Scene from Pelican Blood (Ecosse Films)
Cris Freddi's book Pelican Blood is a dark love story set against the unlikely backdrops of obsessive bird-watching and suicide. It's about to be brought to the screen with a release date provisionally set by UK distributor Icon Pictures of April. Pelican Blood was directed by Karl Golden and shot by cinematographer Darran Tiernan. The pair decided from the outset that they wanted the film to have "the look and feel of unpolished brass."
Darran takes up the story. "In terms of references, we were probably influenced more by photographs than by other films. In particular the work of Nan Goldin who captures subjects in the moment and quite often with available light. This was a low-budget production so we really had to have our wits about us when we were trying to achieve what we did. We shot at 64 locations over 30 days which gives you some idea of the frenetic pace required."
"The budget dictated it should be shot on high-definition but Karl was adamant that he wanted the texture of film and he and I fought long and hard for that. Thankfully the producers supported us in this and in the end the majority of Pelican Blood was shot on KODAK VISION2 7205 250D a Super 16mm stock which gave us just the look we wanted. We also used some of the new 500ASA VISION3 stock for some night scenes and some very dark scenes where we needed to shoot in slow motion."
"I wanted to shoot the final scene on 35mm but unfortunately this wasn't possible so I used 50D (KODAK VISION2 7201 50D) instead. This is the final chapter in the film and is a moment of clarity. It shows millions of starlings flying around in formation and was shot at dusk. The 50D gave it a beautiful cleanness and clarity whereas the rest of the film whilst not grainy is gritty in keeping with the 'warts-and-all' story matter. I remember Karl saying to me that it wasn't going to be all pretty pictures." Darran's camera package, provided by Take 2, was an ARRI 416 as main camera and a set of five Master Prime lenses.
"The reference to pelican blood," explained Darran "is that in medieval Europe the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of providing her own blood when no other food was available. As a result, the pelican became a symbol of self-sacrifice. I like to think that the film embodies the spirit of the book," he concluded.