Variety has an new article about Cloverfield (and some other movie).
Her summary is a little off:
The initial scenes set up the premise: The camera's hunky owner Rob is in love with a beauty named Beth. He doesn't want to shoot a testimonial video at his brother's going-away party, so he passes the camera to a guy named Hud, who keeps shooting through the long night as New York is attacked by something gonzo, loud and very scary. "I saw it, it's alive!" cries one onlooker.Huh?
However, there is some great new information about how the film was made:
The filmmakers coaxed Paramount into letting them use no-name actors who could improvise, low-key natural night light, herky-jerky HandyCams (as opposed to SteadiCams, which can be artificially jerked around later; "People would smell that in a second," says Reeves), and no musical score at all -- just source music and well-orchestrated ambient sound.* Thanks to dalphx from Unfiction for finding this!
Somehow, with smart advice from "Zodiac" director David Fincher, the filmmakers persuaded the studio to let them blow up digital footage to 35mm; early tests came out looking almost "too good," says Reeves. (The digital "Cloverfield" will screen in a few hundred situations.)
"Cloverfield" thesp T. J. Miller's handling of a lightweight Panasonic HD HandyCam accounts for about an eighth of the final film.
"The little camera establishes a feel -- its grace notes; you see the reflections of the actor holding the camera," says Reeves, who reserved the minicam for intimate scenes among the actors. He kept tweaking those scenes, shooting as many as 60 takes.
The film starts out with the Panasonic, then moves into transitional sequences shot with a 3-lb. Canon for about a third of the film.
For the widescreen scenes with visual effects, which require higher resolution, a cameraman dressed like Hud sports the much-heavier hi-res Sony F23 or Thomson Viper."The cameraman was creating the illusion that huge cameras are very light," says Reeves. "It was grueling. People fell."
The filmmakers seamlessly melded all the shots, including continuous masters with massive effects added by VFX houses and stop-motion master Phil Tippet. One five-minute shot incorporates 20 VFX elements.
"People think you use the 'Blair Witch' aesthetic to avoid seeing things," says Reeves. "I didn't want to have all that anticipation and not reveal him. The fun thing is you do see everything over the course of the movie in several different ways, but it's filmed heavily from one point-of-view. You move quickly. By the end you have intimate contact."