Late last year our team had the great opportunity to create the Electronic Press Kit (behind the scenes) for homegrown crime series Wanted, produced by Matchbox Pictures and R&R Productions.

The series follows two complete strangers, Lola (played by Rebecca Gibney) and Chelsea (rising star Geraldine Hakewill), who intervene in a fatal carjacking while waiting at a suburban bus stop, and are subsequently thrust into a chase from authorities across Australia with a vehicle filled with cash. The strangers must rely solely on each other while they are on the run.

The series shot for 50 days all across Queensland — from the shadowy industrial districts of Brisbane to arid outback of Warwick to the muggy cane fields of Mossman. As you’ll see in the EPK below, this was one of those shoots that was both physically and logistically demanding. 12 hour days under the hot Australian sun is a tough slog, even if it’s brightened by the fantastic catering by Eleets Film Catering. Sunburn, bug bites and chaffing on you and sunscreen, sweat and dirt on your gear — shooting out in the field for days at a time can be tough, so you’ve got to be prepared, even if it’s for EPK work.

 

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PRODUCTION

I shot this entire EPK on the Sony FS7 with a Canon 24-105 zoom for almost everything except a day or two in Warwick with the Canon 70-200 and a few of the night time shoots which was on Zeiss ZE primes. For audio, I ran with a Rode NTG3 mounted on the camera to capture any good moments while shooting overlay, and a Sennheiser EW-100 G3 lapel kit for interviews. I didn’t use any additional accessories to the FS7 except a Metabones EF to E-mount Speedbooster for my glass. I occasionally switched it up to the standard EF to E-Mount dumb adapter that we use for our Sony A7s. The reason is that by changing these adaptors you go from a (full frame measure) 24-105 f2 equivalent with the speedbooster to something more like 35-150mm f4 equivalent with the dumb adaptor. So when I was shooting inside and needed that full wide and extra stop, I’d use the Speedbooster, but when I was outside during the day and valued the extra length I could get it with the dumb adaptor — effectively two zoom lenses for the price of one.

The only pieces of equipment I’ve added to my kit because of that shoot are the Shape FS7 remote extension handle (which I absolutely swear by as the #1 FS7 accessory) and a Crumpler Camera Bag (specifically this one which fits the FS7 PERFECTLY and which I’m really disappointed to hear has since been discontinued — buy one if you can).

Capturing behind the scenes content is a bit like shooting a wildlife documentary. Most crew (and to some degree cast) are easily spooked, put off or even annoyed when you start trying to film them. Most of the crew absolutely prefer being behind the camera over being in front of it and as soon as you do start rolling it’ll change how they act. You want to capture them in their natural behaviour, but as an EPK shooter it’s part of your job to get enough usable and relevant overlay of the HoDs and other main players. The last thing you want is to come away from the job without enough footage of the director and the DoP walking through their coverage.

However, you’ve got to be sure to still keep out of their way and not to get on their nerves. While you do your best to get the content you require, your needs are absolutely ancillary to the production. There’s a reason why EPK Shooters and Stills Photographers wear black on set — you’ve got to be a goddamn ninja with your shooting and often you’ve got to do it near the main camera which puts you in the danger zone for reflections.

 

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Having a long lens really helps you stay discrete. The last thing actors want is an EPK guy hovering around them between takes, or even slightly in their line of sight during a take — which is incredibly off-putting. That said, you don’t want to miss good moments, so it’s all about finding a balance and using other people, equipment or just scenery mask you and to allow you to get good coverage without being intrusive. Sony has recently added a centre-crop mode for the FS7, which is fantastic if you really want to keep your distance.

The simple thing is to just stay aware and be on good terms with your ADs, camera team and boom operator. Listen to what they’re shooting, talk to them if you need to about where they’ll be moving. List your shots and coverage in your head, shoot on rehearsals where possible and check off what you have. Don’t overshoot and know when you are taking up space — at some point in the production the AD will probably ask you to clear the space and you have be out like lightning. They know you have a job to do too, but in the big picture of the production it’s not high on their list at all.

