IndieWire reached out to the filmmakers whose films (and TV shows!) are premiering at the Cannes Film Festival to find out what cameras they used and, more importantly, why they were the right tools to create their projects.
Before we dive into the details, here’s three big trends that we saw in their answers:
1. Shooting on film continues its comeback around the globe.
2. Arri continues its digital dominance in the narrative feature film space. We saw this at Sundance as well: Increasingly, smaller productions with the need to be flexible and mobile are turning to the small-bodied ALEXA Mini.
3. Filmmakers are applying unique techniques to create different looks. From the Safdie Brothers adapting the 2-perf method of the old spaghetti westerns, to “Wonderstruck” mirroring the shooting style of the ’20s and ’70s, to Sean Baker graduating to 35mm film but not being afraid to mix it with iPhone, many filmmakers sought ways to create different feels and textures from the medium itself.
(Answers may have been edited for length and clarity.)
“120 Beats Per Minute”
Dir: Robin Campillo, DP: Jeanne Lapoirie
Arri ALEXA Mini
Lapoirie: “We used two Alexa Mini, and a third one for some sequences. The Arri Alexa is my favorite camera because it gives a result that’s the closest to the 35mm. The picture is more organic than with other cameras. The entire film is shot hand held, so the Mini was definitely perfect for that.”
Dir: François Ozon, DP: Manuel Dacosse
Dacosse: “For ‘Amant Double,’ I chose the Alexa with the Cooke S4 and a Zoom Angenieux 18-80 lenses. Francois likes the idea to shoot on film, but for this project, he wants to try digital. So I suggested working with the Alexa. I like the way the Alexa keeps the details in the highlights and with the Alexa I’m really confident so I can work fast — and Francois loves to work fast.”
Ben Rothstein / Focus Features
Dir: Sofia Coppola, DP: Philippe Le Sourd
Arricam light, 35mm Film
Le Sourd: “Shooting on film was the right decision because to get muted colors, pastel tones, and porcelain skin tones, textures, only film can get this richness. We forget how beautiful film is and the digital world is still far away from the quality of the 35 mm. The numbers of K in the digital world is not replacing the beauty of the film.
“Sofia Coppola was not interested in having playback on set. We avoided the monitors so she could stay concentrated on the actors during the scene. She had full trust in my judgment for the lights and the frames during the shoot. Shooting on film give us more freedom, even when we had to deal with the technical challenges like shooting exterior nights scenes with candlelights.”
“A Gentle Creature”
Dir: Sergey Loznitsa, DP: Oleg Mutu
Arri ALEXA Mini
Mutu: “We chose to shoot on ALEXA Mini because it’s a very small and lightweight camera. In the scenes inside the car and bus it was very easy to maneuver, and you have enough space to play around the actors.”
Dir: Ben & Joshua Safdie, DP: Sean Price Williams
Arricam LT, Kodak 5219/5207
Williams: “We have been trying to make a movie that justified the 2.35:1 aspect ratio for a number of years. This film felt ready for it. So we decided to go the old Italian route and split the frame, saving money and also adding a little of our beloved graininess. Shot ‘correctly,’ 35mm can sometimes be mistaken for digital as it can be so clean! But we embraced the grunge that we inherit from the 2-perf procedure, and the money it saved allowed us to shoot many more takes…. why not get it right?! We were challenging ourselves at every corner. Keeping light levels impossibly low very often. Our subjects were often bathed in colors that are impossible to see sharply to focus. And of course, there are no marks for the actors or camera. It was a very live performance, and the music we made we could never repeat.”
On the next page, “Wonderstruck” DP Edward Lachman goes old school for Todd Haynes’ new film