Starring Mike Sengelow (The Crown) and Eve Gordon, Rusty is a 5-minute short film from British filmmaker, Daniel Peters. Daniel’s short is a well crafted, albeit slightly disturbing film that will make you think twice next time you’re out walking the dog.
It has now won several awards, including Best Crime Short at the Los Angeles Independent Film Awards, and Best Thriller at the New York International Film Awards. Check it out below.
With a commercial background, having worked with brands such as Jimmy Choo, Diageo, Heineken, and Byron Hamburgers, Daniel has recently decided to focus purely on narrative work. “When I first got into cinematography, my main goal was to shoot short films and drama,” he explains. “But I never had the confidence to direct my own projects.
“Now having built up all this experience shooting for other people, I have more faith in my own abilities, which is why I came up with the idea for Rusty,” he continues. “I have two dogs myself, so I’m walking them everyday. Sometimes, when you’re out in those big fields early in the morning, you see other people, and it’s weird how you instantly trust other dog walkers, right? I thought this is actually quite scary, anything could happen here.
“When I was scouting locations, I saw this long lane where you can’t see the start or the end, and I thought this is just a perfect example of what I’m talking about.”
He adds: “Bringing the idea to reality was a big challenge as I had to capture everything in eight hours. I paid for the actors to stay in a hotel the night before, then we shot each scene in chronological order, from morning to late afternoon when they had to catch their trains.”
Daniel opted for the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K and Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, shooting in Blackmagic RAW 8:1. “Blackmagic RAW is so simple and easy to use,” he says. “I’m always using 8:1 as I feel the compression is low enough without killing it. I only had to punch in on one shot where Eve’s character falls to the grass; it was the only time where I cheated it as a punch-in.
“The URSA Mini Pro has more dynamic range, and the internal ND filters are helpful, but you have to love the Pocket 6K for price, weight and features, and I think they both complement each other well on a shoot.”
On choosing which lenses to go for, Daniel says it was a bit of a happy accident. “I pretty much always use Sigma glass, but as I was using the Pocket camera on a gimbal, I needed something slightly lighter,” he explains. “At the time I was testing the little 20mm Canon lens, it’s only an f2.8, but when I stopped down on that one, it looked surprisingly better. It just had this creamy look. The Sigma is great, but I wanted something a tiny bit softer.”
In terms of camera movements, it was important to Daniel to keep things subtle. “I like when cinematography isn’t super in your face, where the average viewer doesn’t ‘notice’ the camera. There are so many gimmicky things out there, and I just wanted this to feel real and flow naturally, and I think I did that. I’m quite happy with it.”
Looking back, Daniel remembers some funny moments from the shoot. “I should have made a behind the scenes comedy! So the syringe needle was a real film prop that would retract on contact with your skin. I ordered it two months before production was due to begin, and it was taking forever to arrive. It finally showed up, I opened the box, and instead of the needle, it was a pair of Tom Ford shades! I went to contact the seller, and the website was gone!
“So I had these colorful shades, the shoot was coming up and no syringe. I thought if I shoot at a certain angle maybe you couldn’t tell. I never wanted it to be so intrusive that you didn’t know it was a needle. I began testing some different angles, and I even tried to see whether the sequence could work with a pen, but in the end, I did manage to find the right prop!”
Another example was when filming Eve’s character falling out of the car. “We had a block on the road, but I guess the car behind us didn’t see it, because when she falls out of the vehicle, this person has no idea what’s going on.If you watch the scene back and look closely, you can see the pure look of surprise on their face.
“What’s even funnier is that the door closes after she falls out, and the car just drives off – can you imagine how worrying that was to watch?”
[source: Blackmagic Design]
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