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How “The Possession Of Hannah Grace” Was Made With The Sony α7S II

The camera systems used to shoot feature films are typically extremely expensive and not something that the average consumer would own. That is, until now. Screen Gems’ “The Possession Of Hannah Grace” which hit theaters just after Thanksgiving, was shot with a camera that's available to the consumer, the Sony α7S II.

It’s an unlikely combination, featuring lenses designed for the largest digital sensors mounted on a full frame mirrorless camera that costs less than $3,000.

The entire project was shot in Boston with Sony cameras. In particular the team used the combination of the α7S II mirrorless digital camera with large format Hawk 65 Anamorphic lenses from Vantage – a high quality, cost effective production workflow. It’s an unlikely combination, featuring lenses designed for the largest digital sensors mounted on a full frame mirrorless camera with a price tag under $3,000.

“I knew that the Sony α7S II had a full-frame sensor and could capture in 4K,” says Glenn Gainor, executive producer for the film. “And I knew that we had to make the film in a manner that would fit our schedule and budget. I had a relationship with Vantage, so we put it together and made a motion picture in a way that’s never been done before.”

The camera-lens duo, which breaks new ground for Anamorphic production, allowed production to access the beauty and unique aesthetics of Anamorphic imagery on a tight budget. This combination just happened to be perfect for the script and the budget, according to director of photography Lennert Hillege, opening up new ways of thinking, seeing, and shooting.

“The director and I really wanted to create an eerie and imposing morgue,” says Hillege. “We immediately liked the Brutalist architecture we found in Boston, and the morgue set was built to match that. Glenn was very interested in shooting with a very lightweight and light-sensitive camera, and bringing a different perspective on how to make the movie. These two things led us to conclude that the only way to shoot was with a full frame, with a hint of anamorphic, and a sort of vintage style. The Sony α7S II with the Hawk 65 lenses were the perfect tools for the job.”

The α7S II was put to the ultimate test, having to hold up and withstand the day-to-day activities on a studio movie set. The results are truly astounding and proof that there really are no limitations in terms of these cameras. “We had four or five cameras at the ready at any time, so we were able to pick up and go,” says Gainor. “We never had to wait for lens changes. I think the full-frame sensor is where the industry is going. Given the trends in digital cameras and the importance of lenses, you could argue that this is the future of cinema.”

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