Recently Band Pro caught up with cinematographer Cira Felina Bolla, ICG, to discuss her latest project, shooting with the F65, and what’s next on the horizon.
Q: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
"Reality Reboot" is an offbeat comedy about getting a chance to fix a moment in time. Boy meets girl. Boy hits on girl. Boy blows it. End of story? No. With awful advice from three sports commentators who dissect his lack of game, he gets to "reboot" the moment - he gets the do-over we all wish we could have - until he gets it right.
The mood we set out to create was "Quirky - Glamour", with all this set inside a 24-HR Laundromat in Hollywood. It's a web series for YOMYOMF Network for directors Robbie Consing and Alfredo Botello.
YOMYOMF Network launched in June 2012 and is based on the pop culture blog 'You Offend Me, You Offend My Family,' founded by Justin Lin, director of The Fast and The Furious 3, 4, 5 & 6, Better Luck Tomorrow, and Finishing the Game.
Q: How was it working with the Sony F65 on location; and why F65 for this project?
I have to say, it was great working with the Sony F65 on location. We had one technical glitch on the card reader but Randy Wedick from Band Pro (my hero & friend), saved the day by installing an update on location. This project was my third experience working with this camera format. I had tested it thoroughly a few months back to kick off Band Pro's F65 Cinematographers Series and prior to that, through my union, The International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 at the Sony Lot.
I approach this format like I do a 35mm film negative and I am grateful to have that frame of reference coming into this new paradigm in cinematography. Currently this is the only camera format that can out perform motion picture film technically. I knew it would happen eventually, I just didn't think it would happen this fast. I now have the working experience with this technology/format to understand its boundaries and apply a working, creative style to achieve a given look.
I chose the F65 and presented it to my directors, knowing the level of superior image quality they expected. Robbie Consing is an A-list storyboard artist who has worked with many of the great and prolific directors of our time. Alfredo Botello is a first time director/ working screenwriter and a Nicholl Fellow. Both have impeccable taste. When I proposed this format, I explained we could have shot it on many other lower and less expensive digital formats but we would compromise what I believed they would want in the end result: the quality of the image. My directors trusted me to know what they wanted and I had the great opportunity to deliver their vision.
Q: What lenses did you use? How were they?
The lenses I shot "Reality Reboot" with were the Leica Summilux-C Primes. I used the 21MM, 25MM, 35MM and 75MM. They were wonderful to work with for their cinematic quality to the imagery, inherent in the optic. They are truly stunning lenses to work with and I have found they are a great pairing to the F65 for their ability to expose hard light in a cinematic way, this of course in relation to the sensor which has the ability to articulate the light at the degree of intensity I prefer visually, approximately 4 stops over in the highlights. Without these two elements working together, I believe the lenses would look different on another format/ sensor. It is this combination that works beautifully.
Q: Can you give us an example of a creative work-around you had to improvise to get the shot you had in mind.
We were working in a very restricted environment, a hard set in a Laundromat. Given the locations limitations, I opted to employ one of my favorite methods of working: on a Fischer 10 with a 6 foot arm and a Mitchell gear head (thanks to Hollywood Camera). It's an old school rig combination and it gave me the ultimate freedom to create the push-ins, drifts and dynamic movement to encompass the storytelling pace. It also allowed me to move the camera efficiently as a unit and place the lens where I needed it within minutes. Set ups were effortless and camera was always ready well within our allotted time. I had my exceptional crew in both Camera and Grip & Electric.
Q: How was the experience once you got to post? Describe the work flow and how the process worked for you.
Special Thanks to Hollywood DI, Neil Smith and Colorist, Aaron Peak for your exceptional work! Our post, digital intermediate was a dream...or shall I say Dream Team!
DIT/ Dailies Colorist, Bobby Maruvada, was not on site due to scheduling. This made for a real film like experience to wait for our dailies so to speak. It was wonderful and seamless working with him. It was after picture lock that we went to Hollywood DI and got to witness the true nuance and beauty of the images projected in 2K.
After many wonderful and exciting discussions with Director Robbie Consing on the visual look, prior to going into the DI, I had sent Aaron screen grabs I had Photoshop’d a wide to give him as a visual reference for where I wanted to take it in the mid tones, high lights and shadows but that was just a starting point to establish direction and begin defining the vision. This step in the work flow made for much efficiency while in the DI. Unlike shooting film where the DP establishes a look with filtration and the colorist would have an instant idea upon review, given the RAW footage was clean, this visual communication lent itself to the process and eliminated any ambiguity.
Once in the DI suite with Colorist Aaron Peak, we were able to isolate the reds, make the yellows cooler for a unique and stylized palette. We pulled out highlights, added beauty windows to emphasize our talent in specific frames for the story, saturated just enough, deepened our blacks- cooled them off by pulling out any yellow, green and all this with out ever compromising our eye lights. This alone is a fine line in digital when we start crushing blacks. But I don't view the F65 as just another digital format. In the DI, we had the opportunity to work on finessing the image, finding the perfect balance with consistency.
Q: What’s next on the horizon for Cinematographer Cira Felina Bolla?
A big budget action adventure that is under-wraps, but word will hit the streets here soon.
Q: Can you tell us some of your favorite films? Recent? Classic?
I have to say, I can't wait to see ARGO. I have heard wonderful things about it from trusted friends. However, I will always first talk 'classic' if given the opportunity. One of my favorite films of all time is Black Narcissus (1947), shot by the legendary Jack Cardiff BCS for its breathtaking cinematography, light and camera, exquisite set and costume design, and powerful storytelling. I highly recommend this film to all.
Q: If you were handed your dream project, what would it be?
There is no easy answer to this because while I would love to shoot a Modern Western, Science Fiction or a Period piece, the approach to my work is about creating new interpretations of classic genres. Let me explain. A great example of this, my opinion, is "The Conformist" circa 1970, shot by the great Vittorio Storaro AIC, ASC. It was and is uniquely stunning, inspiring to cinema and cinematographers because it took elements of classic films and incorporated new ideas into the visual language. It took risks, it dared to go beyond the mundane archetypes of the characters on the page and it transcended the visual storytelling to an art form *without* ever taking the audience out of the story. The visual choices enhanced the film intellectually with subtlety and the result is a visual masterpiece. This is the essence of what a dream project would be to me as a Cinematographer, from the inside out. It involves freedom and exploration. It could be any genre, all it will take is the right synergy and an opportunity in the story to serve it first and explore its characters and the whole with this intention. Projects that are open to new ways of seeing & stories that are undoubtedly highly-stylized are a forte.
Again, my special thanks to Amnon Band, Band Pro Film & Digital or the Sony F65 Camera Package and Leica Primes. To Randy Wedick for his support while on location. Bobby Maruvada DIT/ Dailies Colorist. Hollywood Camera for the camera support package. Beth Van Dam for her beautiful work in Production Design, my exceptional crew, Light it Up Grip & Electric and Hollywood DI & Colorist, Aaron Peak.
YOMYOMF Network aired the first episode of "REALITY REBOOT" November 1st and can be seen here.
For more information please visit www.cirafelinabolla.com and for work-related inquiries, please contact The Mirisch Agency in Beverly Hills.