For David Gaz, producing and posting the indie film Diamond Zero, with partner/director Annelie Wilder, represents the culmination of a 10-year vision. Diamond Zero is a sci-fi film, starring Bronson Pinchot and Tippi Hedren, that asks: What would happen if someone created a machine that turns people into diamonds?
It sounds far fetched, but Gaz points to the presence of carbon in humans — a starting point to pulling off such a feat. In the film, history's greatest names — Napoleon, Tut and Disney — are used to create the "Celebrity Diamond Network." But when the corpses run out things take a bizarre turn.
Gaz is an accomplished photographer whose style is identified by the use of layers of film, illuminated with saturated color. He witnessed the transition in photography from film to digital media first hand, and saw others struggle by resisting new technology.
The concept for the film came to Gaz while living in Paris, and in 2002 he finally began production, working with a $250K budget.
"In 2002, 24p was still a dirty name," he notes. "I questioned it and whether it lacked the sensibility of film stock." Digital cameras were expensive, but so was film stock. What to do?
"We decided to look forward and not make the mistakes people made in the photography world," Gaz explains. "I embraced digital, and I'm glad I did. We did shoot a little 35mm, but all of the 24p was shot using the Sony CineAlta 900 with cinema lenses."
Surprisingly, the digital workflow only marginally impacted the budget. "You think with digital, everything is going to be cheap," says Gaz, "but for a SAG movie, you need trailers, fire marshals, school teachers."
LA-based editor Bill Butler (A Clockwork Orange) was hired for six weeks to perform the offline and Gaz bought a Final Cut Pro system to finish the film himself over the next six months.
"One of the things I wanted to do was have very charged photos. I wanted to transfer what I did best into filmmaking. I wanted a fast edit, with no breathing space. I think it's a metaphor for real life. My approach to photography is that real life is kind of messy."