Filmmaking with Amanda Lippert and the
Surface Pro

More about "Agnes"

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Writer/Producer/Actress: Amanda Lippert
Director: Sam Mestman
DI artist: Gary Jackemuk
DP: Denny Kukahiko
Camera: RED One 4k

 

 

 

 

 

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Quick Hit Interview: Filmmaker and colorist highlight the synergies of using SCRATCH Play and SCRATCH together in short film.

Amanda Lippert is an independent filmmaker/actor and serves on the Board of Directors (BOD) of We Make Movies, a film collective based in Los Angeles (www.wemakemovies.org).  She recently wrapped up the short film, “Agnes”, which is the first film she's written, and one that has “legs.” The short was a finalist in last years WMM Script Challenge, and then selected as a thesis script for RED Digital Cinema's REDucation program. It was also the recent subject of a Microsoft Surface Pro promotional video.

For “Agnes”, Amanda took on the roles of executive and creative producer, writer, and actress for the film, and drove the post-production process with Gary Jackemuk, currently of Local Hero Post, who did the DI process in a 4k workflow – conform, color grading and finishing – in SCRATCH.

In a recent interview, Amanda discussed the film’s production and how the collaborative process with other artists helped to bring her story to the big screen.

 

1) Tell us how you used SCRATCH Play.

Sam Mestman did the editing of the 4k footage in Final Cut X and transferred the files to Gary, who did the full DI in SCRATCH. For the client sessions, Gary sent the files to me in advance and I reviewed them on the Surface Pro in SCRATCH Play, which has the same GUI as full SCRATCH on Gary’s workstation. I was able to make notes and to the sessions prepared. This was an incredibly useful process because it saves both of us a lot of time.

 

2) What challenges did you face in the post-production process?

I can’t say they were challenges so much as it was an awakening to new methods and possibilities in filmmaking. Together, Gary and I had developed a very stylized look to depict time periods and a different reality with a white/gray background that would romanticize the background. In SCRATCH, Gary was able to create a variety of looks in real time until we zeroed in on just the right mix. I hadn’t been able to watch this process before, so working in real time was like magic to me. Seeing how fast and easily Gary could work the material was a delight. 

 

3) Did you enjoy working in a 4k workflow?

Yes, very much so. This was my first time working with the RED camera and footage, and I was amazed at how much control this gave Gary over the final imaging. With the other cameras I’ve used on projects, I never had this depth of material to work with, which gives you a lot of leeway in achieving your vision. When you’re shooting, you’re trying to get the maximum out of each day, which means the quality of material can suffer. With RED there’s no sacrifice in quality – you can get the results you envisioned.

 

4) Gary, what was your experience working in the 4k workflow.

As a SCRATCH artist, I’ve had a lot of experience with the real-time DI process. The GUI is intuitive so I’m able to move quickly through the conform and color grading. During the grading and finishing I do a lot of layering to achieve the desired look. I could do compositing if needed, but working in this way it wasn’t necessary -- that’s the power of SCRATCH.

Amanda and I collaborated in the post facility and it’s gratifying to have the client enjoying and appreciating the process, such as making changes on the fly. It’s like “Can I make the baby’s brown eyes blue? Watch this.”

Working with RED you get all the RAW 4k data you need and by using SCRATCH, you can work with the camera negative to get the highest quality possible. With the 4k workflow versus a 2k workflow, the methodology in SCRATCH is the same; you just get higher quality at full resolution.

 

5) How did "Agnes" come together?

“Agnes” is a dark comedy about a girl who comes from a long line of suicidal Russian poets. The story centers around her quest for death and meeting someone who can help her find the perfect way to die. Depicting the time periods was an important aspect in creating the film. I had an idea percolating for the character, so I wrote and developed it into a short. I’m a firm believer in the collaborative process, hiring inspired film professionals who are committed to and enjoy what they do. As a member of We Make Movies, I have worked with many talented filmmakers over the last couple years and was able to put together a really strong team including director, Sam Mestman; and DI artist, Gary Jackemuk. That is also how I met DP Denny Kukahiko, who used the RED ONE 4k camera for the shoot.

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