Bringing back the trailer show with super-host Rob Floyd
About a year ago video editor/comics artist/pot roast chef Greg Steele came to me with an idea: he wanted to do a show that collected trailers from various genre films. Actually, “came to me” might not be accurate. I was generally milling about in his office, but that’s not the point.
Rob and Phyllis Floyd are giants in the field of celebrating genre films. For nearly 20 years they’ve hosted Monster Fest, which is a horror and sci-fi event based on the East Coast. They program and host throwback movie nights at the Naro Cinema in Norfolk, Virginia. They also have a successful cult movie podcast, Fantasmo After Dark, that has run for 175 episodes. I could go on and on with their bonafides. Their knowledge and passion made them natural partners for this endeavor.
JUST FOCUS ON FOCUSING
There is a ton of prep work that goes into creating a show like this. Fantasmo Trailer Vault has a team of five people with floating roles. For example during a given show period Rob and Phyllis will handle trailer selection and content. Matt Harrison (Also a top notch comics artist) serves as script and continuity coordinator. Alaine Steele plugs in as a jack of all trades with essential pre-production ideas and on-set fact checking. Greg Steele serves as Showrunner and Co-Producer with Rob while handling the key role of editing the show. My job, beyond contributing a few ideas as needed, is really just to craft the look and shoot the show.
The team wanted an opening sequence akin to “Siskel & Ebert at the Movies". The Fantasmo Trailer Vault series is primarily about genre, cult classic, and grindhouse films. It was natural then that we opted to shoot the open at Rob’s favorite theater, The Naro Cinema in Norfolk, VA.
Naro Cinema, which first opened in 1936, was gracious enough to give us access to their historic theater for an evening’s shoot. This location was a fantastic choice because the design and architecture did a lot of my work for me.
For the exterior shots I used the Dream Fx Filter by Prism Lens FX. The filter gives a dreamlike quality to the bloom of the marquee and street lights without loss quality on detail. It plays in nicely to the 1970’s grindhouse vibe that the team wanted.
The interior portions were a relatively simple affair. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the look of the theater, but merely augment it. For example, the shot of Rob walking into the auditorium, highlighted by the red of the exit sign was achieved by using an RGBWW tube light mounted beneath the actual exit sign.
WHERE DOES HE GET THOSE WONDERFUL TOYS?
You’ll hear people much smarter than myself say, “Production design is the most important part of cinematography.” In this instance so much of my work is augmented by Rob’s mini museum of film memorabilia that we use as our set. Being able to come into a space that already has character means that I can just concentrate on the lighting.
The subject matter of the show allows for me to experiment with stylized lighting and color choices that I enjoy. The background colors will thematically change with the predominant genre of the trailers for the episode. I prefer to generally use two complimentary tones.
To create this look we found small RGBW flood fixtures that are bluetooth controlled. They’re actually sold as exterior lawn lights on Amazon but I’ve been impressed with the color quality and lack of flicker. You could use a more expensive film lighting specific fixture but these have been simple and effective.
Lighting the star himself was a small evolutionary process. In the first episode I opted for a more dramatic look with a harsher fall off on the face and more striking shadows. This was done using a Godox VL300 shot through an Octobox.
The look was okay, but probably more suited for a narrative shot as opposed to a hosted show format. I went back to the drawing board for the second episode and struck what has become our general style for this show. The key light is an Aputure Amaran 100d shot through diffusion. The fill is usually my much utilized Intellytech LC-100 Lightcloth. An Aputure Amaran AL-F7 shelf mounted with a Small-Rig Crab Clamp serves as the hair light.
That’s it, it’s that simple. Rob is the star of the show and this lighting allows for that. We’ll do subtle variations and tweaks. The upcoming Halloween episode features a gently more complex lighting scheme that brings in a few more lights to allow for some differentiation.
We use a Canon C70 for filming. We film 4k in Clog2. There is no need for RAW in this case and Clog2 handles color and skin tones fantastically. The glass is either the Sigma 18-35 Art glass or a Canon 50mm. I filter the image on-set with a Formatt Hitech Black Supermist ⅛.
The show is a ton of fun to film and gently evolves each episode. The people I work with on this are some of my favorite humans and the collaboration is enriched because of that. We just released our 3rd episode with a Halloween Special episode set to drop in October.