Writer/Director/Editor Devin Lawrence of Sympathy, Said the Shark knew the power of a POV and decided to see how far he could push it by creating a project that was told almost entirely through the POV of its three main characters. In a recent interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Lawrence and his key team talked about their Blackmagic POV rig, working on constraints, and developing a new type of film.
Lawrence landed on the idea of shooting something through POVs after two of his other projects, both with bigger budgets, had stalled due to financing. Lawrence wanted to push himself creatively and work within the constraint of a smaller budget to create something cutting-edge. “I had the idea of shooting it from POVs very early on, before even pitching it, though I still had absolutely no idea how, or if it was even possible to shoot a movie like that. I also wanted to do these very long takes where there are no cuts so that when we are in somebody’s POV there is no jump cutting, there are no drastic changes so you really feel like you are behind those eyes.”
Sympathy, Said the Shark began its shoot around the time the Blackmagic Pocket Camera was released. The camera allowed cinematographer Mark LaFleur to capture the POVs with the filmic quality he wanted without losing focus at the larger apertures while working with practical lighting. “We bought a motorcycle helmet off of Craigslist, drilled a hole in it and hung the camera off of it, and we just ran around to do a test and immediately knew that we were onto something and that this was the right camera,” Lawrence said. “It is extremely light weight and the image is very distinctive; it’s very different from DSLRs; it has a very cinematic, film-like texture to the picture.”
The opportunity to shoot in POVs was explored fully by Lawrence and LaFleur, who created a unique POV to each person that matched their movements and the way they saw the world. “We were interested in the variations of the POVs themselves. There’s three different POVs; we have the two guys and the girl and we wanted them to be very distinct, we wanted the POVs to really represent the characters, so we made them slightly different in numerous ways. On top of that, one of the characters is very guarded so he stays very wide and keeps everyone in frame. The other character, you don’t know which direction he’s going to go; he’s on drugs so he’s always looking away from the other characters and moving skittishly with dutch angles, and the girl’s always caught in the middle so she’s always panning back and forth between the two characters. In post we’re altering each POV to give a distinct look where the girl is more sentimental and warm versus the guys who are a little cooler and sterile.”
Overall, Lawrence is very pleased with the film they’ve come to, which was a relatively quick turnaround shot on a low budget. “Two weeks, 14 days, 70 grand and we got a movie,” he said. (Filmmaker Magazine)