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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas
“Lay Me By The Shore”, Director David Findley talks about
filming in 65mm
“Lay Me By The Shore” (2021 / 19 min). Short film
photographed in 35mm and 65mm. Premiere February 14, 2022 (Berlin Film
|Read more at
The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Thomas Hauerslev. David Findley
interviewed on a rainy afternoon at the Dagmar Cinema, Copenhagen,
Wednesday 22. March 2023
Findlay (1991) is Canadian born and temporarily based in Copenhagen, during
winter 22/23. Picture: Thomas Hauerslev
Thomas Hauerslev: David, you already have done a lot of interviews where you
talk about the film and the talent, so I will focus on the 65mm. As
far as I can see, that has not been really mentioned in depth anywhere. Tell me about
why you have chosen to use 65mm in some parts of your short film?
David Findlay: How to begin? I suppose you start by shooting on Super
8, and then you go 16mm, and then you finally step up to 35. Let's try 4-perf. now, let's scan it and see the resolution. And for me, the fascination
with film has never been the grain, and it has never been -- kind of
what people call the the organic nature of it. It's rather just like the
definition of the rendering of colors and of skin tones.
It's just the way that it feels. Just kind of natural. And every time you
shoot digital ... all we're doing in post production is trying to mimic ...
trying to get it to look like those films. I've been told by different
producers, colleagues and peers, "Oh, David, you're you're being
romantic about film". I go "Well, I'm pretty romantic about
movies". You know what I mean? And so, yeah, I can assume that and say
that, and then with 65mm, it was always, one day the right project will
come along. And with
“Lay Me By the Shore”
it seemed like the right
one. Because I wanted to tell a story about a young boy coming to terms with
his best friend's passing. The same with this piece of music "Lay me
by the shore", the lyrics, the perspective of the title.
The way I wanted to shoot it was in a very subtle way, from the perspective
of this recently-departed friend, and without making any ghost story,
anything paranormal, fantastical, sci-fi or anything like that. I wanted
that presence at times to be felt.
For me, it was about how to place the camera and how to convey that there is
a presence. That this character isn't alone. For me, when those moments were most felt, that's when I wanted to shoot on the larger
format, which I felt sort of gives off this great sense of lucidity, you
know? Like 65mm has ... no brain at all, ... which I love, and it feels like a window, or like a
portal. In our case, for our film, kind of from the window, maybe from the
beyond, on which to view our world or something like that. So conceptionally that
was the idea, to use this large format in certain heightened moments.
And also, there's something exciting about using a format that's usually
used for action or epic or travel [productions] to tell an intimate human story. And
also pairing the casting of young non-actors and wanting to attain a really
nice sense of naturalism. How they are, how they behave, and how they tell us
their story. But then to point a hyper-cinematic lens at them, to me that
felt like something I hadn't seen before. You know, often, if it's real people or first time actors, people will want to lean into that and
do a cinéma vérité style, and put the camera on their shoulders and make it
feel gritty or something like that. To me the opposite was true. I was more
excited to capture these performances and this story, and as I said, through
this heightened kind of filmic lens. I think the impetus for that, was
thinking back on that time of my life. I haven't lived a very dramatic life,
but I can remember when I was a kid where everything you feel, you feel like
a bit more intensely because it's new and it's more ... anyways, maybe I was
just really sensitive. If I was riding my bike home from school, listening
to music and something had happened or whatever, how big or small that
happened to be, in my mind, I was in
this big music video or cinematic film. That's my life. You know, and all
these things; school, this girl that didn't talk to me, whatever it might
be. It felt huge. That's how I wanted this film to kind of
depict it. So that was the idea.
Large format film is important to you, because 65mm gets people more
involved in the your story. Would that be correct?
David Findlay: Yeah, I guess that's a part of it. I shoot certain
projects on digital. I think it's a different tool for a different thing,
for a different approach. I think part of the film was muted. [It's] about
grand emotions that are kind of muted by everyday moments in life, and my
idea with what I wanted to tell, and how to tell it, was to highlight this
sort of small poetry of everyday life. These small short scenes that by
themselves aren't necessarily so evocative or telling, but when you slowly
add them all up together, they paint a really nice, really nuanced portrait.
