It’s an exciting time to be a cinematographer.
Images are starting to run the danger losing some soul. With the rise of sharp digital images, also came the rise of wonky anamorphic lenses and flawed, yet beautiful vintage lenses. We work so hard to bring emotion and feeling to our images, to make viewers feel the way we felt when we would watch movies. Now more than ever, a cinematographer has to be selective and intentional with the images they’re creating, even though it’s so easy to just “fix it in post” and figure it out later. I think we’re losing intentionality in the current state of filmmaking.
“These days, lenses are the new film stocks.”
I can’t say I was wise enough to have made this up myself, but I don’t remember where I heard that, so I’ll just pretend like I made it up. I’ll throw filtration into the mix. I am a big fan of filtration. Let’s be honest: every cinema camera shoots gorgeous images, records in a LOG color-space, and after that it’s all just preference as to what systems we use. I get really excited by the combination of lenses, and filters. I think our selection of glass and what is in front of said glass, can be one of the biggest factors that set our images apart from others. After much exploration with different filter manufacturers and brands, I found a happy place with Formatt-Hitech, specifically their Black Supermist filters.
I first came to learn about the Supermist line when I was researching options for ND Filters. The talk at the time was how to treat IR Pollution in camera systems. With this problem came solution of ND filters with a built-in IR block. I discovered their line of Firecrest Ultra ND Filters,
which I have since then gone on to use on multiple projects. From there, I discovered that Formatt-Hitech also made diffusion filters. I was recommended to check out the Black Supermist line. I decided to pick up a PV sized 4x5.65 in 1/8, and I’ve fallen in love ever since.
Upon receiving the filter and taking it out on shoots, I first fell in love with the way it would bloom the highlights of the image ever so softly. The fine detail of the image was beautifully reduced, and it gave the image some character. I also really enjoy of the reduction of contrast that happens when using these filters. I’m a big fan of getting the look as much “in-camera” as possible, and this filter helped me do that on the music video for “The Floorboards are Breathing” by Gatherers that I shot. We wanted the visuals to be “disturbingly beautiful”, so with a mixture of creamy vintage lenses such as the Leica R’s and the 1/8 Black Supermist from Formatt Hitech, I found the look I was intending to get from the start to counteract with the uncomfortable imagery and unconventional framing.
Soon after, I found myself wishing I had more, so I rounded out my set with a 1/4, 1/2, and a 1 Black Supermist. I find myself switching between different strengths when shooting different subjects or even different focal lengths, to truly get the right look per shot. I always have my AC’s keep these filters on standby for when I might be changing lenses as well, or shooting an actress or actor with different skin qualities. What I find to be the most exciting thing about these filters, is their range of uses. I can throw on a 1/2 or 1 Black Supermist when shooting dark moody content where I need a lot of blooming or halation to give me an atmosphere that I want. Or I can pull it back a little and stick a 1/8 or 1/4 strength filter to just subtly give the image a beautiful tone and quality of texture in whatever it is I’m capturing.
Recently, I’ve even used them on a gritty semi-dystopian film that I shot in the forest, to give the highlights a certain shine. I wanted to capture a glimmer of hope in a dark situation, and these filters did just that for me. They’ve really become like a “secret sauce” for me. Diffusion isn’t called for on every job, but when I need to give the image a little extra “something”, I always come back to the Formatt Hitech Black Supermist filters, which I’ll happily use with the sharpest of modern lenses, and the most characeristic of vintage glass. Whatever the story calls for, I will use the wonderful tools at my disposal to get my image looking how I want them to look.
I am making a stand to be intentional with my images, and these filters help me do just that.
Last, but not least, one of the most import things to me, is customer service and my relationship with the company. I’ve been burned by brands who have never replied to my emails, or left me in the dust when I had issues. That’s why I love and believe in companies like Formatt-Hitech, Bright Tangerine, Tokina Cinema, Duclos Lenses, SIMMOD Lenses, and more for all my cinema needs. I know with them, I can have a personal relationship with a representative, and be taken care of.
Matheus Bastos is a New York, New Jersey, and Boston based director of photography. Son of a Brazilian mother and Portuguese father, "Matt" grew up always being passionate and interested with the arts. He became a filmmaker by way of photography and playing in multiple bands growing up. Matt has shot a variety of projects from feature length films, international short films, major label music videos, and more. The common thread in all of his work is a consistent tone and a focused commitment to the story he is telling.
Matt is a proud user of Formatt-Hitech Filtration
You can learn more about Matt and view his showreel by visiting his website here: http://www.mattbastos.com/