Society for Cinematographers of Color talk with DP, Carlos Bradley, SCC
Q. What were some of the approaches that you considered when going into production for “Goodbye”?
“This project I was able to reunite with and friend and collaborator Ashley Anjalique (The Story of Agency). She is a great director and communicates well with actors here in Atlanta. When we both got in contact with each other we simply just wanted to create a project. We didn’t want to dive too deep in the technical world of 4K, 6K and bring together a huge production team. We simply just couldn’t afford that at the time and didn’t want to discourage ourselves from the very beginning. When we agreed that this would be a small concept, small team and call in many favors along with using some of our own resources, that’s when we went right into production. Just taking time to discuss the story, the location and how we wanted to execute minimum camera coverage (to save us time on the day of production) and audition lighting setups that went further into shadows and lens flares instead of the typical beauty shots.”
Q. Many people who usually steer away from the 4K and 6K race generally are only afforded resources such as smart phones or cameras that are not typically deemed a cinema camera. How did you end up selecting the Arri Alexa Plus for this particular project?
“Working on this project we knew that the bulk of post-work would rely heavily on me editing, coloring and some level of sound design. I knew that if I was going to wear so many hats while still trying to give a proper turn around for the project, I knew I was going to need help from the camera itself. That’s why the Arri Alexa was a very easy choice. I’ve owned a Nikon D90, Canon C100 and a Z Cam and have unlimited access to a Canon C200 but each camera had a bit of a draw back when it comes to managing media among other things. I recently purchased an Arri Alexa in 2022, so it was obvious to me that I would benefit being able to shoot in ProRes straight to a SxS card and not spend time transcoding codecs, or transcoding raw to a format for editing. I also chose the Alexa based on the color science of the sensor. I knew our leads would be people of color and have distinct skin tones that differ and so I needed the tones to translate accurately and none of the other camera’s could meet that challenge without considerable attention to post-production — which we didn’t have.”
Q. Going back to you saying that the production relied on the crew being smaller, did you find it practical to use such a large camera for such a small production?
“I will say this. There are moments when a camera like the classic Alexa’s feel like you can “one-man band it” but I truly do not recommend it. That camera was built for a team in the camera department and if you don’t have the correct set of tripods to hold the weight then I wouldn’t suggest it. Luckily for me I have worked with this camera with a team and been the DP, operator and AC so I know this camera inside and out. But I will say that “if” and only if you were to go extremely light on crew, this camera takes you back to working with film cameras. I mean that in a way where it takes you back to the disciplined days of filmmaking where the camera is way too large to just fly around set without any sort of planning of your frames. This is a camera that you will have to plan your shots accordingly because it’s such a mammoth to move, carry, rig, hold and reset.
All projects do not need to be shot on an Alexa or any other large camera’s out there on the market. Now days, every camera is capable of shooting movies. Each one is specific to the film, the style of shooting and so on. Again, this worked for “Goodbye” because it allowed me to plan my shots and saved me massive time in post.”
Q. We are in a time where the resolution race is reaching new heights (Ursa 12K) and Red 8K cameras are now on the market. Why wasn’t “Goodbye” filmed in a higher resolution using Arri Camera’s that have a resolution greater than 2K?
“I read somewhere that Arri was so very slow to move forward with a 4K camera back in 2015 because their research show them that every time at that time, when they would increase the resolution of their cameras in their lab, it had a negative effect on their color science of the sensor. So, instead of just forcing a 4K camera sensor just because everyone else was doing it, they just took their time until they got it right (ie. Alexa35 & New Sensor to accommodate). I read another article that also researched resolutions and what is actually interpreted by the human eye. Apparently according to this research the human eye is incapable of decoding anything higher the 2K resolution. Take that however you like it.
I’ve personally never been a fan of just increasing resolutions as a feature. Once I learned that all the movies we consume in theaters and television is mastered in 2K that was more than good enough for me. So it just made sense to purchase the Alexa Classic Plus and use a great sensor and resolution and just focus on telling really great stories.”
Q. You said that you purchased the Alexa Classic Plus, do you feel that these generation of cameras are obtainable for young filmmakers and worth the investment?
“In 2010, I remember thinking for a moment, “man I am never going to own an Arri Alexa.” By the grace of God, in 2022, I became a owner of the same camera I said I wanted 12 years ago. For me it’s just having faith, working hard and always breathing positivity in your life. These cameras are now on the aftermarket and thanks to Arri’s refurbished programs they are now more affordable than they have ever been. With newer versions releasing, renting also gets lowered on the classic versions. I believe the Classic and Plus rent at $500/day between LA and Atlanta markets.
I won’t say that you have to own the camera but if it is something you are working towards then just provide the same amount of energy to writing and finding the great stories to use them for. It would of made no sense for me to own the Alexa in 2010 when I wouldn’t of been able to appreciate that camera then and I wouldn’t of have learned from all of the camera’s that got me to this point. It will never just be about the camera, it’s truly about the filmmakers behind them and in front.”
Carlos Bradley is an Atlanta based filmmaker, and the founder and President of the Society for Cinematographers of Color. His work can be seen on network digital platforms, and in various publications. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram and reach out — "I love meeting new filmmakers!"