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Watch My Latest Short Film ‘The Mechanic’ Shot On Canon C100 For Project Greenlight

UPDATE: “The Mechanic” just got through round 1 of Project Greenlight and is now in the running! Wish me luck….

A few days ago I wrote an article on why I chose to shoot my latest short film on the C100, while I own and have access to many other cameras (including RED EPIC and Blackmagic Cinema Camera). If you haven’t read the article, in a nutshell it came down to efficiency. This project had a budget of exactly $0, and it needed to be turned around very quickly which led me to choose a camera and format that would keep things moving both on set and in post.

The film was written in an afternoon, shot in about 5 hours and edited in a day. Unlike most of my projects that will implement at least a skeleton crew, this production basically had no crew at all. The only people on set were myself, my girlfriend (who helped produce with me) and the two actors. No makeup artist, no sound recordist, and no permits! In all my years of filming I have never actually shot any of my own films with this type of limited scope, but in the end it was really the only way that this project would be possible. I’ll also point out that if I had attempted to do this without the experience that I already have working with proper crews, I would never have been able to pull it off. I knew where I could cut corners and where I couldn’t, and made sure to work within those parameters.

Below I’ll briefly outline my production and post processes, but first here’s the film:

Production

In total we had just under 5 hours to shoot this, and we actually probably only shot for about 3 and a half hours given that there was some time spent early in the day prepping gear and setting up audio. I shot the entire film on my Canon C100 with a 24 – 105mm F4 L-Series zoom lens, with the exception of one single shot that was taken with the Tokina 11 – 16mm F2.8. While I would have normally preferred to shoot on primes, it just wouldn’t have been possible given the nature of the shoot and the fact that we needed to be very light on our feet. I also would have preferred to have used an external recorder (like the Ninja) but in the end decided to record internally to ensure that the camera build could remain small and inconspicuous and there would be one less variable to worry about on set. I was really impressed with the C100s performance, even using the internal codec which only records at 24mbps. It certainly helped that I shot everything in the flat cinema mode.

The audio setup was very simple as well. Two wireless lavs were run directly into my Zoom H6 and I also rolled reference audio on the C100 using the internal mic. I decided not even to slate while we shot as it would have drawn too much attention, so I just rolled audio and video without a slate and manually sync’d everything up in post. The audio in general was fairly tricky because the environment was supposed to be desolate, but in reality we had cars and people passing by every couple of minutes. That said though I was still able to mix and match audio from various takes to help sell the feel of the environment.

Post-Production

Just like the rest of the process, I needed post to happen very quickly. I edited this in FCP X because I knew it would allow me to work very fast, and also provide all of the finishing tools that I need right within the software. I actually never left FCP X for the entire post-process, except for the very final color pass which I ran through FilmConvert. I was able to get my offline edit together in a couple of hours, and then moved directly to sound. FCP X actually has some really powerful sound plugins/effects, even if they are a bit clunky to used. I did my main color work within FCP X, simply using the color board, but then did output a picture master to be colored with FilmConvert as I already mentioned.

All in all this was a great way to see what is possible with no money and very little time. Including the writing time, shooting, location scouting, and editing, this took no longer than a few days in total, spread over the course of a week and a half or so. Would I shoot every project this way? Definitely not, but there are times when it can work really well. And it’s great practice for larger projects that may require a scene or two to be shot this way for whatever reason!

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

28 Comments

  • […] I’ve always been a fan of the C-series cameras, ever since I bought a C100 back in 2015. That was my first and only Canon video camera – I’ve often regretted selling […]

    Reply
  • Blake
    May 27, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more on the color science, was my main reason for picking the c100 for my film. I guess i’ll see for myself when i get my hands on the camera. In any event, thanks for your input on the camera and previously on your audio set up.

    All the best.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Any time Blake! Thanks again for the note.

      Reply
  • Blake
    May 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Hey Noam,

    I have to confess to just discovering your work/blog this past year. But, I have to compliment you on your unique place among all the film blogs out there. I really enjoy your posts, it actually has given me quite a head start on my “guerilla” style film this summer.

    I have a question regarding the c100. I have heard a lot of horror stories regarding the WB, specifically when using a custom balance (white card) or using the kelvin settings. People say there is too much green and that you have to go through a second step to scale down the green…….sounds like a pain.

    I’ve never heard of such a thing. Could you share what you did for your white balancing of your c100 projects, because the image you acquired looks fantastic.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 27, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Blake! To answer your question about the C100 –

      I’ve actually never had any issues with the camera in terms of white balancing. If anything, I found one of the cameras strong suits was always it’s color science as some of it’s other features were somewhat limited (low bitrate, HD only, etc.)

      That said, the files are quite grade-able in post, so if you do encounter any color shifting issues you should be able to clean them up when coloring your footage pretty easily. On my project, I simply set the white balance to 5600K (since we were shooting outside in only daylight) and left it there for the entirety of the shoot.

      Reply
  • Blake
    April 19, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Noam,

    How in the world did you get audio/dialogue sounding that good with lav mics? I am planning a shoot with the c100/24-105 and was thinking of doing a lav mic set up, but every comparison gets the shotguns sounding so much better.

    Anyways great job overall.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      April 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks Blake! It was a LOT of work in post… Lots of audio pulled from different takes, sweeting, dialogue editing, etc. But eventually it sounded half-decent. Glad you liked it as I don’t normally edit audio myself.

