Today we are speaking with Byron Kopman, the cinematographer from the movie Demonic, directed by Neill Blomkamp. Byron has worked on large scale shoots like feature films to smaller scale shoots like commercials and music videos. He has a passion for all things film and he is excited to bring directors’ stories to life. Read on to learn about his experience working on the shoot for Demonic, details on the gear he uses and his inspirations and influences.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What was your first job in cinematography and how did you decide to pursue your craft professionally?
I started filmmaking when I was 12 years old with my family camcorder and knew then that cinematography was what I wanted to do. Filming my friends skateboarding, mountain biking, snowboarding and making edits to music. When I graduated highschool I did not go the route of film school, rather I went the route of working from the ground up. I started at a warehouse job in lighting making minimum wage. Here I learnt the gear and met industry professionals. I worked countless times for free on weekends to gain experience. I kept pursuing cinematography in my spare time but it is very hard to make a living when you don’t have a big reel yet. I moved on to work in the lighting department on set for 10 years. 2 years in commercials for Gaffer Ian Barrett and 8 years for Rigging Gaffer Michael Mayo. Both those guys taught me everything I know about lighting. Mr. Mayo let me transition off to full time DP in my last years with him, which was very helpful financially. I have now been DPing full time for 5 years and loving every moment of it.
2. Who are some of your favourite long term collaborators?
My favourite long term collaborators are Directors RJ Sauer, Steve Mapp, Robjn Taylor, Robin Hays, Neill Blomkamp and Production Designer Richard Simpson. Neill Blomkamp and Richard Simpson and I have been working together since 2015 on Neill’s Oats Studios projects. Traveling the world with these brilliant film makers has opened my eyes to what is possible and that if you can dream it you can make it.
3. What scene was the most fun to work on for Demonic?
The scene that was the most fun to work on during the filming of Demonic was the final sequence when Carly and Martin get to the Sanatorium and start piecing together what is happening. The whole sequence takes place at night which we shot over 4 nights. The scenes were challenging from a lighting perspective and that is why I found it fun. I love a good challenge. We had lighting all over a 3 Acre property, interior and exterior and we had to leap frog gear from set to set to be ready for the next day. Not to mention we had burning vehicles and amazing picture vehicles from Production Designer Richard Simpson.
4. What gear do you tend to use, especially in the production of Demonic?
I tend to shoot with Alexa Mini. For Demonic we shot with 2x Alexa Mini’s with Zeiss Super Speed lenses. We also used a FLIR camera custom made helmet rig to replicate Carly’s infrared goggles she wears.
For the volume capture, headed by Tobias Chen and his team at Volumetric Camera Systems. They used an array of two hundred and thirty nine – 4k Cameras (Modified Sony IMX 337) to get the effect Neill Blomkamp and VFX Supervisor Chris Harvey were after.
5. Who are some of your influences?
Some of my influences are DPs Steve Annis, Christophe Collette, Gaul Porat, Robert Yeoman and Director Wes Anderson. All these film makers have such a unique and incredible visual style that I have been admiring my whole career. I also get influenced by music. Any music at all, I listen to music and create shots and ideas in my head. Even if it is not related to my project. Something to keep the creative juices flowing.
6. What is your dream project? Dream collaborators?
My dream project is something very creative and collaborative. Film making is such a team effort, and the end product only becomes amazing with collaboration from all. Some of my dream collaborators are Directors Ian Pons Jewell, Perlorian Brothers and Salomon Ligthelm. I love what these Directors bring to life. Amazing and fun visuals that are memorable.
7. Where can we find you on social media?
Thank you for reading! You can learn more about Byron Kopman on his website.