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Indies Go 3-D: How a New Generation of Directors Uses 3-D to Enhance the Storytelling

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire September 27, 2013 at 3:28PM

3-D is no longer synonymous with big budget action films now that indie directors are using it to immerse the audience in the cinematic experience.
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James Hetfield in "Metallica Through the Never."
John Parra/Getty Images for Sundance Channel James Hetfield in "Metallica Through the Never."

With "Metallica Through the Never," Huggins said the band always wanted to do the film in 3-D, but they had to wait until the technology was capable of achieving their vision. "Their vision was to make a 3-D movie, but they didn't want a bunch of 3-D gags," said Huggins. "They wanted a movie in which the audience felt like they were with the band in the arena and part of the event."

3-D was also used to create an element of intimacy in "Charlie Victor Romeo," which was based on a stage play.  "We had a very clear idea of what we wanted the work to look like," said Bob Berger, one of the film's directors (along with Patrick Daniels and Karlyn Michelson). "The whole purpose of 3-D was to remove a lot of the special effects and fuel air explosions and model airplanes from everybody's consciousness about movies about airplanes and show them a very close-up look at what people went through in these emergencies. It's very focused on the people. We never talked about 3-D as a special effect. It was a way of literally placing the film's audience in the best possible seat to experience the film as if they were there."

Initially, the "Charlie Victor Romeo" filmmakers assumed they wouldn't be able to afford 3-D, but through the support of 3-Legged Dog Productions, 3-D became a viable option. "They have been very interested in using 3-D technology to capture and archive performance," Berger explained. "We went there with the intent of renting a space to shoot the movie, but we were presented with the opportunity to apply for a residency and use their connections to shoot our film in 3-D."

Although the filmmakers had a limited number of takes and a limited number of cameras, Berger said that he found the experience of shooting in 3-D liberating. "We thought of it as empowering because we really had to think about the choices we were making."

Chris McGurk, chairman and CEO of Cinedigm, predicts we will be seeing many more independent 3-D film productions. "3-D technology is changing every moment and becoming cheaper and more efficient," he said. "All of these technological developments happening in the business are going to have a disproportionately positive effect on the independent side of the business. It will enable people to do all of the things they do in big budget movies very cheaply. But, despite all that, independent films succeed and do or die based on character and story. That's still the starting point." Because of that, 3-D is "just another filmmaker tool to both advance his or her art and give the audience what they want to see," said McGurk.

But just because directors are able to make a film 3-D doesn't necessarily mean they should. "The format needs to enhance the experience," said Bob Berney, CEO of Picturehouse, the distributor of "Metallica Through the Never." Or, as Berger said, when 3-D is done successfully, "it's like looking into a beautiful window at something happening in front of you."

This article is related to: Gravity, Dracula 3D, Dracula 3D, Charlie Victor Romeo, Charlie Victor Romeo, 3x3D, 3X3D, Tech





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