We recently spoke with DP Weston Walker from Fractal Film Co about ‘Timeless’, a spec piece which brought together a team of creatives to collaborate on the project.
Weston shares some of the challenges that the team faced along the way and how they were able to solve those problems to produce an elegant piece. Before you take a read, you can watch the final video below.
How did ‘Timeless’ come about?
Like most good projects, Timeless originated over several strong cups of coffee and the desire to collaborate with friends on a unique project. Our team shared the common desire to tell a beautiful story while utilizing the best gear in the business. We collectively pulled all our resources, called in some favors, put in the hard work and came out with a passion project everyone was proud of. Timeless was really the brainchild of Director Keaton Bowlby who had a connection to the vintage Riva Boat and had been dreaming of shooting a piece like this for many years.
What did the project involve?
We pulled together a great team to execute Timeless. At the core, it consisted of Director Keaton Bowlby, Director of Photography Weston Walker, Creative Director Chad Davies, and Editor Justin Majeczky. From there, we developed the story and brought the right support teams (drone, MōVI boat ops, gaffers, audio, etc) as well as worked with the film’s sponsors to make it happen.
Nimia generously executive produced the piece, RED provided camera support with the new DSMC2 Gemini camera, Freefly Systems provided a Movi XL, Bright Tangerine provided all the Misfit matte box, Revolvr follow focus and Titan Arms, and Schneider Optics provided all the RHOdium FSND filters for the shoot. Timeless was shot on a tight schedule of two evenings. We had to work around the shipyard schedule so couldn’t shoot until they closed up shop after 5 pm. We shot all the boat running and water content in one evening from about 5 pm to 8 pm and the shop flashback sequence the following night from about 5 pm to 10 pm.
What challenges did you face during the project and how did you overcome them?
Probably the greatest challenge on this shoot (and any shoot) is battling time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to execute all the shots you want in pre-production meetings. To add to the crunch, the hourly running cost for a vintage $750,000 boat isn’t cheap (go figure), so we had to be as efficient as possible in executing the shots to tell the story. This is where having the right gear becomes crucial.
The Bright Tangerine Revolvr ensured that we nailed focus on the first or second take every time. And the efficiency of the Misfit matte box made filter changes and swapping diopters on the Lomo anamorphic a breeze. Every time you make adjustments to the camera system it takes time, and all those minutes can add up to be hours at end of the day. Having the right gear that’s solid and guarantees efficiency is the difference between getting the shot or missing it entirely. It’s the difference between being able to tell the story you want or have to compromise on the cutting floor. And we don’t like compromising…
What did you learn from shooting ‘Timeless’
We learned that great things can come from a bit of passion, a lot of drive and the right crew to pull it off. We called in a lot of favors to make Timeless happen and everyone that worked on it poured their heart and soul into the project. I think the most valuable thing we learned is that when you get really excited about making a film, it becomes infectious to pretty much everyone you share your enthusiasm with. You have to put yourself out there and go for it. If you have a creative idea, don’t be afraid to share it with your friends, pick up the phone and make your idea a reality.
Any final words?
We’d just like to thank everyone who worked on the project. From the film crew to the actors, to the boat ops teams and all the companies that helped out with gear – this was truly a team effort. With a very limited budget, you have to rely on the team and I think that’s what ultimately draws us all to create films in the first place right? At the end of the day, it’s collaborating and working with great people that make it all worth it. It sounds super cliche to say this, but it really is all about the journey.
“Having the right gear that’s solid and guarantees efficiency is the difference between getting the shot or missing it entirely. It’s the difference between being able to tell the story you want or have to compromise on the cutting floor. And we don’t like compromising…”
– Weston Walker
What gear was used for the project?
The RED DSMC2 Gemini was paired with Lomo Anamorphic square fronts from Element Camera rental in San Fransisco. We built out the A-Cam with the Misfit matte box on 15mm rails, Revolvr follow focus and added a RED Touch 7″ mounted on the Titan Arm. This kept the setup very nimble and light handheld shooting. We utilized Schneider Optics RHOdium FSND Filters and diopters with the kit. We also had the Freefly Systems MōVI XL, MōVI Pro, Alta 6 Drone, and Canon 50-1000mm lens.
Why did you choose to shoot anamorphic?
We knew from the start we wanted this piece to have a unique cinematic ‘feel’ to it and the Lomo square fronts give that to you in spades. There are so many good clean lens options these days and they tend to make the work all look the same. We knew we wanted to make this piece feel a bit more poetry than precision, so shooting vintage anamorphic was an obvious choice. We also knew a large portion of the film was going to be a flashback to a time when the older woman was a little girl working on the boat with her father, so we wanted to give it an old time nostalgic feel. The Lomo lenses have a lot of personality, soft on the edges and tack sharp in the middle with awesome aberrations and flares anytime you point light in the general direction of the front elements. These lenses aren’t the easiest to use, they’re heavy and a bit clunky with stiff focus mechanics and atrocious short focus capabilities. But, when you can align all the stars and make them shine, they give you exceptionally beautiful images in camera that simply can never be created in post.
What filters & diopters did you use?
We used Schneider Optics RHOdium FSND filters. These are the best ND I’ve ever used. They’re solid and provide zero color shift even at 8-10 stops. To achieve close focus on the Lomo anamorphic, we also used the Schneider 138mm round diopters in strengths of +1/2, +1, +2, +3. The +3 was crucial on the 85mm Lomo for our closeup hero shots of the Rolex. We mounted the diopters in the Black Hole
“These lenses aren’t the easiest to use, they’re heavy and a bit clunky with focus mechanics and atrocious short focus capabilities. But, when you can align all the stars and make them shine, they give you exceptionally beautiful images in camera that simply can never be created in post.”
– Weston Walker
Weston Walker is a cinematographer and director with over 10 years of experience crafting stories and branded content for a diverse set of clients. While versed in all aspects of production, Weston’s true passion is behind the lens where he takes pride in crafting images that are powerful, nuanced and which propel a projects’ vision forward with impactful clarity. Weston’s goal is to always create beautiful images in service of the story and bringing the directors vision to life.
What music are you currently listening to: Oh man. I listen to a lot of different stuff depending on the mood. Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Hans Zimmer, Vivaldi and Mozart, Jason Aldean. I like it all.
Who are your creative Inspirations: Biggest current inspirations are Roger Deakins and Bradford Young. I’m a big fan of naturalistic lighting. On a smaller scale, I really like the work of Khalid Mohtaseb and Chayse Irving (though he just shot Blackkklansman so not sure he’s ‘smaller scale’ anymore).
Keaton Bowlby is a motion cinematographer who enjoys pushing equipment to the limit. Whether it be on his car rig, or in the air, Keaton and his crew at Ascending Works don’t slow down for anything. From Olympic Ice Skating to chasing Ford Shelby Raptors, Keaton is always moving a camera in a unique way.
What music are you currently listening to: Currently I am listening to a mix of Leon Bridges, Allah Las, and Port O’Brien in my free time. Although when I am building a camera setup or trying to find inspiration, I listen to more of a digital sound such as Daft Punk or Odezsa.
Who are your creative Inspirations: Basically anyone that is moving cameras in a unique or consistently dramatic way. A few off the top of my head are Motion State, IdoAerial, and the entire Freefly Systems crew.