Monday, April 22, 2013

Project X – Mini Review

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Produced by Todd Phillips
Screenplay by Matt Drake & Michael Bacall

Thomas Mann
Oliver Cooper
Jonathan Daniel Brown

Cinematography by Ken Seng
Editing by Jeff Groth

Release date: March 2, 2012

Summary: Three friends throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves and as the night progresses it spirals out of control.

Mini Review: Despite one flaming ludicrous moment this was a totally, totally fun movie! Filmmaker note: Really great hand held camera work and editing!

I have to give props to director cinematographer Ken Seng, the 40 people listed as "Camera & Electrical" department and editor Jeff Groth.

Principal photography was scheduled to begin on June 14, 2010, in Los Angeles, California on a budget of $12 million. Filming took place over twenty-five nights between 5pm and 5am on the Warner Ranch in Burbank, California. The set contained a faux residential area featuring multiple houses.  
The production decided to film on a set because locating a real neighborhood that could be effectively closed off and which would allow filming throughout the evening and early morning proved difficult. Phillips explained that using a real neighborhood would have also proven difficult because of the fire damage required for the film. Much of the set was destroyed as part of filming. The film was largely shot in chronological sequence as repairing the set damage from a later scene to film an earlier one would have been difficult. Mann described the filming as a "party atmosphere", with New York disc jockey Jesse Marco on set performing music even when the cameras stopped rolling to maintain the energy of the cast and extras. Many of the same extras were brought back for multiple nights of filming, and would continue to party between scenes. Periodic takes of up to 20 minutes were made of just extras dancing. During filming, Burbank police were called to the set concerning noise complaints made by nearby residents. 
Project X was filmed in cinéma vérité style, only displaying the events of the film through the first-person view of the cameraman observing the party, to create the effect of the audience being in attendance at the out of control party. Director Nima Nourizadeh stated that the style allowed the film to seem "real" and "show some of the realities of what kids do".
Cinematographer Ken Seng and Nourizadeh tested twelve different camera systems before choosing the digital-HD Sony F23 video camera, basing their decision on its ability to handle sudden extreme changes in lighting due to natural daylight and strobe lights.  
The film is primarily presented from the perspective of the character Dax and his camera, but Nourizadeh also obtained footage by providing the cast and extras with recording devices such as BlackBerrys and iPhones to capture events occurring outside of the perspective or knowledge of the cameraman. This resulted in hours of unusable footage that had to be observed by Nourizadeh and his team to find segments that could be incorporated into the final film. Nourizadeh stated "when you have real material being shot by real people, it then kind of feels like it is. It is found footage. I hated spending 10 hours looking through bits of flip footage – people didn’t press stop, it’s like in their pockets. But yeah, it was great, man." Other footage was provided from fictional police and news cameras to give a different perspective on the events.—Wikipedia
"Project X was filmed on eight different camera systems. It’s a POV film told by the masses of people who attend the party, which gives it a totally unique point of view on the situation. We also really looked at how best to capture the size of this event and the level of destruction with our resources. For instance, how we could make 200 or so extras look like more than 1,000"
– Cinematographer Ken Seng on filming Project X.

See the full cast and crew of the film here

Commentary: I'm kinda tired of the "found footage" handheld camera movies, but this one was done really well. As you can imagine there was A LOT of stuff going on and the camera crew did a great job at capturing it.

A good related article Found Footage Films Need To Stay Hidden

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