Van de Sande Visits New Orleans for Homefront By: David Heuring
When Theo van de Sande, ASC came to New Orleans to shoot the feature film Homefront, he turned to Fletcher Camera & Lenses Louisiana to supply the production’s camera equipment needs.
“When I work with someone, they have to have something behind them,” says van de Sande. “Not only technical know-how, but passion. And Tom Fletcher’s passion is the reason he attracts such good people to work for him. That’s important to me.”
Homefront is a feature film directed by Gary Fleder, whose previous credits include The Express, Kiss the Girls, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and Runaway Jury. Sylvester Stallone adapted the script from a Chuck Logan novel, and the cast includes Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth.
Statham plays a former DEA agent who returns home to try and make a quiet life. Unfortunately, he crosses paths with a meth kingpin, played by Franco, and his calm family life is a casualty. Much of the story plays out in tough settings, like a dive bar with a large-scale meth lab hidden in back. The filmmakers says that New Orleans was a perfect choice because its locations are so adaptable and various.
Fleder and van de Sande envisioned a widescreen canvas for the story, with bold, strong colors. After looking at several formats, they decided to shoot on Arri ALEXAs, using a 2.35:1 frame extracted from the ALEXA’s 16x9 image sensor. Van de Sande chose to record images to Convergent Design Gemini recorders. He says that Fletcher’s solid support allows him to choose the latest technologies with confidence.
Fleder prefers to work with a very improvisational, three-camera approach and often uses zoom lenses to make quick, subtle adjustments to the frame. Fletcher provided the Angenieux zooms, including a 12:1 24-290mm, a 5:1 17- 80mm and 3:1 15-40mm, as well as a set of Cooke S4 primes.
Fleder’s shooting method dovetails with an impressionistic approach to editing. “Gary cuts the images like music,” says van de Sande. “We capture close-ups and wider shots at the same time, from the same take, and he picks thing out in the editing room. On the set, we jam, like jazz musicians.”
Van de Sande used bold colors on the project. He says that shooting digitally offers an exciting range of new possibilities. He generally lit for the Rec 709 image on the monitor, then took frame grabs from the Gemini, did a quick correction and sent them to his collaborators in postproduction to give them an idea of his intentions.
Stephen Early, who served as second assistant on Van de Sande’s crew, also appreciates Fletcher’s support. “For assistants, Fletcher is the most well-equipped rental house in New Orleans,” says Early. “The facility has an ample amount of prep space, significantly larger than any other facility. They have equipment on site, like lens collimators, and they have the personnel on hand who understand it. They know how to make the assistant’s job as easy as possible, while giving the cinematographers what they need. When we needed gear in the middle of the night, they got it to us. They adapt to the production. Fletcher definitely did it right.”