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Gareth Edwards Explains Shooting With New Lightweight Cameras For The Creator Brought More Freedom On Location

© 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Gareth Edwards Preferred Real Locations And New Camera Technology Brought Freedom With The Shoot

The eagerly anticipated sci-fi movie The Creator, from director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) will hit the cinemas on 28th September and we were lucky enough to attend a press conference for the movie where the director was in attendance.  During the event I wanted to ask about the shooting process.  In the production notes for the movie, Edwards explains how they used new lightweight cameras that gave more freedom when it came to shooting, especially on real-life locations which he preferred to use rather than making sets from scratch.
L-R): John David Washington as Joshua and Madeleine Yuna Voyles as Alphie on the set of 20th Century Studios' THE CREATOR. Photo by Oren Soffer. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The filming of The Creator led the production team to travel over 10,000 miles and visit 80 different locations around the globe including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Japan, Indonesia, the U.K. (at Pinewood Studios outside of London), and the U.S. (in Los Angeles).  Edwards has always been a fan of using real-world locations rather than building sets from scratch, calling it a more "efficient process."

A still on the set of 20th Century Studios' THE CREATOR. Photo by Oren Soffer. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

With visits to so many locations it was essential that a new lightweight camera system was found to help with Gareth Edwards shooting on the go and speed up the setting up process.  With the help of his director of photography, Greig Fraser, they came up with a new revolutionary camera system which also opened the way to a new "poly-hyphenate" working methodology with the crew. Roles were not limited to a narrow field, but where technicians would be across both the camera and lighting departments, for example. This open and innovative approach provided flexibility when filming.  

When I asked him about these cameras and whether they will become an industry standard, Gareth Edwards said :
"I hope it becomes an industry standard for cameras to get lighter. I don't think there's any cameraman in the world that enjoys holding this really heavy brick hours on end. I'm a bit of a wimp, so I was looking for a very lightweight, small camera."  He also explained how there seemed to be a technology breakthrough a year before shooting so pursued the idea of using these super lightweight cameras.  Edwards also mentioned how the light sensitivity on these new cameras had improved:

"Don't know if you remember, but the way they measured the sensitivity to light, it was like a hundred ISO, or two hundred ISO. And if you were in an interior space that was a little dark, you'd have an eight hundred ISO. Well, these new cameras shoot at 12,800 ISO. And so, you can basically film in moonlight."

This brought so much freedom shooting on set and in particular the various real-world locations Edwards used for the filming of The Creator.  Because the cameras were so good in various light conditions and coupled with more powerful LED lighting, they no longer needed to use giant cranes and rigging for lighting, instead opting for lights on poles very much like the microphones.

"We thought, let's have someone with a pole and a light. And that way, as the actors are given freedom to sort of go any direction they want, and I can quickly move with them, the lighting can quickly change in an instant."

The portability of the new cameras and lighting allowed a change of scene with lighting to be done in seconds instead of 20 to 30 minutes.  This resulted in more material being shot and the scenes looking more naturalistic which was a look Gareth Edwards was going for throughout the movie. 

Edwards also explained how he wanted to film The Creator much like an independent movie and how he enjoys a good ending.  When he has an idea for a movie he likes to work backwards as he often has the idea for the climactic ending first, and as a result The Creator is a self-contained movie and unlikely to have a sequel.  He then laughed and said I hope this doesn't get played back in a few years time when a sequel is released.

The Creator will be released in cinemas on September 28th, 2023

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