“A Great Life”: Stunning Short Film Shot with 2 Actors, 2 Crew and in Just 1 Day

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I get a lot of mail (and I don’t always get thru it like I should but I’m working on that) and now and then, something just totally stands out and I have to share it. This short from Steven Oakley is one of those.

It tugs at your heart.

Maybe it was because I saw it just as my mother became so ill (and passed on Jan 1st). Maybe it was because it was just so well done!


You’ll see below that Steven shot it with a Canon EOS C100, 2 actors, 2 crew, and did the whole shoot in just one day.

Our thanks to Steven for his patience with me getting it posted and for coming to planet5D to share it with the world.

Shooting “A Great Life”

From Steve:

This shoot is perhaps testament that if you have a good script, great actors, a location and a crew of 2, you can make something good in… one day ! Oh it was a 16 or 17 hr day but it was an easy one. We took our time, had breaks, planned stuff out, ate well, laughed a lot and no one killed themselves. Thats the way it should work. It was a huge help to run rehersals. I can't say how much that let myself and the actors refine and work out better dialog and flow across the scenes. The fun part is we did just improv 2 or 3 scenes thanks to this rehearsal.

For those who want to know it was the first real shoot I did with my new C100. I'd decided pretty early on that my dslr's weren't up to what I wanted. The C100 pretty much blew me away with how much better a camera it is than what I'd been shooting with. My lense choices where often the Rokinon Cine 35, OM 50 1.4, Kiron 24 2.0 and Tamron 70-200 2.8. The Rokinon Cine 14mm was also used for a bunch of shots like the car interiors. It was a mix of new and vintage glass.

There are also some shots from one of my 60D's in there too. I had planned on having 2 cameras but that didn't work out at the last minute. Perhaps the hardest part was color matching those 60D shots in to the C100 shots. I think I did pretty well but you can probably guess which shots where done on the 60D – they just tended to lack the sharpness and detail of the C100. I also find the 60D just doesn't have the range of color that the C100 makes even when talking about 8bit codecs.

A Great Life

Sound was handled by Josiah Winterhoff. Most of the interiors were boomed with a CMC-64. I did pull out a Sanken COS-11D lav on a couple of shots and 2 for the car interiors. One one exterior shot we used a Rycote S with Sanken CS3e which worked great in the wind and rain. We recorded both to camera and SD 552 mixer. I used most of the sound from the 552 as I though it was a tiny bit cleaner but camera recorded audio was also used and was perfectly good. Overall sound was really simple and clean on this shoot which is the way its supposed to work.

Much of the lighting was done with a mix of LED lights. I used the custom ones I have and a couple of cheaper 5.6K panel lights. On several shots I had the 5.6K panel lights working outside in the rain. I just put clear plastic bags over them, tape the bag and was good. If I'd run with HMI's it would of been far more of a pain to tent them out and keep them safe. In fact in one nite shot I had one of the panel lights on maybe 1/2 power but it made the outside trees look too bright and in post I took those areas down. The amazing light sensitivity of the C100 let me work at much lower light levels than I could with other cameras or film. I think this was probably the key factor in even being able to pull this shoot off. When you aren't messing with big lights, big power draw, lots of cables and all the other things that go with old tech cameras you can really free yourself to work better. I mean with more takes, or thinking your shots through better, and even making it easier for your actors to do their thing because you can spend more time with them developing the scene.

Learn more about Steven's approach in this short film “A Great Life”

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


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