By Iván Castell
When I started making my music documentary “Trovadores” (Troubadors) I wasn’t sure about the cameras I was going to use. I wanted something that could deliver a cinematographic quality but the reality was that I couldn’t afford them (Red One cameras). I was in a low budget scenario, with no financial support and a lot of free work from other people that was going to be done in weekends and free time. Two kind of shooting were planned: live performances with a multi-camera, lighting and sound-controlled setup and non-controlled “point and shoot” scenarios. I needed something that I could handle myself in the “point and shoot” scenarios that could match the live performances’ image quality.
Then the DSLR revolution occurred. I got the chance to work with a 5D mkII and I knew it was the camera I needed for this project.
As a filmmaker I wanted to have fun and “feel the movie”. At first it wasn’t really easy. I’m not a camera operator but I wanted to shoot the documentary myself. Those who have worked with DSLR cameras with a shoulder-mount trying to focus on a moving character will know what I’m talking about: it’s a nightmare. I was frustrated because most of the first footage wasn’t in focus and I couldn’t use it. But then I started to learn to use the cameras, and fall in love with them. Using them may not be easy at first, but once you know them, the quality for the price is just unbeatable.
In the 2000s I bought a mini-DV camera, the Sony PC-120. For that time it was a great camera to start shooting no-budget stuff. You had the video camera in your hand; you could feel that freedom. It was amateurish and in no way comparable, but the feeling I had was the same thing I felt when I got the 5D in my hands. This time, I had something that delivered an image really close to a “real” film camera. The fact that I could have it with me in almost every situation, and just bring it out and start shooting – paired with such great image quality – was a real joy. I felt like a filmmaker, and free.
“Trovadores” is about the underground artist and why people get on a stage and expose themselves to others. I’ve followed four unknown artists over a year in very different situations. 90% of the time I had to be invisible, I had to “not be there” so they could just be free and act natural. I was able to do that in a almost no-budget production.
I even got the chance to shoot some aerial shots over the city at nightfall. That time I couldn’t get the 5D, and we used two 550Ds. I was really worried about the low light capabilities and the jello effect of the cameras. To be honest these cameras are not made for these kinds of shots, the plane vibration was too easily transferred to the camera and the image bubble, but when you can get 10-20 good seconds of clean footage, with some software stabilization it looks really beautiful. I mean, for the price of those babies, what you get is really nice.
I can tell you that I couldn’t have shot this way five years ago. Not close to this image quality. So, if you’ve got a story, go and shoot it. There’s no excuse.
About the film ‘Trovadores”:
A film by Iván Castell featuring Don Nadie, Julio Donoso and Rapsusklei.
“Through this story of four artists born and bred in the same city, Trovadores paints a picture of the underground artist.
They dig deep to reveal their connection with music. Despite their unique styles and the broad variety that exists on the underground scene, they have more unity than division among themselves.
Music is their soul and it reaches out to people connecting them on many levels. With their lyrics they transmit an intimate, sincere and sometimes unconventional message.
They are, in fact, musicians who could be performing from anywhere in the world today, because they are the new Troubadours of the 21st century.”
In collaboration with Zaragoza Audiovisual Lab, Confëttika, Freeman.
With the support of Zetac, Mayuscula Estudio, Atik Media & The Virtual Bridge.
About Iván Castell:
Ivan Castell is a Zaragoza born filmmaker who is mainly interested in music videos and fiction. As an editor he has done ad spots and virals. His latest work was a set of short clips for the marketing campaign for the feature film “De tu ventana a la mía” (nominated for Best New Director at the Spanish Academy Awards). You can find out more are on his website http://ivancastell.org. His also has this showreel.