BURY ST EDMUNDS – With the help of Vitec Group, filmmaker Paul Cook was able to draw upon a wide range of production equipment from the group’s brands for production of his debut feature film Magpie.
The crowd-funded film is about a British soldier and his wife who suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during and after World War II.
Vitec Group equipment used in Magpie included Litepanels LED lights; mobile power solutions from Anton/Bauer; Sachtler and Vinten tripods, including the new Flowtech 75; and OConnor grips.
Cook was producer and director of photography for Magpie and also served as co-writer and co-director together with Carmel Hannant. The Kickstarter-funded film delves into the vast changes in the physical and social landscape of the East Anglia area of England during World War II. Shot entirely with a local cast and crew from Norfolk and Suffolk counties, Magpie will be shown at major film festivals before its release in early 2019.
“The Vitec Group’s support has been critical for the success of this project. Magpie is the largest and most challenging film I have ever worked on, and I knew that its brands could provide the best and most reliable equipment in the industry to help me realise my creative vision,” Cook said.
Cook shot Magpie using a single Sony PXW-FS7 camera supported by Sachtler FSB 10 tripods throughout the production. In addition to providing a stable platform for the 12-kilogram payload of the camera, the FSB 10s offered the robustness and reliability the production required for on-location shooting, with extra-smooth movement that eliminated wobble or shake when the crew worked with long lenses. In addition, Cook was able to serve as a beta tester for Sachtler and Vinten’s new Flowtech 75 carbon-fibre tripod.
“The FSB 10 was the perfect choice, especially in the earlier stages of filming, and it never let us down. It’s lightweight, yet stable enough that our slider system could handle the overall weight of the camera and head with silky smooth operation,” Cook said.
“And the Flowtech 75 is a marvel; it’s incredibly fast to set up and use. Magpie was the perfect environment to test its innovative features, such as the ability to go low without the need for a spreader. That was an important capability for shooting many of the military scenes of the film.”
The entire Magpie film was shot using LED lighting from Litepanels. The production used two Sola Fresnel LEDs as the main light for a majority of the scenes providing a strong, yet energy-efficient, daylight source. Sola and Inca 4 and 6 fixtures provided additional hard lighting, as well as traditional tungsten-balanced lighting for mimicking real-world light sources, such as nighttime interior scenes when daylight was not present. Litepanels Astra Bi-Color and Astra soft LEDs provided a powerful but compact light source that was vital for lighting small internal spaces.
Anton/Bauer Cine 150 batteries were the go-to power solution for all equipment on set, from cameras and lighting to monitors and other peripheral devices. In addition, the Magpie crew used OConnor O-Rig grips and shoulder rigs to provide strength and versatility for all types of shots throughout the production. The variable positioning of the OConnor O-Grips shoulder mount allowed Cook to adjust the camera setup quickly to suit each shot.
Cook noted: “The Litepanels LED lights gave us the flexibility we needed, even when we were shooting in sensitive, meticulously maintained period locations where space was limited. Having powerful lighting that could run from standard 13A power sockets was incredibly important, because many of our locations could not accommodate a generator, and neither could our budget! And when we were mobile, the ability to power the lights and other peripheral equipment using the Anton/Bauer batteries meant we could use our gear reliably in any exterior location.”
Andrew Butler, product manager, Vitec Production Solutions, commented: “It was a pleasure to support this outstanding project. Paul’s film not only champions the talent base we know exists here in East Anglia, but it tells the story accurately by using real WWII locations in which the scenes are set. The Vitec Group is very proud of its history in Bury St Edmunds, also Paul’s hometown, and we are privileged that he chose to make his film at the amazing locations right on our doorstep and using our equipment.”
More information about Magpie, including how to support the project financially, is available at www.magpiethefilm.com.
Watch the trailer for Paul Cook’s Magpie: