Documenting a Mosaic of Life

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Sun, 03/17/2013 - 22:03 -- Nick Dager

Director/producer Alicia Brauns had a very personal story to tell about her father’s journey from holocaust survivor to well-known surgeon. The documentary-in-progress is entitled Mosaic of Life. To depict that experience and Dr. Jack Brauns’ positive outlook on life, she turned to her favorite cinematographer, Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC. The two knew they would be covering an extensive amount of ground, from inside the infamous camps to the trip through Germany and beyond—in a short shooting time. They had to build their camera package carefully so they chose Canon C300s supported by a fluid head and legs from Sachtler.

Rodney Charters“We chose three Canon C300s to CF cards at 4:2:2 with either Angenieux 15- 40mm, or 45-120mm lenses on A and B cameras,” said Charters. “For C-camera we used various EOS Canon lenses, 8-15mm, 24-105mm, and 70- 300mm. We decided not to add anything additional because we wanted to move quickly. Each camera package weighed about eight pounds.”

“When Rodney came to us with this project, it sounded exciting,” said Tobias Keuthen, marketing manager for Sachtler. “We wanted to do all we could to help him tell this story. It was important to him to have a solid documentary-friendly tripod and head, since he knew they would be on their own in remote locations. We decided the Video 18 S1 was the perfect choice, allowing him to handle the lightweight camera package with ease, and move as quickly as he needed.”

“I remembered the Video 18 from my 16SR days coupled with a set of carbon fiber legs and integrated spreader,” said Charters. “It has a handle and when folded, is easily carried in one hand, allowing the other hand to carry the camera and lens. Or, it can be elegantly shouldered with the camera and tripod. It turned out to be the perfect match, just enough strength to support the longer lenses. And with its good viscosity, it could also easily handle lens heights from the ground up to six feet.”

“The Sachtler Video 18 S1s were perfect for shooting The Mosaic of Life on location in Germany because they were compact and easy to transport,” Brauns agreed. “They did not drag or weigh us down. We had to move through locations quickly. The clock was always ticking.”

It was that ability to pick up and move that helped Charters and Brauns get the amount of material they needed in the time allowed. Often they would pull up to a location, pull their package out of their transportation, grab a few shots and move on quickly.

“In Kaufering, Germany, for example, we saw a great opportunity for visual content in the train tracks not far off the road,” Brauns said. “The Sachtler’s ball-head mount made it very fast and easy to level the camera on a steep hillside right next to the tracks. The Sachtler Video 18 S1 made it easy to get out of the way quickly if a train approached.”

The Mosaic of Life is an inspirational documentary depicting the life and positive philosophy of Dr. Brauns, who reveals how even the worst circumstances can still allow life’s colors to shine and illuminate even the most hopeless among us. Unlike other holocaust films, this documentary is an empowering film encouraging light, redemption and restoration. The project will be completed by 2014.