Robert Schwartzman (standing), Marcus Herring (kneeling with the hat on), Matthew Lloyd (operating camera), and Janice Min (2nd AC holding the slate)
Matthew Lloyd, CSC and director Marcus Herring have frequently collaborated on projects for Los Angeles-based production company The Directors Bureau. So, when they re-teamed to shoot Rooney’s music video for ‘Holdin’ On,’ they hit the ground running.
“Working with Marcus is a wonderful process because everything is very clear, and I am liberated to go off and try new things,” says Lloyd. “This video had a very particular process it needed to go through. Marcus’ aesthetic comes from an impossibly deep library of images. He is into the craziest stuff, and the references for every job we do together are so precise and manicured that it’s almost unbelievable. He is very much interested in re-creating the look and feeling of things gone by. One day it's an obscure Rita Pavone video, and the next it is a Russian punk performance or an unknown 1970s B-movie.”
Lloyd welcomes the challenge of having to create, or re-create, these specific references from the director. “Marcus is so focused on the types of images he is after, but is not necessarily overbearing technically. It's up to me and my crew to figure out how to pull off that certain look. Marcus doesn't sweat the small stuff, and he creates an environment rather than a shot. We always know what we are doing because he is so prepared.”
Matthew Lloyd, CSC
Lloyd explains that the concept for the ‘Holdin’ On’ video was based on pre-MTV promotional films that bands would create to promote their records. “Typically these films featured the band just hanging out in weird scenarios and goofing around,” explains Lloyd. “There was some live performance, but mostly just situational humor and silly camera tricks. Marcus was really interested in going after the look and feel of the ‘60s promotional films. When he first proposed the project to me he had printed almost every shot of Richard Lester's Beatles film ‘Help.’”
The cinematographer says that the “Help” images served as a primary inspiration for “Holdin’ On,” with almost every shot in the Rooney video being a direct reference to the Beatles film. Lloyd and Herring wanted to reconstruct not just the images, but the energy felt in the original film.
Lloyd and AC David Edsall had extensive conversations about how to approach the job. It was ultimately decided that the best thing to do was simply mimic exactly what was done in the 1960s. “We came up with the idea that we should shoot the whole job in 16mm color, print everything to a positive, and then telecine off the print,” explains Lloyd. “I grade almost all my own work in the end, but there is a certain quality to print film that simply cannot be duplicated in telecine. It is an analog system, things just don't work the same way in digital.”
The camera package for ‘Holdin’ On’ included an ARRI SR3 high-speed body from Panavision Hollywood mounted with Canon 10-110mm lenses.
“I always love shooting film because I get to use cameras that I have employed for years, and I know exactly how to use them,” notes Lloyd. “So many digital systems are cumbersome with cables and accessories everywhere. Also optical-viewfinders are an essential part of filmmaking. Who wants to use a camera that you can't just look through? The SR3 is such a well-built, hassle-free machine that I haven't really been interested in any newer 16mm systems.”
Lloyd says shooting on KODAK VISION3 200T Color Negative Film 7213 was a necessity. “I knew going into the video that we would print all of the footage before transferring it, so I decided to pull process the entire negative,” says Lloyd. “I often employ pull process on the (72)13 stock when I shoot it outside. I rate it a 100 ISO, and it has a tendency to help soften the blacks and reduce chroma saturation. The lower contrast of the 7213 pulled was essential for us. When you go to a film print you really end up with a full-contrast image and very hard blacks. You have to be very precise with exposure and where things lay on the curve. David (Edsall) is very helpful with this because I tend to want to expose by eye, and he always keeps a close watch on where black and white are in relation to the stop on the lens.”
Production of the video took place in one day in a national forest in Antelope Valley, California. The location provided the filmmakers the right light and a wide variety of geography to stage many of the little vignettes. Most of the reference material was shot at either dawn or dusk, using just bounce and diffusion.
Robert Schwartzman plays guitar
The film was developed at FotoKem in Burbank. The color negative was pull processed at one stop, and then printed to KODAK VISION print stock. From there, the print went to telecine and ended up in ProRes 4444 QuickTime. Herring edited the video himself and when it was completed, Lloyd did the final color correction using DaVinci Resolve. “Honestly, by the time the film had gone through all the photochemical processes, there really wasn't much to be done in final color correction. The pull-print combination really yielded the perfect look, and shooting uncorrected knocked enough color out of it that in the end I think we really did justice to the original reference material.”
Lloyd says both Herring and the band were pleased with the final results. “I was actually a little nervous until we got to the telecine,” admits Lloyd. “Shooting on film keeps you on edge. You really have to think about the effects and how you want to achieve them. All of the most innovative and compelling looks are done on film for the simple reason that it keeps you aware and affords you the flexibility to try new things.”
To see Rooney’s ‘Holdin’ On,’ go to http://www.rooney-band.com/audiovisual/videos/.