Film, 35 or 65, to me was the perfect tool to tell that story. To highlight
this, the sadness and beauty, and the beauty and sadness and to access ... I
think, would feel more easily. And it's not a cognitive thing, it's an
emotional thing of being able to access these sort of in-between notes of
the emotional piano if you will. [It's] just like being able to access
literally, more shades of grey, or something like that in your story, and to
support that visually.
|More in 70mm reading:
Me By The Shore” Short Film in 35mm and 65mm
"Daughter of Dismay" with
Director James Quinn
70mm, Cinerama, IMAX
and Cinemas in Canda
in70mm.com Interview & People
Presented on the big screen in 7OMM
Peripheral Vision, Scopes,
Dimensions and Panoramas
65mm camera with staff and crew. Picture by Sam Gilling, courtesy Director David Findlay
THa: Tell me about the 65mm camera you used and the 65mm film, and
how this came about. What is the story?
David Findlay: Basically, the story goes [like this], the
cinematographer on the film, Evan Prosofsky, he's from Alberta in Canada.
That's where "The Revenant" (2015) was shot, and "The Revenant" was
supposed to shoot on 65mm. They did a bunch of tests and very quickly they
said "This doesn't work, we can't really pull it off". And so, Evan,
I think, bought a shitload of film, or all of their film, at a discounted
rate, and stored all of it in his parents basement. So he's been sitting on
a ton of 65mm film for a long time. Plus he has a bunch of different 65mm
cameras. He was just keen and eager to shoot, and use it. He's been
slowly working on all sorts of different 65mm projects. I contacted him
pretty early on, telling him I want to shoot this on film. Certain scenes on
65 and he was really, really excited to bring out his camera, and make
it happen. His camera is a Fries 865, 8-perf 65mm camera. It's a huge ...
the thing is just enormous, and it's heavy and it's loud. And what's tricky
is, well ok, if we're doing longer takes and you're on a 35mm [production] you just change
the magazine quickly. Changing the magazine on this thing takes 10-15
plus minutes. It's like "we have X amount left in the magazine. Do we
change the magazine, or do we try to speed up this next take?".
So it comes with a lot of technical or practical challenges that you need to consider. But, it was cool. And also, it's interesting when he turns
it on, it takes ... you hear it of course, and it takes a while to get it up
to speed. You can't be like "Roll. Action!". It's more like "Roll
[pause] ............ OK, now Action!" [laughing]. You can feel the
cost of it as well, and that was another challenge, which I welcome.
Shooting on film, especially on this format, with limited [funds], you can't
make a million takes. And with young actors, or non-actors, you don't want
to over-rehearse so that when you shoot it feels lifeless, but you also don't
want to improvise. So, it's finding this balance and being clever with how and when to shoot with these kids. Which is a challenge.
But like I
said, a totally welcome challenge and really fun as well.
It was shot by Evan Prosofsky in 65mm 8-perf in Vancouver. How much of the
final movie is from 65mm?
David Findlay: I think it was about 25% of the film which was shot in 65mm.
Panavision Millennium XL II camera
with staff and crew. Picture courtesy Director David Findlay
THa: One would assume it is expensive to shoot in 65mm - does that
present any restrictions or limitations, if you want to make several takes?
Can you afford it? Is that in your mindset?
David Findlay: I knew we made sure we had more than enough film. You don't
want to get to the point where we run out. I know it's going to cost
something, but if I'm not getting the performance I'm still going to keep
going, and not get the feeling of "Oh well, we have to move on
because I need to save raw stock". Being from Canada, I was lucky to get
all sorts of grants (National Film Board Arts Council) and money to make
this film. I'm just grateful for that. It's all sorts of great
producers who were happy to jump in.
Like the advice I give to really young film maker(s) sometimes. Go shoot
something in Super 8, if only for forcing you to sit down and think "What
shots do I need, for sure, to tell this story"? Whether it's a music video or a
really short film. You can do it with digital. But with film, it's a bit
more precise and a bit more immediate, the sense of, "OK, I want to do
this shot, but do I need this shot or, why do I want to do this shot"?
Just really forcing you to be a bit more deliberate in your approach. I had
done it with 16 and with 35 a few times. With 65 it was kind of cranked up,
"Why do I want to shoot this, this way, and why do I want to shoot
this in 65"? Again, just kind of asserting that to me, it was really
But it is true, it was expensive. We did everything with FotoKem in LA, both
the 35 and the 65 was done in their telecine for the editing. And then the 35 was
scanned at 4K and the 65 was scanned at 8K. And obviously doing the telecine
to piece the film together. It is kind of the practical economic thing, and
it still looks perfectly fine to be able to work and put it together. You
have to be economical.
