n’est pas normal dans la vie d’adolescents d’être coupés de leur vie sociale comme ça. Alors ça a fait un buzz. Au niveau de la critique aussi… et cinq jours plus tard, pouf! les cinémas fermaient de nouveau. En même temps, c’est comme si ce film-là va perdurer à cause de ça. Il va avoir vécu sur une année entière. Il va avoir eu la chance de revenir constamment dans l’actualité et de ramener ce sujet-là plusieurs fois sur nos écrans pour ne pas qu’il tombe dans l’oubli. CS : Ah! Je trouve ce point de vue-là encourageant. Au final, si toutes ces interruptions ont rallongé la vie du film, ce sera pour le mieux. JD : Voilà! Et c’est un film qui fait du bien à voir après tout ce qu’on a vécu, parce qu’il y a tellement de proximité…

Page opposée/opposite page: Une scène du film avec Éléonore Loiselle, Jonathan Decoste csc et Kelly Depeault. On the set with Éléonore Loiselle, Jonathan Decoste csc and Kelly Depeault. Au dessus/above: Une scène du film La déesse des mouches à feu. A scene from Goddess of the Fireflies.

CS: I find this point of view encouraging. At the end of the day, if all those stoppages extended the film’s life, it will be for the best.

JD: That’s right. And it’s a feel-good movie after all because of all this proximity that we miss so much Translation by Gaston Bernier. lately…

Credits: Coop Vidéo de Montréal

never took place. Gone also were the talks with young people, discussions in Q&A sessions on drug use among youth. This engagement with the public that never happened was our main disappointment. But we didn’t think it would last. When we released the film in Quebec, it was very well received by young people who had been kept away from their friends for a while. It is not normal for teenagers to have their social life cut off like that. So it created a buzz, critically as well, and then five days later, poof, theatres were shut down again. At the same time, it probably means that this film will survive because of that. It will have been around for more than a year and had the chance to stay in the news cycle and keep the subject matter on our screens, so it’s not forgotten.

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T O RO NTO • MISSISSAUG A • O TTAWA • CAL GARY • E D MO N T O N • V I S T E K . C A The Visual Technology People



csc asc




ason Neulander, the director, writer and producer of Fugitive Dreams, calls his film a psychological journey into the minds of two homeless vagabonds. April Matthis and Robbie Tann star as Mary and John – two drifters linked together by trauma – who meet while hitching a ride across barren parts of America in a boxcar, challenge each other and eventually help each other heal. Armed with an ARRI ALEXA Mini and Cooke lenses, director of photography Peter Simonite csc, ASC is the visual conduit for the story. “Fugitive Dreams came to me when a producer friend referred me. The script was dark and strange, the kind of artful film I enjoy watching. It was soulful and metaphorical, and I just felt there could be a lot done with it photographically, even on a budget,” he says. “There was an opportunity to create a photographic world for the audience to live in. Jason had these really strong ideas about the visuals. He wanted to shoot in 4:3 and black and white for part of the movie and in vivid, almost Technicolor, for another part of the movie. It spoke to me.” This mostly black-and-white film is reminiscent of work by Ingmar Bergman’s right-hand cameraman Gunnar Fischer, with ultra-crisp blackand-white photography (such as Ansiktet aka The Magician, and Wild Strawberries). “The lenses we 28 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Scene from Fugitive Dreams.

“The script was dark and strange, watching. It was soulful and metaphorical, and I just felt there could be a lot done with it photographically, even on a budget.” Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Credit: Chemistry Laboratories

the kind of artful film I enjoy

Credits: Chemistry Laboratories

used are pretty evocative and create a mood,” Simonite reveals. “These particular Cooke lenses are based on older vintage lenses from the 1930s and ‘40s called Cooke Speed Panchros. The images are stunning.” No noise, no muddy blacks. The tonal scale output of the lens and 1080p digital camera can recreate filmic quality from the days of early cinema whilst si-

Top: (L-R) Cami Alys and April Matthis in a scene from Fugitive Dreams. Bottom: Soleil Patterson.

