Some of the productions that shooting Super 16mm film these days are:
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Avengers
- The Bourne Legacy
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Iron Man 2
- The Magnificent Seven
- The Girl on the Train
- The Walking Dead
- Jack Reacher
- Batman vs Superman
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Rogue One
- The Hateful Eight
- Jurassic World
- Wonder Woman
- American Horror Story
- Star Trek
The knowledge to shoot film is dying. There’s nowhere online where you can take a course on how to shoot Super 16mm film. The “workshops” available are extremely expensive and don’t really give you practical knowledge from someone who has actually shot in the field.
I wanted to put together an online course to preserve that knowledge for future filmmakers. Today’s guest, Director of Photography Egon Stephan Jr from Cine Video Tech, and I got together and shot The Definitive Super 16 mm Film Masterclass.
On today’s show, Egon and I drop some knowledge bombs on shooting film. So if you ever wanted to know if shoot “real” was an option for your indie feature or short film then perk up those ears. Enjoy my conversation with Egon Stephen Jr.
Below you’ll see examples of the course and get a full history of Super 16mm film.
16 mm film was introduced in 1923 by Eastman Kodak as an affordable and less costly amateur substitute to a 35mm film. The format was even considered as substandard by the professional industry during the era of the 1920s.
William Beech Cook was hired from his 28mm Pathescope of an American company by Kodak so that a fresh, new 16mm Kodascope Library could come into existence. Apart from the fact that people could make home movies, they could also rent films from the library which turned out to be the major selling factor of the format.
Initially intended for inexpert usage, 16 mm film happens to be one of those formats which bring into use acetate safety film as the film base. Nitrate film was never used by Kodak due to the high flammability of the nitrate base. By 1952, 35mm nitrate was discontinued altogether.
The 16mm film is an economical and historically famous gauge of the film. The number 16mm denotes the width of the film with the other usual film gauges that include 8mm and 35mm. 16mm films are more commonly used for non-theatrical purposes like educational and industrial filmmaking or for motion pictures that happen to have a low budget.
For a number of decades, 16mm film remained a popular format for unskilled home movie making format together with 8mm and then later on Super 8 film. Eastman Kodak released the first 16mm outfit in 1923 which comprised of a camera, a tripod, a projector, tripod, screen and a splicer for $335. A 16mm sound movie projector was introduced in 1932 by RCA-Victor along with that he also developed an optical sound-on-film 16mm camera that was released in 1935.
Initially aimed at the home fanatic the silent 16mm format made its way into the educational sector by the 1930s. The addition of Kodachrome in 1935 with the optical soundtrack was the cause of a major boost in the 16mm market.
16mm professional filmmaking was widely opted for in the post-war years and was used rigorously in WW2. A large network of professional 16mm filmmakers and services related to it came into existence in the 50s and 60s due to the films made for business, medical, government and industrial clients.
With the advent of television production, the usage of 16mm film was enhanced basically for its cost-effective and portability over 35 mm. It was used for television programming as well at first which were shot outside the boundaries of a television studio or production sets. 8mm film and the Super 8mm format were adopted by the home market gradually.
The Format Standards:
The area of exposure of a standard 16mm camera lies between 10.26mm by 7.49mm which happens to be an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, namely the standard pre-widescreen Academy ratio for 35 mm. Double-perf 16mm film which is the original format has both of its sides perforated of each frame line. Single perf, as the name suggests; are perforated at one side only which makes space for magnetic as well as an optical soundtrack along the other side.
Swedish cinematographer Rune Ericson developed the variant called Super 16, Super 16mm Film, or 16mm Type W in 1969. Using a single-sprocket film, it makes use of the extra room available for an expanded picture area of 7.41mm by 12.52mm and with a wider aspect ratio of 1.67. Super 16 cameras are commonly 16mm camera that has the film gate along with ground glass placed in the viewfinder modified for a much wider frame.
Films that are shot in this format can be maximized by optical printing to 35mm for projection. In 2009, German lens manufacturer Vantage introduced a set of anamorphic lenses under the brand named, HAWK which provided a 1.3x squeeze factor, especially for Super 16 format.
The Ultra-16 tends to be a variation of Super 16. It was invented by cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco in 1996 while the shooting tests of Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. It is created by widening both the left and right sides of the gate of a standard 16mm camera by 0.7mm so that the vertical area between the perforations is exposed.
With frame dimensions of 11.66mm by 6.15mm, the Ultra-16 format provides the frame size between the standard 16mm and Super 16 achieving a wider image. The image is readily converted into NTSC/PAL (1.33 ratio), 35mm film (1.85 ratios), and HDTV (1.78 ratios) and tends to make use of either both the full width or full vertical frame depending on its application.
Kodak and Agfa happen to be the two major suppliers of 16mm film now as Fuji closed their film manufacturing facility in 2012. The television uses 16mm for Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology, The O.C, Friday Night Lights, HBO’s Westworld and also The Walking Dead in the U.S.
The 16mm format is quite rapidly getting popular for commercials as well as dramas. British Broadcasting Company has played a vital role in the format development.
BBC collaborated extensively with Kodak back in the 50s and 60s era so that 16mm could be taken to a professional level since the BBC required less expensive, more feasible, and portable production solution while keeping a higher quality than what was offered at the time when formats were usually used for theatrical shorts at home, cartoons, newsreel, and documentaries for various purposes including educational videos limiting the high-end unskilled usage.
Whereas today, the 16mm format is often used for student films as its usage for making the documentary has almost vanished from existence.
The super film is still used for some productions that are destined for HD with the invention of HDTV. Some of the low-budget theatrical features tend to be shot on super 16mm and 16mm such as the independent hit Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith.
Owing to the advances in digital technology and film stock especially the digital intermediate DI, the format seems to have improved dramatically in sense of picture quality since the 70s and is a rejuvenating option now.
For instance, Vera Drake was shot on Super 16mm film which was scanned digitally at a high resolution as well as edited and color graded and then was printed out onto the 35mm film with the help of using a laser film recorder. Due to the digital processes involved, the final outcome of 35mm print is so good that you could fool some professionals into thinking that it was actually shot on 35mm.
The most exterior television footage was shot on 16mm from the 60s until the 90s in Britain when the more portable videotape machines and televisions led to the video replacing 16mm in many examples. A number of shows and documentaries were entirely made in 16mm prominently The Jewel in the Crown, The Ascent of Man, Life on Earth, and Brideshead Revisited.
The British Broadcasting Company notes Super 16 a standard definition film format. Especially the show Scrubs has been shot on 16mm since the very beginning and is aired as 4:3 SD or as 16:9 HD. Although, according to a piece of news the BBC has announced that it will not be accepting 16mm as an original format for HD video transfer.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Black Swan were shot on Super 16mm. Leaving Las Vegas, an Academy Award-winning film was shot on 16mm.
The famous TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was also shot in 16mm and for its later seasons, it switched to 35mm. The popular TV series Sex and the City shot its first two seasons on Super 16mm and later on 35mm.
Aired in HD, all three seasons of Veronica Mars happen to be shot on Super 16mm. Another notable film, The Spinal Tap, and other following mockumentary films by Christopher Guest were shot in Super 16mm.
Stargate SG-1 shot its first three seasons in 16mm which included the season 3 finale as well as the effects shots before switching to 35mm in the later seasons.
The Best Picture Academy Award Winner, The Hurt Locker was shot suing Fujifilm 16mm film stocks as well as Aaton Super 16mm. The cost savings that were made over the 35mm, enabled the production team to make use of multiple cameras for various shots and also exposing about 1,000,000 feet of film.
The famous TV series of the British Napoleonic era called Sharpe was shot on the famous Super 16mm all through to the film Sharpe’s Challenge (2006). The producers switched to 35mm for the last film of the series Sharpe’s Peril (2008). 16mm was also used in the movie, Moonrise Kingdom.
Numerous digital cameras tend to approximate the look of a Super 16mm format by using Super 16mm sized sensors as well as Super 16mm lenses. These cameras happen to include the Ikonoskop A-Cam DII (2008) and the famous Digital Bolex (2012). The more recent, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera which surfaced in 2013, happens to have a Super 16 sized sensor.
Here’s a bit about today’s guest Egon Stephan Jr.
“Like father, like son” they always say, yet nowhere has this cliché been truer than when you apply it to the love of filmmaking shared between Egon and his father. Egon began his professional career at an early age, eventually running the camera rental department for his father at the ripe young age of sixteen!
After a six-year stint as the camera rental manager of CineVideoTech, he pursued his love for film in the field, running up an impressive list of credits. He worked his way up from technician to second-assistant, second to first, first to operator, operator to second unit Director of Photography, second unit DP to Director of Photography on his first feature film, “Jungle Juice”, starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Fairchild, Robert Wagner, and Rutger Hauer.
