Currently playing in select theaters, the action-comedy Fatman, written and directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms, reteamed the brothers with regular Cinematographer Johnny Derango, to make an unconventional holiday tale about a 12-year-old who hires a hitman, played by Walton Goggins, to kill Santa Claus (Mel Gibson) after receiving a lump of coal for Christmas.
Much of the movie takes places at the North Pole with exterior locations shot in the wilds of Western Canada when temperatures could potentially go down to negative 35º Fahrenheit (-37.22º Celsius) during the winter, something that could have had an extreme effect on the equipment choices made by the local camera crew.
Derango chose to use the Teradek wireless system that he’s been using on all four features he shot for the Nelms Brothers, as well as two SmallHD monitors, which have been his mainstay for years. “In addition to the Teradek units on the DIT cart, we had two SmallHD monitors which allowed additional exposure checks using the Spectrum mode in the Exposure Assist (False Colour) tool. I love Sony OLEDs but I always take a pair of 702s or 703s with me for false color. That’s the combination I am comfortable with and the results are great.”
“It just works,” he added. “I get images on my monitors that run smoothly the entire time.”
Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) Andrew Richardson went into more details about the wireless system used for the frigid shoot. “We used a Teradek Bolt Pro 3000 transmitter and receiver system for wireless video between the ARRI Alexa LF and Alexa Mini LF to my DIT cart. From there we used a video router to distribute the video signal to Pomfort Livegrade via the Teradek COLR (LUT box) on the DIT cart and to the monitors.”
SmallHD 703 monitors were also used on the Alexa rigs, as Derango explained, “The SmallHD monitors even kept working with snow landing on them.”
Richardson adds, “Despite the conditions, the wireless video range between the Teradek transmitters and receivers was quite impressive. In some locations we were receiving video signal from upwards of 200 meters away, in -20°C/-4°F weather.”
Richardson’s DIT cart also benefited from Teradek gear with a WiFi access point and a compact rig of two Teradek Serv Pros supplied by Set Dresser Alex Kim. This solution transmits HD video over WiFi to iOS/Android devices, so that Richardson could distribute video signals to each of the Serv Pros so that Kim could watch the video feeds through the Teradek VUER app on his iPad Pro.
The film’s climax led to a challenge for 1st AC Chris Chung, who says, “We did not have a wireless video transmitter for C-Camera so we had to hardwire with BNC cable. The camera was at max extension on a Genie lift and we had a lot of video issues from running hundreds of feet of BNC cable. When you get used to a reliable solid signal with Teradek you take for granted the convenience it affords.”
Somehow, the production managed to wrap its 7 weeks of principal photography on March 14, right before the world shut down due to COVID. Derango realizes how lucky they got. “We were outside of the COVID bubble, and everything was still open in Canada when I returned home to LA.”