selected from shoot diaries spanning three decades

camera test for Pride and Prejudice

2nd January 2013

​A camera test with the Alexa – DoP for the Pride and Prejudice project Colin Fox understands the need to deliver the most accurate reconstruction of a Regency Ball ever shot for television. That will involve lighting by candlelight alone the very ballroom in which Ms Austen actually danced, at Chawton Hall, one of her brother’s many homes.

lunch still looks a long way away
lunch still looks a long way away

That in turn will involve the Arriflex Alexa, cherished for its ability to deliver grain-free imagery undreamed of by Stanley Kubrick when making his renowned candle-lit Barry Lyndon.

And a case full of prime lenses faster than the optics Kubrick famously acquired from NASA when they’d finished using them on the moon.

And also more fire safety officers than we’ve ever entertained before.

So today we met at 0700 at the Foxhole in Richmond before carrying 50 sample candles and a boot filled with big boxes to Hampshire. This is one of few occasions when I have travelled with Mr Fox, purchaser of only the finest autos, and the baggage has been worth more than the conveyance. We travel hoping against hope that the camera will give us Costume without any drama. Camera Assistant Dan Russell, sustained only by Greggs steak pies, joins us to endlessly bracket exposures until we finally win through.

The camera is a star. I shoot the rehearsals just in case - this is a 90-minute epic as much, I plan, about the making of as the of itself, and even wide open and at maximum Dbs the XF305 makes everything look boskily nineteenth century. When DR downloads the raw files from Miss Alexa it's all a bit over-bright, frankly. I can't see Colin's nose in front of his beloved face, but the camera will reveal every performers' blemish.

the monster unpacked
the monster unpacked