This is a guest post from Rubidium Wu.
The 5D Generation from a filmmaker’s perspective
From Rubidium Wu:
When the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was first released, and subsequently discovered as a filmmaking tool, it took the world by storm. TV shows used them, films where shot with them, millions of units flew of the shelves. 5 years later, a lot people are wondering why they are not the default filmmaking camera, given their price and popularity.
The capture medium of feature films has changed over the last few years, from overwhelming film to almost totally digital. Looking at this year’s Oscar nominees, it’s the Arri Alexa that has taken over though, not the DSLRs. The reason behind this is pretty straightforward economics.Actual shooting takes up a small part of a films production budget, and camera hire is a small fraction of that. If you’re spending millions on actors, sets, locations, explosions, promotion and everything else, the difference between $2k to hire an Alexa for a week and $200 to hire a 5d for a week isn’t significant. On a six-week shoot the difference is only $10,800, or 0.18% of a ten million dollar film’s budget and probably even less if you cut a deal with the camera house.
For films this size and larger, the cost of the camera simply isn’t a big factor. Several features have shot with the 5d, notable Act of Valor or Silent House, but the use of the camera has been to give the production a documentary ‘lo-fi’ feel rather than because it was the best tool for the job.
I believe the real DSLR revolution is still on its way. Independent filmmakers who would never had access to the resources to make a traditional film, and couldn’t get their hands on a million dollars, and been quietly making films in this $50k and below range. For years now, Hollywood has been suffering from sequelitis and has been becoming more and more risk adverse, the result of which has been safer and less entertaining faire.
New, wonderful and strange films are beginning to emerge from the DLSR generation that break the conventions of pop culture character tropes and storytelling. Lena Dunham’s ‘Tiny Furniture’, shot on the 7d, paved the way for her HBO show ‘Girls’. Shane Carruth’s ‘Upstream Color’, shot for pennies on the Panasonic GH2, and told an entrancing tale that few studio executives would understand, let alone green-light.
These new filmmakers are just the first in what will be a long line of new and emerging voices that can afford to take chances to make films that can be what that author Robert McKee said all stories should aspire to: Tools for living.
As the pace of change accelerates and continues to transform our world, I believe that a new generation of filmmakers from all backgrounds and walks of life will continue to influence and inspire the world in which we live in.
About Rubidium Wu
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(cover photo credit: snap from Rubidium Wu)