Miracles don’t happen often but when they do, one takes note. As a long-time independent low-budget filmmaker, the advent of digital was my miracle.
Here we are on the Rideau Canal lagoon [Patterson’s Creek] in Ottawa’s Glebe and I’m shooting some pickups for my feature film, Pig Girl in Wonderland. Helene Lacelle, the actor who plays Alice Wonderland, sits in full costume by the Rideau lagoon as I set up the shot.
This looks more like a home movie than a standard feature film shoot with trucks, crews and endless doughnuts and coffee. The crew is me with my Canon digital A1s and shotgun microphone, and Helene. That’s all, a two-person crew. I never could do it if I were shooting film like in the old days. Then I’d need two on sound and two on camera and perhaps an assistant to keep continuity.
So digital is the miracle of all low-budget director/cameramen who lean toward original creative art movies over factory, derivative, safe storyline movies.
We discreetly shoot the shot, make the scene with a few more shots and then review the playback. If all’s well, that’s it and we go home, log and capture the content using my iMac 27” with FinalCutPro editing software and screen the rushes … all at almost no cost. That’s super low budget and within the grasp of all independent filmmakers. It’s hard to beat that miracle of digital.
Peter Evanchuck is a former professor and current chef, writer, producer, director and cameraman. In Evanchuck’s films, there are no meetings or memorized lines; instead, the director carries a mental image of the whole and determines which scenes would best explain the theme or story. The actors improvise around suggested ideas to create a very personal movie. Evanchuck’s movies spring from his association with James Beverage, who John Grierson hired when he started the National Film Board in 1939. They were purists making unscripted innovative documentaries that almost no longer exist at the NFB.