From time to time we get an opportunity to work on an independent film with a great story which transcends the technical, monetary, and logistical limitations of the film Ellie Fox‘s first feature film, “Under the Apple Box“, has taken several years following principal photography to re-finance and complete. She’s slowly but surely getting film festival and media attention after much perseverence, thanks to her compelling story. This is good for the local Vancouver cinema scene, and what’s better — she’s got another script up her sleeve. Here’s a roundup of Under the Apple Box’s latest announcements: Women’s International Film Festival – Miami – Screening March 2013 Honorable Mention Winner at the New Jersey Film Festival 1 of 5 screened at VanCity Theatre for Toronto International Film Festival Distribution agreement with Horizon Pictures for international markets “Escaping from a world where women are undervalued and often in peril, Leila ultimately finds that her successful new life comes at an unbearable cost.” “From a small town in Iran, a young Leila rises up to teach her world about acceptance and rekindles a lost love along the way.” The Story: At a traditional “Rozeh”, or women’s gathering, in Iran in 1983, nine year old Leila (Jane Lowery) has discovered a talent for taking pictures. Her revealing glimpses of the hidden female mysteries find a ready market with local photographer, Amir, who sells Leila’s photos and holds private screenings to show her forbidden pictures to eager boys. Orphaned as an infant, Leila was left in a basket under an apple box in a grocery store, to be raised by the loving Nanah (Elaine Rathey), the shopkeeper and a revered local storyteller. Leila’s main goal is to save up enough money for Nanah’s knee operation. As a teenager, Leila (Lorena Griffiths) meets a rich Australian boy named Danny (Mike Clemente). They fall in love and Danny visits her every summer. However, the Revolution forces Danny and his family to leave Iran, leaving Leila devastated. Life takes a shattering turn when Leila’s step-brother attempts to rape her but is caught in the act by Nanah, who inadvertently kills him. The subsequent trial is a foregone conclusion as both Leila and Nanah are sentenced to death. They manage to raise enough money for Leila to flee the country but tragically, she is forced to leave her beloved Naneh behind. Having escaped to Vancouver, Canada, the adult Leila (Tammy Gillis) becomes a very successful photographer and writer but is forever haunted by her dark past. One day she hears some disturbing news and her lost love Danny (Gilles Tanguay) comes to find her, forcing her to revisit her tragic past and to come to terms with its legacy at last.
Midnight Rider, a modern day horse film, starring singer/songwriter legend Kris Kristofferson and Jodelle Ferland. We worked with director Bill Dear and cinematographer Pieter Stathis who together set out to create a picturesque, and predominantly outdoor film, with horses and landscapes. The movie was produced on a MOW budget by The Nassar Group – NGN. We had a crew of 4 guys and a generator operator. Much of our days involved logistics of setting up and shuttling equipment over large distances and working closely with animals and trainers. A big part of the film was the horse race at the end. In order to create the racing sequences Brant FX built a horse gimble rig on the bed of a flat deck truck. We built everything around it, scaffold pipe railing, generator, and HMI rigged for each rider with a diffusion frame. The horse gimble was like a giant spring mounted toy from a playground. Brant FX took it a step further by mounting the center horse on dolly track and attaching an air powered hydraulic piston to propel the horse forward or backward during the take. It made it appear as if one horse was overtaking the other when filmed from the side. Getting the camera position to the side was a difficult task as well because the flat deck was only 8 feet wide. With the help of the FX team we secured a forklift man-cage cantalevered off the side. We mounted our bazooka base and pedestal to the cage, then we strapped in Pieter Stathis who operated his steady cam using a garfield mount. Due to the large distances and the MOW pace of shooting, we gave up a hydraulic pee-wee dolly in favour of our lightweight panther dolly which we could transport more easily through the fields. Pieter wanted lots of motion in his shots to accentuate the large horizons and scenic frames, we didn’t have a lot of time to setup each shot. We mounted a porta-jib to the panther dolly in order to provide a mobile base that could be repositioned easier. We even mounted two pieces of our GI Track on 4×4 beams so we could march into set, drop the beams, and level it quickly without thinking twice. Speed was the name of the game. When available we used gators to shuttle our equipment. Here’s some video clips behind the scenes: [cvg-video videoId=’55’ width=’600′ height=’400′ /] [cvg-video videoId=’56’ width=’600′ height=’400′ /] [cvg-video videoId=’57’ width=’600′ height=’400” /]
A music video we did last year for Faber Drive with Colin Minihan and Tony Mirza. It was filmed in North Vancouver. [cvg-video videoId=’49’ width=’600′ height=’400′ /] The song is “Do it In Hollywood”.
