Shattered by Imran St. Brice
Shattered is the title of my second short film which was shot and released in 2018, less than a year after my first short- Secure (2017). On both of those films I’ve functioned as writer, director and producer, among several other things, which is typical of the majority of no-budget films. Despite having several roles in the production, I’ve always felt it necessary to have someone more capable than myself operating the camera and directing the photography of the film. Although I could pass as a fairly capable camera operator with some practice, there were two reasons I had always wanted to collaborate with a cinematographer on set. One, I could alleviate myself of having to manage the camera technically and put more focus on directing actors and making other fine touches to what we see through the lens. Reason number two is: I enjoy actually working together with someone who brings their own ideas and interpretations to the script that we’re bringing to life. It’s a lot more interesting than just doing everything the way I see it without someone who lives off of visualising stories being there to add to my vision.
However, I will admit that I tried to be both DP and director on my first short film. It wasn’t long before I realised that it’d be best for the story and the production if I worked with someone else to shoot it. Because I had that experience the first time around, my approach to Shattered was entirely different. I knew from the script stage that the story I wanted to tell would require a handheld approach that would help put the audience into the environment of Blume’s (the main character) home. A couple of movies I used as reference were ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Prestige’, both of which take place in environments and time periods that are far off from anything that anyone today would be accustomed to. Yet the nature of the cinematography in these movies make you feel as if you’re in the time period of the story, right there among the characters. To get this look and flow of shots, as well as a few other things, I decided to work with a wedding videographer by the name of Marlon St. Brice. Because of the nature of the particular field he works in and because I’d admire his approach to shooting, it felt an easy choice to go with him as my DP this time around, despite it being his first time as a cinematographer on a narrative short film. Quite a few weeks before shooting and even before securing a location, we had a couple of lengthy conversations on the look of the film and the style of shooting we would adopt to bring across a certain type of story.
We shot this film on a Sony a6300 mirrorless camera with one prime lens (35mm f1.7) and one zoom lens (16-35mm f3.5-5). Even though the shooting schedule was only two days, we still faced a number of lighting, blocking and technical issues to make it all work. One scene in particular was with the opening shot in the bathroom. We had to bounce the light from a 6-inch LED off of the ceiling to even out the light in the entire room due to the harsh sunlight coming in through the window.
We mostly used to wide angle zoom lens because of the close quarters of our shooting location. However, in one insert shot of the bracelet- the wide angle zoom lens warped the image slightly so we swapped it out for the prime to give a nicely shot close up.
We did the same for close ups in the dialogue scene toward the latter half of the film as well.
While there were no storyboards involved in this project, I did have an early look at the location and took sample photos on how I might’ve want to block the scenes. That and a mental shot list was really how we prepared to make our day with the shots we wanted. All things considered, the preparation was mostly what made the shoot successful.
Imran St. Brice
Imran St. Brice is a St. Lucian filmmaker whose narrative short films have been premiered both locally and regionally at various film festivals.
Click here to watch Shattered
Follow him on Instagram: @imo208