Definition September 2023 - Web


STYLE AND SUBSTANCE One of the star tools was the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, partnered to stunning effect with vintage Canon FDs, as well as Premiere Pro for edits

palpable in the film now,” he continues. “That involved building layers on top of layers until each frame was exactly what Georden wanted. In terms of the technological challenges, a lot of that work meant pushing Premiere Pro to its breaking point – we frequently needed to find alternate ways of implementing an effect or layer because we’d nested so much into our sequences.” Although they’d settled on the Mini LF for principal photography, West and Sheaffer wanted to build a rich tapestry of images and sounds – both ones they had shot and archival materials. They shot additional images on MiniDV plus intertitles and text elements on 16mm. “We brought in a wide array of video formats from different archives that we were working with in New England,” he adds. “We really wanted to allow ourselves the time and flexibility to find something in that mass of materials. I think our biggest technology and technique was a sense of play!” Playland premiered at Tribeca Festival in June and will be a part of the Cucalorus Festival programme at Wilmington, North Carolina in November ahead of wider distribution next year. It may not cater to every individual, but if you’re an aficionado of artistic and unconventional cinema – this one’s for you.

Lam says ’while that was practically not possible’, they did incorporate the core idea of creating living tableaus and vignettes with all of the workers at Playland Cafe. “We extensively shot-listed together during prep and discussed blocking and editing, figuring out where we could find these stitches to make scenes flow seamlessly,” she continues. “We wanted to create an experience where you were everywhere and nowhere at the same time, capturing the essence of how nights would sometimes end in queer institutions. Georden had mentioned the notion of Playland being like a sunken ship – and that greatly inspired me to manifest some sort of haunting, ghostly presence in the space through lighting.” Lam was able to focus on breaking down the different decades of time with gaffer Dave Wilwayco during prep and pre-rig, discussing the different looks that could be achieved. “Shout-out to him, our key grip James Arterberry and the entire G&E crew for pulling off the almost impossible!” she adds. Sheaffer says the challenge then was to ‘re-discover the timing and syntax’ of the film in the edit. “Georden and I ended up passing cuts back and forth over the course of eight months, slowly developing the rich and unique grammar that is so

Sheaffer believes the tool stands out for its physical flexibility. “I find my editorial headspace requires shifting physical locations,” he continues. “I want to take my edit station to the park, dinner table and the woods. Having a suite of tools that can travel with me is essential. Using the Adobe suite allows me to do it seamlessly.” West and Lam decided to use the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF with Canon FDs – the rationale being that ‘the Playland aesthetic revels in the blending of new and old technologies’, so the cutting- edge sensor combined with vintage lenses provided the perfect backbone. “In the edit, the LF gave us the ability to take Jo Jo’s stunning cinematography, reframing and cropping in surprising ways,” adds Sheaffer. HAUNTING MUSE The original idea was to make Playland ‘a stitched-together, single-shot piece’, but during the pandemic – with only eight shoot days – it quickly became clear this would be impossible.



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