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'Blunt Force' shot exclusively with Canon cameras

July 2, 2013
'Blunt Force' shot exclusively with Canon cameras
BILOXI, MS — Director of photography, David E. West recently called on an assortment of Canon digital cameras to capture imagery for the new film Blunt Force from director Daniel Zirilli. The project, set for release in August, was shot in Mississippi and tells the story of an ex-soldier who’s been imprisoned and is now forced to be part of an Internet cage-fighting club.

The tight-budget production’s script called for lots of action, including close-ups of mixed martial arts fighting and a high-speed car chase shot from a low-flying helicopter. Low-light location scenes would also present challenges. DP West made it an all-Canon shoot using a Canon Cinema EOS C300 digital cinema camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, and EF-Series lenses from Canon U.S.A., Inc., Having used the EOS C300 camera on a previous assignment, he was enthusiastic about its portability and low-light advantages. He also owned an EOS 5D Mark II camera, and was a fan of Canon lenses both for photography and for shooting reality TV. 

“There are a lot of reasons why I chose the Canon Cinema EOS C300 camera,” West recalls. “One is its lightweight design. We had to shoot a lot of close-up stunt fighting that required me to be just inches away from the performers. These shots could only be done hand-held, and the EOS C300 camera is so completely well designed in terms of portability that it enabled me to maneuver it into positions where heavier cameras just couldn’t go. Guys were being vaulted into the air and I was on the ground shooting them flying over me. Hand-held shooting also helps boost the energy level of fight scenes because it enables you to get in close and add your energy to the performers, so things become even more intense. The compact size of the EOS C300 camera and its detachable LCD monitor also enabled me to keep my eye on what was going on around me in the middle of these tricky fighting situations.”

The Canon Cinema EOS C300 camera’s body weighs just over 3 lbs. and can accommodate a wide range of shooting setups. It can be held by its removable, rotating side handgrip, its detachable top handle, or a wide variety of third-party support devices and accessories. Equipped with a Canon Super 35mm CMOS sensor, innovative Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor, and a 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 codec for full 1920 x 1080 HD, the EOS C300 cinema camera delivers a selectable ISO range up to 20,000 for impressive low-light performance. This proved crucial for Blunt Force’s fight scenes, which took place in dark, grim prison interiors.

West adds that the ability to instantly play back footage recorded on the EOS C300 camera’s digital CF cards was another benefit to the production, as it enabled the director and stunt performers to review complex fight sequences and determine whether reshoots were needed before moving on to the next scene. “We also ran an external monitor for the director to look at,” he notes. “The LCD that comes with the EOS C300 camera got the most use during shooting. It has amazing picture quality.”

Blunt Force was totally photographed with Canon EF-Series lenses, including the EF 16-35mm ultra-wide zoom, and EF 70-200mm and EF 75-300mm telephoto zooms.

“Director Daniel Zirilli and I both like the look of wides and longs,” West elaborates. “The movie didn’t play that much in the mid-range. We used the Canon 16-35mm ultra-wide angle for the fighting sequences, and then the longer lenses for everything else. I love Canon lenses and have a long history of using Canon ENG lenses for mainstream TV, including music shows, specials, and feature documentaries. 

“Blunt Force is going to look like we spent a lot of money on it, and much of that will be thanks to Canon equipment,” West concludes. “I love everything that Canon’s been doing for a long time, and I’m very happy that they are in the motion-picture production world. I am very impressed with the EOS C300 camera and now I want to get into 4K production with the Canon Cinema EOS C500 camera for the next film that I’m scheduled to shoot.”