Reach

With new owners, a restuarant manager's life crumbles when he is pushed aside for the benefit of his former boss.

This film is currently touring the film festival circuit and is unavailable for public online viewing. If you would like to screen this film for a sample of my work, please contact me via email.

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Ironically, director Benjamin Hall works at the restuarant we shot in for this film. I was drawn to Reach because it's a story that doesn't ask for crazy effects, camera movement, or lighting. In my cinematic vocabulary, this story is just a simple drama; yet, it could be farther from simple than one would think.

The challenge with Reach was how subtle I actually needed to do with the cinematography. The lighting and camera movement had to enhance the performances, not just be a compliment to them.

Luciano's is the fake restuarant featured in the film. The location we used was a private dining room at Maggiano's in Chicago, IL. The dining room had no windows, which was a good and bad thing. Good, because I had ultimate control over the lighting. Bad, because I had to be creative on how to establish different times of day without seeing the outside world.

For the "night" scenes in the restuarant, I went with a warm, very soft tone. I wanted to use color and direction of light to establish the time of day. For the scene's in the "morning", I went with a cold blue light that was very directional.

One of the artistic decisions I wanted was no fill light what-so-ever. It was a matter of taste and necessity. Most of our locations didn't have the room for me to add a proper fill. Furthermore, it wouldn't make sense for some locations to have a high-key in the first place! Luckily, most locations provided their own fill naturally, which fit very well for those specific scenes.

Lighting the party scene proved to be the most challenging, per usual. Ben and I planned a very intricate tracking shot following the main character as he enters the party, moving around, and establishing the space all in one shot. I drew inspiration for how to light the party from Superbad and The Godfather.

I utilized MSE's Bazooka arm to arm out a 1k fresnel over the area, pointed straight down. Diffussed, it gave that top down aesthetic of Godfather, but also felt like the high school party from Superbad. Furthermore, it was easy to repeat the set-up for the other rooms because of how simple it was. What consumed most of the time was blocking out the windows; we shot the party scene during the day, but it took place at night in the script.

One of the final scenes takes place on the roof of the party. Originally, Ben had the scene on the front steps, but I suggested the roof for the pure aesthetic of seeing over the city. Furthermore, it added to the mise-en-scene of the story with the main character finally reaching to the top of his problems.

Lighting the roof was tricky, particularly because the first location got shut down after the first shot. However, my gaffer Alexander Donnelly and key grip Steve Turco were instrumental in resetting up the scene at a new alternate roof. Those two were life savers and were always getting the next set up prepped. What helped was the pre-made lighting plans we developed together and clearly communicating with them what we needed for each shot.

My crew on this film were fantastic. We were bare bones for most of it, but they were steller beyond belief. A special shout out to McKenna Hynes, my first AC. We didn't have a 2nd AC, so she played double duty and never faultered. She is an absolutely fantastic AC and great shooter.