Sundance 2013 plays host to more than three-dozen Local 600 shot-films, showcasing the best of personalized, indie filmmaking.
By David Geffner
All photos courtesy of Sundance
Another year at Sundance, another stellar line-up of independent films crewed by Guild camera members. Local 600 shooters accounted for nearly one-third of the roughly 120 features screening in Park City in 2013, the bulk of which celebrate the kind of personalized, emotionally resonant moviemaking that has made Sundance the best and most diverse of any global film festival. Many shooters are returning to the snowy Wasatch mountain range for the third, fourth and even fifth times in their young careers.
Like Reed Morano, who in a repeat performance of 2012, is back with two fully union-staffed projects – Kill Your Darlings (Dramatic Competition) and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister Pete (Premieres). Likewise for Jas Shelton (who’s been to Sundance more times than we count) with the eagerly awaited debut of C.O.G. (Dramatic Competition), the first-ever screen adaptation of satirist David Sedaris’ work.
Polly Morgan, profiled in ICG’s 2012 Generation NEXT class, lensed the intimate and fragile drama Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes (Dramatic Competition), and documentary cinematographer Arlene Nelson, who co-shot 2011’s highly praised nonfiction feature, Troubadours, returns with Valentine Road, an exploration of a 2008 middle-school murder that echoes with questions about violence in American schools.
Overall, it’s an eclectic group of entries – everything from Gun, directed by Guild camera assistant Spencer Gillis and shot by Ludovic Littee, about a father buying a weapon to protect his family with devastating results, to DP Benjamin Kasulke’s continued partnership with Seattle-based writer/director Lynn Shelton – the pair’s Touchy Feely centers on a massage therapist who experiences a sudden revulsion to bodily contact! Still, there is a unifying thread this year in Park City, and it’s narrative and visual intimacy. This is challenging, fearless work that gets right up in your face.
(Note: this listing was compiled with information supplied by Local 600 members prior to the start of the festival. We are not responsible for omission of films and crewmember names not provided to www.icgagazine.com by posting date.)
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Afternoon Delight – is a darkly funny drama about Rachel, a woman who, despite a good family and comfy life in L.A.’s affluent Silverlake neighborhood, feels completely lost in the world – disconnected from her husband, young son, friends and even herself. In an attempt to spice up her marriage, Rachel visits a strip club where she meets McKenna, a young stripper, and is convinced that she can and must save McKenna. Rachel ends up bringing McKenna into her home as a live-in nanny, a decision that has immediate repercussions for Rachel and all those in Rachel’s life. James Frohna shot the indie feature for writer/director Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara). Local 600 crewmembers included 1st AC Shelly Gurzi, B-camera operator DJ Harder, and B-camera 1st AC Jordan Hirstov.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – Written and directed by David Lowery, and focusing on an outlaw (Casey Affleck) who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. The cast also features Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, and Keith Carradine. Local 600 members on the New Mexico-based shoot included A-camera/Steadicam operator David Isern, 2nd Unit DP/1st AC Joe Anderson, 1st AC/additional photography Davie Carothers, 2nd AC/additional 1str AC Sam Ellison, and Unit Stills Steve Dietl.
Concussion – Digital Imaging Technician David Kruta shot this drama for writer/director Stacie Passon about Abby (Robin Weigert), who receives a blow to the head, and decides her life can’t only about the house, the kids and the wife anymore. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor.
C.O.G. - Director/screenwriter Kyle Patrick Alvarez brings the first-ever adaptation of writer David Sedaris’ work to the screen with this story of a cocky young man who travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. Shot by Sundance veteran Jas Shelton, along with Guild 1st AC Keith Jones. The cast includes Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario.
Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes – From writer/director Francesca Gregorini comes the story of Emanuel (Kyle Scodelario), a troubled girl who becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor, who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. In offering to babysit her newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world, of which she becomes the gatekeeper. Shot by Polly Morgan, who was featured in ICG Magazine’s Generation NEXT feature, December 2012), with Guild operator Hugh Bell on Steadicam, and 1st AC’s Patrick Blanchet, Stephen Taylor-Wehr.
Fruitvale – Ryan Coogler directed this ultra-micro budget feature hat centers around the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, the 22 year old Bay Area resident who was shot on the Fruitvale BART platform on New Years Eve, 2008 in plain sight of a train full off passengers. Shot by Sundance veteran Rachel Morrison, who used Super 16mm on an ARRI SR3 and Zeiss 16 Ultraprimes.
