Tones of Dirt and Bone - Shortfilm

How did the film happen?

TONES OF DIRT AND BONE is a passion project directed by Anuk Rohde and shot by DP Pat Aldinger. We got the opportunity to shoot for one day on the ALEXA 65 because we basically asked for a test. We were allowed to pick up the camera as soon as the ARRI Rental office opened, and had to return it before they closed that same day.

During those 10 hours we shot the film. It is made up of a number of different scenes, with a voiceover by the narrator of the story, M.B. Also known as ‘Polaroid Kid,’ M.B. was inspired by an American photographer whose work had moved the director. Born and raised in Arizona, he travelled the United States in 2004, amassing an archive of photographs that make up one of the few, true collections of American travel photography.

Taking photos of a community of train hoppers, punks, homeless train riders, random people, and friends he met during that period made his work look pure, rough, and real. TONES OF DIRT AND BONE is a fictional story about what I imagine his encounters would have looked like.

The whole project was shot in one location: an old German concrete loft, which was actually quite small. We used every corner of the room to build a different set, including wallpaper we stuck on the walls to make it look like another room. We shot the last car scene on the way back to ARRI Rental to return the camera. The shoot was a little bit rock n’ roll, but very fun!



What did the 65 mm format bring to the look of your production?

It brings a lot of cinematic character to the image. The whole project was based on our desire to shoot something on the ALEXA 65, due to its big sensor and image quality. Since the film is about a photographer who tells the story of people he met during his time as a train hopper, we wanted to shoot portraits of these people. For me, 65 mm performs best on human faces. Shooting a portrait of someone with that huge sensor and depth makes you feel like you can touch the person. There is so much detail in the faces, which—in my opinion—is not possible to capture with a normal-sized sensor.



How would you describe the 65 mm aesthetic? 

For me the 65 mm aesthetic doesn’t feel that digital anymore. Like a lot of DPs, I manipulate the sharpness of digital sensors by using very old glass, anamorphics, or filters in order to soften the digital look that many of today’s cameras generate.

I needed to get used to the different focal lengths of the 65 mm format when I first tested the camera. We had this old Vintage 765 30 mm that behaved almost like a fisheye lens, which was amazing! It was a bit of a re-think of how much you can see with this sensor. Most of my work is shot very wide; I normally don’t touch anything over a 30 mm, but on the ALEXA 65 with a 50 mm you get the field of view of a 25 mm, but the depth of a 50 mm, which is incredible for my style of work.



We used a kind of party lens set for this project. Christoph Hoffsten at ARRI Rental gave me a lot of glass to test before the shoot, and I chose my favorites. As I mentioned, we had this amazing Vintage 765 30 mm, which we used for the scene with the Asian girl and some shots of the couple playing guitar. Our main lenses were customized 35 mm and 55 mm Prime DNAs. The last lens of our set was an 80 mm Ultra Prime modified for the 65 and specially modified by Christoph for very strong fall-off at the edges. This gave us a distorted look, perfect for the scene of Wilson as a junkie.



What are the DNA lenses like to work with?

The DNAs felt organic and soft. Shooting with them wide open was perfect for our image and created the feel that we were aiming for. Christoph customized the fall-off of the 35 mm and 55 mm to be way more extreme than usual, which was amazing because we wanted the lenses to be very dirty and rough.

Being able to customize lenses to how I need them is an exciting idea, and will allow us to modify the choice of lens from project to project. I’m already looking forward to customizing DNA lenses when I shoot my next film!


Enjoy the short film then check out the project website:
#ARRIRentalEU #TonesofDirtandBone#10HourShoot #ALEXA65 #shortfilm #art



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