At a recent preview screening of Donal Mosher and Mike Palmieri's "Off Label" (which makes its world premiere this week at the Tribeca Film Festival), Palmieri was lurking through the audience taking close-up footage of people's hands with his DSLR camera (digital single-lens reflex, cameras which, crudely put, are digital adaptations of 35mm cameras). When you hear about "Off Label," you're not expecting the images to be captivating: it's a film about people who, for various reasons, take copious amounts of prescription drugs. Some have been prescribed to a panoply of anti-psychotics; others test drugs for money. While most assume it's an issue film, it, like their last film "October Country," is actually much more. While contemporary DSLR cameras have been called out for democratizing high definition filmmaking, "Off Label" has stylistic flourishes that distinguish it from the pack. After seeing the team's images, Indiewire asked Palmieri, who is the primary cinematographer of the team, to talk about his experience with DSLR filmmaking. -- Bryce J. Renninger
Our last film collaboration, “October Country” was shot on the HVX200, a small-sensor HD camera. There was something about that camera that allowed me to transfer the feeling of Donal's photographic work; the film moved onto a more cinematic realm that remained both true to his work and to my own sensibility. The camera could shoot slow motion, which I like to use stylistically, and it had a zoom lens with an incredible range on it. Using the zoom was actually less stylistic than practical: it gave me the widest range of options later when I was editing the film. A zoom lens was an especially important tool when I was following around a precocious 12-year-old girl who wasn’t going to do something for me twice. It was also critical in allowing me to be close to family members at an especially intense emotional moment without being right in their face.