I think people appreciate it when you loop them in to your project really
early on, and that's what I have done. For example with Panavision, since I
was in film school, a year before shooting my end-of-year film on 16mm for
the first time, I went to the Panavison office and told them about the
project, and they
just appreciated that, that I was thinking about it so early on. So they gave me a free camera package nine years ago. And then I did the same thing
with FotoKem, really early on. We'll be shooting in more than a year away. We will
shoot on 65mm film. Let's get on a call and just present this project. It's
the duality of saying "Me and my team, we know what we're doing. We are
really professional, but we're also kids. We're broke. Help"! I mean, how
does this work? You do not want to end up on your knees. The reality is, we
have support from this person, this entity and this financial backing. Also,
we are a short film and you just always end up stretching the budget as much
as you can, and calling for friends and favours as much as you can.
THa: Everyone ended up working for free?
David: Kind of, more or less. Let's make it fair, it's tricky with
those things. I think it's about just presenting the project to them, and
why you want to do it. Helping on some student projects can change their
reputation in the business.
65mm camera and David Findlay. Picture courtesy Director David Findlay
What kind of challenges does 65mm present compared to 35mm – if any?
Yeah, there were a couple of shots that ... just as a safety ... we did
right after also with the 35. The focus puller Jerry, he's worked with Evan and with
this camera a lot, but there are certain moves with the really thin depth of
field where he's just pulling off the barrel. He doesn't have the usual
handset and everything, he's just going by his eyesight. But it is so
precise, that it's tricky. He ended up nailing everything. I remember
sometimes, just to be totally sure, let's also shoot this take on 35 just to
make sure we have it.
I think the main thing is how bulky the camera is. You can't put it on your
shoulder. Shooting take after take is difficult. We can't shoot dialogue,
definitely not inside, and that's OK. I knew that limitation going into it.
main challenge is really just the speed at which we could make changes.
If I did want to shoot a dialogue, or a more conventional scene, it would be
tricky to shoot take after take. Change magazine. Go again, "Oh, there's not
enough"? Change magazine again. "How much short ends do we have?" Or if
there's too short a remaining length of film it's worth nothing, because just getting
the camera up
to speed takes up this much film. So yes, it's not an easy format. It just
isn't, but I think the results are totally worth it. Maybe during editing I
was happy that it was cool and OK. But honestly, it wasn't until we got the
8K scans of the 65. OK - THIS IS COOL! This is worth it! Then going to
Berlin and watching it for the first time on a big screen, it was like, "OK,
YES!" [smiling proudly]. I'm glad.
THa: Congratulations with the premiere in
Berlin, and later at TIFF
David Findlay: Thank you.
We sent in a rough-cut to Berlin and had no expectations. And then by
January 3rd of last year, they said "Congratulations, it's in". Oh my God, I
need to finish the film now! [laughing] I had a month to do it. All the
edits were almost done, but have to scan all the stuff and time it and
everything. Initially it was my ambition to make a 70mm print. I was in
touch with the festival about it, but there were all sorts of circumstances because of COVID restrictions, limited capacity, only 35mm, in a different cinema etc.
Berlin had to decline a 70 print. "70mm - sorry, but we can't
Meanwhile we were also in touch with FotoKem, talking to them about how to
do the optical track [DATASAT soundtrack negative] and all that stuff. It was going to
cost us just more than we could afford. We were also thinking it's not going
to be used very much [a 70mm print]. Sadly, but it would be such a
great, fun thing to finally to go all the way. But in the given
circumstances, we couldn't make it work. We made a 4K DCP, which ended up
looking really great as well.
THa: That leads to my next point. We have one rule at the 70mm
festivals. If it's a 70mm thing, we HAVE to show it in 70mm. People are
coming from near and far to watch 70mm - the real thing on a screen. I
would love to show your film.
David Findlay: Yeah, yeah, I get you. That would be great. I'll have
to look into that. That would be wonderful, but it's so damn expensive, it's
8-perf 65mm camera. Picture
courtesy Director David Findlay
THa: From my perspective, your film will have a life "in 70mm" for many,
many festivals because there are 70mm festivals and screenings in Europe and
in the States. There you can just send the print around. I mean that it will
be shown to the fans who really appreciate it.