Shortly after this achievement, Egon’s father fell ill, and his duty to continue the legacy his father had begun took precedence over his own successful career. He took over the helm at CineVideoTech in 2002 and has since been busy recreating the company that has launched so many successful careers into a vision of what is to come.
Alex Ferrari 6:08
So today's episode guys is a special one because I have on the show today Egon Stephan Jr. Now Egon is a long is old, old old friend of mine. He's a cinematographer and pretty much a legend down in the South Florida Miami area, grew up in the business. He's a cinematographer and also owns the only now camera rental house down in Miami. And they got started in the 50s back with shows like flipper and Sea Hunt back in the days and and he got an I've shot some stuff together he was my dp on a film called sin that I did. Which of course you guys can go see at indiefilmhustle.com/amazon for free on amazon prime. You know, I'm always promoting guy, sorry. But anyway, so Egon, I wanted to bring him on the show to talk about film. And I know you're going Alex, what the hell are you talking about film like films dead? Usually you just shot a movie. It's not on film. I'm like, Well, yeah, it's true. I did shoot that shot my movie without a film. I shot it on a black magic on a digital. But you know what guys, film is still a format that should be protected. And believe it or not, when I started doing research for not only this, this podcast, but the thing I'm going to talk to you about in a minute, I was shocked at how many movies and television shows are still shot on film. And not only just by like some nostalgic people, but people who really want to shoot film. And there's a lack of knowledge and a lack of information about the actual filmmaking process. Actually, what film is working with film, preparing film, what cameras to use, how to thread a mag, how to open it, you know how to do what to do all that unloading and loading of a mag in a tent in a bag? How to prep it for a film lab? How what lenses to use, what kind of lens to use? What kind of camera do you use? Do you use ASR two, do you need genlock? Do you need crystal sync, all this massive amount of information about shooting actual film is being lost. And it's not information that you can really find anywhere. I have not yet to find an online course anywhere in the world that teaches you about shooting Super 16 millimeter or shooting film in general. It's always very, very expensive workshop somewhere. And I decided like you know what, I'm going to shoot a course on how to shoot Super 16 millimeter properly, how to work with film what film is the basics of film, the fix is of camera real world like production stuff, how to get things ready to go into battle, what to do the whole ball of wax and we created I went down to Miami and shot with Egon, of course called the definitive masterclass on shooting Super 16 millimeter film. Now we chose Super 16 millimeter as opposed to 35 millimeter because Super 16 is where the independent filmmaker will probably go, it's what they can afford. And what makes the most sense. And believe it or not shows like walking dead or shot on Super 16 millimeter. And we go into a lot of detail about why Super 16 is so awesome, as far as looks are concerned and what you can get out of it, and the quality that you can get out of it. Right now you can get film from Kodak and Kodak only to my knowledge, we talked about the different film stocks what you can get all that kind of stuff in this course. But I wanted to bring you gone on to talk about this in some detail and give away some major knowledge bombs on shooting Super 16 and that it is a viable option for a lot of independent filmmakers because I know a lot of times being imposed so long, a lot of filmmakers will come in with their DSLR or, or their digital footage or a red or an Alexa and they're like man, I really want to make it can you give it more of a filmic look, can you go back to a film can you throw a film fat filter on it? Can you throw some grain on it or something like that to emulate film? Well if you shoot Film guys, you get that look already. So it's pretty remarkable that you could just shoot film and get it. And it's a completely different workflow. From digital, obviously, it's a whole other language. And you know, he got and I was sitting down one day, we're like, you know, this is a shame that nobody's talking about this. And he has been in the business for pretty much for almost 40 years since he was a kid. And he has so much knowledge, I'm like, yeah, let me just fly down there. And let's just shoot this. So we can give it out to the world and at least have a place where this information will stay relevant and and give this information to people who want to shoot film, because there's just no information anywhere about it. And it is a viable option. And it will automatically add a tremendous amount of value to your movie because you shot it on film, as opposed to shooting on a DSLR or shooting it on a digital format or something like that. So there's a lot of wonderful things about digital. And it is the future. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that film is going to take over again, digital is the future, but film should not be forgotten. And it should still be allowed to be a viable format in future filmmaking. So JJ Abrams was Star Wars, all of Chris Nolan stuff, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg, and even newer generation filmmakers like Shaun Baker, who won Sundance with tangerine. I was just speaking to him the other day, and his new movie shot on 35 millimeter. And I was like, wow, you You're the one that brought the iPhone into the mainstream about shooting films with the iPhone, is again, I love that iPhone, I think it was great for that movie. But this movie called for a different look. And I want to shoot film. And I think film is something that should not be forgotten and lost. And that is one of the reasons why I not only put this podcast together, but I put this entire course together and at the end of this course, I'm going to give you a special coupon to get a discount on the course. And it is a little bit more pricey than my normal course is because guys, it was a lot of work. And I when you see it, you'll understand and yeah, we are going to be putting up some free samples of the course up on YouTube so you can kind of take a look at it. And it'll be also in the show notes at indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash 107. So I'll put a couple of a couple of the lessons up so you can kind of see the quality of what we shot. And ironically, we shot the whole course on a digital portfolio. But that's just make sense. But anyway, guys, so Egon, is is a jasmonic cyclopedic amount of information about filmmaking, and he's worked with insane directors like Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Bay, Joe Pika, and a ton I mean just amazing amount of people that he's worked with over the years and worked with some amazing DPS, like paul cameron, Who's shooting Westworld right now and shot the matrix movies, among other ones. I mean, there's just the list I was just shocked that his resume when I actually looked at it, it was pretty, pretty insane. So if you guys are even remotely interested in filmmaking, and actually putting the word film back into filmmaking, then enjoy my conversation with Egon Stefan Jr. I would like to welcome to the show Egon Stefan Jr. The legendary Egon Stefan Jr. How you doing sir?
Egon Stephan Jr. 13:14
Alex it's great to see you again. Great Great to be here with you
Alex Ferrari 13:16
Thanks man. Thank you so much. So guys I don't know if you know this mean he can go back better part of a decade now.
Egon Stephan Jr. 13:23
Egons we've gone back Egons
Alex Ferrari 13:25
Egons exactly and if you guys have checked out any of our courses we've done together the red course and the DSLR course you'll already know who Egon is but Egon is a legend down in the Miami area his father started cinna video tech and why am I Why am I explaining this? You should explain a little bit how did you get into this crazy business?
Egon Stephan Jr. 13:49
How did I get into this crazy business? Let's see. Okay, so if I if I think if my father was a police officer, I I followed in his footsteps or a fireman, but he came over from Germany and the and the right when the war broke out and got relocated and stationed down in Miami, and opened up a company at that time called Sydney tech, which is in 1968. And there wasn't really anything happening. It was like swamp land down here is like a really weird place for motion pictures. But then, actually, different horror films came in like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a TV series called flipper and General Ban and see hunt. And these shows we're featuring Florida and Miami, and my father was at the right place at the right time. And then he would just, we pair cameras and then before you know it, invest into more equipment and then start being the supplier for a little bit of everything. I mean with lights, cameras, lenses, then helicopter mounts. He was a good friend of Nelson Tyler from making the tiler camera system mounts and we became a dealer and then shortly After that many years, then we became a penetration dealer. And for like, 15 years, we were paying division rep down here. And then it seems like at least most of the jobs that would come down to South Florida, my father would have something to do with it, or we'd have something to do with it. We do work on the crew, or we would supply the equipment or do both.
Alex Ferrari 15:22
Now you you've been, you know, because you've been basically on the front lines of every major production that went down to Miami over the last few decades. You, you kind of came up, you know, you worked on vice. You worked on bad boys, you worked with some legendary directors. I know you told me a couple stories of Ridley and Tony Scott, when you worked with them in the commercial world, can you can you share some of those stores?
Egon Stephan Jr. 15:49
Well, when I was in my, my junior year of high school, my fault I was I had the urge I was working at when I get home from school, I would go over to my dad's company and and just kind of you know, wander around and I was wandering around his company since I was a little kid, there's pictures of me, you know, like playing with the, with a drill press and the shavings of the leaf machine. And so it was like my playground, you know, I didn't really understand what I was around at the time, because it just seemed like a lot of stuff in a long time. I thought my dad was a truck driver, because he had a lot of vehicles and you take me everywhere he dropped off these trucks, I didn't really understand fully till when it was happening. So when, when I was younger like that, my father wanted me to get on some of these shows, because you know, to give me a taste of being in the field, not just being in a shop. And I didn't have a union card. And that was a big deal. I mean, at that time, you know, unions and we had the the ATSC at Chicago in that time, it was local 666 the demon but it's, you couldn't go on a union show unless you unless you were union. So they also had a restriction on what age you were to come in the Union, you couldn't just get in there at 16 years old. And that's kind of like what, what my age was. But they pulled some strings and got me to at least be able to take the test. And then that time, it was a written test and the actual hands on test. But since I worked at the rental house, I was the one setting up all the equipment and it was like I already knew the names of everything and how to put it together. But I didn't know the practical application of these tools. I only knew like this is what this goes and the names and the pieces of it but to use it in the field that was all new stuff that had to be learned. So they I was sponsored actually from Steve poster, who is now that he's he's He's a legend himself. And he was doing some jobs down here. And the first jobs I've ever worked on was spring break. And and it was ironic because you know, I'm I'm a kid and I just walked out on the set and it was like from being in a shop. It was like a whole new world. I mean, there was so many people and there was people doing this and that and they all had a routine they were all like the worker bees and I'm like Whoa, I got a lot to learn. So I was like the cam I was doing slate you know, at the time we were doing all film. So it was like I I started doing this slate and running magazine cases back and forth to set on these different little jobs I was doing and then they finally said well once you load mags I was like okay, good. So I got that down and became a second assistant and loaded mags for many many years on many many shows. I mean I did I loaded mags on Parenthood. And with Ron Ron Howard's movie yeah and you know every every day having lunch with Ron and his family is really really great experience because I've learned a lot
Alex Ferrari 18:43
how was your How was Ron to work with a here is just the nicest man in the world.
