Freelance Filmmaker Uses BL Gear for Documentary Project

Freelance Filmmaker Uses BL Gear for Documentary Project

Jason Aron is an avid freelance filmmaker and customer of BorrowLenses. In 2013 he raised over $50,000 for the production of a documentary film project entitled Back in Time. The film that is scheduled for release in the fall of 2015 examines the Back to the Future franchise and its cultural relevance. Aron made a 3-week journey from Santa Monica, California to Maui, Hawaii capturing the scenes for his movie with gear he rented from BL. Check out what Jason had to say about the BL gear he used while filming Back in Time.

Freelance Filmmaker Uses BL Gear While on the Road

By: Jason Aron

We are entering the midway point in the filming of our Back to the Future themed documentary. The team has begun to feel the grind of crunch time. We’ve been travelling all over the United States, interviewing people involved in the original film, as well as, many of the fans that have kept this film relevant for the last 30 years– and that’s what this film is all about. Throughout our entire journey BorrowLenses has been there to support us with the gear rentals we needed to complete the project.

During our recent 3-week journey in Santa Monica, California and Maui, Hawaii we had a significant number of capture needs. We started in California capturing 9 interviews. These interviews included Bob Gale, writer and Executive Producer of all three films; Mayor Goldie Wilson, Don Fullilove, and an incredible group of fans with Time Machine ties.


All of our interviews are shot with Canon C100s with the HDMIs feeding Atomos Ninjas/Samurais. The Ninja and Samurai line Atomos allow the sensor data to be passed uncompressed and captured in amazing ProRes LT, standard and HQ. What this means is that when we go to edit, we will have a much larger file with more detail than the 25 MB/s AVCHD file that the camera would give us. This is a must when thinking about filming for the big screen and having the best color grading.

It is important not to forget power adapters when using this type of setup. We were able to power both of our cameras, our two samurais, the SDI converters and the audio field recorder using a home outlet. This was crucial when we were having 10-hour interview days. The thought of battery powering all of those devices would make my head spin! If we have to use a setup like this in a place without power we have an Anton-Bauer powered rig, so everything is powered from one very long lasting battery.

btf 8

©Jason Aron

One of the key elements for shooting this film is using the highest quality glass we can get our hands on. We have been filming with a combination of Canon Cinema Primes and Zeiss cp2s. The final image is similar with both of these lenses but the Canon glass allows for the passing of F-stop data to the camera, which is a huge plus. The cinema glass allows for smooth focusing and incredibly sharp images with amazing low light performance. Both these lenses are geared to follow focus, but for our talking head interviews this didn’t into play much.

When shooting Back in Time all the small things make a difference. We used the Sachtler FSB-8, which allowed us to achieve perfect counter balance and micro adjustments to follow the most fidgety people during interviews.

The lighting setup was fairly basic too for interviews. We created a bounced key off of a white board and back through a diffusion panel. Then we set up two tungsten lights for fill and hair lights to add a little color. We intentionally choose a location with a lot of natural light to supplement what the lights were doing. Check out the location photo below to see the place where we interviewed people! The picture of Don Fullilove shows a very smooth and even light across the frame (and a fake fireplace for taste).

After finishing the interviews in California, we hopped on airplane for Hawaii. We had two key objectives for our time in Maui. First, we needed to obtain some really cool underwater promo shots with a model Delorean. Second, we needed to shoot a ton of B-roll of the island for a portion of the documentary that we can’t yet discuss! For these shots we integrated a Canon 5D Mark III, which fit perfectly into the AquaTech housing we were using.

The only regret we had is that we could’ve used some specialty filters for the 16-35 we were using. The ocean is REALLY blue! For the B-roll shooting the C100 and cinema primes stayed on center stage. For the run and gun nature of the B-roll shoots we eliminated the Atomos units because they can become very cumbersome. In these situations when the footage is just B-roll we sacrifice a little quality for the ease of the shoot.

It is essential to remember that we shot in some of the most beautiful light in the world. Grading is much easier on these shots and to exemplify this point we also used our DJI Phantom Vision+ to capture aerials. When looking on our big screen monitors the footage looks amazing and it was shot using a tiny pocket sized camera about half the size of a GoPro. Always remember, that having good light is everything!

Until next time- Jason

To learn more about the Back in Time documentary take a look at the trailer for the film. Are you using BL gear for a big project? Let us know and we might share it our blog!


Back in Time Trailer from Jason Aron on Vimeo.


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Katie Hayes

Social Media & Affiliate Marketing Intern at BorrowLenses
Katie Hayes is a recent graduate pursuing her passion for photography and marketing while interning with BorrowLenses.

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