Menu Account

The Story is What Matters

  • April 29, 2011
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
The Story is What Matters

I had the privilege of experiencing NAB from Montreal while shooting “Deadfall.” I stepped back and looked, with some objectivity at the frenzy of tech. Having a far-away perspective this year made me think again about what is at the core of filmmaking – which is the story. The first time I ever went to NAB was after becoming immersed in the HDSLR revolution. For the last 13 years, I only shot film because video cameras were not taken seriously in the feature film world.

Story is what matters most, not the tools.  When I read a script for the first, second and third time I do not think about my responsibilities as a filmmaker, they are always at the back of my mind but not the go to reflex. I love experimenting with new technology. It’s like being a pioneer such as Lewis and Clarke, navigating the uncharted waters, or being the first man on the moon. But this is only a means to an end. You are trying to tell a story with images that enable people from around the world to share in that experience. I never embraced HD until the Canon 5D came along. The only reason was because it was the right tool in telling the story, and that story was the covert operations of the Navy SEALS, the feature project “Act of Valor.” After reading the script several times, the directors, Scotty Waugh, Mike McCoy of Bandito Brothers and I felt that the best way to tell this story in a unique and different way was to immerse the audience in a cinematic, visceral experience – one that they had never been in before other than in a video game as a first person shooter. The Canon 5D was that cinematic tool, the right device, the only device, to pull this off.

As a result, I was asked to attend trade shows – none that I had ever visited before, and asked to speak about this technology. I had spoken at ASC events and been on technology panels before, but nothing like this. It was different and new. I started speaking at a small little conference in 2009, called the Collision Conference in L.A., where stills and motion collide. It was a cool concept; I was in. I didn’t have any pictures, nor a keynote presentation, just experience, passion and stories. Story is at the heart of everything. Go with what you feel, find your own way. The most important thing is knowing what you want to achieve, not just the techniques for getting there. This is something that I remind myself almost every day I am creating. It keeps me grounded, with this tech world changing a million miles a second. Keeping up, staying on that treadmill is exhausting and unproductive. You have a vision; it’s in your mind and your heart. Decide what your duties as a filmmaker are after the story speaks to you.

What is your creative process in storytelling?

  • Canon
  • Canon 5D
  • Cinematography
  • creativity