On February 7th, 2019, we completed principle photography of season 4 of The Expanse. This season certainly was our biggest, baddest and most challenging one yet… in terms of scope of the story, ambitiousness and time frame. With Amazon stepping in to save the show last year, our ramp up time to start prep on season 4 was shorter than normal. I think this will be a great season, I start colour grading in March… it sounds like a fall or late 2019 launch on Amazon Prime world wide.
Just before I began work on The Boys last summer, my Expanse team were all waiting with baited breath as to the fate of The Expanse with our network, SyFy. As it turned out, SyFy decided not to renew us for a 4th season… but after 10 days of intense fan outcry; which included a crowd funding campaign which saw a plane fly over the Amazon HQ in Seattle with a banner reading “#savetheexpanse” behind it. Then there was also a model of our hero ship, The Rocinante, in orbit of our planet with the same hashtag slogan on it. It was a very emotional and inspiring time… to be so deep inside a world we had built for 3 years and seeing the outpouring of love and support by some of the most dedicated fans I’ve ever seen on something I’ve been part of. Eventually the stunts and tweets to Jeff Bezos worked… as he personally announced that the show would be taken on by Amazon.
One of the big things I am excited about this season is that we get to finish the show in HDR… something we wanted to do last season but there was not the budget for it. This is part of Amazon’s mandate, so now we get to do it!
What a ride, is all I can say. Our sets were being scrapped when this announcement came out. Now we are 9 weeks into principal photography at the time of this writing. This year is by far our biggest and most challenging yet. I hope the fans love it as much as we’ve loved making this show over 4 seasons. Thanks to all the support our fans have given us.
I was asked back in the spring to come aboard a new Amazon Prime Video series. Over the course of last summer, I shot two of the series’ eight episodes. Jeff Cutter shot the pilot, I co-DP’d with Evans Brown who shot the remainder. We shot with the Red Helium in 8K, using Cooke SF Anamorphics primarily. I worked with director/producer Phil Sgriccia and Stefan Schwartz. The show will be streamed in HDR 4K 2.39:1 on Amazon Prime when launched. It was a fun show with dark writing and humour.. which lead to a gritty, real, non-glam view of super heroes as normal, corrupt people.
Here’s a blurb on the series:
Amazon’s small screen streaming lineup is set to add a live-action adaptation of Garth Ennis’s notoriously dark and violent comic book, The Boys. The television project, which has been in development on and off for several years, has finally received its long-awaited greenlight, auspiciously arriving as the creation of Supernatural and Timeless visionary Eric Kripke.
The Boys has an eight-episode order from Amazon, with Kripke serving as showrunner/executive producer, adapting the 2006-2012 comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The series will launch with directors who are experienced in adapting Ennis material in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who are credited as co-creators.
Colin Minihan directed this funky, fever-dream inspired spot for Baron Samedi spiced rum. We shot in an old mansion in Toronto, which already had a great old look to start with.
Colin really wanted the colour palette to be rich and saturated, we used a combination of Astera Pixel Tubes, Light drops, Arri SkyPanel S60 and S360 fixtures, as well as LiteGear Litemats. We shot some sequences under-cranked to get that freaky jerky look.
We had a snake and wrangler for the product shot – miraculously the snake did the perfect move around the bottle in one of the first few takes, which is what made the cut.
The spot was shot with the Arri Mini and Cooke S5 lenses.
Davin Black directed this cool spot for a new French lingerie company. What’s interesting here is that its designed to also be watched in 1/4 speed on YouTube – I never realized you can choose different playback speeds on YouTube. The edit is designed to allow for seeing different details when viewed at the slower speed – even the sound design works that way!
We shot Arri Mini 4:3 with Kowa Anamorphic lenses.
In January I had the opportunity to shoot my first robotics commercial for the team at Tendril Design in Toronto. AutoStore, a Norwegian company, is a leader in robotics designed for the future of warehousing for online retailers.
Chris Bahry, Nicolas Gerard and Rafael Ruiz directed the live action. All the live action elements with our hero girl were shot in studio with a small set. We did pre-shoot testing to determine the look of the motion graphics that would appear on monitors in the set. In some cases, the graphics needed to be interactive with our hero talent. Pieces of glass were used in front of the camera which allowed us to shoot through reflections off large monitors of some of the playback graphics.
The Tendril CGI team did an amazing job of integrating the look we achieved in camera in term of colour and lighting shape with the robotic world they created.
It was an honour to be asked by Arri to participate in the series of short interview films they made to celebrate their 100th anniversary. This was shot during the filming of season 2 of The Expanse. I was speaking about our use of the Alexa Mini and how it changed the way we were able to shoot the show.
Its been a long time since I cut together a montage of my work. Seeing as last year was particularly interesting with The Long Road Home and The Expanse Season 3 back to back, I felt it was time to try and showcase this diverse work in one place. A true war story based on a book set in 2004, then a series set 300 years in the future! It struck me as I realized that all three works shown here are based on books! I really enjoy telling stories based on books, as well as true stories. Its great having that depth of source material to draw from when making a film.
So I cut short teaser trailers for both shows and combined them into one file. I’ve never made a proper Expanse teaser for myself, just been using the trailers the network makes – which are great – but they focus more on words and graphics and less on visuals. I made a point of making the teasers for Long Road Home and The Expanse be without the spoken word. I have always wanted to cut my own version to highlight our visual flare – just never had time. Unfortunately I can’t use season 3 yet as its still in post and not released… however I did combine Season 1 & 2 into one trailer.
Then there’s Killing Lincoln, which I shot in 2013. I am very proud of that work – its very different from these other projects as it is a period piece set in 1865, and it was recognized with an ASC award that year as well.
A few weeks ago I did a remote interview with a couple of guys from Freefly Systems to talk about our use of the Movi M15 on The Expanse. We also got into general film business discussions and how I got into the industry, as well as my background as a steadicam operator.
Every Axis is an original podcast from Freefly Systems and is produced at their HQ in Woodinville by Tabb Firchau and Evan MacDonald.
After months of post, the time has finally come for the premiere of The Long Road Home. The first two episodes aired on National Geographic Channel last night (November 7th 2017). I shot episodes 3, 4 and 7 with director Mikael Salomon, while DP Yasu Tanida shot the other 5 episodes out of the 8 in total with director Phil Abraham. Mikko Alanne was our fearless showrunner who got us through the challenges. Seth Reed was our production designer who built 1500 feet of Sadr City streets.
The show was extremely challenging in terms of logistics, scope and schedule. We shot entirely in Fort Hood, Texas – with the full support of the US Army. Living and working in a major US military base added to the reality we were working on creating… as our massive sets to recreate Sadr City, Iraq were built within training areas of Fort Hood. We went through something like 200,000 rounds of blank ammunition, along with loads of explosives and det cord.
We are all very proud of the work, especially because of it being a true story, one which is close to the heart of the US army. We had several veterans who were there during the real event (Black Sunday as its referred to in military circles) workig along side us during filming – knowing we were telling their harrowing story gave us the inspiration to get it right on every level.
We shot primarily with the Arri Amira – usually 3 at at time. We also carried an Arri Mini. Panavision Dallas provided all the gear – we used Primo lenses which were detuned (we used the light version for the home front material and heavy for the Iraq scenes).
Below is a link to a behind the scenes documentary on the making of the show.