Scene from the Audi test commercial
One of the great things about the film industry is the sense of camaraderie. Quite often, film crews and photographers will turn out for friends and colleagues for little or no reward except the knowledge that they've helped out. That's precisely what's happened recently for director John Turner who enlisted the aid of DP Ed Mash and a film crew to shoot a test commercial.
The test commercial featured the Audi A4 saloon car and the creative was to create a conceptual piece that revolved around the car battling against nightmarish scenarios, set within a horror landscape. So John gave Ed the difficult brief of shooting a black car on a dark night. DP Ed Mash takes up the story. "The shoot took place last September. This is generally an opportune time to shoot night scenes due to the longer hours of darkness without frost. The locations-mainly in London but also some in Surrey- were extremely diverse ranging from airfields, forests, country lanes, doorways and footbridges to a scrap yard. This last was my favourite, a fantastic jumble of wrecked cars, broken glass, oil and twisted metal. We lit the whole scene with industrial work lights, a 4K HMI and a couple of well-placed bonfires. The effects crew doused the entire location with a rain machine."
"The director, John Turner, and I discussed many lighting references to create the sense of isolation and darkness that he wanted. We decided to shoot on film and chose KODAK VISION3 500T 7219. Because we were shooting at night, I felt that the digital route was possibly too over-sensitive and also that I could work faster on film. Camera techniques like flash frames, reversed action and high speed look most organic on film. But I also chose film because I feel that film gives you something unexpected, a little bit of magic."
"We needed a fast stock to shoot light reflected in a black car at night and the VISION3 500T was my first choice as I knew it handled high contrast and mixed color temperatures without losing detail. At the time though, I didn't realise how fortunate choosing 500T would be but about a week after the main shoot John asked me if I'd consider shooting some night-time pick-up shots with some of the leftover stock. I agreed only to find there was no budget left for a generator. The scene involved a hitchhiker on a dark empty road surrounded by pine trees. It's lit entirely with car headlights. There's a shot of the road from the forest where the car sweeps by a fern revealing the fronds. It's a detail but the 500T caught it perfectly."
"Shooting a black car at night presents a lot of challenges so I decided not to light the car itself but to base my exposure on reflections off the car. To create these reflections we built a long 100ft white reflector down the side of the airfield and lit it with lights placed on the ground. The scene was covered from various positions and lenses whilst we shot high speed or under-cranked the camera at 12fps to get the coverage John required. The reflections looked almost liquid as the car's bodywork shot past at 60mph."
As always with productions of this collaborative nature there are always lots of people to thank and John and Ed would like to express their gratitude to Richard Martin, Lucy Glyn, Judy Vermulen and James Graley at Nice Shirt Films, George at MPC who is currently working on the final grade, Kevin Docherty, James Alexander and Marcus Dryden at Envy, Gary Forrester and Ted Guard at The Quarry, Peter Moore at Take 2 Films, focus-puller Steve Janes and Karen L'Aiguille at Kodak. Plus a big thank you to all the crew who stepped up to the plate and helped out on what was, an epic test shoot.
If you'd like to view the Audi test shoot visit Nice Shirts website and select John Turner's page at: www.niceshirtfilms.com