David Findlay: That's true. Fans, the people who love it. I know
that's a good point. We should look into it more, or perhaps we should
resume this conversation again later, because I think I need to make a couple more commercials
to be able to finance a 70mm print!
THa: The essence of the question is, will there be a 70mm print
available for festivals?
David Findlay: ... we'll see. I'm just not sure yet.
What kind of support did you get from Kodak and Panavison? In your "Thank you"
credit you also thanked Mark Magidson, who produced
"Baraka" (1991) and
David Findlay: Yeah, that's true. I was on the phone with him. He was
lovely. He was one of those people who I called and emailed to kind of say
like, "Hey, I'm making this film. I'm crazy. How do I it? What sort of
resources, or help, and who do I call to get a deal on scanning, on
printing, on the camera"? He was lovely and nice to chat to, and he just
pointed me in FotoKem's direction. I spoke to a couple of people at IMAX
about the same thing, and they were able to kind of "sweeten the deal" a
little bit with FotoKem.
Kodak ... I've frequently been in touch with Ann Hubbell out of New York, and
she's been helping out, here and there, however she can. She got us at least one
extra free roll [of 35mm negative], which was really helpful, and in this case
we didn't buy any 65 from there. Evan the DP had it all.
Panavision ... Austin out of Vancouver. He's he's been a big supporter of
mine and my projects over the years and been a great ally. Obviously we
didn't shoot with the
65, but we shot with their Millennium
XL II with the 35mm 4-perf, which was great. He was able to give us a very,
very generous deal on on all those things, which is cool, yeah.
THa: 8-perf 65, that's more or less 1,43:1. Did you go for that
format specifically because you had the 65mm format 8-perf available?
David Findlay: Yeah, my idea was to do 4:3 aspect ratio. I just love
the way it renders portraits of faces. There's something a bit timeless
[about it]. It is a bit related to photography, of how you photograph things that
are dear to you. For me it wasn't about shooting epic landscapes or even the
neighbourhood that much, it was about focusing in on characters. And I think
by closing the frame a little bit that way, you create a more intimate
relationship to the characters, which excites me.
I think the 8-perf image was a bit wider when the 8K [scans] came back, and then it
was a decision pretty quickly that I had to make like: do I chop
the 4:3 35 or do I chop the 65 like this [motions a rectangle with hands, ed]. Ultimately, I think it
would have altered more frames in the 35, if I'd opened it laterally. So
I decided to keep everything just in the one aspect ratio.
I personally don't like when films have different aspect ratios. I want to
keep it consistent. Like IMAX movies, "Dune" and all the Christopher
Nolan stuff. I love to go see those in
IMAX in the biggest possible way,
don't get it. I don't get why you would do something like that? To me, it's super
distracting. If you're doing the IMAX thing, bloody leave it in the
thing. Leave it big to me. It's distracting, and takes me out of it. And it
makes me notice ... makes me remember that I'm watching a movie, and I wanted
to lose myself. I want it to wash over me kind of thing. Yeah, well I get
it. I know what they're saying, "OK, now
this is epic. Hey everyone, this is going to be epic"! I can guess
just make me feel it by itself and like I said, it just takes me out of the
film. It makes me notice something about the film. People sometimes ask me
"As a filmmaker are you able to watch a movie, or are you always looking at
how it's made"?, and I always say when the movie is good, I'm just along for
the ride. I'm watching. I'm paying attention to the actors, to the story.
That's it. And then I'm going to love rewatching and then going, "Ohh!, OK,
how did they make it"? But the first time I see a film, as much as possible I
know it's really good if I didn't notice really [any particular
technical gimmickry], or any sort of
flourishes or technical stuff. It's a quality test.
8-perf 65mm camera with staff
and crew. Picture by Sam Gilling, courtesy Director David Findlay
THa: Future plans - more 65mm?
David Findlay: Yes! I don't know when. We're shooting "Lay Me
Shore", -- the feature film, the expansion, the same story with the same actors
-- in a 90 minute version to share that story with a wider audience. The real
truth is not a lot of people watch short films, aside from in film festivals
and online. That's the big new project, and we're shooting on 35. This time I
decided I want to shoot on 3-perf. I feel like I want to just expand the
make use of the wider screen. As we speak I'm unsure if we do some 65. I
would really like it. I hate that it comes down to money, but it does. If
we do end up shooting in 65, it will be for fewer scenes.
