Cinematographer Andreas von Scheele Reteams With J.C. Khoury On “All Relative”
By Marjorie Galas
The last two days on the set of “All Relative” were reserved for shooting B-Roll. The micro-budget indie had no second unit camera crew. Instead, the film’s cinematographer, Andreas von Scheele hit the streets of New York with director J.C. Khoury and a gaffer and captured some of the film’s most captivating shots.
“The three of us were running around the city, doing a pick up here and there,” said von Scheele. “J.C. turned to me and said, ‘This is how small a crew should be.’”
“All Relative” marks von Scheele’s second feature collaboration with Khoury. The two met while working at Goat Cay, Sigourney Weaver’s production company and their first collaboration resulted in indie festival darling “The Pill”.
The budgets they are working with are so tight all crew members perform duties beyond their titles, including director Khoury.
“We all multi-task. J.C. is great at switching hats. He writes, directs, produces and edits because the budget isn’t high enough to bring on additional crew members,” said von Scheele. “He does all the accounting and is very meticulous.”
The first decision von Scheele and Khoury agreed upon was the choice of camera. While von Scheele frequently uses the Alexa, the camera was too bulky for the fast-pace, on-location shooting required by the film. The two men looked at the Canon C 300, C 500 and 1DC, however Von Scheele chose the Canon C100 for its portability, balance of clarity and softness and light sensitivity.
“We wanted it to be very professional looking. We didn’t want to have a shallow depth of field or be ‘artistic’,” said von Scheele.
Due to the quick schedule, von Scheele had limited time for lighting set ups. Von Scheele fashioned most set ups out of windows as to prevent the actors from feeling confined. He also used fills with an 8 x 8 stick to give a balanced look across the scene, and practical’s were used to enhance the lighting whenever possible. Adding an additional challenge to the film’s lighting scenario was the decision to shoot multi-camera. Von Scheele had to evenly split the lighting between the two actors in the scene, and make sure there was no unwanted equipment appearing in the scene.
“The hotel room we used was on the 23rd floor so that couldn’t be lit through the windows,” said von Scheele. “We bounced an HMI off the walls and the ceiling, which wrapped around the scene nicely. The C100’s light sensitivity helped with these locations.”
Von Scheele has grown accustomed to shooting with a mono-pod avoiding the larger footprint of a tripod and allowing him to move about more freely while avoiding a shaky, hand-held aesthetic. This was a great aid in working within the constraints of the 27 day shooting schedule and dealing with the found locations generally provided, with great generosity, to the filmmaker. In some situations, the locations shifted at the last minute, such as the bowling alley that opens the film. With little equipment on set and a small staff (the camera department consisted of two camera operators, a gaffer and a grip), the crew was able to accommodate the last minute change hassle-free.
Von Scheele feels at home with the miniscule crews and fast pace of indie filmmaking. While he was a photo enthusiast at a young age and developed skills snapping shots for his high school and college newspapers, he did not attend film school. While coaching soccer he developed screenwriting skills and would direct and shoot his early work. His first professional experience came as a PA on the set of “The English Patient.”
“They needed Italian speakers, so my first PA job was on an Anthony Minghella feature. I didn’t watch the director of the actors, I stuck close to the gaffer and watched everything John Seale, the DP, was doing.”
Von Scheele began exploring as much as he could about the nuances of the craft while working in the fashion circuit. He studied the great cinematographers and tried to “figure out why they were so good at what they do.” Before long he began exercising his skills on documentaries. While he enjoys narratives, he is particularly fond on the impact documentaries have at exposing viewers to important people, places and issues affecting humanity today.
“I love working on great stories,” said von Scheele. “It’s nice to have a balance, and have the opportunity of working with actors. But I love documentaries. I was working on one in Uganda with amazing people. It offers a very different reward at the end of the day.”
To learn more about Andreas von Scheele, please visit: