American Sharia - how I learned to love Sony prime lenses.
Tax incentive or no, Detroit Michigan is a great place to shoot your indie feature- but it does help to have a Rock n' Roller of an EP, local to the area and connected up the wazoo to come in and keep your production from capsizing. Those police cars (up there in the poster) are real, and came as a favor from the great folks of the Dearborn police department, who were kind enough to let a film crew drive them bonkers (the first and last time they will make that mistake), as we shot in every room in the building, including the jail cells. More than that, they served as protection when we went filming in neighborhoods no sane person would be caught dead in after the sun went down. In the film, there's a shadowy alleyway scene lit by a single 4K that would not have been possible had it not for the DPD keeping the peace.
But- this is a story about glass. Specifically Sony glass, which I used to think were complete crap. And much like the congregation at the Westboro Baptist Church, my misguided prejudices were borne out of ignorance, lack of education, way too much Pabst Blue Ribbon, and just enough stupid for me to believe that the yellow frothy liquid I was drinking was not the piss being reported by my tastebuds, but the product of fine, fermented American hops and barley.
As It was explained to me, these were first generation Cine Alta, with barrels made not of metal, but of composite materials. And since any lens made with anything but metal usually rates fairly high on the inferiority scale, I had plenty of doubts. But then I got to know them out in the field- and, well, they kinda won me over. First, they are super light in both weight and touch. You can actually feather the f-stop and focus rings with one finger, which took some time for me to get used to, not only because I was used to harder pulls off the barrel (and I'll wait while you pull your mind out of the gutter), but mostly because I was paranoid about them breathing. After a week of solid shooting I realized that the f-stop and focus had no intention of going anywhere unless they were asked, even when strapped to the hood of a moving Detroit police car.
My buddy Joe White, the owner of the kit and the 2nd unit DP, juggled the 35, 50 and 85 between us and we sent the Japanese glass through a gauntlet of long days, multiple setups, hot and cold weather, and a myriad of unspeakable horrors that only an independent film can bring. These little guys not only put up with everything, but they yielded a cinematic feel that's good to look at, and flared beautifully.