Coming into any project with a clear vision and a set of goals is imperative. For us, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish with this project and we spent the two weeks leading up to the project laying out the creative and figuring out our strategy for the day. With anything, this vision is what drives the success of your project so laying everything out before hand is critical. What we want to do with this post is walk you though the process from start to finish for how we were able to accomplish this project. We will be breaking down:
+ How it happened
+ Technical Breakdown
+ The Connection
With any project like this, there are a list of challenges you have to overcome. The first challenge for us was getting in touch with Kim and seeing if this project was even possible.
How It Happened
The First Call
We tried to get a hold of Kim from every angle. We scoured the internet and pursued local connections. It was actually more work then we expected — which makes sense based off of the body of work that he has produced. Eventually were able to get a hold of his agent through an IMDB contact and were able to explain the project. He quickly passed us over to Kim and we were set for our first call.
Angela Moore (Tourism Saskatoon) and I were set to have our first call with Kim about three weeks before the project. The second Kim called, it was clear that the project was going to be a blast. He quickly asked for the project breakdown and as I started to answer, he cut me off and quickly let us know what he was hoping to accomplish. It was a welcomed approach as it is rare to have someone come onboard with such vision.
The call was short, sweet and to the point. We were set to work with Kim on August 30th.
For this project, we wanted to get at the root of why Saskatoon held a special place in his heart. For me, it was key to go beyond a simple promotional piece and deal with a subject that people could resonate with. We chose to focus on the evolution of an artist based on Kim’s extensive body of work. For Kim, the main things he wanted to focus on was his time at the University of Saskatchewan and how that shaped his career, his focus on arts and culture and also his love for Saskatoon. Humour was also extremely critical for him.
Stylistically, we wanted the piece to be poetic, yet funny. We wanted it bold, yet edgy. When approaching the edit, we had a clear vision for the pacing and tone. With us already having produced four other portraits as part of this series, we wanted to ensure that the style fit within the mould. However, we also wanted it to stand out from the rest.
Plan of Action
Our plan of action was to start the day early before Kim got into town. We arrived at the Capitol at 10am and were slated to start with Kim at 2:00pm. Kim had just came off a full night of filming in LA so we expected that he would be tired upon arriving. We wanted to make sure everything was ready to go when he arrived.
We filmed the interview content at the Capitol from 2:30pm-3:30pm. Taking his answers into consideration, we then catered our shots to match what he was saying during the interview. I had an idea of the major sound bites before the edit so it was pretty easy to cater these shots as needed.
We then headed over to Redline Harley to grab the bike. While we did that, we were rigging the 8 ft Kessler Crane / Movi combo and filmed him driving through town. Unfortunately we didn’t have the Ninja Star Adapter plate so had a bit of issues with balancing correctly and had a few issues when driving.
We then filmed for a bit at the Broadway Roastery and Theatre before ending at the University of Saskatchewan. We wrapped the day at 6:45pm. Based on the story that was told during the interview, I had asked if we were able to film with him and his friends during a football game the next day. We ended up spending a few hours with his closest friends.
Finding a Middle Ground
Kim had a clear vision through the entire project. We also had a vision for where we wanted to take the project. Some of our ideas were different so we had to work to find the best way to accomplish what we needed from the project without pushing Kim too much. He has worked with many different people before and we were unsure if he was used to our style so we wanted to make sure everyone left happy. Initially I was planning to do the interview but after watching how Angela had been interacting with Kim and hearing some of the conversations that were taking place before Kim arrived, I asked Angela if she felt comfortable doing the interview.
I really wanted to do the interview and had never worked on a project with Angela asking the questions but figured that it was a good gamble based off of the relationship she had built with Kim. In the end it was an amazing decision as they were able to connect during the interview and we were able to get the answers we needed.
During the edit phase, we went through three iterations. Overall, Kim was really happy with the direction we went. However, he wanted the intro to be faster, he wanted more humour and he wanted some of the lines tweaked. Most of these edits we didn’t consider and after modifying the edits based off of these comments, I feel we were able to come out with a piece that we were all happy with. The main thing that he kept pushing for was more humour. For us, we felt that the humour that was included was enough to get across that aspect of his personality.
Taking Kim’s line, “I can’t tell you how to succeed… but I can tell you how to fail, by trying to please everyone” into consideration during the edit truly affected the way in which we approached the edit. We knew that if there were certain points that were really important to us, that he would understand and be okay with the decisions.
This blog is not and never will be focused on gear. However, we do want to touch on what was unique about this shoot for us. For this project, we wanted to explore multiple camera formats to see how they would intercut during the post production phase. We decided to shoot on the Nikon D810, Red Epic, Canon 5D Mark III and the Panasonic GH4. What we wanted to do was see how each of these intercut with each other.
One thing that blew us away with this project was the quality of the D810 when upscaled the 4K. For our needs, the image upscaled flawlessly and it ended up becoming our A Cam on day two because of it.
For this project, we started editing native files in a 4k timeline. We used the R3D’s from the Epic and the native files from the other cameras as well. Using a 2014 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 Macbook Pro, we were able to edit seamlessly using these files. It was pretty incredible how smoothly we were able to edit this piece.
For each of the camera, we shot with a flat picture profile. Unfortunately, the GH4 was not set to a flat picture profile and in turn, was extremely hard to match with the other cameras. All the other cameras were able to be quickly matched during primary colour correction.
Influence on Story
For us, the main reason we wanted to mix formats was because of how we wanted to tell our story. There were a few unique shots we were wanting to capture and unfortunately the budget didn’t allow us to bring on multiple Red Epics.
There was a good chance we were going to master in 4K so it was critical that we had cameras that allowed us to do this. For some of the shots, we wanted to roll with the Movi M5 and unfortunately it is not big enough to handle to Epic. This is why we chose the GH4. We also wanted to capture driving shots where we had the Movi mounted to a crane and also shoot with another camera from the box of the truck as well.
After the first day of shooting and seeing how the Nikon D810 footage upscaled, I chose to shoot D810 for the second day of pickup shots.
When working with anyone, be it cast or crew, finding a connection is imperative. Being able to connect to these projects is what makes them stand out. For us, the connection was clear. We all wanted to work with Kim and all had a huge respect for the vastness and diversity of his career. It is clear that he has worked hard to get where he is today and continues to push his skill set.
His connection to community was also very inspiring. To find someone who has not let his ego get to him, it is pretty powerful and admirable. It was clear by talking with the crew after the project that everyone took something away from the project and this is why we love doing what we are doing.
As we move forward and work on new projects, this is something that I will carry with us. These long hours and commitment to your craft is truly what will help you stand out and we will continue to push as a business to find people and businesses that have similar stories to share. Working with Kim Coates and the entire team was an absolute privilege and I can’t wait for the next one!