InCamera — Issue 2 2011

  Focus On Film

Action series strikes back a second time


Strike Back2
(L to R) Sullivan Stephenson and Philip Winchester in Strike Back2 Photo credit Sky/HBO.

DP Steve Lawes has just completed filming the last block of the high-octane drama series Strike Back2.

The series was filmed on location in Durban, Cape Town and Springbok South Africa and in Budapest Hungary. Like the first series, Strike Back 2 is based around a fictitious UK government facility known as Section 20 which uses intelligence gained to send Special Forces-type personnel on missions around the world. Woven around the books by ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan, the series interweaves the dramatic politics of war with the personal demons of two very driven men.

Steve Lawes says that “the look of the show is intended to be a fast-paced immersive experience with a cinematic style that takes cues from major feature films. Steve was instrumental in persuading the production companies, Left Bank Pictures for the UK and Out of Africa for South Africa, to allow him to shoot on film rather than RED. He says, “35mm film is still the best and most flexible capture medium available today. We shoot a minimum of two cameras and quite often four are used on a regular basis. The logistics of using digital would impact greatly on our schedule.”

Steve used a variety of ARRI cameras for the shoots including an ARRICAM ST, two ARRICAM LTs, a 435ES and a 235. He also used a wide array of Cooke S4 Prime lenses ranging from 14mm up to 180mm. Three Kodak film stocks were employed; KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 5207, KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219 and KODAK VISION2 50D Color Negative Film 5201.

For the scenes shot in Budapest (episodes 4-7) , the negative processing and preparation for transferring to telecine was carried out by Kodak Cinelabs Hungary (KCH), an Imagecare Program-accredited lab. KCH had previously worked with the production company who were very pleased with their work. The production manager said, “I was very happy to work with KCH again. I am always comfortable that our material is in good hands in their laboratory and that they will obtain the best results for us.”

Strike Back2 airs on HBO’s Cinemax channel in the US and on SKY1 from Sunday 21st August in the UK.