You want to come away from the shoot with what you need, but it’s imperative you do it while maintaining a good relationship with the entire crew and cast, lest you close doors to future work.

 

I shot all of the footage for this EPK in XAVC-I HD with Slog-3.cine as my gamma. I actually bought the FS7 shortly before this shoot and was still getting the hang of it, but it was absolutely the right camera for the job. I could go on and on about why, but as a quick list;

  • Incredible battery life
  • Manageable weight and great ergonomics for long days on my shoulder
  • 10-bit colour, which helps when trying to match the show’s visual style
  • Up to 180 fps in HD for capturing stunt work in slow-mo
  • Built in ND filters for quick light changes when the clouds are being a pain
  • Great low-light, which is an absolute must-have for shooting on sets at night
  • Pre-roll — an incredibly underrated feature for saving card space on docos that so many brands neglect to include

An absolute joy to use, especially moving from a Canon C100 which was my last camera. The added creative freedom that comes with 10 bit and high FPS is huge. Plus I’m not weighed down by all the Zacuto accessories I needed to make the C100 workable in an ENG style rig. Anyway, this blog isn’t an advert for Sony, on to editing.

 

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POST-PRODUCTION

This project was cut, coloured and delivered entirely through the Adobe Creative Cloud platform, with editing and grading in Premiere Pro and titles, supers and the occasional speed-ramping in After Effects. My experience with Premiere is always a love/hate relationship, as every new build seems to add features that are an improvement, but also have some sort of surprise bug that offsets it. We had 1.2TB of footage (maybe I should have shot in XAVC-L after all) which is quite a lot for the computer to handle. Opening the project up took a good 10 minutes and if you tried to do too much too quickly or just happened to do something Adobe didn’t like, it would crash.

This happened too often for my liking, but since then Adobe seems to have resolved these issues. Plus the added functionality of nested sequences and embedding AE comps in my Prem sequences really kept our workflow very streamlined, so I didn’t get too angry with it.

Going into post we knew what we wanted each episode to be about and who we should be featuring, but all of our content was dependent on the quality of the responses from our interview subjects. We were very lucky in that our interviewees were all very knowledgeable, passionate about the project and also very articulate, which meant we had a lot of great soundbites to work with when creating the sound bed.

Gen did the assembly on these edits and did an incredible job of not only pre-cutting the interviews and organising them into relevant segments, but also tagging the overlay footage with keywords. This meant that when Tim and I went into the project for the main edit a lot of the sifting was already done. This is a great workflow strategy for documentary editing, particularly if you have an editor like Gen on your team that has a knack for project organisation — I’m terrible at that part and am much more comfortable with the direction, tweaks and tightening that comes after.

 

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FS7 footage is an absolute pleasure to grade with the Lumetri panel in Prem, particularly once you discover how much it likes the Alexa input LUT (4kshooters.net has a neat walkthrough on this here). You can simply add an adjustment layer across your entire sequence with this input LUT applied, then maybe a film stock LUT like the Fuji Eterna 250D 3510 (my personal fav) and then pull back the master contrast and you’re 95% of the way there on most of your shots.

From the 25 days that we visited the set we created 30 minutes of EPK content across 6 episodes, each based around a different element of the production as you’ll see below.  We cut the entire project in a little under 4 weeks over December / January and concurrently to the editing of the show itself, which meant that any overlay or music from the show itself had to be progressively worked in. This is often the case for EPK delivery as, again, it’s absolutely a second priority for any production.

Overall, we’re very happy with how it turned out and the response from both cast and crew has been great. Like our last project, The Family Law, also by Matchbox, we really tried to emulate the style and tone of the show itself. With The Family Law it was very much a personal, comedic, intimate story set in suburbia. With Wanted it was a fast-paced, wheel-gripping adventure across city and country — so we had to adapt our style to match.

You can watch the trailer and all 6 episodes of the EPK on below.

Thanks for reading, happy shooting.
– Tony