Original Cinematographer of Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Roy H. Wagner ASC, re-shoots scene on the iPhone11Pro.
Article by Jennifer Steffi Ewing. Photography by Néstor Colombo.
Nothing says Halloween quite like Freddy Krueger. More than 30 years later, Freddy is still haunting households only this time “Freddy’s home” on the iPhone 11 Pro! In an aptly-timed collaboration, producers VideoVillage.Pro, Moai Films, and Global Village, Inc. partnered with Roy H. Wagner ASC, the Hollywood cinematographer who shot A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to rebuild the sets and reshoot a chilling chase scene using modern technology! The goal of the project? To see just how far technology has advanced in the last 30 years. In the hands of a cinematography legend, can a new iPhone 11 Pro compare to a film camera?
“The concept behind this “Nightmare on Elm Street” project is exciting,” expressed Director Lukas Colombo, “because it’s all about telling the story about how technology has changed over the last 30 years and how accessible filmmaking and storytelling are to anyone, regardless of what camera they have or what budget they have.”
Joining Wagner on set was Gaffer Shane Kelly, who was also the Gaffer on the 1987 film. An all-star crew led by Director Lukas Colombo re-built the sets, filmed the scene entirely on the Apple iPhone 11 Pro with the FiLMic Pro app, and edited the project in Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve – in just a week’s time!
So how did the iPhone perform? Wagner said he was impressed with, “It’s weight, extraordinary screen brilliance, and lens technology . . . That, with their image processing system, will cause the Apple iPhone to leap forward quite rapidly in the future.”
Wagner, characterized as a dynamic exposure cinematographer and known for his creative use of strong light and dark shadows was pleased by how well the camera performed in low light commenting, “I was surprised at its ability to see far deeper into the shadows than any phone before and was astonished at its ability to hold strong dynamic range at low light level.”
While the project was shot entirely on the iPhone, it was just as much an exploration of modern lighting advancements and filmmaker’s tools including the FilMiC Pro app and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve.
Colombo shared, “The other part of the story is lighting because technology has advanced so much in the camera space, of course, but also in the lighting arena to where we now have more efficient LED lights that pull less power, are cooler, bi-color and RGB allowing for faster and more efficient lighting. This was originally shot on Tungsten 5K and 2K lights. To be able to recreate all this with LED panels just shows the complete story in terms of the technology — both on the camera side and the LED side.”
Wagner and Colombo built a lighting scheme from the latest in lighting technology from Westcott Lighting, Nanlite USA, and Dedolight California. They also employed an on-set DaVinci Resolve workflow – using air-drop for real-time camera to edit bay workflow. “One of the cool things about shooting with iPhone is the fact that once we were done with the take we just air-dropped the files straight to the computer and brought that straight into DaVinci Resolve,” said Colombo. “There was no dumping media cards or anything. Everything was just air-dropped directly from the Apple iPhone to the Apple MacBook. With an on-set DaVinci Resolve set-up with a panel, we were able to immediately begin color grading and editing on set to see how well the scenes and shots matched the original film. It was exciting for everyone to be able to witness that on set and to see how close we were really getting with these shots and with the quality.”
After the one-day shoot – an incredible feat when compared to the nearly week of time it took to shoot the scene the first time around, post-production was headlined by DaVinici Resolve.
“The whole project was edited in DaVinci Resolve. From the ingest and auto-sync features to the actual editing straight onto color correction. And we even used Fusion to do some split-screen composites and masking to combine shots. To have the ability to stay within one platform on this project made it possible to turn this around in just one weekend.”
More than just a cool collaboration and interesting experiment, the project should be inspiring to aspiring filmmakers around the globe. Wagner mused, “What’s so exciting about this is that it means that all those aspiring filmmakers — like we all were at one time — can get their hands on a camera much more quickly and can go out and make their film and not have to go through a studio or through a committee of Executives that tell you, “No, you can’t do it this way, you have to do it this way.” The democratization of filmmaking, the democratization of all knowledge and for me, I’ve been doing this for 50 years. It’s exciting because it means I have so few people I have to go through. It’s between me and the director and the actors. It’s really very communal.”
The iPhone re-creation of Nightmare on Elm Street can be found on the VideoVillage.Pro YouTube Channel, home to Roy’s new series, “Beyond the Darkness.” In Wagner’s own words, “Beyond the Darkness is an idea that I’ve carried with me for over fifty years. It started with countless interviews of master filmmakers. I wanted to know what made them the masters they were so that I could understand the creative choices they made, know something of their personal life and know how they were raised – what they believed in. In truth, the understanding of the human condition crosses all professions. You can learn something about yourself or your path by observing how those you admired or disliked functioned in a world that has no clear direct path to success or failure.”
Follow Roy’s journey and check out the full Behind the Scene and side-by-side now live on YouTube.
Watch the Behind the Scenes and Side by Side, Now Live on YouTube: