focus on film
Cameras Panaflex XL, Platinum and Lightweight II bodies, Film stocks KODAK VISION2 50D 5201, KODAK VISION2 250D 5205,
ARRI 435 and 235 cameras. KODAK VISION3 500T 5219
Lenses The new G Series 35, 40, 50, 60, 75, 100, E Series 135 and 180mm primes, Post-production Technicolor, Los Angeles, and Company 3
a 55mm anamorphic macro, and 40-80mm AWZ2
and Angenieux HR 50-500mm zoom lenses.
Revisiting Friday the 13th
with Daniel Pearl, ASC
Flashback to 1973: Daniel Pearl, ASC collaborated with Tobe “I have been turning down opportunities to shoot horror
Hooper on the production of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films,” Pearl says, “but Marcus was interested in this film, and
straight out of college. They produced that classic, scary movie we had a good experience working with Michael during the
in 16mm format on EKTACHROME film with a handheld camera remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I agreed to sign on.”
and a sparse $80,000 budget. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The original Friday the 13th was produced near Austin, Texas.
earned rave reviews at the Cannes International Film Festival. The story opened at Camp Crystal Lake during the late 1950s,
One critic called it “a near perfect terror film” and another
one credited the “cinéma vérité style of cinematography” with
evoking feelings of terror.
Nine years later, Pearl explored another new frontier
during the dawn of the MTV age. A director named Russell “Darkness is like a
Mulcahy asked Pearl to collaborate with him on a new genre
of filmmaking – music videos. When Pearl earned the first
MTV Award for cinematography in 1984, an article in Fortune
magazine called him “the prototype music video shooter who
character in this story.”
was inventing a new visual grammar.”
Jump ahead to October 2007: Pearl has compiled some 60
narrative film and 500 to 600 music video and commercial where a boy named Jason Voorhees drowned. The following
credits since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He is south of summer two counselors were murdered. The camp was closed
Austin, Texas, shooting The Kings of Appletown. A couple of for a number of years because of fires and other problems.
text messages alert him to expect a call about filming a remake When a new owner re-opened the camp in 1979, a mysterious
of Friday the 13th. stalker began killing counselors again.
The phone call came a few days later, verifying that Marcus The new film is set in contemporary times at the same
Nispel was directing the film and Michael Bay was among general locations. A young man brings five friends to a hunting
the producers for Paramount Pictures. Pearl had collaborated lodge for a weekend camping trip. They stumble on Camp
with Nispel on scores of commercials and four narrative films, Crystal Lake where Jason was supposed to have drowned. The
including the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, young people are stalked and murdered one at a time by a killer
which was produced by Bay. wearing a hockey mask. The sole exception is a female who is
focus on film
“The dynamic range of the
5219 stock is phenomenal.
On a film like this, the ability
to shoot night scenes in
near darkness is important
because there are no
held hostage in the murderer’s lair. Her brother comes to
the lodge looking for her at the same time as a new group
of six vacationers arrive.
“I read the screenplay and spoke with Marcus to get a
sense of his vision for the script,” Pearl recalls. “Between
70 and 75 percent of the story unfolds at night, and most also conferred with his gaffer, Roger Sassen, about the need to
of it happens at exterior locations where there were no create natural-looking light and darkness to visually punctuate
or minimal sources of motivated light. Darkness is like a the sense of time, place and moods. “Roger and I worked
character in this story.” together regularly during the first 10 to 12 years of our careers
There was an eight-week pre-production schedule. and got back together a few years ago,” Pearl says. “He’s a
Pearl was there for three of the last four weeks. Some fantastic gaffer, and knows intuitively what I like.”
locations had already been chosen. He spent some of In addition to the interior of the lodge, sets included the lair
that time wandering around outside both at night and where the killer lives and the female prisoner is kept, a tool
in daytime, judging colors, angles, quality and shades shed that was supposed to be in a garage where some scenes
of light, and planning the sometimes-difficult light were set, and a bathroom in the hunting lodge.“I know Austin
placements for the rigging crew. because I studied at the University of Texas and have shot a
Pearl shared his observations with Nispel and first number of films there,” Pearl says. “I knew there are heavy
A.D. Michael Waxman about scheduling scenes to make rainstorms at times and that we would need covered sets.”
the most efficient and aesthetic use of available light. He There was a consensus that the 35mm anamorphic film
format and 2.4:1 aspect ratio was the right aesthetic, allowing
them to place the characters into environments and to
present them in relation to each other. Pearl adds that the new
Panavision G Series anamorphic lenses “performed very well,
rendering incredibly lush and rich” images.
There was also an upfront decision that Friday the 13th
would be timed in a digital intermediate (D.I.) environment so
painterly touches could be added to the look.
“Marcus always planned to add a little smoke to
environments while we shot,” Pearl says. “It augmented an eerie
tone to the images that the audience feels rather than notices
on a conscious level. There were two things we had to consider.
