It's all in the quiff
YMC16 competition winner Karan Kandhari and cinematographer Bjorn Bratberg comb back the Rockabilly subculture in Flight of The Pompadour…
"We had this script that we'd wanted to shoot for a while, and when the competition came along we thought it was a cool fit as YMC's clothes are inspired by the 50s," says writer/director Karan Kandhari about Flight of The Pompadour, the short film born from clothing brand You Must Create (YMC) and Fujifilm's Complete16 competition.
Kandhari's treatment for the five-minute short was "a low-key melancholy comedy about a lonely misfit with hair issues, set in the world of Rockabillies. "I'm interested in outsiders, and strange subcultures on the fringes while the rest of the world changes around them."
The prize was five rolls of 16mm stock, plus processing and transfer to HD via Fujifilm's Complete16 package – and, true to their infectious enthusiasm, the pair knew immediately which stock they wanted to use. "Bjorn and I are big fans of Fujifilm's Eterna 400T, but a few factors led us to the Eterna Vivid160T," says Kandhari. "We love working on ﬁlm, our brains seem wired for it. We test extensively and think very hard about how we're going to achieve our goals in-camera – it's far more creative and visually satisfying to get as much down on the negative and not leave it to post. Anamorphic serves the stories I'm trying to tell the best, with fewer shots and fewer cuts."
For the shoot, Bratberg used an Arri SR3 with Cooke Xtal anamorphic lenses supplied by Panavision. "Shooting anamorphic with 16mm means you're only using only a small area of the negative," the DP explains. "Because we were worried about enlarging the grain, we decided to shoot on a slow stock. Also, we tested the lenses beforehand and realised that we had to shoot at least T4 to get the sharpness we wanted, which forced us to light for an 'old-school look'. The main club interior needed to be shot at 100fps, which meant we really had to illuminate."
"The anamorphic image is quite special – it sort of breathes," adds Kandhari. "We were interested from the get-go in a look that harked back to the 50s, where slow stocks were the only available choices. We knew Vivid would offer us a lot of 'pop' in terms of colour, so this opened us up creatively. Panavision were worried about grain, but we joked that we'd light the thing like a Douglas Sirk ﬁlm and melt the set down, so they had need not worry. Vivid allowed us to achieve true anamorphic on 16mm and create an image that's pretty special and serves the story."
"The stock held up so well," nods Bratberg. "We especially like the grain it has in 16mm anamorphic format."
"Yeah, totally!" says Kandhari. "The grain is beautiful and adds a special layer to the strange tone of our ﬁlm. I love the fact that it's set in the present – although that's never speciﬁed – with leanings towards a subculture rooted in the 50s, delivered on an image laced with 70s anamorphic grain."
Thanks to Fujifilm, Panavision and Technicolor's support, Kandhari and Bratberg found the Complete16 package to be a joyful experience.
"We've had great relationship with Rob Garvie at Panavision for years and are always very grateful for their support, so when we won this they were very happy for us," says Bratberg. "We also had very good communication with Matt Adams at Technicolor in Pinewood."
"More people need to see that in this age of digital acquisition, Fujifilm, Panavision and Technicolor have come up with a choice that is very cost effective, creative and straightforward to use," says Kandhari. "Too many people are doom mongering about ﬁlm. We should have a choice. Saying that, it's only ﬁlm in my eyes."
And with Kandhari already prepping the next part in his "strange loners" trilogy of shorts, true to his word he's sticking with film. "It's called Sidney," says Kandhari. "We aim to return to Fuji's 35mm Eterna 400T anamorphic we used on Hard Hat, which was the first in this trilogy of shorts. Sidney is the last."
Is Kandhari then ready to step up to his first full feature? "We have a feature in the very, very early stages of development," he smiles. "I say 'we' as I can't see myself making these ﬁlms without Bjorn. We start talking before I've ﬁnished writing."
Production Stills © VILMA PIMENOFF