Behold some of our finest work on a skeleton crew — Mirza 2012: The Untold Story. The film which was sold out opening weekend in Canada and caused a huge stir in India. [cvg-video videoId=’76’ width=’640′ height=’420′ /] It stirred us up in Vancouver as well because of the magnitude of the lighting setups we were able to achieve with a streamlined crew of swing grip/lx technicians. A true testimony to a cohesive team and our close camaraderie with our good friend and Vancouver’s best kept cinematographer secret: TOBY GORMAN. The trailer is proof that a new era of image-making is upon us. Sensitive digital cameras — tightly knit crew of skilled independent filmmakers — making the most of limited tools — we can create huge budget-like features. We worked tightly together to create an action-packed big-budget movie look with a skeleton crew of only 4 guys (which includes a dual gaffer/key grip, a best boy, and two swing technicians). We added a tow-generator, and a 6k Par to supplement the TALCO LIGHTING & GRIP PACKAGE, and that was it. We took the time to make a simple and effective plan that would cover the entire scene with minimal disturbances. Then we took the extra time at the start of our days to set it up so the rest of the day would go smoothly. We had no rigging crew so we showed up and did everything on the day. Mirza Sahiban is one of the most famous stories in Punjabi literature, and one whose origin goes back hundreds of years. It is a story that has been told and retold for generations, so when a film takes up this tale and labels it The Untold Story, ears were certainly perking up among the millions of Punjabis worldwide. The traditional story is one of forbidden love, revenge, and tragedy; not unlike many legendary folk tales from the world over, but this tragic ending is a bit notorious, because of a twist at the end that gives the story a part of its name.
Here’s a music video we did with Stephano Barberis, David Angelski, and Ron “Rocket” Williams C.S.C. Stephano used an actual projector on sheets to get the nostalgic effect of home movies and wanderlust. [media id=48 width=425 height=355]
Here’s a trailer to Mirza – The Untold Story, a punjabi film we worked on last year over a two month period. Release Date: April 6, 2012 Starring Gippy Grewal & Mandy Takhar with Rahul Dev and Bunnu Dhillion. Music by Honey Singh. The director, Baljit Singh Deo, wanted to create a Punjubi film with a distinctly North American large scale production value feeling. He wanted to set new standards for Indian films overseas. Principal photography was in Vancouver, BC. We had a challenging time creating that big budget movie lighting with a minimal crew and no budget for pre-rigging. We worked closely with our good friend and cinematographer Toby Gorman to use large sources, carefully shaped single sources, and strategically placed background lights. We used condor lighting where possible for our night exteriors to save time and manpower because we had minimal time for setup and turnarounds to rig smaller lights. Throughout the show we carried a pair of 6k PAR’s in addition to our base lighting package, slush truck, and a tow generator. Filmed on Red Epic. Produced by Inda Raikoti & Aman Khatkar. The movie has been getting a lot of attention overseas because of its cast special appearances, and non-conventional Bollywood production ways. [media id=46 width=640 height=340]
This time lapse from the first portion of a 6 day film shoot at VFS with director Michael Chayse — Head of Production for VFS Entertainment — shows what can be done with TALCO’s 5-ton lighting and grip package truck out of the box. [media id=43 width=500 height=300] Vancouver Film School’s equipment was booked by multiple graduation projects from the cinematography program. Michael was leading an inter-department collaboration between the school of business and post production code named Project Space Squid, which involved students, faculty, and alumni. The project was based on the sci-fi cosmic horror writing of HP Lovecraft, an american writer from the turn of the century. Michael needed professional lighting to bring Lovecraft’s surreal Cthulhu Mythos to life. VFS Entertainment turned to our grip truck to convert an unused space which had no lighting grid into a functioning green screen studio with lights and equipment. We performed lighting services while business management students oversaw the shooting of 5 short films. They were titled: C’Thulhu, Dagon, Dunwich, Erich Zahn, and Rats. The students are maintaining a comprehensive blog of their progress in post production. The project was overseen by VFS head of the Entertainment Business Management department, Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin, who also produced a 7-minute behinds the scenes documentary of the production titled, The Interactive Lovecraft. Further there are some photos taken by a student here. The VFS press department seems to be on a roll with this project…more will follow.