Short Takes

By Shatkin, Elina | American Cinematographer, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Short Takes


Shatkin, Elina, American Cinematographer


Reimagining Russ Meyer, and a High-School Flashback

A Colorful Homage

by Elina Shatkin

In conceiving the whimsical "Pull Shapes" music video for British girl group The Pipettes, director Ben Foley wanted to re-create a key sequence in Russ Meyer's camp classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: the party where Z-Man Barzell introduces The Kelly Affair, an all-female band destined to "crush musical barriers and rise like angels" to the pinnacle of pop stardom. To duplicate the style that Fred J. Koenekamp, ASC helped create for Meyer's film poppy colors, psychedelic production design and limited camera movement with not much spatial location - Foley called on cinematographer Fred Reed. "Ben wanted to make a video that would confuse viewers, so that if you flipped by it you would almost think you were watching the movie," says Reed.

Working at Collision Films, a production company in Bristol, England, Foley picked through the 16-minute party sequence in the film to find shots he and Reed could duplicate in the video. "Ben took all the shots he really liked and cut them together to the Pipettes track to create a cutting copy," says Reed. "On the set, we had a monitor with that footage on it, and wherever possible we would match the framing exactly. On some shots that wasn't doable, and in those instances we had to be a bit more general."

Not everything could be photographed as it had been in the film, which was shot in the anamorphic 2.40:1 format. "We were to keen to re-create the look as much as we could, but, like all filmmakers, we had to consider the parameters of our budget," says Reed. "Unfortunately, one of the first things we couldn't afford was shooting on 35mm." Instead, Reed shot "Pull Shapes" on high-definition (HD) video at 16x9 while framing the shots for widescreen, so the finished piece could be cropped at the top and bottom in post for a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Given that the production had one day to pre-light and one day to shoot, Reed knew the video would require extensive production design. "We nailed it down to the principal designs, the areas of the set we come back to again and again," he says. This included the bar, the dance floor, the stairs leading onto the dance floor, and the stage where the band performs.

A large, four-walled set was built in Collision's warehouse-cumstudio to mimic the eight-sided room in Meyer's movie. "We built it as a 360-degree set, and the only way into it was one of the doorways," says Reed. "That allowed us to turn the camera every direction and get a shot anywhere we wanted." Once all the necessary physical details had been built into the set, Reed determined how to best light it.

Most of the lights were hung from the overhead grid and placed on dimmers. These included large, soft space lights, which were skirted with black silks to cut the light off the sides and gelled with ½ CTB and Lee 250. "In the film, the scene has an ambient blue fill because it's a party at night," says Reed. "Just adding some blue in the shadows helps create the feeling that the scene is happening at nighttime." Aside from these blue-tinted soft lights, all the lighting fixtures used in the video were tungsten-balanced.

To light the audience without lighting the walls, Reed lit the dance floor with 2K and 1K Fresnels hung around the edges of the set. "Some of them were just there to hit the crowd on the floor, while others were hitting specific elements in the scene, like the bar," says the cinematographer. For the beginning of the video, when the Z-Man character walks down the steps, through the audience, and up onto the stage while holding the lead singers hand, Reed created a corridor of light by hanging seven lamps of varying sizes. Specific areas like the doorway and the stairs were highlighted with 1K and 650-watt Fresnels boxed in by their barn doors.

"It was a 360-degree set with lots of lights on the grid, but I did allow myself some lights on the floor, because I knew I'd never have everything in the perfect place for every shot," says Reed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Short Takes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.