Cut To the Chase
Recent NFTS graduate Andrew Alderslade embraced the grainy, analogue spirit of Lomography for a viral pursuit across cobbled London.
“Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been shooting animations, documentaries, short films and music promos, on a wide mixture of formats from HD to Super 8mm,” says cinematographer Andrew Alderslade, who graduated from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) earlier this year.
He entered the NFTS' cinematography programme after working as a camera assistant for a number of years and since finishing the course has been busy filming a number of shorts and promos.
One recent assignment was lensing a viral for Lomography's new Sardina Guvnor Lomo cameras for director Sean O'Riordan. Working to a strict budget, the pair chose to use Fujifilm's Complete16 package to get the most bang for their buck. “Having one price for the stock and lab meant we knew exactly what it was going to cost from the outset,” he explains. “Then we had the rushes straight away in HD, ready for editing, which was definitely an advantage.
Working with O'Riordan, from a multi-camera background, Alderslade soon faced a guerrilla shoot - albeit a well-planned one.
“Sean knew exactly what he wanted and had every shot planned,” says the DoP. “Occasionally I would suggest a shot and, if it worked, we filmed it - which is the ideal balance. We did have a monitor with us, but Sean was happy to work without it, if it helped us move faster. These days that's extremely unusual. I really appreciate monitors, as everyone can see what's in the frame, but it felt very liberating not to be tethered down.”
Which was lucky, as the bulk of the shoot centred on a foot chase across very uneven ground: “On a limited budget you can't afford all the toys you want, so some technical challenges had to be overcome by some old-fashioned thinking,” Alderslade says. “In this case, the difficulty was making the camera run with the actors. To add to the difficulty, most of the streets and alleys we were filming on were cobbled, so wheeled devices were out and a steadicam was too expensive. We did use the safe, long-lens approach for many shots, but we also ran with the camera facing backwards, either over my shoulder or hanging down by the ground - which can become quite confusing as everything's reversed in the monitor! But this is where shooting with 16mm really has its advantages. The cameras, by both Arri and Aaton, are really well made for handheld - light enough not to be exhausting, but heavy enough to posses some internal inertia, and just the right size to be handled comfortably.
Some of the results had quite a punchy quality to them and they worked well with the style of the piece as whole. I often find that limitations can steer you in a positive stylistic direction.
“It wasn't fun running on those wet cobbles, but they became quite iconic throughout the shoot,” he continues. “They featured so heavily that we decided to rethink the packshot, shooting it outdoors with the 'Guvnor' camera sitting on wet cobbles.”
Because the bulk of the shoot was outdoors or in well-shadowed alleys and lanes, Alderslade knew exactly which stock he wanted to use. “Eterna 250D,” he nods. “We wanted a grain but not too grainy, a patina, if you like - essentially a stock that really looked like film. That may sound strange, but the brief referenced Lock Stock and Two Smocking Barrels (that used 16mm with a bleach bypass), which by modern standards really embraces grit and grain. The Lomography ethic is all about embracing the analogue look, where things look a little weird or the unexpected, it is championed over crystal-clear quality or millions of mega-pixels. It's quite a liberating ethic. On the other hand, the ad was principally a good, old-fashioned chase sequence. To bring it all together, flash frames from the negative were incorporated into the edit and we pushed for a rough and organic quality, similar to that of a typical Lomography photo. The 250D, exposed and processed normally, isn't that grainy but I knew we could push the look in post. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the look of the final project did evolve somewhat during the edit and grade.”
- For more on Andrew Alderslade, visit vimeo.com/andyalderslade
- For more on Lomography, see www.lomography.com
- For more on the Guvnor camera, go to uk.shop.lomography.com/cameras/la-sardina-cameras/la-sardina-and-flash-the-guvnor-edition