After just coming off a short film and having worked with Procam for their complete camera and lighting package, Director Samuel Gridley and DoP Richard Osborne were keen to partner with Procam again when shooting Criminal Audition, a feature film produced by Muzzle The Pig & Mordue Pictures. Criminal Audition follows an ex-lawyer and his team who run an underworld service, seeking the most desperate (and greedy) to become fake criminals, taking the fall for the crimes of the rich and powerful, in a process known as CRIMINAL AUDITION. In an undisclosed location, over one night they will put three individuals through hell to find the perfect candidate, but their world is turned upside down when they face lies, deceit, murder, and a very dangerous new client as they audition for their biggest job yet.
Criminal Audition is a 93-minute feature film, shot across a tight 15-day shoot in two locations across central London – a theatre and outdoors. The theatre had all the amenities needed for shooting a film - green rooms, offices and storage space, but also came with tight spaces at one end and a large open auditorium with a challenging lighting set up. Despite shooting on such a tight schedule, the crew’s four main sets were in the same location, and with the lighting package that Richard and gaffer Damien Grey had selected from Procam, they were able to keep all four sets about 75% rigged and lit for the duration of the shoot. This meant that when inevitable schedule changes and squeezes occurred, the crew was always ready for plan B.
“If you look at having a tight shooting schedule as a problem-solving experience and as a way to really tell a story economically rather than overshooting, then you can still achieve exactly what you wanted, how you wanted to,” explained Nathaniel Francis.
Director Sam Gridley looked to comedy, violence and subvert genre stereotypes to create an original work that would speak to its audience. Sam set out to make the audience familiar with the location, (an abandoned theatre) by creating individual personalities and atmospheres for the rooms to match the eccentric characters, as well as make them uncomfortable once things get violent - and disorientate the audience. Each room in the film has a different look to it, a unique colour palette and as the story goes from control to chaos, the visuals mimic this shift.
Sam explained further, “We filled the frame with hanging bulbs, broken fluorescent tubes, and work lights as if the location was really a derelict building. We were able to rig in a theatre space and get away with seeing lights believably there when we were shooting fast. The film is anachronistic full of dated technology, fashion and other aesthetics, yet we still shot digital and found ways to achieve a retro, timeless feel. The film had to go from awkward comedy to horror-like claustrophobia, and we evolved the lighting and shooting style to underline that.”
Richard chose to shoot with his Kinefinity Kinemini camera, shot in 4K KineRAW, which he knew could handle the colours and contrast they were looking to create. Due to the scale and ambition of the project, they were after quite a large package. Richard paired this with a set of Cooke S4 mini lenses, fond of the lenses’ soft aesthetic. Essential kit for the success of the shoot included the Floatcam and the pentafinder. With the DollyCrane, they used camera movement quite economically in the story, saving dolly and jib type movements for crucial moments when they would have their highest impact. Being able to move around with a 4ft slider that they jib with too, also allowed them to freestyle on the day if needed. If a shot wasn’t getting the same effect as they had hoped, they could create this movement to heighten the moment. The pentafinder also proved to be invaluable in terms of time. Considering the very tight schedule, whilst the actors rehearsed, Sam and Richard were able to walk around set with the lenses to find their angles and to find the best way to tell the story.
“Working with a knowledgeable and understanding rental house was important for us. Every time I have dealt with Procam, regardless of who it is, they always seem as though they are genuinely trying to help you, rather than just simply running a business,” said Nathaniel.