Panavision provides equipment for P.J. Hogan’s Mental

Press release from Well Above

Mental is P.J. Hogan’s Queensland-based semi-autobiographical film starring Toni Collette and Rebecca Gibney currently being shot by Don McAlpine ACS, ASC. The movie tells of how a charismatic yet somewhat crazy nanny is randomly employed to be the carer for five teenage girls when their mother is hospitalised.

Industry legend McAlpine explained his decision to shoot the movie with the Red Epic camera and to have Panavision as his equipment supplier and system integration partner. He said, “Mental is a script by P.J. Hogan that I read six years ago and decided I must shoot. It was finally set up as a small budget film. PJ’s development of performance on camera indicated that a low-budget digital camera might mitigate the high cost of stock. During pre-production a few questions arose. The director’s assessment was that to film anamorphic presented problems with depth of field and the number of cast in shot most of the time. At the time I was also privy to Bob Prime’s brilliant assessment of all single chip cameras potentially suited to cinema production. The Red 1MX’s capacity to record on a 4K chip and its ability to take its place in the top selection impressed me. Using my long-term relationship with Panavision, I was able to secure two of the newer Red Epic cameras for this production. The Epic, now with a 5K chip, enables me to use a 2.4 anamorphic crop similar to using a Super 35 crop on film.”

For McAlpine, Mental was to be his entree into digital film production, having previously only shot digital stills in relationship to lighting and exposing film for his many productions.

He continued, “As yet I have not felt any disadvantage of adapting to digital and there have been some truly positive outcomes. The simple quick ‘magazine change’ is positive in maintaining the flow of energy on the set. With a relatively accurate monitor I have been able to film sequences that I would not have dared shoot on film. An example of this is where our heroine wears an LED miner’s lamp on her head and illuminates another character in a scene. The monitor indicated that there was light being reflected from the other character’s face to eliminate the heroine’s face. Shooting that with film I could not have risked the possibility of a reshoot and would have had to find another way of doing it.”
McAlpine uses his two Red Epic cameras as A and B cameras on Mental with the majority of the shooting done on location and some scenes shot at the Gold Coast Studios. 

Commenting on the reliability of the cameras and his relationship with Panavision McAlpine said, “The cameras have performed very well. We were very lucky that Panavision, with their extensive global reach and local inventory, were able to supply me with two cameras at very short notice and thus help a production with an extremely limited budget get made. Panavision was able to bring all the elements together and integrate the technology into their existing infrastructure without a hitch – in large part due to their two excellent and very experienced Queensland-based engineers. They also helped me with my request to use Panavision Primo Zooms and Primes that I have used so successfully many times before. As I mentioned, I have a long and successful history of working with Panavision and I find that they always over deliver and do whatever it takes to help make a production happen. I also find that during a shoot their support and after sales service is second to none.” 

Panavision MD Martin Cayzer said, “We are very proud that Red Epic cameras supplied by Panavision Australia are the first Epics to shoot Australian feature productions – Mental and Drift. The cameras we supplied Don on Mental came directly from international commitments around the world that had only wrapped days before and are very much in keeping with our aim of bringing the latest technology to our shores as soon as it is available. After a 50 film relationship between Don and Panavision we are also delighted to be working again with such a consummate professional.”

Mental is currently in production in Queensland.