It would have been much harder to shoot “October Country” on a DSLR camera because of my reliance on the zoom lens for that project. This is actually a function of optics and the physics of design: the smaller the sensor your camera has, the bigger the range the zoom lens you can put on it. As much as I loved using that camera for that reason, I had a hunch that a lot of the characters in our new film could benefit from the richer, more pictorially still images that a larger-sensor camera produces. I was getting the feeling that my approach had to be calmer and more intimate. So I chose the Canon 5D on our first trip to Austin, TX, where we began filming with Paul Clough.
The 5D and occasionally the 7D for slow motion turned out to be the right tool for Paula Yarr, a woman on severe disability living in a tiny room in the back of a Bigfoot museum in Santa Cruz. We were attempting to link her bipolar schizophrenic mind to the insanity of her surroundings and it required some real intimacy with her to make it work, so we stuck with the DSLRs through most of her scenes. This camera choice also proved critical for Mary Weiss, who wanted to tell her story in a more traditional, sit-down way. The DSLR lacked the intimidation of a larger camera and I think this definitely contributed to Mary giving us the tragic details of her son's death that she had never divulged to anyone before in an interview. It was a harrowing moment to capture, as Mary’s agony so clearly registers through the small gestures she makes, communicating a deep sorrow at the loss of her son. An important story is always more important than the tool used to capture it, but I’m certainly glad Mary’s story was honored by my use of that particular camera.