Magnanimous Media prides itself on its mission: affordable and tangible creativity. We put so-called “intimidating” or expensive gear in the hands of filmmakers who actually want to use them. From that mission spawned Magnanimous Media’s first ever Gear Junkie Contest. The 2014 Gear Junkie Contest is a contest for all types of local filmmakers and an opportunity to win a $3,000 rental credit to be used towards any in-house gear of their choice. Hundreds of amazing filmmakers from around the Chicagoland area entered the Gear Junkie contest with amazing stories they wanted to share with the world. It was not an easy decision, but Magnanimous Media selected their first ever Gear Junkie Winner: Ryan Ohm!
Ryan Ohm is a local Chicago Indie filmmaker; he is a writer, director, editor and, needless to say, a visionary. With the $3,000 rental credit winnings, he and co-director Jackson James were able to create their first and favorite scenes from their second feature film to help promote and fund it. The feature is a great mixture of dark humor and twisted comedy (think Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) called “The Night the Sky Fell in New Haven.” Focused on a cornucopia of oddball characters on their presumed last night on earth, this eccentric take on a classic urban legend will not only be a wild ride of fun and adventure, but will also showcase a plethora of Chicago’s up-and-coming bands through both acting and music.
Taylor Frontier, the Director of Photography of “The Night the Sky Fell in New Haven” and also a regular DP on a number of Ryan and Jackson’s projects, created a particular aesthetic by using long tracking shots through the seemingly-vacant house, similar to the feel of smoke. To further portray the feeling of smoke drifting for that particular character, Taylor used Magnanimous Media’s In-house DP and Movi Operator Rudy Rubio. Using Rudy as the Movi Operator allowed Taylor the opportunity to grab those hard-to-get smooth handheld shots perfectly and with ease.
For more on our Gear Junkie winners and their story, watch our 2014 Gear Junkie – The Night the Sky Fell in New Haven video!
The Gear Junkie contest is a contest that a lot of filmmakers entered to get, basically, the chance to make something they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to. Presenting these filmmakers and looking up, we wanted the opportunity for up to $3,000 worth of gear in any facet that you could imagine to create a narrative work. And here we are today, shooting the first scene for this feature, using the gear that normally we wouldn’t be able to get our hands on.
It was so nice to have sort of like a blank check almost when it comes to gear. To have an opportunity, especially with something like this, where we’re shooting a scene for a feature-length movie, and we’re using it as a way of getting some support, getting some funding, some interest in the project. Just having like a baseline investment with this gear really helps us bring up the project to where we want to be in terms of the production value. So it really helped us with kickstarting this project.
So the film’s called “The Night the Sky Fell in New Haven”, and it takes place on the last night on earth supposedly before the sky is said to fall. And we basically drift around from all these different characters and explore what these people are doing on their supposed last day alive. And it’s sort of in the style of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, sort of dark humor mixed with this twisted comedy, and it’s really just a fun film, stepping away from a lot of more dramatic narratives we’ve been working on.
It started as a short film that we kind of thought, “Let’s just make this one weekend, have some fun with it.” And there was a pretty cool, pretty good reception. A lot of people really enjoyed it. So we decided, you know what? Let’s try to make a full-length thing out of this with the same sort of idea.
It’s been a project-in-the-making, you might say, for a long time. A lot of Cigs. I worked with Ryan before, and played a kind of similar character to this. I guess he liked it and gave me this role. So I’m like the Seer—the head of the Cig Den, where we all sit and smoke cigs and roll cigs and just…take it in.
Ryan and I, the co-director, we’ve been working with each other since we met in film school. And, between us, we just have kind of, like, a very…very similar opinions on how things should be shot. Like we both have very similar styles. So working together with us has been our go-to for each other, in a funny way. Everybody else we met through film school, though. I mean, obviously, if we want people to work on our sets for free, we’ve gotta work on theirs for free, too. So sort of just reciprocating that for people, we started kind of building some good relationships, and lots of people who we know and trust—Taylor, who’s shooting it, is somebody who we’ve worked with a lot, and he’s just a really, really good DP.
We wanted a long tracking shot while he’s venturing through this almost cavernous house of smoke, so we wanted something that was a little bit more glide-y, almost ethereal, in the sense of how smoke is—it kind of drifts along. So as his character explores the house of Cig, we used the Movi as our gateway, as a perspective from this character. There’s a lot of advantages to having an operator when it comes to equipment that you’re not specifically knowledgeable about. Luckily, Rudy came to the rescue on that. He also is really beneficial in terms of knowing the restraints and advantages of the system, allowing us to get either the timing of the pans down, or that of, like, raising the camera, and also shifting the blocking to cater to both the actors as well as to the perspective we were going for.
So we thought it’d be great to explore some options with this gear that we have, and maybe do some stuff a little out of the box, and really have some fun with it.