Egon Stephan Jr. 18:47
He's so nice. There's no stress on the set that you would normally have on on other jobs. I mean, he's very thorough. I mean, the guy's you know hates is he's talking about a mask. He's a legend. I mean, it's like he does it. He does it the right way does it perfect. And he surrounds himself with all the most talented people and they all have the same type of demeanor. So you actually get a lot of things. A lot of good things done a lot of good moments in the actors love it. And it was a really nice experience because what it provided me an opportunity of working in this business is when you never know what the phone call is going to be for. And when you're a camera system, you're always they always need a camera system, you know, whether it's a loader or first assistant on any job. So you know, you'd get a phone call so you are you available for these days. And I'm like, sure, let me make sure I get out of school or my dad will let me go and when when's the when's the call time and they say all night, so it was like, Wow, it was the introduction to you guys gonna shoot until the sun comes up. And that wasn't what I was used to either. It was like this is all it's all a learning curve, but I got to meet fantastic people, and especially at some points in their career that they were just normal people. You know, they were just, they were the they were just born. Assuming that today they're ASC cameraman, they're DGA directors, they're, they're owners of different companies. And you remember when they walked in the door of my dad's company, to just want to learn the business and work is like, I don't know, sweeping the floor or, you know, give me a job, they work in prep tech, or let me let me do something like that, that later on many, many years later, they are somebody that is really big, or that I would get the chance of working with somebody that I admired for many, many years. And it was like, Wow, what an opportunity, I wouldn't, I would I would work it even if I didn't get paid, you know what I mean? It was like that kind of,
Alex Ferrari 20:38
so like, how was the stores working with Ridley and Tony?
Egon Stephan Jr. 20:43
Okay, they're their masters. I mean, we were doing commercials, I mean, we're doing commercials and that kind of thing. And it, it was fashion also along with it. So they were meticulous and they're very creative. I mean, they're, it's some, it's something that I would love to one day be at their level, because they, you know, they they figure everything out, and then have plans and alternate plans and alternate changes. And they know technically, because a lot of times in your camera system, you work with a crew and you work with somebody, they might not know the system very well, but they still know how to be there the job that they they want to be and they want to do, and you rarely find somebody that knows your job, actually can actually can do your job better than you sometimes and you're like, Wow, I didn't even know that because one time I had worked a lot with Burt Reynolds. And because he had a place up here in Jupiter and still doesn't, and he was you know, he was still doing commercials and little movies and things like that and, and we got to be actually, you know, speaking terms and friends and, and one time I was on the top of a 18 Wheeler doing one of his movies and my assistant I was the first and my second assistant wasn't up on the top of the truck to do the slate because we're gonna be doing Film and Sound and all that kind of stuff. And Bert goes to grab my sleep. Because I had to sleep there and I'm like, No, no, no, Bert and he's like, Look, kid, I know what I'm doing. And he gets he says, where's where's the mouse and he even knew the name of it which is a thing we call for writing the the marker on the slate with little puffy thing on the back. And he goes, what's what's the scene number and I give it to him, he does it all there. He puts it up perfectly where it's supposed to be he says it like you were as an assistant saying one on one, take one a camera marker and hit it and hand it back to me and I was like, holy shit, I just like you're an actor.
Alex Ferrari 22:37
What's Burmese, you know, the understand Burt Reynolds was the biggest movie star in the world for many years. So I'm sure he's done a couple things. I'm sure if you give Tom Cruise a slate, he might know what to say to
Egon Stephan Jr. 22:50
well, over the year that develop the relationship with Him that He always recognized and remembered me. So you'd come over and talk to me, he knew my dad, which is cool. And we would just talk about cars and other things or movies or things he's done. And he was always really friendly and very, very open to me. And I had a mistake on the set happen. And you know, because he has a first assistant when you finally get to that level when you're working up the ladder of camera department because I did it the slow way these days people don't do that they don't go and be a trainee, then clapper loader, then a second, then a first and an operator, then a second unit dp and then finally calling yourself a dp, it takes years 20 years to climb up that long ladder and get to that place that you could actually, it's not just you say I'm this position that people around you have to respect and understand that you can do that job. And then they give you a call because I can call myself a director and they will they won't hire me so I don't have anything around.
Alex Ferrari 23:51
But so then you mean you can't just buy a red camera, you're not an automatic dp because you bought a red camera.
Egon Stephan Jr. 23:57
These days, you can Yes. In my day, in my day, when you were a certain part of camera department, you had things you can and can't do some some things was you will not ever load. The second assistant will not put the magazine on the camera and threaten, right? They will hand you the magazine, but they won't, they won't. They won't do that part unless, unless you felt it was you know, a circumstance that you had to and you knew they could do it because when you're putting in that you're threading up a camera with real film, if you get nervous, if you mess up, you can tear that perf and then that delay while everybody's waiting for you to say cameras ready. You could mess it up and then you know be really stupid. So it's a lot of pressure at that little moment of reload. So that heads hence I wanted to say the story was so I've been working with Bert for many jobs and now I'm on one of these jobs and I think it was the maddening or the man from left field. It was one of his movies he was directing and being in it as About a kid and baseball and stuff and there was a scene that required a sort of like a little fight scene and then Burt was he's really good at stunts and he knows the routine he's a tough guy and he's like, how I can do anything you know and he's done everything so he was gonna do this control fall down these bleachers and he you know, he went in, he went into the he went into the you know, wardrobe and got his you know, all he saw his pads that he's used for, like, I don't know 30 years and he put his knee pads on his elbow pads and he and he had a little exoskeleton protection underneath his clothing. So right before all that happened, the camera that I was working on we were using a steady cam and it was a film camera, so it knows to me my second assistant came over and had a magazine to put onto the Steadicam and I said no no just put it off to the side and I'll thread it but instead of putting it on the side he put it on the camera so I'm not going to pitch about that it was like okay, it's on so I assume that it's threaded you know and it's on the camera because you would never put a bag in that thread right? So of course the sun's dropping down and we've got this magic our moment to do this stuff with with Bert doing it himself and falling down these bleachers
Alex Ferrari 26:14
on magic cartoon on us at
Egon Stephan Jr. 26:17
Magic Hour exactly so we got we got three cameras it's all a panda vision job you know so we got the Panda Panda flex I think we had a platinum and we had the foreigner foot mag on the back so of course we go from regular studio mode on sticks that we're doing these shots to okay Cindy Cammy and we're strapping it up I'm I'm putting the the the pressed in and getting the focus mark you know all the all the things and you know lightening it all up in the right filter combination and we're all like rushing rushing rushing okay we do the seated dialogue and he goes down and he has this almost he actually does this emotional scene and even started to like get a little teary eyed because he was you know, acting really well. And then he walks off and we pan off to the sunset. Beautiful cut great check the gate right right. So I go and open up the camera.