But if so, I think it would be 15 perf IMAX. I'd love to shoot 3-perf, to have a tiny
bit more grain if anything, to have a bigger jump in the transition. Not in aspect
Keep the same aspect, but to make it feel there's something going on here
that feels a bit different, to really highlight those scenes. I think the
transition between 4-perf 35 and 8-perf - you know, 65mm, you don't
really notice it. I hope that
people do pick up on it. That was always my intention.
Like any decision that you make in your filmmaking, how does this impact the
emotion of the scene, or how people perceive or ingest the scene? You don't
need to be a techno-geek to feel something. Even if you don't notice
consciously what's going on. By and large, most people can't see it and
that's OK. But in order to make that jump be felt even more than it might
shooting 3-perf and then jumping to the absolute largest format possible
THa: Perhaps old fashioned 5-perf 65mm System 65 from Panavision
would work for you? Show it anywhere. 90 minute movie - perfect. Five or six
reels of movie and you're good to go in our festival, and then maybe 10-20
additional cinemas in Europe where you can show it in 70 millimeter.
David Findley: That's the dream. Yeah, exactly, that's what I want to
do. Oh, man, that's crazy. What do you think? What's the future [of
65mm, you don't really notice it. I hope that people feel it. That was
always my intention." Picture: Thomas Hauerslev
THa: Well, it is the format that will not go away. Rumor says it has
been dead for many, many years, but 70 millimeter is still here for some odd
reason. It will not die, despite the anticipated death of 70mm nearly 55
years ago when "Hello, Dolly!",
"Ryan's Daughter" and
"Patton" came out.
Everyone has been saying "It's too expensive. It's too complicated. It's
too ....", whatever. I mean, it has outlived even 35mm film [since
digitalisation]. I am as
positively surprised as anyone. After
"Far and Away", "Baraka", and
"Hamlet" and the
introduction of digital sound in the early 1990s everyone said "OK,
that's it! No more 70mm". And then 20 years later, "Samsara"
was photographed in 65mm and
"The Master" showed up
with actual 70mm prints, which was followed on by films by Branagh, Nolan,
Anderson, Tarantino and a few more, who are still using large format - even
15-perf IMAX. I would never have believed that would happen during the
lowest doldrums of the mid 1990s. I never
expected to see 10 more movies in the following 30 years. But here we are in
2023. That is why we are here today, because you did it too! You are
carrying the 65mm torch with "Lay Me By the Shore".
David Findley: OK, good. I'm glad to hear that and glad we met. Yeah,
super nice. Film enthusiasts -- they're the best. I love a clear picture and
images that have depth. It doesn't have to do with the depth of field, but
the depth of colors and light. The quality of light and 65 - that
is what works really, really well. I don't want grain. I remember when I
made my student film, shot on 16, and then scanned it 4K, and then you go
"Whoa, cool" - it looks great on your computer. Then at end of year
student Film Festival, you project it from film. And it looked GREAT! And then you
remember film was always meant to be projected. Even if it is a digital
file, once projected, it just looks and feels better. So even a digital 4K
file of something that is shot in 35 or 65 - that's the way to do it. Of course obviously
adding in the good sound and all the rest. There's
something about the actual projection of it, that's not on an LED screen ...
THa: Light reflected?
David Findley: Yeah. Yeah, it's light bouncing off a white screen.
THa: I enjoyed your movie. I enjoyed the subtleties in the focus, and
the depth of field. The movement of the camera was so pleasing to see.
David Findley: Thank you Thomas. There's barely any dialogue. The
film communicates mostly visually I think.
THa: My final question, why are you in Denmark these days?
David: I had been here [In Copenhagen] a few times and I just love it.
And I thought, let's just take a chance. I've been living in Toronto for a
while. I'm from Quebec, the French part of Canada. I was kind of tired of
that and then just decided to take a risk, and the idea was always to go to
Copenhagen from August until April, which is now, and then head back over to
Vancouver to shoot "Lay Me By the Shore" the feature film this summer
. So that's the next new big project that's keeping me awake at night.
THa: Thank you for your time
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