“How to start a revolution” wins Best Documentary at Raindance and Boston Film Festival!

EDIT: Fantastic news. The finished movie won Best Documentary and Mass impact award at the Boston Film Festival. A massive boost for the film. I couldn’t be happier. Well done Ruaridh Arrow the Director!

EDIT: It’s also just won Best Documentary at Raindance!!

 

2 years ago in Boston I shot the bulk of a documentary on Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gene Sharp. This film is now finished and premiering at the 27th Boston Film Festival on the 18th of September then will be part of the Raindance Festival in London on the 2nd and 3rd of October.

 

Blog from May 29th 2009. This was shot in my first month of owning a Canon 5DmkII, so I wasn’t using it for the bulk of the filming. I was still using my EX3 and Letus Ultimate.

From wikipedia:

Gene Sharp (born 21 January 1928) is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle: he has been called both the “Machiavelli of nonviolence” and the “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare.”[1]

Sharp is a political scientist, professor emeritus, and founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization which studies and promotes the use of nonviolent action in conflicts around the world.

mvi_7829-copyWorking with producer/ director Ruaridh Arrow, I am making a documentary on current Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Gene Sharp.

I have to plead ignorance and didn’t know of his work until I was approached for this gig, and he is an amazing man to be around, very kind, zen like and incredibly intelligent. A fascinating man whose life should have been documented well before now.

I wanted to share with you some black and white screen grabs from the Canon 5dmk2. Most of it is being shot on the EX1 and Letus, especially all the talking heads. But the more stylized shots and the other B-roll is being done on the 5dmk2 which is very new to me. It gives me the freedom to take down my lights, use available light and work REALLY fast, knocking of shots really quickly. It’s a great combo, I just wouldn’t do the whole thing on the 5dmk2 mainly due to the sound and recording length limitations. Oh and the 30p….which of course means I need to convert all my lovely footage to 25p, most likely in compressor.

Anyway, below here are some frame grabs from the footage in black and white from the 5dmk2. Love that image!

mvi_7851-copymvi_7839-copymvi_7836-copymvi_7829-copymvi_7813-copymvi_7806-copymvi_7795-copymvi_7799-copymvi_7792-copyI have one and a half days of filming before I go home…it’s been great. It’s also been wonderful meeting so many people I just know over the internet at my first ever “Meet up”

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Comments

    1. The audio is not that bad really with a beachtec or a juicedlink box. I’ve heard the audio with just a Rode Mic and no beachtec or a juicedlink box and its still good. Not pro audio but you can use it. The built in mic is really bad.

      The T3i I think has a better built in mic. From a small test I saw on youtube that was not that great of a video but it gives a small idea.

  1. Great.

    Now, after the walls have ( many will say allmost ) fallen for the distribution of great images shot digitally, content is really the way to go.

    It’s nothing more captivating than truth uttering beauty.

    Love your witty portrait&doc work!

    Thumbsup!

  2. Looks great Phil!

    BTW, how are you liking 25p from 30p? any problems with 50 Hz Lights and stuff ??

    1. no problems, you only get those issues when shooting not when converting. I have my 25p camera set to 1/60th to avoid problems with US lights

  3. Hello Philip,
    I’ve been admiring the images from the 5D and got to thinking about the Nanoflash as a recorder with it – might make a perfect package (except for the audio). Does the camera have a handy hdsdi or hdmi output?
    Are you using your Nikkor lenses? Wondering if there is a change in focal length with an adapter.

    1. hdmi is not full hd live…no hdsdi of course!

      No change in focal length with adaptor. It’s a very fine piece of metal to change the mount

  4. Hello Philip, very pretty images! I’ve been wondering about hooking the 5D to a convergent Design nanoflash to get more recording format options. Any idea if that would work? It needs hdsdi or hdmi input.
    Are you using your Nikon lenses on the Canon, and if so does it change the focal length due to the adapter?

  5. hey phil,

    I’m a Boston resident/filmmaker myself. Are you planning on shooting any city shots while you’re here?

    mike

  6. Great looking stills, I hope you find your distributor sooner than later! Did you do much grading on them aside from the b&w treatment? I’m curious what lens you were using for that 5th frame from the top.

    Great stuff!

  7. I’m start regretting for getting my Sony EX3 to early…. hope nobody gives me right but your shoots with the Canon 5dmk2 just looking amazing!

    1. Am I the only person that visits this site and doesn’t have an EX1 or EX3, or a DSLR? Moreover, why would anyone regret having a $8000 camera?

  8. Hi there,

    I had the chance and the honor to meet Mr Gene Sharp & his executive director Ms Jamila Raqib on a short trip in Boston.
    Very humble people 🙂
    I thank them for their precious gifts: his books which are a great contribution for our struggle against the electoral & constitutional coup we had in Gabon on sept 3rd 09’s proclamation of fake results.

    Our struggle continues for our rights for Freedom, Democracy, Respect of Human Rights, and for people’s voice to count & be respected.

    I can’t wait to see your documentary!!
    Thank you 🙂

    Gloria Mika
    Model-Actress-Activist
    Founder & President of Guardian Angels for Transparency
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=106129964900&ref=ts

  9. Hi Philip,
    I’m looking into doing a doco on the 5dmk2. I have a few Nikon lenses and would like to use them, which adapter would you suggest?

    Also if you would have to, how would you record the sound?

    I’m not a newby to film-making, but just using a d-slr for a documentary is a big ask (mainly as you say for the beautiful shots).

    I’m thinking of buying a redrockmicro slr rig, plus a converter from xlr to minijack. You reckon this will be a good way to go?

    I know the ex3 is great, but budget limitations and the desire to shoot shallow depth of field counts heavily for me.

