American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 14

Short Takes

I

Gleaming the Cube
By Phil Rhodes

Writing, directing and shooting the short film Puzzled proved
to be "quite a brave decision," reflects filmmaker Oliver Kember.
"There's a reason it's not common." The story focuses on Oscar
(Ryan Turner), an outcast at school who seeks entrée with his peers
by demonstrating an astonishing prowess at solving the Rubik's
Cube. Set in 1980, the eight-minute film was photographed over
one weekend in September 2012 and required both period environments and special consideration for its cast of young actors.
Kember's beginnings as a filmmaker, he recalls, were similarly
single-handed. "When I was 8, playing with my dad's camera, I
didn't even understand the concept that there might be other
people [involved in making a movie]. You see all these names on the
credits, but you're just one person who wants to have a go. It's good
in one sense because you learn how to do everything, but you soon
realize other people are important."
Producer Cameron Lawther proved to be particularly important for Puzzled. Lawther, Kember explains, had "worked on feature
films, so he pulled in an amazing team of ADs and runners." Other
Lawther contacts included executive producer Matthew Jenkins and
production designer Rebecca Milton, whose sense of duty to the
film's period feel impressed Kember. "She built this whole world," he
notes. "It's great to be able to trust someone to take the project even
more seriously than you do."
A key asset to the camera department was operator Ed
14

May 2015

Moore, whom Kember describes as "a good friend and a great
director of photography in his own right. I felt it was necessary to
get a camera operator, and he kindly came and gave me two days
of his time." The production's complete staff, Kember estimates,
tallied "something like 35 crew and another 20 parents, chaperones
and all the kids."
With his collaborators' generous assistance, Kember was
able to exercise tight control over the film's look. "I wanted to shoot
it quite classically and formally," he explains. "I storyboarded everything out, but I'm not an artist, so nobody gets to see those!"
Key to his photographic approach was a desire to imbue the
frame with warm, brown tones, albeit under an overcast sky. "I
wanted it to have that overcast, English, slightly grim, low-contrast
feel," Kember describes. But otherwise, he says, "for me, that time
period was very warm. The playground bricks are really warm, the
orange car Oscar's cleaning - that's a 1979 Volkswagen Scirocco.
The owner drove for two hours to get to London by 7:30 a.m."
Enjoying good luck with the weather, Kember says he took
full advantage of the consistent overcast, "embracing the ambient
light, filling and negative filling, with a bit of an eye light here and
there, and shaping with a couple of HMIs." (The production's lighting package included 1.2K and 2.5K HMIs, along with 650-watt and
1K Arri Fresnels, and 2' four-bank Kino Flos with daylight and tungsten tubes.) The U.K.'s famously changeable weather would not
have been so kind even a day on either side of the shoot dates. "On
the Monday when I was driving equipment back to Arri, the heavens opened, and then it was sunny for a week," Kember recalls. ¢

American Cinematographer

All images courtesy of the filmmakers.

Oscar (Ryan Turner) is an outcast who astonishes his peers with his prowess in solving the Rubik's Cube in the short film Puzzled.



American Cinematographer - May 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - May 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 8
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American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 14
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