How the 5D Mark III Helped Me Make My Most Important Film to Date

possibilities_despairAbout three years ago I decided to focus my business on inspirational and cause-driven work. I still do a wide variety of commercial work. Everything from information videos for insurance networks to testimonial and promo videos for high-powered gyms to documentary shorts for large corporations. But the work that Dare Dreamer Media specializes and excels in, is work that moves people to better their lives and their community.

It can be a hard road sometimes. Many of the clients I serve don’t always have the biggest budgets. But the “payment” I get in return is a profound sense of using my gifts to make a difference in this world. That brings me peace, even during the times when life doesn’t feel very peaceful.

A few weekends ago I shot what I believe is one of the most important films I’ve made to date. A provocative film about the evils of teen sex-trafficking. I made videos about this topic before. But this one is different. It was darker. It was more challenging. And it’s designed to help a client raise a LOT of money. Will it succeed?

The client is The Downing-Clark Hope Center and Academy, a center for girls caught on hard times. Drug addicts. Girls on suicide watch. Foster kids in between homes. A few years ago, they had to close down. Now, they’re doing all they can to re-open their doors and focus all their resources specifically on teen girls rescued from the sex trade. Atlanta happens to be one of top cities in the U.S. for the commercial sexualization exploitation of children, aka C.S.E.C.

The film will be used as part of Downing-Clark’s fundraising campaign. It’s from an original script I wrote. Without giving too much away, it shows the life of these girls caught in the trade. And it shows the possibility of their life in a world where Downing-Clark can re-open.

The 5D Mark III to the Rescue

As is often the case, the budget was low. But that didn’t deter me from putting in all that I could to make this film look it’s best. I turned to my good friends at LensProToGo (who are also sponsors of my podcast) to see if they would lend to the cause. I knew I didn’t have the budget for a 2-ton grip truck of lights. I didn’t even have the budget for a couple of KinoFlos. Yet, the script called for lots of scenes on dark streets, dark cars, and dimly lit motel rooms. I needed a camera that held up at high ISOs. Enter the 5D Mark III. In addition to the 5D3, LensProToGo loaded us up with a Zacuto Scorpion and EVF, a nice set of wide, medium and long Canon L lenses, a 50mm Zeiss, and some follow focuses (or is that foci) and plenty of battery juice. As the screen shots below can attest, the 5D3 performed magnificently. (Click an image to see it larger. These are all, ungraded screen shots from the raw footage).

Dimly lit motel room. Shot at 1/50, f2.5, ISO 1600.
Dimly lit motel room. Shot at 1/50, f2.5, ISO 1600. By far one of the toughest scenes to film. And I’m not talking about the lighting.
Inside the car of a John. Shot at 1/30, f3.2, ISO 4000. Lit only by ambient street light and an iPhone.
Inside the car of a John. Shot at 1/30, f3.2, ISO 4000. Lit only by ambient street light and an iPhone.
Street scene shot at 1/50, f3.2, ISO3200.
Street scene shot at 1/50, f3.2, ISO3200.

Behind the Scenes

 Lots of people contributed their time and talents to make this film a reality. I’ll have more details when the film posts. Until then, here is a short behind the scenes video made by one of the filmmakers in my mentorship program, Wesley Morris.

9 thoughts on “How the 5D Mark III Helped Me Make My Most Important Film to Date

  1. Thanks for sharing. Glad to see others working on some of these heavy topics. I’m not sure I could handle it.

    Always fun to see how others use the glidecam.


  2. Am I the only one who looks at these frame grabs and sees drab/lifeless imagery. I can understand why we as wedding film-makers would sometimes have to rely on available ambient light, but doing the same for a narrative film shoot seems just plain lazy!!

    This would have probably looked 100 times more attractive if it was filmed with a little 3 chip camcorder and some carefully placed artificial lighting. Sad to see so many DSLR “film-makers” disregarding the impact good lighting can make to a narrative film 😦

    1. Dave, as I mentioned in the post, there was no budget for lighting. Furthermore, on shoots like this where the cast and crew is volunteer and you’re working with literally a 2-person crew and cast members who have only 2 hours with you, there’s just no time to get creative with artificial lighting. We barely had time to get the shots we did shooting with just ambient light. This was the primary reason I chose the 5D3.

      Lastly, and perhaps most important, the reason these images look drab and lifeless is because it’s ungraded footage shot with a FLAT picture profile. It’s SUPPOSED to look like that. The reason I wanted to post the raw footage was to show what it looked like right out of the camera with only ambient light at high ISOs. I assure you, the “life” will be added back to the footage during the post production color grade.

      It was anything BUT laziness required to make this short with the limited resources and time we had.

      I invite you to return and comment on the final film before casually disregarding the time and energy that went into making it.

  3. I’m a firm believer that it’s not the tool, but the subject that you’re filming that makes a great story. But the low light capability of the mk3 definitely helps!
    Not needing to setup lights are great and allows the actors to perform more naturally. Not to mention the time saved in setting up shots!

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