Parallax is looking at something from two different lines of sight and in a way, that’s exactly what Philip Edsel is doing today. Known as a fashion photographer, Edsel is making a concerted and deliberate push into filmmaking. In the new short film, "PARALLAX," we get a glimpse into his creative vision in a medium that is wide open with possibilities.
“It's been a journey. Over the past six to eight months I've been pushing motion as much as still photography. The industry is moving so heavily in that direction that even when I get clients that reach out to me to shoot stills, they're also asking about motion and video. A lot of my still work has been about capturing people as they’re moving, jumping or whatever sort of action it is. Taking a still frame only told a small portion of that story, so moving into filmmaking has allowed me to tell a more complete story.”
Edsel used 10 new Sony RX0 cameras for the project and in the film we also see how the camera shaped the vision. “I had this concept for a while, but I hadn't really put it all together and fully fleshed it out in part because it felt like it would be a bit bigger of a production, and take a little more flexibility than what I really had the capability to do. Then, when the RX0 came along, I thought there could be a really great opportunity. The camera gave me the flexibility and options to realize the crazy angles and perspectives and I think that's what really makes this film work.”
Time is almost never a friend to a filmmaker. When it came time to do the actual filming, things moved very fast. He got the RX0 cameras for the shoot, literally, just before he would be shooting. Because he’s already a Sony shooter, Edsel was able to make that work. He explains, “It was really trial by fire with the cameras, but because they have the same kind of Sony menu, and the same kind of Sony camera set up, the RX0 feels just like a regular Sony Alpha camera that’s just squeezed into this little cube. Obviously it's a totally different form factor, and there were some challenges there as far as rigging, and that sort of thing, but I'm so used to the Sony system that being able to get my settings dialed in and getting everything set up was pretty flawless.”
Watching "PARALLAX," you can see how using the RX0 cameras enabled Edsel to create the captivating pacing. He describes how the shoot was set up, “We had ten cameras. We had one as our main camera, Camera A, on a stabilized gimbal rig. We were shooting 4K with that and outputting to an external recorder. Then we had another one, Camera B, that was hand held and we used that one for the frenetic energetic shots. We had the other eight cameras lined up on a little platform that we had built as a bullet-time rig.”
He continues, “As we were thinking through how we wanted to use this camera, that pacing just developed. We had some locked down shots and then we had it hand held, and then we had the bullet time rig. We had the dancers doing slow-motion action that we sped up, and slowed down…Really, we just tried to use the camera in as many ways as we could, and then when we were looking at it in post, especially with the score that we were cutting to, lent itself to this sort of frenetic energy and pacing.”
The RX0’s combination of extremely small form factor and very high image quality enabled the whole project to really come together. Edsel intersperses clips of extreme camera movements with clips where the camera is locked down and the dancers are moving wildly in and through the frame. Edsel describes how that vision came about, “Parallax is looking at something from two different lines of sight and that’s what we’re doing in the film whether we’re using two cameras next to each other, or using a group of cameras in a line that are all synced up to shoot bullet time, or shooting the same action from two different spots. I love the literal interpretation of that, and also the figurative idea of this displacement between two characters that are trying to connect, and move in sync, and then separate.”
In a way that’s exactly what Edsel is doing as a still photographer transitioning to filmmaking – two mediums that are trying to connect, move in sync and are now separating.
Philip Edsel is part of the Alpha Imaging Collective. You can follow him on Instagram @edsel.
"PARALLAX" was directed by Philip Edsel. Director of Photography: Peter Longno. Producer & BTS: Moyo Oyelola. Choreography: Jacob Jonas. Dancers: Nick Walton & Joy Isabella Brown of Jacob Jonas The Company. Music: Aten Rays.