BRICK CITY SHOT WITH XDCAM-EX

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Marc Levin, James Adolphus, and Forest Whitaker sit for an interview in the Mayor's office.

by Tom Davidson

A documentary that premiered recently on The Sundance Channel was shot entirely with Sony XDCAM EX series cameras (the PMW-EX1 and PMW-EX3). Brick City, the nickname for Newark, N.J., is about the fight by Mayor Cory Booker and other city leaders against gang wars, corruption and poverty. In the five one-hour episodes, Booker and Police Director Garry McCarthy work with “Jayda”, a Blood gang member turned youth mentor, who lives with her Crip boyfriend “Creep.”

The movie was executive-produced by Oscar®-winning actor and producer Forest Whitaker. Filmmakers Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin and their director of photography James Adolphus chose the EX cameras for their size, image quality and HD resolution, as well as the use of ExpressCard-based SxS PRO™ recording media, which presented the team with the perfect solution in the field.

Like many documentaries, they were shooting with a low light “run-and-gun” style. The team shot more than 600 hours of EX-1 and EX-3 footage, and did not use a tripod or a light during a year of shooting.

Mark Benjamin said, “We were on the move constantly, from bright sunlight to extreme low-light at night. I didn’t want to ruin a mood with too many lights. With this camera, you can achieve very interesting moods.” He added that the camera’s memory-based recording format – specifically the SxS PRO™ cards – significantly enhanced his work on location.

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Marc Levin and crew conduct an impromptu interview on the street.

“The production would not have turned out the way it did without this camcorder,” Benjamin said. “We were able to discreetly capture even the smallest details that make the footage come alive on the screen.”

Benjamin noted that Peter Abel, of New York City-based dealer Abel Cine Tech, played an invaluable role in helping him and his team choose the right cameras. “He got us the first EX cameras that were ever available in New York, and worked with us to determine the right workflow.”  

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