Alex Ferrari 27:05
Egon Stephan Jr. 27:06
the film is not threaded in the camera Oh
Alex Ferrari 27:10
Egon Stephan Jr. 27:11
on the panel flex you have contacts on the magazines and it has a windup motor that's always on right and when you turn it on it takes up so the film did go through to the other side but never through the the gate to be exposed. Perfect. So we were looking at it thinking while you were rolling so that that seed was you know 212 feet or something like that and it wasn't exposed to an 12 feet so of course you know when when when Burt did the move he banged himself a little bit so he kind of walked off the field like you another limpy thing and I had to go so I had to run over and tell and tell Nick McLean who was the was the DP I said Nick Nick, Nick Nick they've got a real big big big big big big problem that nobody go away look to film that didn't go through the cameras like what he goes no no it was on it but it didn't go through the and I told him he goes well you better go till birth that
Alex Ferrari 28:03
ah cuz he's like I'm not gonna tell birthday to go there you go tougher
Egon Stephan Jr. 28:07
Oh, but we don't have that scene we don't have it at all right right you guys know you better hurry then so I have no magic because Magic Hour so lights go yes so he's already trying to walk off the field and we're almost like you know they were calling okay we're done you know yeah, great day you're not going to thing and I run over say Mr. Reynolds, Bert Bert, we have a billing major problem and he goes What? And he looks at me and he gave me that 1000 Yard Stare Yeah. And I said we had a technical problem the magazine was put on the camera and it wasn't threaded through so we didn't have anything exposed. What he did he just stared at me for about a couple of moments without even moving his body without breathing without breathing and then since he was also directing this job it had to be I said but right now we don't have that shot at all it's we don't have it right telling you it's not gonna be in dailies it's not there we don't have it I'm telling you right now I don't know what happened but we're losing the light and I'll figure it out later and he turned away and got mad a little bit of course and and then went to go redo the scene and yelled okay right back guy does again like what what what and it's like all my heads down now I'm saying to myself shit okay, it's wide open. We don't even have a lights out the sun's almost gone. My focus and depth of field is now it really really critical and I don't want anything else to happen so I double check even the camera again after it's ready to go is it really filming that please please really filming there and I checked the gate make sure okay, we're good. We're good. Roll this in as fast as I could. Is it take he has to fall down the thing and do the stun again. Jesus any kind of hurt himself the first time a little bit. But I think the second time he kind of hurt himself there again. Yeah. And then he came up to me he ripped off his pads. He goes tell me you got that.
Alex Ferrari 29:58
We'll be right back after word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Egon Stephan Jr. 30:09
Yeah, and I went on my check that I said, Yeah, gates good. And he goes, later on we have to talk. And then he's like, Oh, I got it. I got a major guy hating me
Alex Ferrari 30:22
now you're going to the principal's office, you're going to the first Yeah, I'm gonna
Egon Stephan Jr. 30:25
get my I'm gonna get I'm gonna get paddled. And, you know, we met later on, and he gave me the Father Son, kind of talk about, you know, responsibilities and consequences, and then said, I hope you don't ever have that happen again, especially on my job. And I said, and it goes by do thank you for telling me before I had to find out the next day, it would have been worse.
Alex Ferrari 30:48
Of course, they would have to have done that entire scene.
Egon Stephan Jr. 30:51
shot it was it was actually I think a little prettier because it was more golden at the time, you know? Sure
Alex Ferrari 30:56
it was Egon Sure.
Egon Stephan Jr. 31:00
You have things like that that happened where you have a technical problem. Now the reason why these things happen is in these days and age, you have digital cameras, you have a lot less of a learning curve didn't know how to play with it, you don't have the the experience of the Masters on how to create something with light and shadow and, and have it do it on film. But you can still get good images and people get great stuff. And I think that the the margin of major mistakes is gotten smaller. So it's easier for people to just pick up a camera and shoot with it and not have issues like focus or depth or glass coulombic
Alex Ferrari 31:36
from somebody for somebody who just dp their first feature film, I can guarantee you that's the case, because I would have had to shoot this is Meg on film. I would have never done it. But because there's so much latitude with these cameras. It's it's different. Now, the main reason I brought you on the show, Egon was you talked a lot about mags and perfs. And film, I wanted to talk about film, and specifically like 16 and super 16 millimeter film. And you know why in god's green earth? Are people still shooting on film? In today's digital world? Can you give me an explanation?
Egon Stephan Jr. 32:14
I think that medium is like almost like you're talking about oil painting. I kind of feel where I just saw recently, a film done in film, and I'm looking at the screen and I went what is it that I like about what I'm seeing? I can't place my finger on it. What I know it's not any of the digital camera looks that I've been familiar with. It's not an Alexa. It's not a Sony something. It's not a red It was like, I don't know. And then of course, afterwards is when I look more detailed and said well, it's film. It's film. That's there's something I don't know, I guess, in human nature or the way that your mind captures what you're seeing. Sometimes if you do it correctly, it gives you more of what I think your memories are like and and more like bring you back to an emotion when you can watch something and you get that chill up the back of your spine or that or that little goosebumps on that you get from something that happens in the moment that an actor or a scene happens. I think that it achieved its moment to is it accurate for the audience?
Alex Ferrari 33:20
Is it something it's just because it's an organic thing? Is it because I mean I've shot 35 I've shot film a ton of film in my career and I've also shot a ton of digital in my career. And there is something about film now I'm not sure if that's nostalgia for me and you because it's our generation we grew up with film. Do kids who are in their teens now who really don't know the difference or didn't grow up with the film or didn't grow up with home video home video not video home films that they actually project on a wall and things like
Egon Stephan Jr. 33:52
yeah like super like super eight and super
Alex Ferrari 33:54
eight or 16 like that so is it is it a nostalgic thing with our Generation and beyond? Or is there actually something organic that it touches you on? On a no i
Egon Stephan Jr. 34:07
i do feel something organic because when I take my kids who are like 18 years old and younger people like in their 20s and I'll sit him down and show something and say so what do you see here? What do you what do you go Oh man, this looks great. I love it. I don't know and they and they're with a side by side comparison of something from filmed or from high end digital. They don't know why but they say it has a nicer something that that that it factor that little thing you want to put your finger on it. I don't know if it's a tonal values or the way it falls off or the way it makes you feel like it's more like, like I said in my mind of my memory of something.
Alex Ferrari 34:45
It's just like there is something there is something really magical about film and now and by the way, a lot of people now are shooting more and more film than they ever have in the past probably five to 10 years because a lot of people are going back To shooting or shooting to 16 specifically like walking dead a shot on Super 16 right? The movie that Oscar nominated movie Carol just got shot Westworld. hbos Westworld shot on film. There's so many.
Egon Stephan Jr. 35:12
Okay, so the DP on Westworld. paul cameron now is one of my favorite people.
Alex Ferrari 35:17
I mean, I did debate he did the matrix, if I might.
Egon Stephan Jr. 35:21
Well, he did gone in 60 seconds. swordfish. Deja vu. He works with he's a very big, big, big dp. Okay, when I met Paul, Paul was a camera operator and a music video. And I was a camera system and we kind of hit it off because I was I was working at that time. You know, you do like little, little weird stints of just doing movies and then you do a music video and then and then do like concert after concert because when I was growing up, it became the 80s. And you know, you're doing you're doing a couple of city tours and you're around a lot of different people. You got 15 2030 cameras, super 16 cameras that would be filming concerts. No, I did. I did. I think it was 40 or 50 cameras that at Yankee Stadium for Billy Joel back in the day. And there was all film film 16 Super 16. And Paul was from a group that was the main mentor was Tony Mitchell. Tony Mitchell had Tenzin had crescenzo nada rally and you had Romeo tirone and you had Paul camera and you had Eddie Stephenson and you have Jin Goo Gerardo and these guys were like this little click that really nailed it they were like on that you know giving at least concerts and music video imagery that people were really adapting to and I got to be in the in the flight seat with them I was their wingman I was the camera system pulling focus under them and then if you pull that off they would hire you on a big commercial or movie or something and then when I see Paul from even when I was just back pulling focus days he he was from you know he he has a beautiful eye and he he knows technically I mean like I said every everything about your job he he's known he knows better than you do and he'll and he knows how long something takes and he also knows how to create this imagery that you know when there's very few times I'm on set working with somebody that when I see what they do out of nothing and they make this lighting and the camera and everything in the positions they go tan that's really really good I wish I'm going to remember this so one day if I ever get a chance I'm going to do it kind of like that and they were like my as a as a first you learn under these people that that have all these different experiences that you can learn from I mean and of course if you don't mess up you could do more work with them and that they're at their careers because Tony and Ridley was working with with Paul way back in the beginning I kind of I kind of you know I did if I if I try to remember every every top guy I mean I worked with I worked with various whiskey on his first movie in the United States that I got fired off first like the first time he ever got fired off a job and and it was before he went on to do you know dark city and the Crow and the Pirates of the caribbeans and
Alex Ferrari 38:16
I mean the guy who did dark the guy who did dark city also did the crow
Egon Stephan Jr. 38:20
Alex Ferrari 38:20
oh my god I didn't know that I didn't know that was the same dp because they both have a very unique The crow is gorgeous. I love the look of the crow.
Egon Stephan Jr. 38:28
Well he shot that in film that was that was using Yeah, of course that was using daylight stock at night as a 50 stock at night so in order to get an exposure you have to light it like insane with big like big guns and anything that didn't have light on it went black, obviously because it had no latitude.
