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DP Michael Beach Nichols On HBO's New Show "Last Call: When A Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York"


"Last call: When A Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York" is directed by Anthony Caronna. Filmed by Michael Beach Nichols, with 1st AC Daniel Lam. It's a four part series that is now streaming on Max.com


Filmmaker Michael Beach Nichols and his AC Daniel both took the time to sit down with us and talk about the project.

What were the deciding factors in shooting the Canon C300 MKiii camera over other cameras such as Sony Venice, Sony FX9, Arri Alexa

Michael: "I'm a big fan of the C300MKIII for documentary work - you can't beat the form factor. Even though the show was primarily interview-based, we still knew we wanted to be able to strip the camera down for intimate verite moments and car rigging, so the C300MKIII was the most versatile option. I also just love the image it gives you."

Specs were 4096x2160 (Frame for 2:1)

AVC-Intra

23.976

Canon Log2/CineGamut

"We primarily used a set of Angenieux Optimo Primes for interviews (28mm, 32mm, 75mm, 100mm) and either an Angenieux EZ-1 zoom or a Canon 17-120mm zoom - both with cineservo units - for verite work."

Was this your first time shooting the Angenieux Primes? "Actually, no. Flug recommended the Optimo Prime Lenses for another HBO series I was DP'ing for Erin Lee Carr about six months before Last Call started, and I really loved them."

On Lens Choice:

Michael: "I love using zooms in general for documentary work - my goal is to always be as unobtrusive as possible, and if you're stuck on a prime I feel like you're forced to frequently move towards and away from the subject or scene, which can be distracting. Primes look great and you're forced to be more intentional with them, but to me, documentary work is unpredictable and I want the ability to disappear into the background as much as possible. Which zooms allow me to do. The Angenieux zooms make really gorgeous images, so I was excited we got to use them. For the interviews, Flug recommended the Optimo series, and I loved their speed and how well they matched up with the zooms we wanted to use, so we went with those."


Daniel the AC added: "The combination of both the Angenieux Primes and the EZ zooms gave us so much flexibility when filming the documentary series. The primes were perfect for our interview set ups, it gave us the control and speed we wanted for the frame."



The Special Sauce:

Michael used the internal "IOP" 1/8 Glimmer Glass which had been installed by Flug into each of the prime lenses.

The IOP / internal filter system provides a unique opportunity amongst the wealth of today’s cinema lens options, in that the modification takes place in the center of the lens. If you simply drop a filter into the mattebox on the front of the lens, and the filter gets flared, some of that light reflects back onto the scene, but in the case of the IOP that filtered element is in the middle of a darkened lens housing and surrounded on all sides by other glass elements. This creates complex flares, rainbow rings, and interesting veiling glare which give the modified lens the personality of a vintage lens but allows the filmmakers the advantages of using a fully modern lens with great geometry, color rendition, brand new mechanics and 21st century ergonomics. When the shoot is done, a lens tech can easily restore the Optimo Prime to it’s default neutral appearance for the next shoot.


Daniel commented on the IOP:


"With the glimmer glass 1/8, it just takes that slight sharp edgeness off of the image and helped to give our subject's skin just a small amount of glow to round out the look."



Video Showing the various IOP options for the Optimo Prime Lenses.


 

Michael - On Working With Scheimpflug:

"Honestly, Flug was amazing - and I want to thank my amazing camera op / first AC Dan Lam for recommending them to me. I feel like no matter how last minute or outlandish our requests were, FLUG all always figured out a solution. I DP'd my first two HBO series last year (which was incredibly exciting but stressful!), and there was such peace of mind knowing that you had my (and the entire camera department's) back. I want to work with Flug on every project!"

Scheimpflug NYC rents the entire set of Angenieux Primes.


MOD

Filter OD

Weight

Format / Covers

18MM T2.0

​14"

95mm

4.2 lbs

FF+

21mm T1.8

​14"

95mm

4.2 lbs

FF+

24mm T1.8

14"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

28mm T1.8

​14"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

32mm T1.8

14"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

40mm T1.8

14"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

50mm T1.8

​16"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

60mm T1.8

​20"

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

75mm T1.8

​2'

95mm

3.75 lbs

FF+

100mm T1.8

2'4"

95mm

3.96 lbs

FF+

135mm T1.8

3'3"

95mm

4.4 lbs

FF+

200mm T2.2

4'

114mm

5.07 lbs

FF+



"The staff/team at Flug are one of the best in the camera rental industry. They are well versed with their equipment, they are attentive to the prep process and they are all like family to me. So going to Flug to do camera prep is like coming home to me." - 1st AC Daniel Lam

Check out Michael's work streaming on Max.com now!

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