Kill Your Darlings – Reed Morano and a full Guild camera team shot this fictional tale about a murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of an entire generation, and their Beat revolution. John Krokidas directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Austin Bunn. Local 600 members on the shoot included Camera Operator/Steadicam Operator Afton Grant, 1st AC Kevin Akers, Additional 1st ACs George Tur and Waris Supanpong, 2nd AC/Loader Nicalena Iovino, B-camera 1st AC Rebecca Heller, Loader Dave Regan, Additional Loader Somer Stamps, B-camera 2nd AC Caitlin Machak, and Unit Stills Jessica Miglio.
May in the Summer – Local 600 DP Brian Rigney Hubbard (Circumstance) returns to Sundance (and the Middle East) with this drama about a bride-to-be, forced to reevaluate her life when she reunites with her family in Jordan and finds herself confronted with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. Writer/director Cherien Dabis also stars.
The Lifeguard – Kristen Bell plays a former valedictorian who quits her job as a New York reporter and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager. Guild DP John Peters lensed the drama for writer/director Liz Garcia. Local 600 members on-board included 1st AC Ulysses Domalaon, DIT Curtis Abbott, Unit Stills Donald Rager, and additional AC/operator Gerard Martin.
The Spectacular Now – Sutter (Miles Teller) is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee (Shailene Woodley) is the introvert he attempts to “save.” As the relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and “saving” and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Shot by Jess Hall with Guild crewmembers B-camera/Steadicam operator Ian Forsyth, A-camera 1st AC Joseph Thomas, 2nd AC Sherri Leger, 2nd Unit B-camera operator Alfeo Dixon, Film Loader Saul McSween, and Digital Utility Matthew Evans.
Toy’s House – Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts re-teams with Guild DP Ross Riege (see Web Exclusives, Laugh Out Loud, icgmagazine.com) for this neo-coming of age story about three unhappy teenagers who head out into the wilderness with a plan to build a house and to live off the land. Other crewmembers include A-camera 1st AC Bianca Bahena, A-camera 2nd AC Thomas Semple, DIT Noel Maitland, Steadicam Operator Mark “Chief” Meyers and 2nd Unit DP Mike Berlucchi.
Touchy Feely – Photographed by Benjamin Kasulke last spring in Seattle for writer/director Lynn Shelton, is centers on a massage therapist who is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch….” The cast includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, and Ellen Page. Guild members on the shoot included Coty James (A-cam 1st AC), TJ Williams, Jr (Steadicam Operator), Alyssa Tyrrill (2nd AC), Nathan Miller (B-cam operator), Jacob Rosen (B-cam 1st AC), Margaret Longley (2nd AC), Joe Jacobs (DIT), and Richard Lawrence (Camera Utility).
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Inequality for All – Director Jacob Kornbluth brings this timely and entertaining documentary about economic-policy expert Robert Reich, who distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy. Shot by Guild cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko.
Twenty Feet From Stardom – Director Morgan Neville (Troubadours) returns to Sundance with another music-themed non-fiction feature, this time about backup singers, who live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. While their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, few know who these singers are or what lives they lead. Troubadours’ co-DP Arlene Nelson operates camera for Neville, while Guild shooter Graham Willoughby co-DP’s with Nicola Marsh. Guild member Mark Schwartzbard provided additional photography.
Valentine Road – Local 600 cinematographer Arlene Nelson lensed this documentary for director Marta Cunningham about eighth-grader Brandon McInerney, who in 2008 shot his classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as its startling aftermath.
A.C.O.D – John Bailey, ASC shot this comedy, directed by Stu Zicherman, about a grown man (Adam Scott) still caught in the crossfire of his parents’ 15-year divorce. He discovers he was unknowingly part of a study on divorced children, and is enlisted in a follow-up years later that wreaks new havoc on his family. Also starring Sundance favorite Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara. The all-Guild crew also featured A-camera/Steadicam operator Matthew Moriarty, A-camera 1st AC Clyde Bryan, B-camera operator B-camera Brian Gunter, 1st AC Yuri Karjane, operator Ross Sebek, loader/DIT Trisha Solyn, and still photographer Quantrell Colbert.
Big Sur – Cinematographer David Mullen, ASC, reteams with one-half of the Polish brothers (Michael) for this story about Jack Kerouac, burned out by alcohol and drugs years after On The Road made him a literary sensation, and his retreat to an isolated, fog-banked cabin in a coastal California forest. What ensues in those fateful three weeks is both terrifying and revelatory, as Kerouac sets off on a visceral collision course of paranoia, sex, delirium tremens, misery and madness.
The East – Russian DP Roman Vasyanov (ICG Magazine, October, 2012) lensed this drama about a contract worker (Ellen Page) who is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group, only to find herself falling for its leader (Alexander Skarasgård). The Guild camera team included DIT Arthur To (who last worked with Vasyanov on End of Watch), A-camera/Steadicam operator Mark Karavite, 1st AC A-camera Andrew Dumas, 1st AC B-camera Bryan Delorenzo, and Unit Stills Myles Aronowitz. Co-written and directed by Zal Batmanglij.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister Pete – Shot on ALEXA by Reed Morano, directed by George Tillman Jr. and written by Michael Starrbury, this story of friendship and salvation centers on two boys, who separated from their mothers and facing a summer in the Brooklyn projects alone, hide from police and forage for food. The cast includes Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, and Jeffrey Wright. Guild members on the movie were Camera Operator/Steadicam Operator Afton Grant, 1st AC Kevin Akers, 2nd AC Nicalena Iovino, and DIT Charlie Anderson. Erin Henning was B-cam 1st AC, Rebecca Heller was B-camera 2nd AC, Nadine Martinez was additional B-camera 1st AC. Additional B-camera 2nd AC’s included Caitlin Machak, Steve McBride, and Dave Regan. KC Bailey was unit stills.
Jobs – Ashton Kutcher plays the world’s most revered CEO in this biopic that charts the Silicon Valley entrepreneur’s ascension from college dropout to head of Apple Computer. Key players in Job’s life include Dermot Mulroney as Mike Markkula, Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak, and Matthew Modine as John Sculley. Russell Carpenter, ASC, shot the Bay Area based production on ARRI ALEXA. Other Local 600 members on the shoot included A-camera operator Gregory Lundsgaard, Aerial DP Phil Pastuhov, 1st AC Bruce De Aragon, DIT Robert Howie, and Unit Stills David Moir and Glen Wilson.
Lovelace – Amanda Seyfried stars as the infamous star of Deep Throat, the first pornographic feature film to be a mainstream success. After becoming an international sensation, Lovelace, the “poster girl for the sexual revolution,” revealed she was used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband. The power-packed cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, and Sharon Stone. Lensed by Guild DP Eric Alan Edwards and directed by Oscar winning documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Guild member Dale Robinette shot unit stills on the project.
Prince Avalanche – Guild shooter Tim Orr debuts his seventh feature with writer/director David Gordon Green (and his tenth movie at Sundance), in this story about two highway road workers who spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind. Shot on location in rural Texas and starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. Guild crewmembers included 1st AC David Regan and 2nd AC Stephen McBride.
Stoker – Glenn Kaplan worked as 1st AC and Macall Polay shot stills for this romantic drama from Korean director Park Chan-Wook about a young woman (Mia Wasikowska), whose father dies in an auto accident. When an uncle comes to live with her and her mother (Nicole Kidman), she soon suspects the mysterious relative has ulterior motives, even as she becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Sweetwater – In the late 1800s, a fanatical religious leader, a renegade Sheriff, and a former prostitute collide in a blood triangle on the rugged plains of the New Mexico Territory. Directed by Logan Miller and shot by Brad Shield, with A-camera operator/Steadicam Michael P. May, A-camera 1st AC/Steadicam Tony Rivetti, Sr., A-camera 2nd AC Rob Salviotti, Film Loader Eric Castillo, B-camera 1st AC Chip Byrd, B-camera 2nd AC Charlie Newberry, Unit Stills Lorey Sebastian, and Publicist Wolf Schneider.
The Way, Way Back – John Bailey, ASC’s second feature entry at Sundance this year centers on an introverted 14-year-old (Liam James), who forms unlikely friendships with the gregarious manager of a rundown water park and the misfits who work there. The comedy also features Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, and Maya Rudolph. Other Guild members on the shoot: 1st AC Steven Cueva, A-camera/Steadicam operator Benjamin Spek, B-camera operator Bill Trautvetter, DIT Steve Sherrick, 2nd AC Mark Killian, and still photographer Claire Folger.