Alex Ferrari 38:48
So that's a perfect segue Can you talk a little bit about the difference of film stocks and what you can get with different films so just a slight kind of overview. On today's Yeah,
Egon Stephan Jr. 38:58
it's like I would say like the film starts with like the idea of lots today. I mean it would be that if you in the day obviously you had to go and process the film that night and then you would see it the next day you wouldn't see it right away you'd see the video assist on low red standard def for 80 lines of black and white video if you and and hope it's gonna be nice, but the the skill of working on set with Kodak film or Fuji film or Aqua at the time and then going into the lab and seeing the processing and seeing the everything where it goes from the moment you put it in the magazine to the time you see it on the screen. The the chemical process it's happening that's another thing that I it's it's unique to when you said what's that thing about it is so it's like cooking, it's like cooking you know you've got you've got you've got to strip the silver or you keep the silver you know beat bleach bypass or skip or or any of these little effects that you would do to create a look was done with how long he stays in the bath. What chemicals you use. What what things would enhance the different layers of the colors in the film, and then it would get stripped off and you'd have this, you know, it's like timing, like how you, you would only know that by a lot of practice with the medium. So a guy can go out there DPN could say, Alright, we're gonna be out in sunny Miami, we're really no clouds and super sunny will use daylight, you know, as a 50. And if you're going to get some type of overcast, you would use aasa 250 daylight and they would still blend well. But there would be certain some stocks that you wouldn't want to mix with it because the characteristics would be so vastly different
Alex Ferrari 40:36
with like in today's world, it's all di and all color grading and things like that, where before you had to do it all in the can, are all in the in the lab. But today's world though, for people listening, you can shoot film, and every every person who shoots film, color grades digitally now, I mean, everything gets transferred digitally, yes, and then you can do all So a lot of you still can do some of the magic in the lab. And you could do some crazy things in the lab to do stuff to the negative, then bring it into color grading and do things in color grading off of that negative that you could not achieve digitally alone. There's some things that you could do like a bleach bypass, you can kind of get close to it, but it's not going to be Saving Private Ryan, or using cross processing, or shooting reversal stock which I used to love shooting reversal stock if anybody's ever seen if anyone ever seen a music video from the 90s that's all they frickin did a shoe crossover reversal stock and and then they jacked up the colors and stuff like that in a way that digital alone can't really achieve as well. It's just a different thing. And I always look at film kind of like slow cooking as a house to show good. So you can get a good meal and fast food you go over to Chipotle a well maybe not triple A but we're drop a cow Come on, for people who don't know what poor throw because it's kind of like, because that's a Miami thing. But it's like a fast food. But it's kind of like casual fast, kind of like the like how to get Chipotle or something like that. But with Cuban food. And so you can have a good meal. And it's tasty, and it's great. And it's more than acceptable. And in many ways, it's really, really, really good. But if I get you fat in them, I get you fat, but depends on what you eat. But if you slow cook the same meal, have grandma make it for you. And she takes her time and all that. That's what shooting film is sometimes. So it's almost like a it's like a craft, you're being a craftsman in a sense. What's the artist and that's the word, you're being almost an artist in with creating images with film, and it is a very magical thing. And it's become much more affordable nowadays. than it used the only
Egon Stephan Jr. 42:51
thing I see is that there is a gap now because back when film was film, somebody would come into my shop and say, Can I intern? Or hey, can you teach me how to load mags or teach me something like that? It would be a common thing. Yeah, here's something go work on, we'll teach you right like that. Now there's nobody around that teaches that. And that's not something that even schools are teaching that and they're rental houses that still have film cameras that still even have all those options of knowing that you have to have 200 foot on 400 foot 1000 foot 1200 foot magazines, whether they're back loaded or handheld mags or lightweight mags or steadycam mags like all that information is only for the people that have done it. And they're getting older. I mean, I'm I'm getting up there in some years. I mean, I'm, I'm not a spring chicken anymore, but I don't see that anybody that's from the younger generation, unless they have some type of an avenue to learn that there's going to be a lost art there's going to be I mean, the more that somebody doesn't keep it in their place or have it available, it's going to be like a rare find. And you have to go up to the mountain and talk to the wizard and know how to do that.
Alex Ferrari 44:04
Well that's I think one of the reasons why you and I sat down and said like, you know, when we started putting the courses together, we both kind of came up with like, Hey, why don't we do a six Super 16 millimeter course because not a lot of people with excuse me, nobody. I can't still I still can't find anything online. There is no online course teaching, really teaching 16 Super 16 millimeter how to actually shoot it the all the knowledge of every every aspect of it from someone who has actually done it. And you're right, not even schools are teaching 16 as much anymore. I mean, you know, maybe New York Film Academy, I think may still teach us some 16 but they kind of just skip right over it and just jump over to the red or the Alexa or the black magic and they don't spend a lot of time on it. But it's something that needs to be taught. And that's why you and I kind of put that whole course together.
Egon Stephan Jr. 44:56
And Kodak if this felt that too. They they have been doing their own little workshops. Introduction to that, and they're there. Their events fill up a lot, because some of the people coming to them are union people and they're saying, Well I get a call saying, Are you available for these jobs? You say yes. And they said, Okay, are you do know that we're shooting this and they're super 16 or anamorphic or ar 35. So you're good with that, right? And no, like, I haven't worked with that. And they say, Oh, thank you, and they hang up and they go the next guy, right? There's thinking like, I need to learn that.
Alex Ferrari 45:29
Well, I'm a perfect example. Wes hbos Westworld at the monster shows
Egon Stephan Jr. 45:33
beautiful. I watch and it was like a maze. I was like, I was stunned. I was looking at that on my 80 inch screen TV go like, Whoa, I love the way this looks.
Alex Ferrari 45:40
Yeah, I mean, you got Westworld. You've got American horror stories still shot on awesome. Steve. got
Egon Stephan Jr. 45:47
super sick. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, but it's a good look, which was good. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 45:53
But but but Walking Dead is shot on 16. There's a ton of television, specifically television, a lot of television. But also, I mean, some major, a lot of major motion picture Star Wars was shot on supersix. All the star wars are being shot now on on a super 16 on a 35 or super 35. And anything Christopher Nolan does a shot on 35 or if not IMAX. So film is not dead. I know a lot of people think it is but it's not. And it's still, you know, is it ever going to be the main thing anymore? No, it won't.
Egon Stephan Jr. 46:22
You know, it's technology is Yeah, you know, but it should
Alex Ferrari 46:25
be not something that dies. I think that's the big thing. I think it should be an option for filmmakers and storytellers and image makers, to have that filmmaking option and actually be a film put the film back in filmmaking, you know, which is something that people have forgotten, you know, we say film where we say, oh, we're gonna, I'm gonna go make that film. I'm like, No, you're gonna go make a digital product, you know, or I'm gonna, I'm a filmmaker, I'm like, No, you're not, you're an image maker, or you're a content creator, you're not a filmmaker, because you're not making things with film. So that's, that's that whole thing. So when you What can you talk about real quick, can you because I know we talked about 16 and super 16. Can you tell the audience what the difference between the two are?
Egon Stephan Jr. 47:04
Well, the day there was there was regular 16. And you had purse on both sides of the frame. And they needed to, they wanted to see if they can with put more image onto that film. And in order to do that, they said, Okay, if we got rid of one set of proofs, we could shift it over to the, to the, to the right, and we could actually make it so that we would have a 16 by nine or a 235 kind of feeling to it on on 16. And they, what they did is they actually figured out on the camera, how to take them out and flip it 180, that would bring you over just a little bit that you needed to take care of that. And then the Super 16 film was only perfect on one side. Same thing happened with the regular 35 and super 35. In order to do that they had to try to squeeze stuff, but they still maintain both first but they were able to do to adapt 180 degree mount on the cameras, that could shift you and also they would also do that on the bottom of the camera for the base plate to line up all the rods and the follow focuses and the matte box, everything had to be shifted over a little bit. But and it would give you it would give you more landscape more real estate to put your imagery on.
Alex Ferrari 48:18
Right and give you more of that 16 by nine look, which everybody is looking for. Because remember, the olden days, obviously was four by three. And that's what 16 was four by three.
Egon Stephan Jr. 48:27
Well, there's the olden, olden days, you even had, you know, to perfect retinoscope. That was all the spaghetti westerns. And a lot of the popular movies of our past was using that format. That was that was more than a 16 by nine you're looking, you're looking at an anamorphic image with spherical lenses, instead of being anamorphic lenses. Gotcha. Gotcha, gotcha. And then you'd optically change it when you project it.