      Reply
  • Tyler
    July 2, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Great flick. I love the camera work and didn’t even notice that most of it was handheld due to it being such a captivating, well paced story.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      July 10, 2015 at 12:02 am

      Thanks so much Tyler! Much appreciated.

      Reply
  • Quincy
    March 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I assume you used a deadcat on your lavs and the gaffers tape triangle method? The audio is what stood out to me, and after just finishing a film of my own with unreliable crew, I’ve been studying up on lav mics more and more. I know their not recommended, and I actually have two wonderful sennheiser mics but sometimes I don’t have the luxury and money at the time to get a proper sound guy.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 10, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      I did use a deadbeat, but didn’t use the triangle method (although I should have). I totally hear what you’re saying with regards to audio quality and am investing in more audio gear myself soon for that very reason.

      Reply
  • Ryan
    August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

    This was fantastic.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 27, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks so much. I just got notice that it made the next round of Project Greenlight!

      Reply
  • MaartenJaliens
    August 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Hi Noam,
    Thanks for sharing. Love the camera work – really great.
    The image seems to have a little to much noise, don’t you think?
    Regards

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 12:59 am

      Thanks a lot – I actually added noise in post (using film convert) to give it a less digital feel. Also, it’s a bit hard to tell on vimeo because of the web compression, but the noise looks quite nice on the original!

      Reply
  • Jason B
    August 19, 2014 at 3:06 am

    Love the short! Great camera work and fantastically terse script. Love the turn of the trick at the end.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Thanks so much Jason – glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  • DC Brandon
    August 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Noam,

    This was a very nicely shot short! Nice pacing and an ending that actually surprised me.

    It actually go me thinking. I spent all this time reading the mumbo jumbo (no offence intended) about choosing the right camera for the job, and then when if came time to watch the short film, I forgot all about the camera. This is both a testament to you as a filmmaker, but also to the notion that story is king, not tech used to make the story come to life.

    Anyhow, you catch my drift. Again, nice work!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks a lot Brandon! You’re right, for some reason we all seem to obsess over the camera but once the film is actually completed, it’s the last thing that you or the audience is thinking about. Just goes to show that it’s important to always focus on story and acting…

      Reply
  • Glenn
    August 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Noam, cool little short. The process you outlined is pretty much the same as every project I’ve ever worked on. Except you have better equipment. When you strip away the bullshit, the story becomes the primary concern. You make do with what you have and in some ways it opens up creativity. And honestly, it shows in The Mechanic. Subjectively speaking, this is probably my favorite of your shorts I’ve seen. I will say that it must be awesome living in LA and having access to decent actors and actresses. Also, I am in the process of working on a project that involves driving scenes and this short helped me a little. I was worried about being able to get wide enough for a master/two shot and it was cool to see that it isn’t necessary. So thanks for that.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Hey Glenn – thanks a lot!

      Glad to hear you liked this one the best as it’s probably my favorite in a lot of ways too. Often in the past when making a short film I would think of them simply as experiments and a means to get some creative techniques/approaches out of my system so I wouldn’t have to take those risks on a feature project down the road, but with this one I treated it more like I would a feature. I wanted it to be more plot driven and have a clear beginning, middle and end. I also did this one the fastest. From writing the story until final cut it was only about 2 weeks or less.

      It is great having access to the resources here. I feel very fortunate to be able to work in this environment, and ultimately that is what drew me here in the first place. The talent pool is incredible, the locations are gorgeous, and it’s certainly a fun place to work. That said, we still went through about 400 submissions to find our lead actress. On this scale (budget-wise) it’s a challenge no matter what!

      As far as your film, I’m glad this helped in some way. I was also considering a 2 shot master, but decided against it since I had to go so wide in the car to get the 2 shot and it would have looked ugly. Best of luck with your film! Would love to check it out when it’s done.

      Reply
  • Liam
    August 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Very nice! I really like how simple and stirring it is. It doesn’t need to be any more than this, that’s why the short form can be so powerful I think. Well done.

    The C100 looks amazing too, really makes me want one. I work with a GH3 and BMPCC and I feel that neither fill the role a C100 would in terms of a complete setup with very little messing around. Oh to have a few more digits in the bank! Ha.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks a lot Liam, really glad that you liked it.

      The C100 is a great camera and I really have no complaints at all. For me, I just love the ease of use. Picking it up and shooting with it right away is such a luxury… If only it had the same DR and overall IQ as the BMCC… but you can’t have everything!

      Reply
  • Xiong
    August 9, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Looks great, very well told little short. You get all the information you need with just a few bits of dialogue and Its better with repeat viewings. Seeing it the first time you think her response of “Do you always pick up strangers like that?” is her uneasiness with the creepiness of the mechanic, who’s clearly done this often with his sense of predatory tone. But on second viewing, knowing the outcome, it comes off as a questioning manner almost mockingly since she is the one laying the trap.

    Best of luck on Project Greenlight!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks a lot Xiong, I really appreciate the feedback. I’m so glad to hear that you picked up on that line as it was one of the moments that I was hoping would have some replay value. Thanks for checking it out!

      Reply
  • Yuri F.
    August 8, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Great article, thanks for sharing as always.

    Reply
  • rob
    August 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

    great short, Noam

    Reply

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