Punk, Pop and Sci Fi All Sealed With a Kiss in "Pink Zone"
Shooting Indie Dystopia with Blackmagic Design
That idea sat in his mind for years, and came to the surface in 2013 when he was working on his UCLA thesis film. Once through with college, the idea turned into a full length feature.
|Emily (Jayna Sweet) runs away from the worst kind of threat. Photo by Leo Volk Matus (c) 2014 The One Who Knocks Productions. All Rights Reserved.|
But the idea wasn't a remake of Sleeping Beauty. What if boys could kill girls with a kiss. Certainly not the happy ending from the cartoon. But a gloomy, frightening look at the other side of the coin. And that was the birth of the Benjamin Walter's "Pink Zone," with its dreamy and graphic images captured by Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and DaVinci Resolve.
It is 2026, and most of the women in the world are gone. A simple kiss from any male has wiped out 80 percent of the world's female population, and the survivors in the US live in specially designed areas to protect them called Pink Zones.
One of the girls in the Pink Zone is the lead character Emily, who is one of the few women allowed to live with her biological father, who rules over the Pink Zone. The security and safety of the zone changes after Emily's 17th birthday, with bullying on the inside and delinquents from the outside crossing into the zone.
"This movie is about the transformation of a princess into a witch, killer of men. Pink Zone had to be punk and pop and the sci-fi genre allows me to capture what these girls go through on a daily basis. But I also thought of John Hughes movies, of Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez in the Breakfast Club and of young men and women stuck in a social and emotional no man's land," said Ben.
Like any new filmmaker, Ben was faced with tight budgets and tight production schedules. But he also had to capture a film that had the same high quality images as any Hollywood film.
"We started shooting in August of 2013. Right off the bat, we ran into an early delay in production, and during that delay I rethought my choice of cameras and decided to go with a Blackmagic Cinema Camera," said Ben. "Right away I loved the images I was getting and I loved the workflow. The images really let my vision come to life."
The film was shot over a number of months in the California area, including shooting in and around the UCLA campuses. Ben shot entirely in ProRes, and graded the footage in DaVinci Resolve.
|Director/DP Benjamin Walter operates a dolly shot to introduce the male cast. Photo by Leo Volk Matus - (c) 2014 The One Who Knocks Productions. All Rights Reserved.|
Giving him freedom of movement and creativity was one of the key factors for Ben in choosing the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
"The size and weight of the Cinema Camera is great. It let me shoot quick and fast and focus on things besides worrying whether the camera would get the shot I need. I knew it would, so I focused on the image and not the technology," he continued. "And the fact that it shot in ProRes made the post production process incredibly easy and efficient."
"I used the camera on a small shoulder rig. This let me follow the actors around, and because it was such a small set up I did not get in the way of the actors. They were not obsessed with the camera, and could improvise much more freely. This was great, because so much of the film dealt with intense emotions and giving the actors the freedom they needed was important."
When coming to the end of the production schedule, Ben was facing an incredibly tight deadline. With most film shoots, it is normal to shoot 2 or 3 pages of script in a single day. But with Pink Zone, the last day of the production saw 8 pages of script left to shoot. And since the scenes were the big showdown at the end of the movie, it was imperative that the scenes were perfect.
Shooting in a corridor only with available natural light on the UCLA campus, Ben set out to do the near impossible.
|Director/DP Benjamin Walter shoots a scene with actors David Jurbala Jr (Nick) and Courtney Welbon (Megan). Photo by Leo Volk Matus - (c) 2014 The One Who Knocks Productions. All Rights Reserved.|
"We had no time for extensive set ups. I had to get the camera up and running, get the actors where they needed to be and start rolling," said Ben.
He continued: "The corridor at the start of shooting was fairly well lit, but the sun was quickly going down and we had to start shooting in low light halfway through the day. The Cinema Camera handles the natural sunset light in such a great way, just like film used to. I shot in ISO 400, and had absolutely no problem with getting the details I needed even with the sun going down. When we got back into post, we were amazed at everything we were able to capture. For an independent film, not having to reshoot a scene because of poor light is hugely important."
Ben said: "We ended up with a really amazing and organic look to the entire film, and the image quality from the camera, along with the size and everything packed into it, gave me a huge amount of creative freedom."
"Pink Zone" recently premiered at the Chinese Theater earlier in the summer and is making its way through the film festival circuit.
Benjamin is the founder of One Who Knocks Productions, based out of Los Angeles. He graduated from the prestigious UCLA film school, and has produced and directed a number of short films and musical videos, as well as creating "Pink Zone."