Alex Ferrari 48:55
Now what would be the top three tips you would give somebody going on shooting film for the first time on location,
Egon Stephan Jr. 49:05
have somebody in your pocket that you can call for her if you get in trouble, do a lot of homework test take we would in my day, we would, you know take 100 foot or 200 feet of some film and we would test it we would test it with lights and latitude and in different things just like you would do now that I think the process of testing your tools or preparing them before you go out and use them has really become a relaxed I mean, normally you'd have like two weeks to prep a show and you would be doing you know days of different types of tests and stuff. And now sometimes you get two days and you don't fill all that in because there's not a there's not that that demand to actually put it through those, those riggers and the cameras are different than not film cameras anymore. So I would say that you'd want to have at least some hands on experience with it. Even if it an environment that is very calm and relaxed so that you can just mess up you know I would say also you have to have a light meter that's another thing that people don't don't realize is you know light meters still work today they measure light so and they're the sensors are doing it all automatically and that kind of thing but still if you're going to do that you need to have a concept of of light and how to create a look with shadow and not just you know, people think if I take a light and I put it over the camera and I bang it into something you're lit well if you're doing news footage you're lit yes but if you're trying to create an emotion to feel or something, the type of light the color of light, the unit of light, how you kind of place it and do it is the molding of the scene that you're doing and to to achieve that you need a meter so you would probably want to you know have some people at least that have been done it twice, once or twice to give you a little little a little help.
Alex Ferrari 50:59
Yeah, I was perfect example I was I was working on a project that was shot on Super 16 and the filmmaker found somebody who said that they can do it and they sent it to me and it was literally grain central like the grain was as big as boulders and and it was just shot horribly bad not not because it not because the lighting particularly was it was just the exposure wasn't right. And it was just super super super grainy. So they were like, Hey, you know, what can we do? I'm like, there's not a whole lot we can do, man, you mean these, these grains are literally the size of boulders. And that's the thing that people have to understand when they're shooting film, it is not nearly as forgiving as digital.
Egon Stephan Jr. 51:44
No, if that was why you you went to school and you you learn art, it was an art thing. It wasn't just Hey, I go out and I shoot, you know, concerts or, or you know, weddings and that kind of though we're really doing this as a as an art you're learning you're I mean, the things that I would read is always trade magazines or articles about the people that I admire, and I and I look up to that they're giving explanations on how they did something or calling them up and saying, Hey, I just watched what you did. How did you do this little scene because I'm amazed I can't figure it out and you talk to him about it. And you that's what you kind of did to improve on and people would actually say to you, hey, I want my Pepsi commercial to look like this scene of this movie from this particular team and you'd be like Hmm, okay, now you have to somehow not haven't been been on that last job. Create that look with the experience level that you have
Alex Ferrari 52:40
or try to find it in the American cinematographer. Were the DPS
Egon Stephan Jr. 52:46
issues and say, okay, where is it located? Oh, okay. They use the they use lightning strikes and they use
Alex Ferrari 52:53
Yeah, like I actually I studied the one from Kent Oh God, candy, who did seven and seven was such a kind of revolutionary way it was shot you know, with the whole silver bath and you know, and they just the darks went so dark and this is the time when digital was not around yet. And I just studied it that I just bought. I love collecting Stanley Kubrick's American cinematographers so I got the shining just just for fun just to see cuz I was one of the first times they use steadycam not the first time but one of the first times I use steadycam it was just it's just fun but yeah, that's how you would do it. But it can't film is can be forgiving. If you choose the right stock and light it the proper way. So like the vision stocks, those Kodak vision stocks which are basically what is left. Now is like an all vision stock if I'm not mistaken or is there another other kinds of Kodak stock now as well.
Egon Stephan Jr. 53:48
I believe that that's the the visions that are that are the vision to and stuff that that's where the best of having learned over all those years of working with film and latitudes that they've got to I mean they kind of bleed at that point. But there were the exotic stocks that that's why and stuff when we when when we would do our job we'd get a call. I mean it was especially a film job obviously we they were called because they knew you could pull that off they recall because they knew you had skills that you had skills more than they did and they watched you on the set they knew that you would have it and you're when you say like the the margin of error, it's huge but once you know how to do it, it's a piece of cake. It's actually believe it or not, and I i love the digital cameras these days, but me and a camera and a magazine in the battery. I could go anywhere in the world and do my thing with a very low impact of having to be reliant on cables how and batteries and power. I mean in the in my day a gnm battery a 1224 volt battery 1313 amp hour battery can last you all day,
Alex Ferrari 54:58
right? You're literally almost like running around with a camcorder but yeah but it film yeah
Egon Stephan Jr. 55:04
but so and most if you knew your film in New Year latitudes It was about actually picking the moment of the day if you didn't have lights to shoot I worked with many people from Europe and they do commercials and then when the sun got about new or like 11 almost noon we wouldn't shoot we would shoot for like three hours and we sit around in there drink wine and tell stories and the brand and and we'd be like what are we doing is like no it's a they go It is not good to shoot yet and we just say okay fine you know we'll just and then and then when it would be time to be like they would kick into action and everything would be great but you know, it's kind of like the the the impact or the the footprint should I say that you show up with a digital camera these days when you seen some of these cameras? You know you got a you got a Lexa with
Alex Ferrari 55:51
45,000 cables. Oh my god, people just turn the damn thing on.
Egon Stephan Jr. 55:57
Is there a camera in there somewhere because you just look and say it looks like alien with spaghetti stuff. And of course you've got little cables that go weird and little other bugs electronic bugs, which I know everybody has a computer and you know like to call them
Alex Ferrari 56:12
Gremlins Gremlins, Gremlins, Gremlins bugs. Yeah,
Egon Stephan Jr. 56:16
incompatibilities of things and you go Yeah, what why is that not playing right? I'm supposed to be at this frame rate and it's not listening or it's not why
Alex Ferrari 56:24
I don't have the latest firmware so it's not hooking up oh
Egon Stephan Jr. 56:28
my god it's like did you up this firmware Oh your three your three bills back That's the problem. It's like Ah,
Alex Ferrari 56:33
so this is this is a thing that you that's one of the big pluses you have to worry about when shooting Super 16 or shooting film is that film is film it's been film for the last 120 years in a row there is no firmware update for it
Egon Stephan Jr. 56:45
no no and that's what I mean too is like the conditions of being some were very hot and some were very cold or switching between them. Electronic devices don't like it and also I had different times where explosions or different types of pireaus or different types of percussion of things would from the explosion that electromagnetic whatever field of whatever is happening to up to speed image may the camera glitch and it doesn't stop doing something or it's like one Come on like they put they put film cameras up in space on the rockets and it didn't have a problem. And you know I we were we did the TV show Miami Vice. I was a first time actually I was pulling focus on my device. And I came out on one night and and the camera operator looked at me goes you haven't been doing this very long have you? And I said Look, I I said I work at see you know Sydney video tech and Bob up I go Yeah, you know it all? Well, but have you pulled focus on a Lamborghini coming out of nowhere down? I 95 at night, on 100 miles an hour? I said no. So he got Alright, I'm gonna, and we're on a 300 millimeter and I go, oh, can't be any more hard, wide open on the 300. So he says, Okay, I'm gonna give you a focus mark here, here and here. And the rest of it, it's up to you. And it was like this was now that moment that I felt I could do this, I could do this. And you know, was saying, okay, send the car in the wound, that thing comes my way. Oh, and I looked at my go, Did I get it? He goes, man, I'm not so sure. Okay, Tell, tell them do it again. We do it take two and they didn't want to do take three. And I felt not so good. And take two but you had to rely on your camera operator to say, Did I get it or they buzz it? And he goes, No, I think that when you got and we'd see the next day and dailies if it was right, right. But the way they see people pull focus these days, like, especially people just have their own camera. They're just looking off the monitor and then pulling focus off of that. And that was like a taboo, you never looked at the model. One you never had one until later on. And the other one was the old fashioned way of running a tape measure and then learning distances, and then just floating with it knowing your lenses. So the time that you have to look at a monitor and then react to pulling focus, you're always going to be behind, because you're never going to be right on the timing. That makes a move in a shot. And the whole the dolly grip and the and the operator and everybody that does this little dance to make a move when they all do it correctly. It's magic. When you don't you see things that are anomalies. And these days, you don't know they're not really learning that way. You know, a lot like a lot of operators. You know, I'm sure the new operators, when they see one of my gear heads, they think it's an alien. They don't know what it is, is like how do you do that? I can't tilt and turn and it's like, Yeah, you got to do this with your eyes closed. I mean that you couldn't get as an operator on any show if you can operate the wheels. And it would be like, you know, it'd be like that. That's every a camera, at least in my day. You had a gearhead, right, right, right. And they wouldn't give you the gear to head on second unit. You get an O'Conner hat or something but you you had a No, I mean you had wheels, and then if you did anything that was remote head, crane, something like that. It was wheels. Later on, they came with a joystick and if you've learned with the wheels, the joystick makes you look at step
Alex Ferrari 59:52
look like it's bad. It's step, step and step instead it's like you take steps you don't just jump like you don't just grab a camera and call yourself a dp you like you've got to build up to those things and same things with all aspects of film. Now let me ask you a quick question. What camera would you suggest if you're going to go shoot Super 16 today? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:00:23
Hmm, well, I the 416 that was the last of the three cameras that they made that was film related, was a beautiful combination of all that is that the ASR three is no, no, no, no, it's the it's, it's after the ASR. They made it they made another camera after the ASR. They made a newer version.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:44
But what's gonna be out there mostly though, yes, oh
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:00:47
no, you'll find more you'll find more 16 s Rs, I mean, the 16 s are they had different models, they had the ASR. 123 and then they had the high speed versions and then also the advanced, which was a brighter optical system with a with a nice, more 6050 5050 or 6040 pellicle split for the color video or integrated video. So that got better to see the video assist kept getting better and better and better. And the camera would be better features like a brighter optical system so you can see it better in low light and you're actually looking through an image that's flickering because you're seeing the shutter.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:28
Right? As far as as far as wood, because I remember shooting star three in college and that's si toos were the workhorses. I mean there's so many srts out there and that's a perfectly fine camera and then the ASR threes as well are a ton of them out there but but you could but those are the kind of the workhorses right like that's kind of
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:01:47
