After supporting his last commercial short movie ‘Mittendrin Vol. 2’, we talked to Austrian dop Andreas Eymannsberger who is currently based in Hallein near Salzburg.
Andreas, you work mostly on commercials, music videos and short films. What brought you to film in the first place?
Coming from a background in photojournalism & still photography I started to enjoy the collaborative aspect of moving images and filmmaking a lot, which usually involves thorough preparation and collaborating with more people compared to photography. I studied film as a master’s degree at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg and since my graduation I have been working as a freelance Director of Photography.
Tell us about your last project ‘Mittendrin Vol. 2’ you did for Kitzbüheler Alpen Tourismus.
In ‘Mittendrin Vol. 2’ I was the DP. After working with director Patrick Neubäck on the first commercial we decided to do part two together again with a different approach. Since the client gave us free rein for the most part after the successful first piece we decided to go all in with another approach and focus on emotions & moments one hundred percent.
Most tourism commercials try to emphasize known highlights and features of a region while there is often little space left for storytelling, characters and emotions.
The latter being in my opinion the most important feature to envoke in an audience in order to grab sincere occupation with the content of a story. For ‚Mittendrin Vol. 2‘ we tried to create an arc between memories of a young couple of their first winter vacation together in the 1980s and their older selves visiting the same region 30 years later. The slightly period piece-like perspective gave us a set of opportunities to create moments for them conceptually that would seem unusual in a tourism commercial based today. But focussing on things like sledging, strolling, building snowmen, enjoying mountaintop-cottage-saunas, hot morning coffee on lodge terraces – whilst leaving out skiing, wellness resorts and typical ski-lodge desserts – gave us many small opportunities to connect the audience to the different moments in the relationship of this couple.
What ist special about it concerning technical use?
We planned principal photography in a certain way: To give us as much time as we could get with the main cast and to enable us to shoot as many good locations as we could find in the best light. We knew that we needed to go for an overall natural look with only certain enhancements in order not to overpower the slightly casual and seemingly unplanned story, the thing that would distract from the moments immediately would have been images that could feel ‘forced’ to the audience. While there was a scene in an inn with 20 extras, a for once complete lighting department as well as a scene with some car-rigging, our foremost approach was to plan moments in a way that integrated practical lighting into the scene as much as we could (e.g. our very practical list of key-lights consisted of a bonfire, headlights, torches and petroleum lanterns), use first and last light of the day to shoot outdoors as well as taking away light rather than add some. And last: Keep the crew as small and nimble as possible to move fast. This meant being at locations at defined times for dawn- or dusk light and moving fast while shooting up to five small scenes at different locations a day. The overall pace of the production while moving the camera permanently handheld with the actors would mean no cabling possible at all. When the camera came out of the car we needed to be ready to shoot as soon as possible and have everybody have an image right after booting up.
What were the greatest difficulties in terms of preparation and shooting?
Typical but still hard to work around: Weather. As a means to embrace many of the comforting moments the couple would experience on their journey we wanted as much snow and as little sun as possible. Again, we felt that in order to empathize with the characters, good weather wouldn’t help and wouldn’t make the warming cup of tea feel quite as comforting. So snow and the elements played a big role in our concept – but there was little snowfall to work with. Gladly, just enough on the ground. We had to get SFX snow for most of the production as there was only enough snowfall during the last days and as we were such a small crew we could keep the schedule for the outdoor locations flexible and could adapt to the weather.
What camera and lenses did you choose? I was able to thoroughly test different equipment options before deciding on a camera package. While an Arri Alexa Mini or Red Gemini would have been easily able to do the job I decided to go with Sony Venice and Atlas Orion Anamorphic lenses. Anamorphic capture felt like the natural way to go regarding time of the story and overall immersion, the Sony Venice impressed me image quality wise with a great sensor, a modern but deeply cinematic colour science, a production ready feature set and ruggedness to work reliably at deep temperatures and in different lighting scenarios.