Production 1: Mad Buddies


RED FOR GO – Gray Hofmeyr with the RED camera

The latest movie from South Africa’s “King of Comedy’, Leon Schuster, Mad
Buddies and is produced by Keynote Films, a partnership with Schuster, director
Gray Hofmeyr and producer Helena Spring.

A “road trip’ movie at heart, most of the locations are in and around Gauteng
with a few days in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Spring maintains that the choice of
format and equipment is dictated by a combination of budgetary and creative

“The financial bottom line of a film is usually locked before discussions with the
director and director of photography (DOP) come into play,’ she says, “so the
producer takes a view on the format of a shoot at quite an early stage. Final
creative choices were made by Gray and DOP Trevor Brown, in consultation with
me as the producer, line producer Gillian Pearson and post-production
supervisor, Marc Baleiza.

“One always tries to accommodate the DOP’s preferences regarding camera to
the extent that it is financially manageable to do so. If compromise is necessary,
the DOP is usually best equipped to find a solution that will still ensure a good
end product. Another factor that strongly influences the final choice of camera is
the post-production path and how that choice impacts cost, schedule and
creating distribution deliverables.’

Film vs digital

In terms of whether to shoot on film or digital Spring had little doubt. “We are
shooting on the RED Mysterium. It provides a wonderful look and the high
resolution needed for optimising computer graphic imagery. Our DOP achieves
great results with it. The combination of comedy and action demands a high
shooting ratio, so we never considered not going the digital route. It was our
only option from the outset.’

New technology offers a wide variety of support equipment on a production of
this nature. Mad Buddies was no exception, and camera support gear played a
big part.

“The crew uses a Steadicam in areas where we don’t have a smooth enough
surface for tracking and for unique point of view (POV) shots,’ explains Spring.
“We’re also using a Jimmy Jib as it is very portable and a kaleidoscope crane can
get into small areas. There is also the skateboard dolly, mo-kits for car scenes,
quad bikes for appropriate action scenes and a PeeWee Dolly as it is a good
stable, not overly heavy, dolly.

“These choices were the result of collaborative discussions between the DOP,
line producer, director and key grip, during a comprehensive technical recce. The
DOP determined lighting in consultation with chief gaffer Manny Chonco and with
the support of the rental house, which is Media Film Service. All decisions were
subject to budgetary constraints of course.’

Post-production considerations

The choice of format and camera is a deciding factor in terms of the post-
production route. Spring uses a combination of facilities chosen in keeping with
the needs of the film.

“As we are not shooting on film, there will be no neg processing. All our data is
being processed from set out of a specially equipped vehicle provided by Ladies
& Gentlemen and controlled by data management expert Chris Harvey.’

Post supervisor Baleiza comments: “The RED camera we used is the one with
the latest chip, the same camera used on features such as The Social Network.
This camera is a great choice for us given the maturity of the current RED
workflow and our ambitious CGI visual effects (VFX) elements in the film. The 4K
resolution is a great help with this.’

Ladies & Gentlemen is also fully geared to deal with RED material with an on set,
mobile data facility built into their camera truck. This allows the production to
create several copies of rushes for insurance purposes and allows them to very
quickly perform quality control checks on material – all in real time.

Refinery will record out to film and generate all local and international delivery
elements. Loco VFX is doing CGI, Ladies & Gentlemen is managing the offline
process and the Film Lab will do prints. Baleiza, is responsible for ensuring that
it all comes together cohesively.


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