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Shooting Feature Film “Larrikin” on a Mirrorless Camera

There are lots of ways to tell a story in motion pictures, but when there is only one guy on sound, camera, grip and direction; when your main character is constantly on the move; when you need to be able to shoot from inside the back of a car or from a rig on the hood of that same car; and when you need all the assets to be edited to produce a quality theatrical feature film, you have a challenge.

Nikon 1 V1 rigged up for the documentary feature film 'Larrikin'  Photo by: Sean Kennedy Santos

Nikon 1 V1 rigged up for the documentary feature film ‘Larrikin’
Photo by: Sean Kennedy Santos

That challenge was what Sean Kennedy Santos faced in the Fall of 2012 when he shot his first film, a feature film documentary called Larrikin.

“Luckily I had great familiarity from using Nikon cameras throughout my photographic career, and when going into pre-production for the feature film, I discovered the V1 and saw a world of opportunity.”

To Santos, the Nikon 1 V1 seemed to be the perfect tool for the job, allowing him to move through the city and capture its beauty in a unobtrusive way; he was an observer, witnessing the story unfold before him.

“… the functionality of this small black box turns it into a secret weapon.”

Sean Kennedy Santos using Nikon 1 V1 to shoot 'Larrikin'

Sean Kennedy Santos using Nikon 1 V1 to shoot ‘Larrikin’
Photo by: Sean Kennedy Santos

For the making of Larrikin, Santos had one camera body, various lenses, a follow-focus, sound equipment, a good monitor and grip gear. The camera became a heart inside a mobile body of rigging or sat on the end of his Steadicam sleeve.

“It was a ground breaking tool, and it attracted more attention than any camera I’ve ever worked with.”

Santos’ finely honed skills enabled him to push the Nikon 1 V1 to its limits to make Larrikin come alive. The camera’s diverse functionality served his needs as a one man operator, and allowed him to adapt the small black box to work with more traditional movie making tools.

To many it would have seemed a stretch to adapt professional filmmaking equipment and Cine lenses to what is generally categorized as a small compact camera, but Santos saw the potential of the Nikon 1 platform.

“I think it’s one thing to say you are about to make a feature film using tools that have not been tested for the task and which are considered to have only limited use. It’s another thing to succeed, creatively and technically, to challenge the status quo and to expand the reality of what is possible.”

Larrikin is a feature film about Joey, a professional driver, a collector of classic cars and a philanthropist. He is remarkable in many ways, not least because of his love for movie stars and his Larrikin approach to life. This feature film chronicles his life, and how growing up as an Italian American in Brooklyn molded his attitude to life—food, women, wealth and humanity. Joey is an engaging storyteller, and Larrikin showcases a rich collection of stories that Joey tells about New York City and the many people he has driven. Through Joey we touch homelessness and September 11, we sing Italian ballads on Mulberry Street, we meet the doormen of luxury midtown hotels and go to their favorite food wagons for lunch.
 Larrikin is a roller coaster of emotion and delight, it will inspire you to travel to Gotham, and fill you with pride about being in the greatest city on earth.

About The Contributor(s)

Sean Kennedy Santos

Sean Kennedy Santos

Strongly influenced by the film noir of the 70’s, the dark and moody images of Sean Kennedy Santos were the trademark of his advertising career. Born in New Zealand, self educated in Australia and now choosing to live and work in New York City, Sean collected accolades for a photographic and cinematic style that was not typical. In the end his photography became one big mood board for film. It was just a matter of time before his characters escaped...

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