Exercise 4

We are wrapping up our first proper project together in Lillehammer, a 4 minute sequence from an imagined longer story entitled “The Settlement” (attempted translation anyway). Our team consisting of one student from each profession, shot a story about a woman confronting her husband’s lover, a female tattoo artist, with the fact that they have a common love interest.

The first semester at The Norwegian Film School is filled up with a lot of watching films, workshops and lectures, and small team building exercises, and it’s a wonderful feeling to finally be making movies again. Or rather, sequences, as the school keep reminding us we’re only making one movie in the time we’re here, which is the exam film.

Projects at the school are based on the principle that creativity is better stimulated with restrictions, and we’re not training to make short films, we’re training to become feature film cinematographers (and directors, producers, sound designers, production designers, editors, and script writers). The main restrictions on this exercise was: A minimum of two locations (one required to be a waiting room), a maximum of 12 setups, two predetermined actors, and a maximum of two rolls of S16mm film (approximately 20 minutes of recording time in 25 fps) framing for 1.85:1.

Esteemed Norwegian DoP Hallvard Bræin was mentor for the cinematographers on the project, and gave some very stimulating input during pre-production and on the set. Our generation of photographers being a very digital one, he made a point of making us light by eye and meter, and not use digital cameras as a mental crutch as most of us are used to. Judging fine nuances in contrast can be quite a challenge for the eye and the mind, especially when it comes to the darkest areas which can be quite critical on a negative. One of my personal goals with the exercise was to push the shadows quite a bit, to see how far I can go before losing details and adding too much grain. In the end I found a simplified version of Ansel Adams’ zone system to be very helpful, as I’ve used it a lot when shooting 35mm stills.

We shot Kodak Vision2 200T and scanned to ProRes 4444 at Stopp in Sweden. An important aspect of the school is what they call “the right to screw up”, which means none of what we do is screened anywhere, but I thought I’d post a few screengrabs as a “teaser”. (This might not look right on your monitor, depending on calibration).