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posted by - Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Last year on this blog we discussed a number of feature films that were currently in production using the Aaton Penelope 2-perf / 3-perf switchable 35mm camera. Now, with several of these high-profile projects about to be released, here’s a recap of a few of Penelope’s credits.

The Fighter, directed by David O’Russell, is a film inspired by the life of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. The production considered shooting on digital, 16mm and 3-perf with various cameras but ultimately decided to use Penelope because of the 2-perf cost savings and the easy handheld capability. Renting two cameras through Abel Cine Tech, the production worked fast, averaging 36 set-ups per day. Camera Assistant Gregory Irwin pointed out that the “Penelope camera is smaller and lighter than any other studio package,” allowing the production to get almost every shot hand-held or with a Steadicam – no need for tripods or dollies. For his part, DP Hoyte van Hoytema praised the camera’s “thoughtful design” and “human touch.” The Fighter will be in theaters this December and stars Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams and Christian Bale. Watch the official trailer.

At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the winner of the Grand Prix, the second highest prize awarded, was a French film called Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men). Directed by Xavier Beauvois, with Caroline Champetier as DP, it tells the story of a group of monks trapped in the mountains of Algeria. About shooting with the Penelope, Champetier had only positive words: “It allowed me to have real stability…The camera allowed me a subtle and sensitive accompaniment of movement.” The film will be shown at the 2010 New York Film Festival. Click here for screening times, or watch the official trailer.

Also screened at Cannes was the horror film Mother’s Day, directed by Darren-Lynn Bousman. Wanting a dark, dramatic look, Bousman and DP Joseph White decided that 2-perf 35mm was the way to go. On this project, Penelope was used alongside a Panavision camera, also shooting in 2-perf. White heaped praise on the Penelope: “It really is an impressive camera. Gorgeous video tap, very quiet, a dream on Steadicam…A camera with a real design sensibility – it has so many uses.” Mother’s Day stars Deborah Ann Woll and Alexa Vega; the film’s official site is here.

Another high-profile feature to utilize the Penelope is Paul Haggis’s The Next Three Days. A dramatic thriller that stars Russell Crowe as a man determined to break his wife out of prison, it was shot on 3-perf with Penelope serving as B camera alongside two ARRICAM Lite systems rented out of ARRI CSC NY. The film is due for release in November, and the official trailer is available now.

On The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford, Director of Photography Newton Thomas Sigel, a longtime Aaton user, requested the Penelope for handheld work. It performed so well that the production kept the camera on for more days than originally planned. The Conspirator recently had its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival and is slated for theatrical release in April 2011.

Another film recently shot with the Penelope is The Innkeepers, directed by Ti West and produced by Larry Fessenden.

With its unique 2-perf/3-perf switchability and ergonomic design, the Penelope will continue to be popular with those who want a reliable, lightweight and versatile solution for their 35mm needs.

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