TOO LATE Filmmakers Release Wide on 35mm

  • April 07, 2016
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Picture this: A well-woven L.A. detective story, starring Academy Award nominee John Hawkes, unraveled during epic long takes lasting the length of a projected film reel. No hidden cuts. No crafty illusions.

It's writer/director Dennis Hauck's latest feature, Too Late : the perfect pick for a 35mm-only cinematic experience.

Too Late was not only bold enough to release exclusively on 35mm; it also tells its narrative in five 20-minute unbroken takes. Too Late was shot in the old 2-perf Techniscope format, which is unique in that it can yield 22 minutes of footage from a single roll of film, as opposed to the standard 11 minutes of most other 35mm formats.

Unlike many other movies that give the illusion of continuous lengthy takes, there are no hidden cuts in Too Late . This is no small feat - with the team having to carry a 90-pound Steadicam rig through the scene, as well as memorize each actor's lines and movements in order to step into the next camera position. In other words, the well-choreographed camera and lighting team of Too Late could've performed at Cirque de Soleil.

Steadicam operator Joseph Arena S.O.C. climbs the steps of a boxing ring in the midst of a 20 minute take. © Foe Killer Films

Too Late's crew pulled what are likely the longest continuous shots filmed on 35mm in the history of cinema and broke new ground in Steadicam operating. "We soon discovered it was physically impossible for one operator to complete a 20+ minute Steadicam sequence with a 90-pound rig 10 times in one day where they often had to traverse several acres of land and up and down rickety staircases," says Hauck.

In order to complete the takes, the production employed multiple operators who found ingenious ways of handing off the camera mid-take without ever cutting. "It was like two relay racers passing the baton," adds Hauck, who credits the crew for coming up with this solution on set.

Whereas up-and-coming filmmakers often choose to tell stories in digital format, this was never an option for first-time feature director Hauck and first-time feature cinematographer Bill Fernandez, winner of the ASC's Conrad Hall Heritage Award for student filmmakers. Hauck and Fernandez met back in 2001 while getting Master's degrees in film at Florida State University. Their very first collaboration was shot on 16mm - a project that cemented their professional relationship.

Since then, Hauck has had the privilege to work with this eccentric yet unquestioningly talented cinematographer who seems only keen on working with Hauck as he pursues his other passion of developing lawn games. While Fernandez and Hauck draw inspiration from old films, their work on Too Late more often referenced classic private eye novels, and the music and artwork of old records, like Jerry Jeff Walker's "It's a Good Night for Singing."

Writer/Director Dennis Hauck (left), Camera Operator Joseph Arena (middle), and Cinematographer Bill Fernandez on location at Los Angeles' Radio Hill © Foe Killer Films

Too Late was filmed in and around Los Angeles on KODAK VISION3 5207 250D Color Negative for daytime scenes and KODAK VISION3 5219 500T Color Negative Film for night scenes. Each scene was filmed on location and the shoots typically ran three days long - two days of rehearsals and one day of filming.

The film was processed at FotoKem in Burbank, and the scan and 4K digital intermediate was done at Paul Korver's Cinelicious with Arnold Ramm as colorist. Ramm collaborated with Hauck and Fernandez on their previous two short films, Al's Beef and Sunday Punch --both shot on Kodak film stock. The project returned to FotoKem for the film-out and striking of release prints.

Too Late opens in New York at the Village East Cinema on April 1, and is currently playing at Sunset 5 in Los Angeles, CA and at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX. On April 8, Too Late begins to expand nationwide throughout April and May. For a detailed list of theaters, visit toolatemovie.com