The Level was Ben Wheeler’s first drama. It had an ambitious schedule, seeing us shooting predominantly in London and Brighton. It was a very appealing role for the lead to play, and it was shot from her perspective as the story unfolds around her. There was great chemistry between the director, Andy Goddard, the lead, Karla Crome and Ben on set which made for a very positive atmosphere.
The look Ben was after was intended to be the opposite of the current style for the genre. He aimed for the show to look as cinematic as possible, with the landmarks of Brighton playing the backdrop for the story’s setting. Ben chose the Alexa Classic, with a Mini as the secondary camera, shooting ProRes and maintaining an HD frame with mixed resolutions depending upon the nature of the shot, in case stabilisation in post was required.
Careful attention was paid to creating the correct looks Ben was after. This was done on a scene by scene basis rather than using a generic LUT. His brief, given before production commenced, coupled with the clarity of execution on set made this a clear process. It was a case of following how each scene was lit and bringing that out accordingly. This set a solid base so that, come grade time, there could be a focus solely on the creative process.
I based myself as close to set as possible, to be on hand, to support and to relay information quickly. Early on, one of the cameras suffered a sensor failure, and thanks to being close-by this was identified promptly. Subsequently, only one shot needed to be re-done. The potential loss to production if rushes were dealt with offsite could have been much more severe.
Cinematographers love to hear that their shots look awesome. When shooting Frank Le Saux’s murder in the forest I could sense that Ben was concerned with exposure. As I walked out into the woods to allay these fears I was met with a- – ‘Is that you Marshall? This better be good news’. It certainly was.
I’ve learned that at this scale of TV production, a DIT can be an invaluable asset in assisting throughout whole filmmaking process, especially by keeping the script supervisor happy!
The Level was one of the most challenging projects I have been a part of, and yet it was a very enjoyable experience. I am sure our time in Brighton helped here as the crew bonded well across all departments.
At the end of production, the Line Producer approached me and said, ‘You’ve changed my opinion on DIT’s. I’m converted’.
Written by Al Marshall, Digital Imaging Technician at Mission Digital