Shooting on film, director Martin Weisz used
SpeedGrade OnSet to establish and develop the
looks for his latest feature
The Hills Have Eyes II. We spoke with
Martin six weeks after wrapping on principle
photography in Morocco.
Where is the film at now?
We're about half way through editing and post and
we're getting a good response from the preview audiences
on rough cuts of the film.
What is it like showing your work to a
Test audiences can give helpful feedback. Sometimes
they catch mistakes, which is great. You're so close to
the film during editing, that you might drop a shot
without realizing it contains an important part of the
story. It never hurts to have extra pairs of eyes
checking your work.
It sounds like you are on a tight schedule.
The turn around on this film is brutal! The film
opens on March 23. Ironically my first feature opens
three weeks after that, but that's another story...
SpeedGrade OnSet is a hit with
cinematographers; what is a
director doing with this application?
I use SpeedGrade OnSet because I love the image. Like
many new directors today, my background is in
commercials and music videos. Having used the tools for
some time now, I'm used to having complete control of
the look. For me, the look of a film is director-driven.
Unlike the cinematographer, the director stays with
the project from the beginning to the end, so I see the
look of the film as a responsibility that goes with my
Are you an unusual director in this respect?
I am part of a new generation of directors: our
approach is based on a clear idea of the visual style of
a film. This approach is the norm in the commercial and
music video world; now it is moving into the feature
film world. I expect that soon the studios will demand
visual ideas up front at the beginning of the project.
How did you learn to use the technology?
To be honest, this type of control is not new for me.
I've been doing this for 10 years now with Photoshop. It
just wasn't as easy before without SpeedGrade OnSet.
SpeedGrade is so fast and it uses the same terms that
every filmmaker already knows, like "shadows,"
"midrange," and "highlights."
I try to get a sense of the looks I want months
before production. For Hills I visited the
locations and shot digital stills, graded them in
SpeedGrade OnSet and sent them to my DP.
is it like for a cinematographer to work with
you? Aren't you taking away a part of their job?
No, definitely not! Older cinematographers who
are used to an optical process are used to
having making look decisions - but that's
because they had to. I work collaboratively on
the look with my DPs and rely on their expertise
with lighting to realize what we need in the
With The Hills Have Eyes II for
example, we'd be playing on our laptops at the
end of each day: I'd say "check out this look,"
and he'd say, "what about this" It's totally
collaborative: it's way more effective - and
more fun - to work that way.
Since the cinematographer is rarely available in
post, I want to have a good idea of what we're going for
- while we're filming.