Cinematographer James Mathers’ instrument of choice for the ambitious one-set, one-character action feature, Brake, starring Stephen Dorff, was the Litepanels 1×1 Bi-Color. This light was vital “to meeting my biggest challenge of illuminating the visual clues that help Secret Service agent Jeremy Rains (Dorff) and the audience, figure out his situation when he wakes up in this black void of a car trunk,” Mather’s explained.
“Reflections were one of my biggest challenges inside the multifaceted plexiglas box in which the character finds himself trapped, but by using the practical LED countdown clock as my key light, I was able to turn them into a positive story telling element. As the reflection of the “ticking” clock bounced around the box, it only served to heighten the tension. Using this and my Litepanels LEDs I was able to operate at very low wattage and off house power, so we never needed a generator. I am a big fan of LED lighting because it is efficient, lightweight and rugged.”
The 1×1 Bi-Color from Litepanels part of Vitec Videocom, allowed Mathers to stretch his creativity, and at times, put the lights in unusual situations. “Not only were they a comfortable temperature for our actor, they also stood up to the elements quite well. One scene called for filling the box with liquid, so the ability to easily run the lights off DC power as a safety measure was a help.”
In the story, agent Rains is tormented by his captors who send him various items through a tube into the trunk. “A 1×1 Litepanels Bi-Color was my instrument of choice for looking down the tube because it packed the punch to suggest the brightness of the ‘outside world’ to contrast with the deep darkness inside the trunk,” said Mathers. “We needed to constantly vary the brightness and color temperature based on the angle we were looking at on this tube as well as the location and time-of-day cues we were trying to suggest. The Bi-Color made it easy to control the intensity of the light with just a turn of the dimmer dial instead of adding scrims and gels,” he added.
To get the effect of the character being violently thrown about in the trunk, Mathers and team had to bounce the vehicle chassis with the RED MX camera and lights mounted to it. “The light weight and rugged design of the Litepanels was another plus here,” he says. “The svelte design was also helpful for rigging as I used a combination of spot and floods to ‘fly’ over the car, floating on menace arms, to give a sense of motion when the car was supposed to be moving.”
Brake followed an unusual screening/release schedule, available as a VOD download on iTunes, Amazon and other Internet venues even before the theatrical premiere in New York and Los Angeles at the end of March 2012.