One of the main deterrents for skeptics of wireless tech is its reliability in certain filming scenarios. How far does it reach? How long is the delay? Why even bother going wireless? In a way, those concerns are pretty understandable - wireless technology in film production is relatively novel and doesn’t have the reputation that traditional wired downlinks have. And when time is so precious on set, you want a little more certainty in your monitoring systems.
Enter The Good Catholic, an independent feature film directed by Paul Shoulberg and starring renowned actor Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon series. The upcoming romantic comedy centers around a young parish priest who, after meeting an eccentric young woman, begins to waver in his devotion to the church.
Since its debut in several film festivals just earlier this year, the film has already accomplished some amazing feats, including Best Screenplay at Milano Film Festival, Best Film at Grove Film Festival, and Panavision Spirit Award at Santa Barbara Film Festival.
“This film was actually inspired by Paul’s own parents - his mom was a nun and his dad was in the seminary. To commit to a real relationship, his parents had to give up that life and leave the church for good. The film is loosely based on that story,” said Graham Sheldon, Producer and 2nd Unit DP for the film.
Since the plot was centered around the world of the priesthood, the main scenes needed to be shot inside of an historic church in Bloomington, Indiana. This presented some technical challenges for the production: because the church interior was too small to fit the entire crew, Director Shoulberg and the production team were required to stand outside of the church, with 2 ft. thick concrete walls in between them. So how do they reliably monitor the shot from the other side of church walls? The answer was with the Teradek Bolt 300.
Most of the film was shot on a RED Epic Dragon 6K cinema camera, complete with mini Cooke S4/i Prime lenses. Connected to the camera through SDI was the Bolt 300 transmitter, broadcasting a zero-delay wireless signal to the receiver outside of the church. From the outside, the receiver detected the signal and fed it to the crew’s SmallHD AC7 for director’s monitor. Occasionally, the production would switch to long Steadicam shots, also using the Bolt 300 to monitor wirelessly.
A Solid Connection
The biggest concern for Sheldon and his team were the massive concrete blocks sitting between the camera team inside and the rest of the crew outside. Typically with RF technology, obstructions between the Tx and Rx can cause signal interference, leading to choppy feeds or delayed streams. But with the Bolt 300’s robust wireless signal and multichannel frequencies, the production had 0 issues receiving a live feed from inside the church.
“Either we run cables all the way, or we find a wireless system good enough to get a signal through those walls,” explained Sheldon. “As Teradek has a good reputation in the industry for the Bolt, we felt very confident choosing it for our needs. We had no issues with the signal throughout shooting.”
Being wireless was beneficial in other ways as well. For extensive Steadicam shots, being untethered gave the camera operator complete freedom to move on set without needing to worry about cabling and tripping hazards. In addition, keeping the setup simple and clutter-free saves the entire crew precious time, which is critical to smaller scale fast moving productions such as this.
“When you shoot independent films, you don’t really have the luxury of unlimited shoot days. We had to move quickly and keep our camera package as small and portable as possible. With Teradek, we knew that we were getting a wireless system that we could depend on for all of our production needs.”With independent filmmakers constantly inventing new and creative ideas for indie film content, wireless downlinks allow them to improve efficiency on set and achieve shots that would be incredibly difficult with traditional wired setups. For Sheldon and the crew of The Good Catholic, utilizing wireless gave them the opportunity to focus on the most important aspect of producing a feature film: creating something visually compelling for their viewers to enjoy.