30 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

multaneously yielding an ultramodern extreme sharpness that is a scientific, medical style of photography. “They’re beautiful lenses,” Simonite observes. “And ALEXA is the gold standard of digital photography. We had talked about shooting on film since we wanted this kind of vintage aesthetic. Because of the amount of postproduction work needed, it made a lot of practical sense to shoot on ALEXA and bring that kind of vintage look with the lenses. “The film takes place in a nonspecific time. It’s purposefully anachronistic, so it has a vintage look and feel, but then you stumble into a convenience store that’s sort of modern-day. I felt our format perfectly captured a kind of retro-future feel.” There is a unique tone in Fugitive Dreams reminiscent of those classic black-and-white camera lenses whereby one can cultivate and control greyscale, emphasizing facial tones or highlight foliage. “I did experiment ahead of the shoot with different black-and-white filters, but we realized we could pretty much dial it in in the colour grade,” Simonite says. “Since we were shooting on a colour sensor, we had all the colour information to manipulate, and that helped create some of the interesting looks. Our colourist Parke Gregg did a beautiful job of retaining that greyscale and pushing things in the contrast, making the most out of the ALEXA footage. “We needed something that was bulletproof,” the DP adds. “The Mini is so rugged and I just know what I’m getting

“The film takes place in a nonspecific time. It’s purposefully anachronistic, so it has a vintage look and feel, but then you stumble into a convenience store that’s sort of modern-day. I felt our format perfectly captured a kind of retro-

Credit: Sarah Bork Hamilton/Chemistry Laboratories

future feel.”

A drone camera captures Robbie Tann (left) and April Matthis on the set of Fugitive Dreams.

we needed the colour information, and this is what MPS was very kindly able to get for us at our budget. We were very fortunate; it worked flawlessly.” Fugitive Dreams, which debuted at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival, deals with mental illness and addiction and how it dictates erratic, aberrant behaviour and manipulates reasoning within the two

main characters. Yet, the characters are wise and strive for survival with intense immersive left-of-centre complex delusions occurring at times. The pictures jump from black-and-white to colour. “It is more about having your interpretation, as there isn’t one fixed meaning,” Simonite offers. “I have my interpretation. I think that there’s kind of a conCanadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Credits: Chemistry Laboratories

Top: (L-R) Robbie Tann and April Matthis in a scene from Fugitive Dreams. Bottom: (L-R) April Matthis and Robbie Tann in Fugitive Dreams.

when I shoot on ALEXA RAW. These cameras handle so much dynamic range, allowing us to block and stage things just to the available light. “I’m a big fan of RED as well, and each 32 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

tool has its uses,” he continues. “A terrific rental house in Austin called MPS bent over backward to get us the cameras we needed. We looked at the RED Monochrome, but at the end of the day,

Credit: Sarah Bork Hamilton/Chemistry Laboratories

On the set of Fugitive Dreams. Peter Simonite csc (far right) confers with director Jason Neulander.

“The colour change was meant to reinforce the release that the characters are feeling. It’s also an homage to

The Wizard of Oz, which is one of the themes that goes through the movie. It was important to Jason for the visuals to have this almost kaleidoscopic change for that scene.”

nection to the psychotic break that’s happening for John’s character and the colour changes. The colour changes seem to be tied to the characters’ emotional states.” In the end, the two wanderers arrive at a drive-in movie theatre, a colour sequence that displays the film’s enigmatic symbol of mind and body numbing, potent-with-opioid poppy flowers as well. “The colour change was meant to reinforce the release that the characters are feeling,” Simonite explains. “It’s also an homage to The Wizard of Oz, which is one of the themes that goes through

the movie. It was important to Jason for the visuals to have this almost kaleidoscopic change for that scene. “[What] I make from the film is the idea of sort of trauma bonding. Dealing with trauma and shame,” he says. “I interpret John’s character as not being able to process the shame of the bad things he’s done in the past. He’s having hallucinations that are kind of magical but are probably a psychological defense against shame. I think that the film’s trying to strike a balance between story and metaphors. It’s meant to be enjoyed almost like music, or like Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Credit: Chemistry Laboratories