Very Good Girls – Longtime Sundance veteran Bobby Bukowski shot this story about two New York City girls (Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen) and their pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school. When they both fall for the same street artist, the friends find their connection tested. Naomi Foner wrote and directed with Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, and Richard Dreyfuss in supporting roles. Local 600 camera team members included operator Michael Fuchs on A-camera/Steadicam, A-camera 1st AC Michael Burke, A-camera 2nd AC Eve Strickman, and Unit Stills Jessica Miglio.
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks – Sundance award winning director of photography Maryse Alberti reteams with documentarian Alex Gibney) for this probing look at WikiLeaks, which used the power of the Internet to usher in what was for some a new era of transparency and for others the beginnings of an information war.
Blue Caprice – 2012 ECA honoree Brian O’Caroll was the cinematographer and producer of this indie feature about an abandoned boy who is lured to America and drawn into the shadow of a dangerous father figure. Inspired by the real life events that led to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, the cast includes Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams, Tim Blake Nelson, Cassandra Freeman, and Leo Fitzpatrick.
Mud – Writer/director Jeff Nichols brings this drama to Park City about two teenage boys who, encountering a fugitive, form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love. The cast is led by Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, and Reese Witherspoon. Local 600 crewmembers on the Arkansas-shot project included Paul Atkins handling underwater cinematography, Steve Koster doing aerial cinematography, A-camera/Steadicam operator Matthew Petrosky, A-camera 1st AC David Regan, A-camera 2nd AC Stephen McBride, B-camera 1st AC/2nd 1st AC Dylan Conrad, C-camera 1st AC Linda Kallerus, and Unit Stills James Bridges.
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
Ass Backwards – Loveable losers Kate (June Diane Raphael) and Chloe (Casey Wilson) take a road trip back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children, only to discover what really counts: friendship. Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, and Brian Geraghty round out the cast. Guild members on the indie feature, which shot in upstate New York and Los Angeles, included A-camera 1st AC Jason Cleary, B-camera 1st AC Cai Hall, DIT Douglas Horton, and Steadicam operator David Isern.
Magic, Magic – Guild members Christopher Doyle and Glenn Kaplan were Co- Directors of Photography in this story about an American girl vacationing in remote Chile, who mentally unravels, putting herself and those around her in danger. Directed by Sebastian Silva and shot entirely on location in South America.
The Rambler – David McFarland (ICG Magazine, June 2010) shot this comedy/drama/horror/mystery set in New Mexico. The low-budget indie, which stars Dermot Mulroney, Natasha Lyonne, and Lindsay Pulsipher, centers on a man, known only as “The Rambler, who after leaving prison stumbles upon a strange mystery. His treacherous journey takes him through back roads and small towns in route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother. Guild 1st AC Keith Jones also worked on the project.
We Are What We Are – Cinematographer Ryan Samul returns to Park City with this feature from co-writer/director/editor Jim Mickle about a devastating storm, which washes up clues that lead authorities closer to the cannibalistic Parker family. Cast members included Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, and Kelly McGillis. First AC Corey Gegner assisted Samul on the project, which was shot on the RED Epic.
U.S. DRAMATIC SHORTS
#PostModem – Directed by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer and shot by Guild 2nd AC Daniel Fernandez, this sci-fi pop is musical based on the theories of futurist Ray Kurzwel. It follows the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with technological singularity as told through a series of cinematic tweets. “Every tweet had its own look and feel as the story takes us through time,” Fernandez explains. “They each show a different alternate reality so we had room to play with colors and light to show what our characters were feeling.” The production employed a Sony F3 as the A-camera with a set of Compact Primes and a Canon 5D in a housing for the underwater shots to get close to the water propelled jet pack Jillian tries to fly away in. “As a free-diver I am very comfortable underwater and eager to combine my skills,” Fernandez adds. “Directors know this and aren’t afraid to write up underwater scenes into their Miami based stories.”
Gun – Local 600 camera assistant Spencer Gillis directed this powerful character study about a new father who purchases a handgun after experiencing a terrifying home intrusion. The decision to protect his home and family takes a dark turn when the weapon leads down a path that may have tragic consequences. Produced by Nicole Cosgrove, with cinematographer Ludovic Littee and focus puller James Daly rounding out the ICG production team.
Record/Play – War, fate, and a broken Walkman transcend space and time in this sci-fi love story that Guild DP Blake McClure shot in three days in and around Los Angeles with a RED MX and Roundfront Lomo anamorphic lenses. McClure says he forged great personal and working relationships with everyone on the production, which included director/co-writer Jesse Atlas, production designer, Alec Contestabile, 1st AC Nick Medrud and colorist Charlie Tucker.