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"Only 78" Documentary Filmed With Blackmagic Design Cinema Cameras
Jawad Mir is a Toronto based filmmaker who owns and runs two production companies: Film-Style Weddings and Sky Blue Productions. Film-Style Weddings offers high end wedding videography services, while Sky Blue Productions focuses on commercials and films. Jawad's passion for story telling is evident in both companies' productions. He aims to tell simple but meaningful stories in an insightful and powerful way.
Jawad recently learned of a small coastal community in Nova Scotia, which is at risk of becoming uninhabitable on account of a deteriorating seawall. He has set out to make a documentary about the issue of various coastal communities. To tell the story of "Only 78," Jawad and his crew used two Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and DaVinci Resolve.
Hitting Close to Home
"Only 78" is a story about the town of Gabarus, a small fishing village with just 78 residents on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The town is subject to the notoriously violent storms of the Northeast, but is protected from them by a seawall built by the Canadian government. The wall, however, is now more than 70 years old. It is rapidly deteriorating and is at risk of collapsing. Even so, the Canadian government refuses to accept ongoing responsibility for the wall's upkeep.
In April of 2013, Jawad came across a Globe and Mail article that highlighted this difficulty as faced by Gabarus' residents.
"I knew that I wanted to tell this story when I read that every level of the government in Nova Scotia had denied ownership of the problem and refused to help find a solution," said Jawad. "Funds for repairs have remained non existent and an entire way of life is at stake. Gabarus is not the only community to be facing this kind of challenge, and as a filmmaker and a fellow Canadian, it struck home for me. I felt the need to get involved."
A crew of three people, including Jawad, flew to Nova Scotia, at their own expense to start documenting the story.
Quality is Key
With 13 years' experience in the production business, Jawad's background lent itself perfectly to capturing this story. And he knew that to capture it well, he would need equipment that travels lightly, but also top quality equipment that would ensure high quality coverage. Jawad came prepared with two Blackmagic Cinema Cameras.
"Our goal was to achieve a filmic look for the documentary on a minimal budget," said Jawad. "There was no camera out there at that time, or even now, that provided the same quality as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera at its affordable price point."
Jawad and his team filmed interviews on the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras for wide and medium shots. The interviews were filmed in ProRes HQ and as flat as possible, while all of their B roll footage of the town was shot in 2.5k RAW.
"The dynamic range on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is incredible, not to mention ability to record 2.5k RAW," said Jawad. "And you can do so much in DaVinci Resolve by shooting flat which is exactly what we did. We shot as flat as possible and in 2.5k RAW, which allowed us to digitally zoom in a lot of our shots."
Putting it All Together
The film is still in production, but the project required the immediate production of a trailer to garner support for a Kickstarter Campaign to acquire funds for the documentary. For the trailer, Jawad aimed to achieve a RAW film look, with only a slight digital feel. The aim being to keep the visuals natural, but also vibrant and stunning.
"The subject matter is controversial, and we want the color grade to demonstrate that," said Jawad. "DaVinci Resolve is extremely powerful and intuitive to use. One of the great things about DaVinci Resolve is its ability to let you work in proxies if you are dealing with big files. We were able to do that with our B roll footage. And with DaVinci Resolve, we have so much control over highlights, hue and shadows. My personal favorite part is that we can create multiple nodes and treat each node differently. For example, we can apply noise reduction on one node, color tone on another and so on."
Jawad continued, "The Blackmagic Cinema Camera was so light weight. We didn't rig it up in any way, and we filmed using SanDisk 240 SSDs, which allowed us to film four or five lengthy interviews per camera. But the biggest benefit that I found to using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera was the cost effective film look."
Jawad and his team plan to revisit Gabarus, with the intention of securing further footage with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Jawad intends to complete "Only 78" to convey the concerns of Gabarus' residents and other coastal communities to all of Canada.
"The trailer for the film can be seen at www.only78.com."
Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, DaVinci Resolve, Cinematography
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