if I was gonna say one camera to use if I had to get rid of all of my film cameras and say, What am I going to keep I probably keep it SCR three advanced high speed, decide have the ability to go high speed, low speed shutter changes, and it's a brighter system, but you know it, I'm nitpicking because that compared to NSR, to you know that over the generations, you learned on the models that were there, their strengths and weaknesses, if you could still get past some of the weaknesses and say, you know, the viewfinder doesn't look as crisp and the edges a little bit soft, but I still know through what I'm getting, it's fine. It's a fine camera. You know what I mean? It's like I've, I have almost every film camera that has been made. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:32
yes. Oh, which I which brings me which brings me You have to interrupt you, you have to tell the story of the Citizen Kane camera, to really, because it was such an awesome store when you told me real quick, if you don't want to tell I'll tell it really quickly.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:02:48
Okay, okay. Jimmy Carter had the camera that shot Citizen Kane and was going to donate it to the ASC museum and but not too later and gave it to my father. And for many, many, many years, it said in his office, which was your
Alex Ferrari 1:03:03
office, which is your office and I've been there many times I'm like, hey, that's a pretty cool camera but you never once told me it was the one that shots it isn't freaking game.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:03:09
And and then there was a there was a there's a poster that had Orson Welles on it that that had him, you know, like in glass frame, big, big picture of Orson on it. So then a later year, my father passes away, and I take over the company, and, you know, time goes on. And Jimmy says, you know, what can you can can we like, set, get that camera? And you know, what, what do you think about donate to the AC museum? I was like, Sure, okay, well, you know, I haven't moved it. Even since the day my father died, it's been in the same position for, I don't know, 20 years, something like that. And so I go to pack it up and try to pack it up. And as I'm there at night by myself, and I was like, Wow, it's really sad to see this go because I kind of got used to it, seeing it every day. And when I was a kid, so I sort of put it back in my case, and as I'm on the floor, like kneeling down, I see stars, something hits me over the head, and I looked down and I'm bleeding. And there's glass everywhere. And I'm like, What the hell and I look up and I go, Orson had come off the wall, and hit me straight on the head, cut my nose, up my face, glass everywhere, cut my hand, and I said, Dude, are you mad that I'm getting rid of this? Or did I just disrupt some little pot of energy that decided to go and spaz out and you know, have that happen that aye? Aye. Aye aye I cleaned up my blood and then of course I told my staff and they say look what happened here? But I think if you wanted to go see it's over the ice right now.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:38
That's That's fine.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:04:41
And I still have the poster. I never put glass in it again because I don't want him to hit me again.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:45
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Maybe
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:04:46
he was bad. I don't know Orson rolled over and got pissed.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
So what um, if you had one piece of advice, you can give any filmmaker starting out in the business world, what would it be?
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:04:56
They gotta love what you do and you got to have passion for it. You got to want You want to up your, your game up, you're, I mean, everybody's going to do something, but do it in a unique way that is inherent to you and then make it just grow. As you get more time in the seat in the saddle, your experience will grow. And too many times I see that a lot of the younger generation they want to fast and cheap. But then it mostly isn't good. And it comes off as being arrogant for the Masters that have spent their life trying to learn something and try to do like you. Like, like somebody who doesn't go to college is somebody who does and they want to tell him, you know my ways the best way it's like, Yeah, I don't want to hear that. It's like you that you have to put in your time one way or another and to give a little respect to where it's come to now because it's gotten so easy from the backs of people that had did it way before you and we're always experimenting is pushing the the envelopes, and nobody knows everything. Like I always say, I go out there and a lot of times I work on jobs and nothing really surprises me. And then there's other times it's like, Hey, I learned something even today. And that's that I love because if you keep learning, you don't become a jaded dinosaur. And at least you can you can keep moving forward.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:09
It was funny too because anytime we've worked together I know you've learned a few things from me on posts you're like Oh, so that's what you could do in post. Yeah, and I've learned and I've learned a ton from you on set without question well
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:06:21
if I the things that you could learn in post then even to this day, what you can learn in post gives you that confidence when you're on set is saying Do I need to spend 15 minutes flagging off that light or can I just wipe it away? And if I can wipe it away then I'm not going to worry about it or exactly or if I'm going to say is that going to really be dark or is that going to be oh I have no I'm going to crush it down a stop and a half so and I know it's going to be fine because I did it before with so so you your confidence level is super good with that mode because you you know what you can get away with certain things you can't get it if it's out of focus there's no fix it in post
Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
I hey I'm gonna disagree with you slightly because if it really saw it saw you don't hey thank you soft you can fix it if it's soft because
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:07:14
it'll have to show me that because I well because because because specifically
Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
because I learned this on Meg ago I've learned so much shooting being the photographer make I refuse to call myself a cinematographer, a director of photography but I since I photographed it I learned a ton and you know since there was basically only three people on the crew and I was running one of the cameras there was no assistant camera you were your own assistant camera so sometimes you know things happen you know actors move and things got a little soft. So I actually took it into Vinci and there's a sharpen tool, which I was never a big fan of because it never really looked right but if you throw a sharp in and then you throw another thing on and then you do clean this up here and you do this there all of a sudden you're like holy crap, it's in focus. But it has to be soft it can't be out of focus it can't it has to be slow yeah okay so you mean like if it's completely out of focus you're you're done but if you're slightly soft where you can actually see it soft I look at their eyes and their eyes are a little soft I just go I just tweak okay just a little
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:08:17
tweak but but
Alex Ferrari 1:08:17
what I'm saying out of focus is out of focus I mean there's no let's say
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:08:21
that I was doing a food thing last month and you know you're at 300 frames a second at a five six with a 25 millimeter lens of macro with food falling when it's not sharp no
Alex Ferrari 1:08:38
no no no that's a whole lot it's soft for a long
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:08:40
time as you're watching it at 24 It's like going oh my god
Alex Ferrari 1:08:46
I would still like give it if you gave me that footage I could see what I could do it's believe me I couldn't hear Magic
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:08:52
Man I can I can pull you can pull things that I don't even know if I
Alex Ferrari 1:08:56
need to see I can't wait for you to see me because I want you to see it and just go oh okay cuz I had a couple of my buddies who are ASC cinematographers watch it and they're like, it looks good. He goes I mean hire us next time obviously but it doesn't look I mean it looks fine you know it's no
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:09:10
but if you hire look the way you pulled this off you were what 10 hats and 15 or 20 at least okay 2050 hats. Yeah, you still you still had the the well with all to keep it intimate have to the more the more people that you bring in like I've worked on jobs that are like 500 people it's insane. Like you're breaking intervals of legend 200 people at a time and it's it's an army it's a city and it doesn't have the same intimacy is if it's just you and three people. You can get more more performance out you also can if you're not, if you're not a tyrant, you can actually get people to love you and follow you into that scary place and trust you as a director to release their their their Best soft emotional aside to capture on on frames and you can do that i mean that that not having an army of people sometimes works for you It makes you a little bit tired and you need a week to recover but I wouldn't say do it on every job but I do think that there is something good about doing especially if you're taking like fashion stuff the more people and let's say somebody is half naked they're dancing around and doing something like that you put in a whole army there it makes them feel uncomfortable you have like two people and just say look trust me I'm going to make you look good and you know you have the choice of how to how far to go and you get a better performance I think
Alex Ferrari 1:10:36
oh my my lead actress Jill she's like I'm never shooting anything without you again because you made me look amazing what am i do i did call her the hell out of it. But anyway, we won't get on that. So real quick my friend the last two questions I always ask all of my guests are the toughest one so prepare yourself Oh boy. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film industry
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:11:04
Ah, the lesson I you don't know everything even though you might feel it, you don't know it and some of the choices that you make many years later can come back to reward you or come back to haunt you.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:29
That's so true.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:11:31
I think that if I tried to keep thinking that look I'm lucky to have a job where we're doing make believe we're really selling mirrors of the land of the blind we're doing we're doing advertising of products that are better looking than the actual product itself. We're getting consumerism to buy things or go and and follow direct is because they emotionally get brought on to to a place that they love their films and you're you're doing it you're giving somebody in the in the way this world can be so ugly and horrible and distressful, you can have a moment of two hours to watch a movie and feel good about yourself so you can touch people, you know, unilaterally whether whatever nationality you are, through this medium, and that it's not brain surgery. So it should be something that you enjoy doing and you should be something that you don't beat into people like you're building a pyramid that you that you do it in a creative way and then you're proud of it. And you might actually feel good that you were there like those magical moments that changes people's careers that you can say and look next to the person and say I was there with you that night. I was I was a part of that. And I I experienced that moment and I knew this was going to be a turning point and that's that's a neat thing because people to do what they love that pays their bills and also fulfills their spirit. It's tough to find that calling and if this is going to be the one which itemize saying it is because a lot of sucky parts about a completely that I I you know, I when I got fired off that job, I didn't leave my my apartment for two weeks thinking I just never want to be in public again, because I was so hurt by it. But you know, it has some terrible lows. And then and then if you can sort of ride that out and remember your place that you don't know everything, and there's somebody that's going to know or do something a little bit better embrace it, and just kind of be open to it and receptive to it and learn I think and learn I think really it's about learning whether I'm 50 or 20 as long as I keep learning it keeps me excited. If it's if it's if I don't want to learn and it becomes boring. I gotta do something else.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:48
Now what are your three favorite films of all time? Blade Runner, excellent.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:13:55
Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
I love Domino. That's it. That's the first time it's been on the show. Good. It's a good Oh, really? Yeah, no one else is called Domino out that's a Tony Scott film. I mean, so brilliantly shot pretty well. The
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:14:07
ending in that is, is you're so committed to that kind of a style that you've got the whole team backing you you get to turn to stumble upon greatness. Isn't that crazy?