Credit: Sarah Bork Hamilton/Chemistry Laboratories

Top: (L-R) Robbie Tann and April Matthis in a scene from Fugitive Dreams. Bottom: (clockwise from back left) Roderick Nino, Annie Bradford, Hannah Zamora, Ryan Crocci, Peter Simonite csc, Zac Sprague on set.

a David Lynch film.” Some of the shots of the vast field of poppies were shot in widescreen, while 4:3 was the default aspect ratio for the film. “Jason wanted to call to mind the golden age of Hollywood films,” Simonite says. “The film is also about the allure of the cinema. That’s where the changing aspect ratio was kind of a fun 34 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

jumping-off point for us. In the beginning it’s 4:3 academy, but there are moments that break out to 2.35. “When you’re adapting to the natural light quickly on a low budget, it’s really important that the crew and the tools you use are all excellent and reliable,” he says. “I was very lucky to have Scott Cremeens gaff. He’s got a great eye and he

understood how we wanted to work on this for the lighting. The first ACs were Ryan Croci and Zac Sprague. They both bumped up to operate the film and each brought so much.” On a couple of occasions, the focus seems very selective, extremely so that a change in lens type was likely the culprit. “We used Century Swing/Shift lenses for April’s memory scenes. They get that dramatic shift in focus that looks fractured almost like the lens is broken,” Simonite offers. “I love the effect. There’s a still photographer, Keith Carter, who does these beautiful poetic images who inspired the style for her memories. You can see it in the scene where she’s eating the guava cakes under the tree. “ There are a couple of key blissful cinematographic night scenes. One

is an eerie shot of Mary lying in front of the stopped train in muted greys, but still showing a range on the greyscale, and the bright blooming headlights of the train filling in the centre of the frame. The other, when Mary poignantly walks into a lake with a surreal ultra-bright moon that is almost seemingly out of place. “I’m proud of that sequence,” Simonite says. “Shooting black and white, you can do different things for day-for-night and dusk-for-night. In that scene, I was trying to copy what Gregg Toland did on Grapes of Wrath, shooting night scenes at dusk. The lighting from the train is interactive, but you still get a little detail in the sky and along the treeline providing relief. “The shot with the moon was done fully day-for-night with the Texas

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Soleil Patterson

sun straight overhead. Scott put a “Part of what the mirror board at the far side of the lake to reflect the sun off the water, CSC and the ASC so you see this kind of shimmery are for, to pay that reflection for the moon. And then we just replaced the sky in post forward and share and put the moon there,” he says. the love of the craft. Sometimes simplicity and minimal lighting, utilizing practicals It’s a rarity in most and natural light can be harnessed industries. There’s into powerful images. Simonite explains, “I’m most proud when still mentorship in something is easy. I think a lot of this field, which I times when I read articles about cinematography, people are talkhope will continue.” ing about their biggest setups, 100 space lights and 20Ks pounding through the windows. I’ve done shoots like that, but I pride myself on the challenge of working as simply as possible. So when a scene like that can just be done with a mirror board, it’s quite rewarding. Had we shot it at night, it would’ve required a massive amount of lighting, but I doubt the result would be better. The images were stunning.” Since a good portion of the film takes place on a train, Simonite had reality to deal with and hardly augmented the movie with artificial settings. “We looked at different ways to shoot on trains. We shot most of the scenes with the train moving, so there are only a few shots with a green screen,” the DP 36 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

