Submission Film: “Magic Matty”

A short film about a birthday party magician who goes out of his way to help a lonely kid. The project was directed by my good friend Nico Raineau. He wanted to produce a short for HBO’s 2014 Project Greenlight competition. This didn’t translate into much for me on set, except there would be a quick turn around in post.

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Early afternoon light. Diffused from above.

Magic Matty was a production challenge I greatly underestimated. I had a grasp on the script and knew the challenges of the location. We were going for a light hearted comedy. Diffuse and bounce would be the name of the game! The budget was small, which meant my grip and electric order was lean. We shaped light with an 8×8 1/4 and 1/2 silks, bounce cards, a Nila LED HMI, Joker 800 and a variety of diffusers. I chose the 1/4 and 1/2 silk because I knew we’d be shooting our wides with no diffusion and I didn’t want to create too artificial of a look on the medium and close up shots. A normal silk cuts about 1 to 1.6 stops of light vs the 1/2 or 1/4 stop of these silks.

Direction and time of day were even more important. I like to shoot towards the sun as much as possible, letting the light wrap around my subjects. Shooting in specific directions at the correct time of day was crucial. Below, the late morning sun back lights all the subjects and the bright concrete adds enough fill to even things out.


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Shooting towards the late morning sun, without diffusion.

What I hadn’t accounted for was just how much time and energy would be put into wrangling more than a dozen 7-10 year old children. Or how many takes we would burn through just trying to ensure all the kids were looking the correct direction on screen. At the end of the day the film was completed on time and earned the director a spot in the top 20, of more than 5000 submissions, and went on to win the peer review as the audience favorite.

Not bad for a days work!

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Shot from mid-day with un expected cloud coverage.


Check out the film “Magic Matty”