Graham Sheldon Checks In With the Alexa LF and Mini LF
Graham Sheldon wears many hats. With an Emmy Award under his belt, he is a director of photography, writer, producer, sales agent, drone pilot, and Director of Development at Nerdist. Suffice to say, there is no stopping Graham.
With his proactive nature, Graham has become familiar with many camera systems. Most recently, he had the chance to operate the Alexa Mini LF and Alexa LF on a narrative feature set entirely Indiana. During production, Graham, 1st AC Tiffany Murray, and a crew of about seventy people braved the winter elements to capture the story of So Cold the River. Shooting in rain, snow, on beaches, in a hotel, on Steadicam, Ronin, drones, and with underwater housing, the camera team needed accessories that would allow them to move quickly and efficiently.
Graham partnered with Wooden Camera to help outfit the production's Alexa Mini LF and Alexa LF cameras based on the needs of the shoot and the story. He and Tiffany sat down to talk with us about their experience on set and how a couple new Wooden Camera products were able to help.
Wooden Camera (WC): How did you get your start in filmmaking? What made you want to start making films?
Graham Sheldon: My father gave me a head start in filmmaking as a kid. He had worked on a bunch of shows like Star Trek: Next Generation and Charlies Angels and he exposed me to film classics at a young age. When you’re watching films like Lawrence of Arabia at eight years old what other occupation can you really have?
I was lucky enough to get an entry-level Associate producing job in television right out of graduating from Indiana University. Things started to grow from there. Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to have my camera and producing work appear on networks like VICE, NBC, TLC, iTV, BBC, Reelz, PBS, Disney, Discovery, HGTV, Netflix, Amazon and more.
WC: Tell us more about the project you’re currently working on. What is the scale of this production?
Graham: So Cold the River is written and directed by Paul Shoulberg and based on Michael Koryta’s novel of the same name.
The movie stars Bethany Joy Lenz, Andrew J. West and Katie Sarife. Pigasus Pictures and 1804 Productions are producing. The movie has an incredible location in the West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana and we wrapped filming earlier this year.
I was lucky to serve as A-Cam Op (Alexa LF, Alexa Mini LF) on the film under the direction of DP Madeline Kate Kann. I’ve also had the opportunity to lead additional 2nd Unit coverage as well as operate several drone and water shots alongside a crew of about 70.
WC: What Wooden Camera products did you use for this project and how was your experience using this gear in the field?
Graham: For this project we used a whole host of Wooden Camera goodies built primarily around our A-Cam, the Alexa Mini LF. The Unified Cage gave our 1st AC, Tiffany Murray, plenty of useful mounting points for everything from monitors to a Teradek Bolt 4K 750 TX to a spot for the audio team to put their hops.
Since we were changing camera builds often from Ronin 2 to sticks to occasionally a Hostess tray car mount, the Unified Baseplate and Safety Dovetail made swapping builds easy. Regarding B-Cam (a full sized Alexa LF), the Alexa LF 24V Sharkfin Battery Bracket kept the normally very power hungry LF camera chugging along through long shoot days.
As a whole, our Wooden Camera kit kept both cameras well protected during the occasional fast camera move and all of the mounting points kept the build clean and concise.
Tiffany Murray: We really liked the D-box Plus [for the Alexa Mini]! The ability to have an SDI port on the operator-side made cable management for our on-board monitor much cleaner. The swing away function was also really great for getting to the ports behind the battery plate and accessing our Comtek from sound which lived mounted on the backside of the plate.
WC: In general, what are some essential tools you bring to a shoot?
Tiffany: I'm always looking for gear that's super versatile- lots of mounting options and customization. It's difficult to be prepared for every single situation you're going to put the camera into on a movie like this, so having options mount things in odd places and attachments that allow for complete customization is key. I always try to bring a handful of adapters and attachments like a rod to 1/4" adapter that saved our butts a couple times, varying sizes of arms, cables, screws, etc. You never know which little adapter is going to save the day in a pinch.
WC: What have been some highlights of this production?
Graham: Obviously the chance to work with an incredibly talented team has been a huge highlight, but watching everyone overcome the challenging winter weather and fast-paced shooting schedule stood out to me during filming.
To keep up with Graham and So Cold The River, you can find him on Instagram and Facebook. To see more of Tiffany's work, check out her Vimeo and keep an eye on her Instagram for new projects and other So Cold The River updates.
Shop Gear In This Article
ARRI Alexa LF 24V Sharkfin Battery Bracket (Gold Mount)
Allows for two standard voltage gold mount batteries to power the Alexa LF.
D-Box Plus (ARRI Alexa Mini/Mini LF, Gold Mount)
Interfaces with the camera's Power, EXT, and SDI ports. The DC input is now a full size 4pin XLR connector and is prioritized to be used first, leaving the onboard battery fully charged.
Unified Cage (Alexa Mini LF)
Includes form-fitting cage plus 15mm lightweight baseplate for the ARRI Alexa Mini LF.
UMB-1 Universal Mattebox (Pro)
UMB-1 Universal Mattebox (Pro) is a rod based matte box that comes with two rotating 4x5.65 filter stages, NATO standard accessory rails, a height adjustable swing away bracket, and a full set of clamp on adapter rings.