says. As suspected, negative fill was utilized to further control the sun and reflectors. “Instead of turning lights on, I like to put something black to take the light off of the other side so that it has the similar effect of lighting something. So maybe just offscreen there’s a flag that takes the light away or a big piece of Duvetyne that covers a whole wall to make the scene more contrasty. It gives these kinds of sumptuous blacks. I remember the moment this was first explained to me by Tom [Richmond ASC, an early mentor on the cult film Love and a .45] and how useful of a skill that has been for me.” Other mentors he cites include Daniel Pearl ASC (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Emmanuel Lubezki ASC, AMC (Tree of Life.) In postproduction, the grading process proved to be a key tool for the film’s look with DaVinci Resolve. “Parke Gregg worked all kinds of magic,” Simonite says. “One of the neat things about shooting with the ALEXA is that you can pull from the colour information. In those day-for-night shots, he could key the blue sky and replace it, or if there was a colour in Mary’s wardrobe, we could make it black. If we wanted to create a look, like a yellow filter was on the camera, you can dial that in with some subtlety in post. He did a really beautiful job.” Simonite, a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen who intends to live part-time in Toronto to shoot projects, stresses the importance of the CSC and ASC, how the craft is refined to progress the abilities of camera people to new heights and ideas. Mentorship is key. “Part of what the CSC and the ASC are for, to pay that forward and share the love of the craft,” he says, adding that having support from veterans is essential. “It’s a rarity in most industries. There’s still mentorship in this field, which I hope will continue.” Being a part of the CSC is another way to participate, share and learn from others. “Hopefully, I can pay it forward,” he says. “In Austin, I’m part of the Austin Cinematography Group. I’m hoping to bring some of the feelings of community I get from the CSC and the ASC to promote photography and cinematography in Texas and connect people who are as fired up as I am.”

Tech Column

Film Production Shooting for Green


inematography has been getting greener over the last decade or so, and much of it has been driven by technology. Mobile battery units are replacing diesel generators, LEDs are taking over from HMIs, the menu on the craft table has changed, and everyone on set is a lot more aware of the amount of garbage a production can generate. Stacey Hoppe of the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA), created by a group of studios and producers, says today’s groundwork was laid more than a decade ago. Founded in 2010, the SPA partners with the Producers Guild of America Foundation’s Green Committee and puts out their Green Production Guide (GPG), a listing of best practices to make productions sustainable. Hoppe says it’s not that speculative to suggest the GPG standards may eventually be specified in location contracts. “We want to create a set of standards,” she says. As the movement matures and grows, they’re bringing in third parties who are like-minded to expand the network of solutions. “There’s been a big uptick, especially in Canada, in B.C. and Ontario,” she says. Indeed, both Quebec and Ontario have web guides for those in preproduction wanting to ensure they follow the GPG as much as is possible. For example, the Green Resource Guide is a joint project of Ontario, the City of Toronto and the local film and entertainment industries, and offers a Green Vendor Directory, Best Practices and Case Studies. The Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec has a similar web offering, and Jonathan Decoste csc thinks it’s a good place to start research in preproduction planning. He worked on La déesse des mouches à feu (Goddess of the Fireflies) with director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette for Coop Vidéo recently in Quebec and was struck by how the production set the tone from the get-go around sustainable protocol. “The problem is that the way we work in cinema is that we build a lot of stuff and we put a lot of stuff in the trash. Then there’s catering waste and the wrappers,” Decoste says. The key was setting up a protocol in every depart-

ment, he says, “and in my case, LEDs instead of the big lights.” The nature of the film, however, meant location shoots in the forest, and so the plan to use rechargeable power wasn’t possible because there was nowhere to plug in. “And we shoot mostly on location here in Quebec, not sound stages,” he adds. And that’s the frustrating part of trying to approach a project from a green perspective – every shoot is different, each location has its own challenges, and the story must come first, so changing night scenes into day scenes isn’t a solution if it impacts the integrity of the narrative. Still, the idea is growing, and the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec has a website listing of sustainable film support services that include everything from caterers to flower shops. “We wanted to use EVs for shuttling crew and talent,” Decoste says. However, they discovered the fleet of electric taxis that has started up in Montreal had gone under, and though the vehicles were sitting in a lot, they couldn’t get access to them. Similar web guides with vendors and best practices are popping up all over the globe. For instance, Bectu, the British union representing 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries, has a specific guide for camera crews. Proponents admit health and safety consideration must be top of mind and trump sustainable practices during this time of COVID-19. Bectu does suggest less packaging of gear from the rental house, digital paperwork, minimizing the use of gaffer tape, and reusing old floor marks. Recycling materials to be used on another set or recovered for scrap value can also add to the green footprint, while the accounting department likes that going green can actually save green and substantial savings have been reported. As in most evolutions, the change has been incremental, and technology is keeping that cycle going. Ian Harvey is a journalist who has been writing about digital disruption for 21 years. He welcomes feedback and eagerly solicits subject matter ideas at

Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021 •


Production Notes & Calendar 8-BIT CHRISTMAS (feature)

DP Samy Inayeh csc B Camera Operator Keith Murphy B Camera 1st Assistant Kyryll Sobolev

to April 21



DP Nicolas Bolduc csc

to April 20



DP Pieter Stathis csc

to April 1



DP Kamal Derkaoui csc

to July 13 Parksville to August 17


CHROMA (series)

DP Craig Wrobleski csc (alternating episodes) 2nd Unit DP/C Cam Op D. Gregor Hagey csc

to August 17



DP Colin Hoult csc

to August 13



DP David Geddes csc, asc (alternating episodes)

to May 11


DEBRIS I (series)

DP Michael Wale csc (odd episodes) & Tony Mirza (even episodes)

to April 8


EXPANSE, THE VI (series)

DP Jeremy Benning csc (alternating episodes)

to May 3


FLASH, THE VII (series)

DP Alwyn J. Kumst csc, sasc & Brenton Spencer csc (alternating episodes)

to May 19


GUILTY PARTY (pilot series)

DP Paul Sarossy csc, bsc, asc

to May 28


HOT ZONE: ANTHRAX (miniseries)

DP Thom Best csc (alternating episodes) 1st Assistant Kevin Michael Leblanc

to May 24


IN THE DARK III (series)

1st Assistant Pierre Branconnier

to April 22


KUNG FU I (series)

DP Neil Cervin csc (odd episodes)

to April 26



1st Assistant Tony Lippa B Camera Operator Monica Guddat

to June 25


LILY & ISAAC (TV series)

DP Glen Keenan csc (alternating episodes)

to July 23


LOCKE & KEY II (series)

DP Dylan Macleod csc (alternating episodes) B Camera Operator Brad Hruboska C Camera Operator Rion Gonzales

to April 14



DP Justin Black

to June 17


MAID (series)

DP (Block 2 & 4) Guy Godfree csc & (Block 3) Vincent De Paula csc

to April 9


MILL STREET (series)

DP Philip Lanyon csc (alternating episodes) C Camera Operator J.P. Locherer csc

to June 4


OUR LADIES (pilot)

DP Kristin Fieldhouse B Operator/Steadicam Brian Gedge

to April 16



DP/Operator David Bercovici-Artieda

RAPHANIS I (series)

DP Gavin Smith csc

to May 21


REACHER I (series)

DP Ronald Plante csc & Mike McMurray csc (alternating episodes)

to August 1



DP Ronald Plante csc

to April 1


RIVERDALE V (series)

DP (Block 1) Ronald Richard & DP Bernard Couture csc

to June 1


SIGHT (feature)

DP Michael Balfry csc

to April 26


SLUMBERLAND 2021 (feature)

B Camera Operator Ian Seabrook csc

to May 15



DP Philip Lanyon csc (alternating episodes) C Camera Operator JP Locherer csc

to June 4 T



DP Steve Cosens csc & Daniel Grant csc (alternating episodes)

to July 15



DP Glen Keenan csc (alternating episodes)

to July 16



DP Michael Story csc (alternating episodes) C Camera Operator Jill MacLauchlan

to August 6


SUPERMAN & LOIS (series)

DP Stephen Maier & Gordon Verheul csc (alternating episodes)

to May 27



DP Thom Best csc

to July 15


TITANS III (series)

DP Boris Mosjovski csc & Fraser Brown csc (alternating episodes)

to June 11


TURNER & HOOCH I (series)

DP Corey Robson

to April 19


VICAP I (series)

DP Marc Laliberté csc & Brendan Steacy csc (alternating episodes) Camera Operator Peter Sweeney B Operator/Steadicam Brent Robinson

to April 16



1st Assistant Ciaran Copelin

to April 28


Y: LAST MAN, THE I (series)

DP Catherine Lutes csc (even episodes) & Claudine Sauvé csc (odd episodes) Trainee Ashley Bowa

to July 5


CALENDAR APRIL 18, 35th Annual ASC Awards (virtual), 29-May 9, Hot Docs Festival, Toronto, @canadiancinematographer @csc_CDN

MAY 16, CSC Full Member Spring Selection Committee, 17-20, Canadian Screen Week, Toronto,


AUGUST 24-26, Cine Video Television Expo, Mexico,

Canadian Cinematographer welcomes feedback, comments and questions about the magazine and its contents. Please send your letters to Letters may be edited for clarity and space.