      1. Hi Philip,
        Like many people love your stuff . . very inspiring.
        I use an EX3 but also photograph with Nikon D700 + lots of their quality lenses (AFS 50mm f1.4G, AFS 14-24mm f2.8G, AFS 24-70mm f2.8G, AFS VR70-200mm f2.8G).

        I really want to try out some less intrusive short film stuff with a Canon 5dmk2 or 7d but I don’t really want to go out a but loads more lenses.

        So, my question is how far I can go with using the Nikon lenses I have on either of the Canon 5dmk2 or 7d using the fotodiox pro nikon lens adaptor (Nikon F to Canon EOS Lens Mount Adapter (Pro) with Focus Confirm) or the 16:9 Nikon G > Canon EF Adaptor v3 (made by Novoflex for 16:9) which allows the use of G series lenses (that don’t have manual aperture control).

        Thanks in advance for your time.

        regards

        Ian
        BigBlueWorld

      2. Hi Philip,
        Like many people love your stuff . . very inspiring.
        I use an EX3 but also photograph with Nikon D700 + lots of their quality lenses (AFS 50mm f1.4G, AFS 14-24mm f2.8G, AFS 24-70mm f2.8G, AFS VR70-200mm f2.8G).

        I really want to try out some less intrusive short film stuff with a Canon 5dmk2 or 7d but I don’t really want to go out a buy loads more canon lenses unless absolutely necessary.

        So, my question is how far I can go with using the Nikon lenses I have on either of the Canon 5dmk2 or 7d using the fotodiox pro nikon lens adaptor (Nikon F to Canon EOS Lens Mount Adapter (Pro) with Focus Confirm) or the 16:9 Nikon G > Canon EF Adaptor v3 (made by Novoflex for 16:9) which allows the use of G series lenses (that don’t have manual aperture control).

        Thanks in advance for your time.

        regards

        Ian
        BigBlueWorld

        1. dont like the nikon g lenses, dont own them. got lots of nikon lenses with manual iris and they work great with fotodiox pro

  10. It is probably a good thing the 5DMKII was not used for the bulk of the filming. In my opinion, the MKII look is best used for low budget “hollywood” images, music videos and that sort. The shallow depth of field tends to draw more attention than necessary to the image, as where you actually want to be paying attention to the words.

    The trailer needs to be redone before it is being used to request funding. The still-image pans&zooms do not convey the documentary feel of it, but rather appear as fillers due to missing video content. The music is completely off topic imo. I don’t know who done it, but it needs to be redone.

    I would have loved to hear the voices without the music overlaying the words. The music in my opinion is trying to build up drama like in some kind of action sequence. It really takes away from the actual serene gravity.

    Lastly, the still images are certainly very nice images. I’d like to see more video before condemning them as “too pretty”.

    I think if someone makes a proper trailer out of the video available and color grades it, a producer should be able to be found to take care of the rest. No?

    1. Sean, you are confusing 5Dmk2 with shallow DOF..yes it’s capable of it. As is the ex3 and letus. It’s about CONTROLLED DOF…I have shot numerous docs with DSLRs now and no issues. Looks great.

  11. Philip,

    I’m very interested with this documentary. It looks to be very promising. I’m aware that it’s still to early to discuss the specifics of its release, but I am hoping it will come to Lebanon in some form.
    I’m a big fan of your work Philip. you are very inspiring.

    Cheers!

  12. Hey Philip, how am I able to post this on my blog like you, I’m kinda having trouble with that. I know I’m not able to really help fund this but there might be people I know that will so I’m going to try to spread the word.

    Help me please 😀

    Thanks Philip

  13. Sometimes you see a documentary subject so vital and important, yet so approachable as a story, it makes you question the point to your own work. I hope we all take this project as inspiration to make people’s stories visually attractive, as well as realising the power of sound to ride the images like a surfer on a 30 foot wave.

  14. I want to participate. I work for a US PBS affiliate in Lincoln, Nebraska USA and have some questions about this project.

    Can someone email me?

  15. Seems like an interesting documentary, with some beatiful images. Dude totally looks like walter bishop from Fringe (5th pic from the top)

  16. Gorgeous incandescent images, Philip.

    I am curious to know whether you shoot in B&W or colour and convert to B&W in post. Whatever the method, the results are simply superb!

  17. This looks very interesting, a massive amount of production and research no-doubt — cannot wait to see it!

    Would you share a little about your interview set-ups, audio & lighting.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  18. First of all : congrats with the prize !! Hope this opens some doors and gets you more similar work in the future Philip !

    Oh, and I was just talking about the MUSIC in the TRAILER, not the footage in the doc.
    Thought that was clear from my reaction. Seems like everything I post here recently is taken the wrong way …

  19. Congratuations!
    Can’t wait to see it, hope it will be out soon, because it is very relevant to global politics.

  20. Looks very interesting, interview shots look really sharp too.

    I will be filming interviews of around 30 artists in Buenos Aires next month.
    I’m roaming around your site Philip for some extra inspiration!

    Keep up the good work, hopefully it will send you over to South America at some point!

  21. Yesterday I used this trailer in the class room with my students of English: first we watched it, and then we looked at pictures from different revolutions. We looked for Gene Sharp tactics (color, symbol, English language, women and children, non-violent body language) and talked about it in English. My students liked it a lot, btw.

  22. Not only does it look absolutely beautiful, the subject could not be more timely or relevant to what’s going on in the world. In my opinion, this kind of work is the highest calling you can accomplish a camera: to tell a universal, relevant story that truly elevates a subject or person that we all so deeply need to consider. My compliments and congratulations Philip. You are really doing work that matters.