You Are What You Eat - 16mm Short Film

When I gained the role of Director of Photography for Hugh Mulhern's short film debut, I was delighted! The screenplay was cleverly crafted and very witty. It was a great story that I definitely wanted a chance to sink my teeth into.

The story follows a young student enjoying a disgustingly, greasy, pork sandwich only to be rudely interrupted by a knock on the door. This unfortunate intrusion comes from non other than the friendly neighborhood Post Man... I mean, Post Pig. This mail-employed oinker isn't too pleased to witness his own kinds remnants squashed in between two rounds of bread. Anger flairs as the Pig jumps at the chance to show the young lad a disturbing lesson. Writer/Director Hugh Mulhern brings you this science fiction short in a world where pigs evolve to human intelligence.

As excited as I was to be on board with the screenplay, I was even more excited to be shooting on film for the very first time. I had never had the chance to explore this medium before and I'll always jump at the opportunity to try something different. Exciting, but equally as nerve wrecking. With film, comes extensive planning and preparation. Every frame is precious. Especially considering that we only had 400' (10 Mins) of reel to produce a three minute short film. It ain't no easy task!

Working very closely with the Director, we managed to agree on shots that were vital in order to tell the story, along with ones that we would love to get if we could. Many storyboard and shotlist sessions later, we were just about ready to shoot.

Of course, there was so much more going on other than the Camera Department. Producer Dean Gilchrist was working hard to meet the needs and wants of the cast and crew, stretching our budget and keeping us all in check and well, sane! 1st AD Shane Crowley stepped up to the plate of thoroughly scheduling the shoot so not a minute was wasted on set. And he did a bloody good job! I had an amazing camera crew at my disposal as well. Andrew Jordan did a great job as 1st AC, tending to the lovely Arri SR2 camera and pulling focus whilst I operated the beast. Leon Kavanagh was by our side every step of the way as Clapper Loader, subtly laying marks for the cast during rehearsals and tending to the much needed slate. The cinematography of the film was very demanding and it was necessary to hire the technical genius, Matthew Rogan as Gaffer. Jamie Doyle assisted the lighting as Best Boy, doing a great job in keeping to the schedule by assisting Matt with the setups. I could not have done it without them! So special thanks lads.

I spent endless hours carefully crafting the cinematography of the piece. I like lighting that can be, in itself, a character in the story. Lighting that actually contributes to telling the story and not distract or detract from it. (Pretentious, but true!) I devised a plan to use a thin layer of smoke on set to highlight the rays of the 2k blonde beating in through the houses windows. I felt that this was necessary because the director kept stressing that "this is his cave." The character of the student that is. So the light that enters the room is almost seen as an intruder into this dark, filthy cave in which the boy stews in. My use of mixed colour temperatures re-inforces this. The light outside is seen as a cold, un-comforting blue on the tungsten balanced film. I believe it also helps the subject to pop from the background. I chose a film stock in pre-pro in aid of this wanted contrast, Fujifilm Eterna Vivid.

In my opinion, cinematography does not only lie within the camera and the lights. But what is physically in the frame. You can spend all day trying to make a blank wall interesting on camera, but at the end of the day, it's still a blank wall. Luckily, Production Designer Mia Ferguson nailed it! Working closely with myself and the Director, she was able to create an aesthetically pleasing colour pallete and made the set into...well, a Pig Sty.

Proposed Final Look of "You Are What You Eat"
How could I forget the saviour of the project. Make-up artist Helen McGinty gladly took on the challenging role of special effects and make-up. Painting, applying and blending the prosthetic to transform actor James Creamer into a 6"4 monster pig! And it looked awesome.

During the highly stressful 9 hour shoot, we suddenly faced the realization that we didn't have enough reel for all the shots we wanted. So devastatingly enough, we had to cut some really cool shots. It was like Sophies Choice, I swear! It was the main priority to get the shots needed to tell the story, so compromises were made. I wish we had more reel, but hey that's life.

Other than this, the shoot wen't very well and I am ecstatic to be a part of something so special and with such an amazing team behind it. The reel has now been sent off the the lab in London for developing. So all there is to do now is wait! I can't wait to receive back the developed footage. I hope to have the choice of film over digital again in the future... but we'll see.

So that's all for now, that was a long one but believe I could talk for Ireland on this subject!

Thanks for reading and look out for news on the film!


Cast & Crew Photo

BTS Photos by Adam Rael