BRAN NUE DAE the new Australian movie directed by Rachel Perkins was shot entirely with Fujifilm stock. Bran Nue Dae tells the story of young Willie (Rocky McKenzie) during the Summer of 1967 in the idyllic pearling port of Broome, North Western Australia - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl Rosie. However his mother has great hopes for him and returns him to the religious mission in Perth for further schooling. After being punished by Father Benedictus for an act of youthful rebellion, Willie runs away. Down on his luck he meets Uncle Tadpole and together they con a couple of hippies into taking them on the 3,000 km journey back home. Arriving in Broome, Willie wins the girl, convinces his mother that Broome is the place he should be and discovers the father he never knew.
The film stars newcomers Rocky McKenzie and Jessica Mauboy as the young lovers. They are ably supported by Geoffrey Rush, Ernie Dingo, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Tom Budge, Missy Higgins, Dan Sultan and Ningali Lawford.
DOP on Bran Nue Dae Andrew Lesnie explains his decision to use Fujifilm stock and to shoot the movie 2-perf. “Director Rachel Perkins and I were keen to shoot this old fashioned romantic comedy in 35mm and to preserve the landscapes on the finer grain of the 35mm gauge. I shot Fujifilm Eterna 250T and 500T stocks on Bran Nue Dae and picked them for a number of reasons. Firstly, we were filming a predominantly Aboriginal cast in very contrasty light and based on a tight schedule, I knew I wouldn’t be able to exercise as much light control as I’d like. Both these stocks have an excellent range and are very gentle. Secondly, both stocks have excellent colour rendition and the colours of Broome are absolutely extraordinary. Finally I had also previously shot Fuji 35mm stock on Love’s Brother and the backup from Fujifilm was excellent.”
As is common with Australian filmmaking, finances on Bran Nue Dae had to be kept in check and cost efficiencies made wherever possible. Lesnie continued, “The initial budget was rather tight regarding shooting ratio, so it was fortunate that both Arriflex and Panavision had started offering 2-perf movements. Also called Techniscope, this system photographed all the great spaghetti westerns and George Lucas used it for THX 1138 and American Graffiti. So I figured it had a pretty good pedigree.”
As his first 2-perf project, Lesnie made sure he explored all avenues before beginning the shoot. He continued, “I’ve never shot 2-perf before. As with any new image-capturing system, I tested it right through to the final release format, to eliminate those pesky, unexpected surprises. I think it’s important for editorial, sound, the lab and sound editorial to all get their hands on it. We shot a test that included some sync sound and put it through Cinevex lab in Melbourne. Then editor Rochelle Oshlack cut a sequence that was scanned and DI’d to a release print.” Lesnie discovered that there were advantages to shooting 2-perf which had to be balanced with a different look and texture. “Since the standard is 4-perf (or 3-perf), 2-perf means you get twice as much value out of your stock. A 1,000ft roll which usually gives you 10 minutes now gives you almost 21 minutes. A 400ft roll gives you over 8 minutes.” He said. “You have to weigh this up against the fact that the physical size of your neg image is smaller than anamorphic and a tiny bit smaller than Super35, but substantially bigger than Super16. The frames lines are narrower, which increases the danger of hairs in the gate and lens flares along the gate line. The shoot was seven weeks. 2-perf allowed us to shoot 2 cameras for several of the musical dance numbers. We carried a steadicam fulltime, skillfully operated by Simon Harding. We shot the whole project with 3 Optimo zooms, which kept our lens kit very lean and efficient. We also carried a 4-perf Arri 435 as a backup camera and for any hi-speed and VFX shots.”
Once the rushes were shot Editor Rochelle Oshlack took up the reigns. Explaining the post production workflow Oshlack said, “We telecine transferred the Fuji processed 2-perf neg straight to hard drives using Apple Pro Res 422 codec for cutting on Final Cut Pro, while simultaneously transferring to Digi Beta which we used to conform from for our audience screenings on the big screen with a temp mix. We ran the telecine at 25fps PAL mute, slowed the footage back to its native 24fps and logged rushes in Final Cut Pro to produce viewing DVDs for Andrew (Lesnie) and the crew. Once locked off we produced a 25fps EDL for scanning for the DI. All speed changes, blow-ups and XY zooms were achieved in Shake or a similar FX tool. VFX were temped using Digi Beta's at uncompressed 8bit PAL codec. We transferred most of the VFX elements full screen with no masking so they had all the information available, as some elements were shot 4-perf when required. For sound we produced OMF files as we maintained a digital path with the audio from location, copying location sound straight from flash drives onto the Final Cut Pro hard drive.”
Andrew Lesnie concluded, “Under tough shooting conditions the Fujifilm Eterna 250T and 500T stock we used was excellent. The enthusiasm of the crew also made a huge difference to this project. Gaffer Paul Booth, key grip Warren Grieef, focus pullers Colin Deane and Christian Luxton, camera crew Inake De Ubago, Melissa Ozich, Devina McPherson and Psembi Kinstan. Second Unit cinematographer Michael McDermott and focus puller Gavin Head. Plus a lot of support from Deluxe Sydney telecine Darryl McKee, Keiran Bleakley and Luke Buckley and Ian Letcher at Deluxe Melbourne.”
Bran Nue Dae will close the Melbourne Film Festival in August.For more press information contact Salvatore Di Muccio at Well Above on +61 412 64 99 64 or at firstname.lastname@example.org