Behind the scenes on Dr. Seymour.
The short film Dr. Seymour was created by director-screenwriter Alfonso Guerrero and cinematographer Diego Rosenblatt as part of Universidad ORT Uruguay’s post-graduate program (ORT 16), where students learn about a variety of film cameras and shooting techniques.
The film is a comedy about a psychologist whose office is located on a wharf. He tries to help a patient get rid of a deep anguish caused by his insecurity, and help him to move forward with his life. A possible change in the patient’s life suddenly transforms a promising decision into a new problem.
The production took place over two days on location on a narrow wharf. “It was pretty complicated to shoot on this kind of dock,” says Rosenblatt. “We had to set up structures over the water to distance the action from the camera, and contend with the changing tides. Luckily we had two completely clear days to do the set-up. I had seen the wharf two days before the shoot and I knew that high tide meant trouble.”
The filmmakers wanted the photography to capture the tone of the story by using yellow, brown and low contrast to lend to the implausible storyline. “The look we wanted for Dr. Seymour was filmic,” says Rosenblatt. “Skin tones are too difficult to control with a digital camera, especially when you cannot control the light. We were shooting in full sunshine with tough shadows and sunlight, and film still achieved the desired results. We did many tests for Dr. Seymour, and I am positive film was the best choice.”
The filmmakers chose KODAK VISION2 50D Color Negative Film 7201. “The 50D film has an almost imperceptible grain, it looks like 35mm,” says Rosenblatt. “The negative was even in density and color, and a warmer and ranged intervention on skins was done during the transfer.”
DP Diego Rosenblatt. Photos courtesy of Diego Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt’s camera package included an ARRI SR3 HS with Canon zoom 6.6-66mm. “We decided to have a handheld camera that followed the actors’ moves,” the cinematographer explains. “Therefore, the camera was tied to them and not the other way around. We worked on choreography and sequences that allowed for improvising where the camera could go. Even though it was all done with a handheld camera, we were avoiding extreme movement.
“We also chose to work with generous F-stops between F5.6 and F8 for a variety of reasons,” he continues. “We wanted the main camera to have a depth of field in the background where the action took place. We also wanted to have good camera movement without losing focus on the characters, and saving film stock is essential on these lower budget projects.”
Rosenblatt used a Chocolate +1 filter to give a sense of color implanted on the celluloid as well, which helped to guide the post-production color effect.
The entire film was captured at 25 frames per second to facilitate the post-production, and in the event of subsequent conversion to PAL.
The filmmakers are currently putting the final touches on Dr. Seymour before sending it on the festival circuit.