Alex Ferrari 1:14:21
It's Tony Scott, Tony Scott. Man, he revolutionized the action movie. It's no question about
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:14:25
well, actually and then of course they said Blade Runner. So that's, that's that's
Alex Ferrari 1:14:30
really who also revolutionized and whoever's listening to this podcast right now has not seen Blade Runner. You need to stop listening right now and go stream it rented by it. Whatever. You won't be sorry. And what's it What's your third one, sir?
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:14:45
And it still holds up. I'm not so sure about Blade Runner two that I heard is I'm gonna I'm gonna keep open. Yeah. I mean, he is going to be one that you probably I mean like I could go on by telling you films like Fellini's eight and a half Seven Samurai and and all these types of things but something like that I could go and grab two wood that I can see over and over again because I don't know it seemed like it's more old school would probably be Excalibur
Alex Ferrari 1:15:20
oh wow yeah I love Excalibur because I
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:15:23
like Mormons I like I like the way it looked I mean he didn't have all the visual and special effects you had to do in practically it had more of a story about King Arthur it had real actors even though they did every scene yelling yeah but I didn't know I could I could watch it over and over again or Dune for instance as another one I love just the way the because I mean there's these days Give me something that happened recently a movie line that you can remember
Alex Ferrari 1:15:52
off top of my head I can't remember anything right now.
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:15:54
Exactly. But you can remember movie lines from Breakfast Club you can remember movie lines from from Arnold's movies you can remember movie lines from from Talladega Nights are certain things that are like you know like they just stick with a stick with you Ghostbusters the original you have you know there's so many whenever line or something in a movie that sticks with you even when like Blade Runner not an easy thing to meet your maker you know it's kind of like you know, this these are I don't find that commonly now with certain things you say a line and I get people looking at me think I'm just talking to myself like a crazy man. But it really has a reference in the homage to a certain film.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:32
Now where can people find you? Online sir?
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:16:37
Let's say you can check me on on Facebook under Sydney video tech or Egon Stephen Jr. Instagram snapchat
Alex Ferrari 1:16:48
your website your websites actually
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:16:52
yeah www cinemedia tech comm we're going to update that it's it needs a new facelift but it's still the same people we're still the we're still the only rental house one of the very very few that are still around from the original family from 1968 so the name and the people on the second generation and hopefully at some point one of my kids wants to do this too and I can I can have them take over my little part but we've been trying to be a stable place in Miami Florida for a very long time and when you look at the whole industry in itself many companies were bought and sold and still kept the same name but not have the same people that are backing behind it and I'm still one of the very few independently owned that still maintained like it was in the old days we have lights that are from 40 years old that still work we would have like interesting cameras from way back even hand crane cameras that some are movie Ola that people don't even know how to thread up or you know some things that by saying this today's technology you can still use older lenses on newer cameras and you can still use older lights on on newer scenes it doesn't light is a light
Alex Ferrari 1:18:06
It just allow the lens and a lens is a lens
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:18:09
Right so you know it's it's one of those things that I I feel more than just that I'm a camera man or that I'm a teacher or a mentor for a lot of people it's like I also feel obligated that I'm I'm like a storehouse of knowledge for you know this medium and I am always wanting to pass it on to anybody else and still try to offer the tools the filmmakers that I was offered
Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
Man thank you so much Egon for being on the show and thank you for being a part of our our little course that we put together for 16 millimeter Super 16 millimeter and then we have a couple other courses coming up. Aimed lens masterclass which literally Egon opened up the vault and we looked at every frickin lens on the planet and shot with it and it's obscene and we also have another one with filters just the magic of what filters can do as well coming up in the next few months. But right now we're gonna we're releasing the Super 16 definitive Super 16 masterclass and I will give you all that information in the show notes guys but Egon brother thank you as
Egon Stephan Jr. 1:19:13
Hey Alex the best man I've always said that you're you're one of a kind and I'm so happy to be your friend and so happy to be a part of this and you've you've helped me over the years and I think this is a fantastic thing you're doing and keep it going buddy.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:27
Thank you brother thanks for being the show. And I hope you guys enjoy that episode with with Egon a little talk and you know again film is not dead guys. It's not as much as people like to say it's completely gone. It's quietly working in the background and things that you thought that are not being shot on film are being shot on film. So don't think that you can't shoot film because it's way way too expensive or way out of your you know price Li You know league or that you need you know insane amounts of people to do it. You know it is more complicated than grabbing your iPhone and Shooting, but the results will be worth the extra time and money that you will need to shoot it. But it's still very affordable considering when you start doing the math. So as promised guys, if you guys want to take this course, which will be growing, I'm going to be adding a few more things to it in the coming months. So just head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash, super 16 that's indie film hustle.com forward slash Super 16. And though not the word, the numbers are the word super, and the number 16. So indie film hustle.com forward slash Super 16. And I'm going to be giving you 50 bucks off the cost of the course this is a really special course guys, it's it's a long course it has a lot of information on it. If you're serious about shooting a super 16 or shooting film or interested in that knowledge. This is definitely the course for you. And also included in the course are a ton of downloadable forms, reports, things like that, that you can't get anywhere else. And that's included in the course so you can download all this stuff and get things ready film report shot lists, all this kind of stuff that you will need to deal with film labs and so on. So that's all included in the course as well. And we'll be adding more stuff to it in the coming weeks. There's a lens masterclass that we're working on that there's we put the Super 16 one in the course and it's one of the free lessons that we put up on YouTube and it'll be in the show notes. But we're also creating a lens masterclass which literally and I'm not joking you takes every single lens known to man and we put it up on a on a on a kit on a red and we shoot it and we show you what the differences are. And we explain it and where they came from and how to use them what kind of mounts there it's an insane course and we're going to be including parts of that in this course, but also be adding that as another full masterclass coming in the next few months as soon as I have a moment to breathe, to put it all together. So thank you again As always guys and please head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review on the show. It really helps us out a lot. And don't forget this is mag COMM And check out the trailer for my latest in first feature film. This is Meg I'd love to hear what you guys have to say about it. drop me a line drop me an email, drop me a message on Facebook or on Twitter and or post it on Facebook and just let me know what you guys think. I'm really really excited about it. I'm so happy that I was able to do it. And there is more stuff coming on indie film syndicate. So don't forget over so guys to head over to indie film syndicate comm and join the gang of learning all the stuff that we have in indie film syndicate, and I will be adding new courses this month to the indie film syndicate are November excuse me we've already added for October but we will be adding new courses in November as well as new lessons in the independent filmmaking masterclass which helps you go through the entire process. I went through creating this is Meg on a, let's say under $25 million budget. So guys, thank you again so much. Keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- The Definitive Super 16 mm Film Masterclass
- Cine Video Tech
- “This is Meg” Trailer
- DSLR Filmmaking Masterclass
Where Hollywood Comes to Talk
Oscar® Winning Writer/Director
(Platoon, Wall Street, JFK)
(Brothers McMullin, She's the One)
Oscar® Nominated Writer/Director
(Boyhood, School of Rock)
Emmy® Winning Writer/Director/Actor
(City Slickers, Analyze This)
(Smokin' Aces, The Grey, Narc)