The use of smoke tends to flatten images a bit, especially with
anamorphic lenses, and Mother Nature can deal you a wildcard
and blow the smoke around in unpredictable ways when you are
shooting outdoors. However, we knew we could isolate selected
parts of frames and alter contrast in D.I., so the images would
Pearl decided to shoot a series of tests with the then-new
2 KODAK VISION3 500T 5219 film, including “pushing” it one,
one-and-a-half, and two stops using the anamorphic Panavision
1 (Previous page L-R) Actors Ben Feldman and Derek Mears rehearse in
front of “A” camera operator Jacques Jouffrett for one of the many night G Series.
exterior scenes in Friday the 13th. “When I said I was going to test push the negative two
2 Daniel Pearl, ASC (bottom right) and his crew on the film, including
(top row, left to right) first assistant cameraman P.K. Munson, “A” camera stops, everybody thought I was crazy,” Pearl relates, “but I was
operator Jacques Jouffret, camera PA Troy Anderson, film loader Ryan impressed by the fine grain structure and believed it would
Abrams, “C” camera operator Peter Simonite, “C” camera first assistant work. We ended up using a two-stop push for some big night
camerawoman Theda Streetman, “B” camera first assistant cameraman
Robert Rendon, second unit director of photography Don Reddy (bottom
exterior sequences. The results were mind blowing.”
row, left to right), “B” camera second assistant camerawoman Kelly Pearl estimates that Nispel created several thousand
Bogdan, and “A” camera second assistant cameraman Don Howe, Jr.
3 (L-R) Actors Derek Mears and Willa Ford in a scene from Friday the 13th
storyboards, which he used as reminders of his intentions
in which smoke was used to create an eerie tone. rather than as rigid guidelines for camera blocking.
Photos: John P. Johnson/Warner Bros.
“They were more like the heartbeat of the film rather than
specific plans for coverage,” Pearl explains. “Our camera
2 placement was based on watching the actors rehearse.”
focus on film
Panavision in Dallas prepped the camera package, including gels on the lamps to tint the blue tone of the light just enough.”
Panaflex XL, Platinum and Lightweight II bodies, and ARRI Pearl notes that there are “a fair number” of dialogue scenes
435 and 235 cameras when they were needed. His selection involving multiple characters and a constant feeling of tension
of lenses included the new G Series 35, 40, 50, 60, 75, 100, E as the killer chooses his victims. “I tried to keep the momentum
Series 135 and 180mm primes, plus a 55mm anamorphic macro, going, and the energy on the set flowing at a peak level by
and 40-80mm AWZ2 and Angenieux HR 50-500mm zoom just making minor adjustments, dropping a scrim, moving a
lenses. The Panavision facility also provided lighting gear. barn door or turning a light off or on between takes,” he says.
There was an ambitious 40-day production schedule. “One “Sometimes, we would quickly add a light between takes, or
of my secret weapons was a terrific crew,” Pearl says. “My I’d decide to push two stops instead of one. It was no problem
B-camera operator was Don Reddy, who was also the second with that (5219) stock. Sometimes, I pushed the film to get a bit
unit cinematographer. Don and I had previously worked more contrast.”
together on four other films, so he knows how I think. Jacques Several scenes were covered with a handheld camera. Pearl
Jouffret was A-camera/Steadicam operator. We ended up explains that sometimes it was because they were working in
doing a lot more Steadicam work than we had originally comparatively small or confined spaces, and other times he felt
planned, but it is transparent to the audience.” a need for a more tactile feeling in scary scenes.
“The camera isn’t obviously flying around,” he emphasizes. “There was a chase scene through the woods that we had
“We started planning scenes by blocking a Steadicam master planned as a Steadicam shot,” Pearl continues. “Jacques is a
shot almost like the camera was on a dolly, but going to places very talented operator, so it was a technically amazing shot, but
that otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible.” it felt too smooth. The energy and emotions weren’t there and
Daytime exterior scenes were mainly designed to establish it didn’t feel raw enough. It needed to be shakier with a more
the locations and give the audience a feeling for the lay of the kinetic feeling and edgier look, so we re-did it as a handheld
land, and also to introduce the two groups of characters when shot. There is also some crane work, mainly for what we called
they arrive at the campsite. ‘shoe leather’ – transitional shots where characters enter or exit
“They walk around and talk about how cool it is instead of a scene.”
going right inside,” he says. “We stayed with the characters and There were also conversations about how much of the
kept the cameras moving in a lyrical way as they walked and killer’s face to reveal. “We didn’t want the audience to have a
talked.” good look at the killer until they finally see him in a mask or a
Pearl chose KODAK VISION2 50D 5201 film for daylight prosthetic costume towards the end,” he says. “The lighting
exterior scenes and 250D 5205 for interior sequences. All night was sketchy. Sometimes you get glimpses of his eyes, but he
exterior and interior scenes were rendered onto 5219 film. The is wearing a white hockey mask. It was tricky finding a way to
majority of the night scenes were pushed one stop, and the get light into his eyes without lighting up the mask. The eyes
darkest shots were pushed one-and-a-half or two stops. are set back in the mask, so they are pretty dark. I knew that, if
necessary, I would be able to play with it in D.I.”
“The dynamic range of the 5219 stock is phenomenal,” Pearl
observes. “That was important. On a film like this, the ability to Front-end lab work was done by Technicolor in Los Angeles,
shoot night scenes in near darkness is important because there and DVD dailies were produced by Company 3, also in Los
are no streetlights. The rigging crew was always ready with Angeles. Pearl communicated with P.J. Marsigila, the colorist,
HMIs on Condor cranes in position to shoot. We had to make it every day to describe his intentions for the shots coming his
look like moonlight.” way and to discuss the dailies that he was seeing. The D.I. was
also to be timed at Company 3.
Pearl describes how that was done like an artist explaining
the choice of the right combination of oil and watercolor paints Flash-forward to February 2009: Friday the 13th releases in
to brush on a canvas. “It was tricky getting the colors right,” he theaters for audiences to “enjoy” on the edge of their seats.
admits. “We used one-quarter CTO and light orange and green 3