The face of film-making is changing everyday because the tools are becoming available to more people. As a result, many young filmmakers are starting to turn heads. One such example of this can be seen with the film, Monitor, which was produced by a group of young filmmakers. We recently had a chance to talk with Jared Rosenthal about the journey.
Kessler University (KU): Tell me a little more about the film.
Jared Rosenthal (JR): Monitor is the story of a young single mother, Karen, who moves into a new house in the suburbs after a bad relationship with her newborn child’s father. One night, Karen hears something on her child’s baby monitor. A radio frequency is going in and out. She listens closer, and believes that what she hears is an actual murder. Not knowing what to do or who to tell, she waits. Listening for more clues, Karen concludes that the killer might be closer than she thought. Karen has to keep herself and her baby safe. Going through the twists and turns of her life, will Karen find out who the murderer is? If there even is one…
The film was shot on two 60Ds over the course of 7 days. We raised all of the money through freelance work, donations, or sponsors. Some of our sponsors included Kessler, Cobra Crane, Red Giant, D|Focus, Beachtek, K-Tek, and Handy SLR.
KU: You guys really did an amazing job on this film. What was your motivation for making the film?
JR: We started conceptualizing Monitor in 2009. We were fresh out of a summer film conservatory and really wanted to stretch our wings. There was a really rebellious nature about the whole thing. I think we wanted to prove that we could produce a monster film if we wanted to — and it certainly turned into that. Pre-production took us two whole years before we finally started shooting at the end of 2011. We picked up other projects in the meantime, but pre-production on Monitor certainly consumed a lot of our free time. In those two years, we picked up several sponsorships from equipment companies (including Kessler Crane), so we were able to shoot a pretty technically complex film on a really tight budget.
KU: What was it like shooting on KC gear?
JR: Shooting on Kessler gear was an absolute joy. We shot with a KC Lite, which was insanely light and compact and easy to set up. By the end of the shoot, we had managed to get our setup time down to under 60 seconds. Under most circumstances we would have needed to storyboard and plan all the jib shots we used into the schedule. But the KC Lite was so incredibly fast to set up and so idiot-proof that it actually became our emergency standby.
There’s a shot in the trailer where two cops enter the house with flashlights. The day we shot the scene we were horrendously behind schedule. We were shooting a fight/chase scene in the next room and I had a shot list that I wanted to get for the cops’ entrance. We just didn’t have the time. So our cinematographer, Luca Repola, looked at me and went “let’s just use the jib.” And it was as easy as that. Our assistant director, Cosmo Scharf, ran through the action with our actors, and our producer (Kai Demler) threw together the jib by himself in under two minutes. We put the jib on a dolly off in the corner and threw a second camera on a shoulder mount.
We got the whole scene done in three takes without breaking a sweat. And the dynamic move was infinitely better than anything we could have obtained with any of our other gear. I think it’s funny how a piece of equipment that would traditionally take an eon to set up is actually faster to shoot with than most of our usual tools. And, of course, people’s jaws drop every time they see the shot.
KU: What can we expect next from both you and your team?
JR: We don’t really know what we’re doing next! We’re going to be sending Monitor out to festivals. As far as future work is concerned, we have some music videos lined up and some possible freelance commercial stuff. Cosmo Scharf, one of our partners, just came out with an iPad app that we’ve been trying to promote. We’re all going off to college after the summer, so we’d like to do one final short, but we don’t know what it’ll be yet.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS, CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE.