"The Dry Brush Master"
Ben Tobin Captures Magic of Greg Ruth's 'The Lost Boy' with Blackmagic Design Cameras
This is what filmmaker Ben Tobin was faced with when he decided to take on the task of telling Greg Ruth's story. Ruth is known as a Dry Brush Master, and his artwork and books have been celebrated around the world. His most recent graphic novel, "The Lost Boy," is a New York Times Best Seller, and features amazing illustrations which pull the reader into an incredible world of fantasy built around Ruth's unique dry brush style.
So how do you capture the gritty, surreal and celebrated Greg Ruth style in a film documentary? For Tobin, that meant working to keep a cinematic feeling to better capture the scope of the work. To do this, Tobin used the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
Dry brush is a painting technique where a brush is mostly dry, and holds only a small amount of paint. Brush strokes have a scratchy, shadowy look. Greg Ruth has made a career out of mastering dry brush, in addition to writing best selling novels and booksand working with companies such as Dark Horse to create graphic novels.
Ruth's most recent work, "The Lost Boy," tells the story of a boy named Nate who has moved to a house in a new town. There, he is pushed into a mystery about a missing boy, becomes entangled in dark events and meets a host of odd and powerful creatures.
Quickly becoming a New York Times Bestseller, Ruth's work has inspired, and probably scared silly, millions of readers, and is helping to influence a new generation of artists.
Ben Tobin is one of those inspired by Ruth. In Ruth's art, Tobin saw a full length documentary that needed to be told. The film includes a mix of interviews with Ruth, his colleagues, fans and family, as well as capturing and bringing to life Ruth's drawings.
Capturing a Paint Artist on Film
"When envisioning this film, I saw the way to properly tell the story was to shoot cinematically. I wanted a big feel to the footage so that you felt like you were inside one of Greg's books. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera let me create a movie with a filmic, cinematic look, but at a budget that I could live with," said Tobin.
Shooting in ProRes, using a mix of Sigma, Canon and Helios lenses and creating the first version of the film in black and white, Ben filled the film with interviews and up close shots of Greg's art and workspace.
"The 13 stops of dynamic range and the ability to shoot in ProRes really gave me a lot of material to work with. With black and white, you have to get as much information as you can and get the details crisp or you could lose the image. The Blackmagic camera gave me the look I wanted," he continued.
Beyond the image quality, Tobin was influenced by the size and ergonomics of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. "The form factor made me think more about each shot. I could get in close and not be obtrusive. This let me focus on the composition instead of the technology. It was small enough to get exactly the type of close ups I wanted, but powerful enough that I could go wide at a moment's notice if the shot called for it," he continued.
"Dry Brush Master" is currently available online and will be showing in film festivals in North America throughout 2014 and 2015.
About Ben Tobin
Ben is a filmmaker based in Western Massachusetts, and owns and runs the production company Newfzilla Productions.