38 • Canadian Cinematographer - April 2021

Classifieds EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Arriflex BL camera with 12 - 120 blimpted Angenieux lens, several film magazines, and accessories. Arriflex S camera with 9.5 - 95 Angenieux lens, film magazines, and accessories. C P 16 camera with angenieux 12 -120 lens with several film magazines and accessories. 2 Canon Scoopic film cameras, one takes a 200 foot load. Bell and Howell DR 70 wind up camera with lenses. Al Sugerman at 519-768-1623, or at Sachtler Video 20P Head (7x7) with carbon fibre standard legs (thick) 100mm ball base, pan handle, interior spreader, rubber feet and hard case. $5000 Michael Ellis 416-729-6988 COLORTRAN Nook light with bard doors and bulb. Includes long power cable and Quartzcolor 2K switch. $75. LOWEL Blender with AC power adapter, battery adapter for Canon E6 batteries, 1 protective screen, 3 diffusion screens. Very Good condition. $250. CHIMERA Triolet with 3 bulb adaptors, Chimera 9890 ring, glass diffusion dome and small Chimera pancake lantern (type 1864). $475. CHIMERA Extra Small Video Pro Plus with 3 screens (type 8115, 16"x22"). New condition. $200. CHIMERA Small Video Pro Plus Strip bank. (type 8155, 9"x 36"). Good condition. $250. 416.587-4848 Canon CN-E Prime Lenses. 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5. In excellent condition. EF mount, covers S35 and full frame. Asking $3400 each. Contact 35 4x5.6 Schneider filters: ND’s, color correction, diffusion, grads 2 138mm Tiffen Tobacco, Sunset grad 2 138mm Schneider Tru Pola, 85 Pola 2 138mm Schneider CU diopter #1, Cu Diopter • includes case and pouches for every filter. • Excellent condition • 4x5.6 and 138mm. clears included Today’s value in U.S. dollars $13,705 U.S. Selling price $9,500 CDN CONTACT: Bert Tougas H: 514-634-2374 C: 514-913-2376 I have 15 - 3x3 Tiffen filters for sale - fogs, Promists Grads, 812's etc. all with cases. $185.00 - contact Barry Casson csc - 250-721-2113 or e-mail TIFFEN ULTRA STEADICAM , HD Ultrabrite color monitor ,HDMI Decimator 2,Iso-elastic arm, 4-24 volt batteries, 1-Pag battery charger 24v,1-Lentequip battery charger 12/24v,Klassen vest and carrying bag, 1 Preston F1+Z transmitter 1 Preston MDR-1 receiver,1 Preston control, 2 motors, 2 batteries, charger, numerous Hill motor mount brackets rossette brackets and rods, 1 long dovetail plate,1 short dovetail plate, 1 docking bracket,1 fgs wheel chair/dolly adaptor,rain cover, too many cables, hard cases and accessories to list.This rig was well maintained looks new, all it needs is a few upgrades. $23,000.00 cad 416 817 3938 or Rick Kearney Preston FIZ 2 kit - $5,000 2 x Arri MB-20 studio matte box - $8,000 Arri LMB-15 Clip-on matte box - $1,200 Power-Pod Classic - $5,000 Please contact Michael Balfry csc @: michaelbalfry@gmail. com for a complete list of items. Looking for a set of old, no longer used, standard legs with Mitchell base. Or any type of disused heavy camera support. This is to be used to mount a Mitchell BNCR camera in order to place it on display. Anyone with access to such a tripod or with information about one, please contact me: 416-691-6865 CAMERA CLASSIFIED IS A FREE SERVICE PROVIDED FOR CSC MEMBERS. For all others, there is a one-time $25 (plus GST) insertion fee. If you have items you would like to buy, sell or rent, please email your information to




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Fostering and Promoting the Art of Cinematography Since 1957

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