"Pride: The Series"
Shooting Online Television Series with Blackmagic Cinema Camera
The creators of the show hope that the series inspires everyone who watches it - regardless of culture, size, gender or sexual orientation - to express themselves and not be afraid to show their own pride.
Brandon Polanco, the creative director and one of the executive producers of the show, says that they could not have delivered on their vision for the show without the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
Starting From Scratch
Originally from Austin, Texas, Brandon studied theatrical performance and direction at Stephen F. Austin State University before furthering his studies in London and Madrid. After graduating, Brandon moved to New York City to pursue his passion of filmmaking.
Three years later, Brandon has made a few short films: "Snap Shot," "Passing By" and "Writer's Block." During the production of "Passing By," Dorell Anthony, the creator and showrunner of "Pride: the Series," approached Brandon, who was an old friend from Texas. The two then enlisted Jennifer Sara Wilmeth, a writer and actress, to join the team. After listening to Dorell's ideas for the show, the team began constructing the world of Pride. They began shooting the pilot in June of 2012, which lead to them raising enough money to move forward with creating an entire season.
"The three of us have been with this baby since the beginning," said Brandon. "We've created everything from scratch and it has taken us a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We owe a large part of our success to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera."
Taking a Smart Approach
Brandon, Dorell, and Jennifer, who also serve as the executive producers of the show, decided to form a production company called 3 of a Kind Productions, which now houses Brandon's film "Writer's Block" as well as "Pride: The Series." The three wrote the rest of the Pride series in January of 2013, and immediately went into production, as the pilot had generated an investor for the project. Production began in March and the team shot for 17 days, creating seven twenty minute episodes.
Although they had rented a camera for the pilot episode, Pride's Director of Photography, CJ Baker, told the team about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and the rave reviews of the camera combined with its affordable price got Brandon thinking.
As the team was establishing a budget and deciding how they would spend the money, Brandon thought about owning their own camera rather than renting one. He knew that flexibility would be important during their shoot, and that if they did not own the camera they would be subject to a deadline with a camera rental and might end up rushing the entire process. They would also likely spend the same amount of money on a camera rental as they would on purchasing a camera, and owning their own camera would allow them to use it on personal and future projects. So, after Brandon decided it was best to own the camera, he told his partners about the idea, and they decided to use a portion of their budget to purchase the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
The team called stores throughout the city, but soon feared they would not be able to find the massively in demand camera. Not ready to give up, Dorell called a shop on Long Island. The store owner clarified that the only Blackmagic camera he had left was the one on display. Dorell took a chance and gave his credit card number to hold it. After phoning Brandon and Jennifer, the team quickly dropped everything and drove to the area to pick up the camera that forever changed their lives.
"The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is the first camera I've ever owned, and it has been an amazing investment for our production needs," said Brandon. "We chose it for the cinematic image that no other camera can possess at such an affordable price, and that it comes with an industry level finishing suite like DaVinci Resolve."
"I like to think my team and I used our noggins and approached the creation of this show in a smart way," said Brandon. "This camera definitely gave us a better looking show than any other option out there. It heightened our potential for creating this fictional world and giving it a cinematic look. Our show uses the Blackmagic Cinema Camera for style, which allows us to take the show into a purely unique direction."
Flexibility also did indeed play a significant role in the show's outcome.
"We had to be frugal with everything: food, equipment, crew payments, and locations; however, time became our friend," said Brandon. "Our schedule was spread out over 17 days in March and April. We were able to make weekend shoots, an 11 day straight shoot and a two day season finale shoot possible. The only reason we were able to make this work was because we bought the Blackmagic Cinema Camera."
Organic Filmmaking at its Finest
Brandon credits the camera's 2.5K image sensor and wide 13 stops of dynamic range for giving the show the cinematic look the team was going for.
"The camera not only surpasses other cameras in terms of image quality and technical achievements, but in terms of using it for my direction capabilities, I've been given an outlet that other cameras haven't given me," said Brandon. "I love Blackmagic's use of SSD cards. I am a theatre man just as much as I am a film man, and since I can record until an SSD card runs out, I'm allowed an opportunity to create long choreographed shots. Or, I can block long scenes and run them like a performance in a play by manipulating the camera with hand held techniques or steadicam to achieve choreographed camera movements. It allows me to rehearse and shoot with the camera as another character of the scene, where it becomes motivated off the blocking of a scene and the performance of the actors. Our editor, Alex Minton, has been able to manipulate the footage in a unique way merging both a cinematic language with non traditional dramatic writing."
"'Pride: The Series' is a pure example of organic filmmaking," Brandon continued. "The project manifested over time, rewrites were constant, and we truly created a production that represented our capabilities. We discussed how we would take a 100 page script and make it possible with a 17 day shoot schedule, and no money. Our total budget including post was $15,000. But we created a full series and are still making more content for our first season."
He also appreciated the camera's simplicity and ease of use.
"The camera is so user friendly and did not give us a hassle with set up," said Brandon. "Due to our limited budget, we were not able to afford many camera accessories, but we made it work with a hand held rig, a dolly, and a glide cam. Other than a standard fluid head tripod we were very lightweight in movement, and used signature angles and composition shots to create a wild look for the world of Pride."