Drama Shot with Panasonic AG-DVX100A Mini-DV 24p Camcorders
SECAUCUS, NJ (January 20, 2005) – Lonesome Jim, an elegiac feature from director Steve Buscemi, will debut in the Dramatic Competition at the the 2005 Sundance Film Festival this Saturday, Jan. 22. The 87-minute drama, starring Casey Affleck, Liv Tyler, Mary Kaye Place, Kevin Corrigan and Seymour Cassel, was shot with Panasonic AG-DVX100A mini-DV 3-CCD 24p camcorders.

This story follows the return of 28-year-old Jim (Affleck) to his hometown in rural Indiana, where he is forced, after failing to make it on his own as a writer, to move back in with his parents (Place and Cassel) and deal with crippling family obligations. Jim meets a beautiful nurse (Tyler) in a local bar, and her young son begins treating him like a father. The original screenplay is by James C. Strouse, and Phil Parmet served as Director of Photography. Lonesome Jim was produced by IFC Productions’ digital initiative InDigEnt.
Director Steve Buscemi has built a career out of portraying some of the most unique characters in recent cinema, many of them for the Coen brothers. A few highlight films include Ghost World, Big Fish, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, and Living in Oblivion. He memorably portrayed Tony Blundetto, Tony Soprano’s cousin, on the most recent season of The Sopranos. His directorial career began with the short What Happened to Pete, which was featured at several film festivals and ran on Bravo. Buscemi's feature films include Trees Lounge, which debuted in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes in 1996, and Animal Factory, which premiered at Sundance in 2000. What Happened to Pete and Animal Factory were shot by DP Parmet, who shot documentary films (including the Academy Award- winnng Harlan County, U.S.A.) for many years before he initiated his long career in shooting features. (Parmet is also an accomplished still photographer with group and one-man shows in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Berlin.)
Lonesome Jim was shot last spring (over 16 days) on location in Goshen, Indiana, the screenwriter’s home town. Indeed, Strouse’s parents’ home and his father’s factory were used as locations central to the story.
DP Parmet explained that InDigEnt stepped in to produce after previous backing fell through. As InDigEnt filmmakers agree to work within a framework of budgetary and technical limitations in exchange for an innovative financial structure, Parmet was presented with the requirement to shoot mini-DV, either with the Panasonic camera or Sony’s DSR-PD150.
“I’d shot a previous feature with the Sony camcorder, and hadn’t been overly impressed,” Parmet recounted. “I did some research on the Panasonic model, and spoke to colleagues who had used it (including DP Nancy Schreiber, who won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance last year, for her work shooting the film November with the DVX100). I persuaded InDigEnt to invest in a couple of DVX100As (upgrade to the DVX100), and had some brief time to shoot tests with it through film-out. I found it to be a magnitude better than the PD150, with its progressive scan delivering a much more film-like feel.”
The DP said that before shooting the film he consulted with Panasonic about desirable camera settings. “I shot in the advanced 24p mode, with the vertical resolution set thin and the detail at low,” Parmet said. “My goal was to get a flat image, evocative of the Midwest setting. I wanted to hold as much detail on the bottom as possible, and tried not to lose details in the highlights. I wanted to get as much information as I could recorded, feeling that if necessary I could manipulate in post to look more filmic.” The DP shot mostly film style with a single DVX100A, but occasionally used two cameras for coverage.
He added, “I’ve been shooting 35mm and 16mm for years, and would opt for film if the budget permits, but these small cameras have really revolutionized the way movies are shot, and leveled the playing field in terms of point of entry for filmmakers. The DVX100A is agile, and facilitated our shooting in tiny little rooms—with a tiny crew. The amount of technical support we had was minimal (though I did convince my regular key Grip Vince Palamino to drive to Indiana with about $5000 worth of equipment and gels in his trunk, so we were able to at the very least, ND down all the windows).
Lonesome Jim was edited in New York and color corrected on Final Cut Pro at Digital Outpost in Los Angeles. The original plan was to blow up to 35 mm. film, but as Sundance projects digitally in 1080i, an up-res to an HD master was made until a theatrical deal is locked..
Parmet said, “I’m currently timing a multi-million dollar feature shot in super 35 mm, and for that color correct we had a $500,000 set- up. Frankly, we did more with FCP and After Effects for Lonesome Jim that we did with the big ticket gear. Everyone—the director, me, the producers—is happy about how the Lonesome Jim looks. It’s not like any DV you’ve ever seen before.”
The DP concluded, “Shooting mini-DV has certain advantages vs. disadvantages. But creativity and money don’t always go hand-in-hand, and this film couldn’t have been made any other way. The DVX100A has its own charm and aesthetic, and the image quality of Lonesome Jim is not only acceptable, but some of it is very, very beautiful.”
For more information about Lonesome Jim and Sundance, visit www.sundance.org.
The AG-DVX100A is a unique Mini-DV 3-CCD camcorder with exclusive CineSwitch™ technology that supports 480i/60 (NTSC), cinema-style 480p/24fps and 480p/30fps image capture. The DVX100A offers more than 20 new, user-requested features, plus all the top-performing functions of its predecessor, the AG-DVX100.

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