On October 14th, this year, “Fire Chief” Jarred Land from RED Digital Cinema — the premiere pioneers in the world of professional filmmaking technology — announced that RED were selling off a limited amount of used (or “Battle Tested”) Scarlet-X cameras for $7100 instead of the regular $11,900. When I saw this news, I thought to myself “Wow, the people who get in on that deal are going to be one bunch of lucky motherfuckers!”. But after further consideration, I thought to myself “Why can’t I be one of those lucky motherfuckers?”.
I mean, the only thing that stops us from moving forward in life is a lack of belief, right? Only problem was, I didn’t have £20 in my bank account, let alone $7100! But being the relentless bastard I am, this wasn’t a challenge I was going to shy away from. “NO HALF MEASURES”, and all that stuff. The first thing I did, was put down a £1,500 deposit — that I already had on credit with RED — on one of the Battle Tested Scarlet-X cameras. This was to buy myself some more time while I figured out how I was going to procure the remaining funds. However, all it bought me was 30 days until they released my camera back into the wild… But at least I now had a deadline, and being under pressure is when I really knuckle down.
After approaching every avenue I could think of at the time to raise the capital, which included many failed attempts at trying to negotiate with begrudging family members, and beating up people for meager amounts of cash who owed debts to local small-time organised crime syndicates, I quickly became stumped. What the hell was I going to do? As far as I was concerned, whether it was true or not, the progression of Payne & Redemption DEPENDED on that camera! Hell, EVERY project I had in the pipeline for the foreseeable future REQUIRED that camera! And at the price RED were offering it for, for the unknown amount of time it would available, I’d never forgive myself if I let it slip through my fingers.
With just over one week until crunch time and very few fingernails left, I toyed with the idea of applying for a credit card, but reality soon sunk in. A credit card? What, and pay 30% PLUS interest on top? There had to be a better, less exorbitant way of getting ahold of FIVE-THOUSAND-POUNDS-STERLING that didn’t involve relinquishing my soul to some money-hungry bank, drug dealing, or selling my sister to that guy called Patrick in the Netherlands. Not that the latter would have been a bad idea, in retrospect.
Then it dawned upon me; FINANCE! If I could get a finance company to grant me a low interest loan, and pay it off over 24 months, then all of this could be possible. So off I went to search for a finance company that specialized in loans for film and TV equipment, and who would accept my financial limitations. Once I had, it was a deal! The wheels were now set in motion, the finance proposal approved by the finance company, and now the race was on to attract a funder whose Terms & Conditions agreed with my financial limitations, and before my time with RED was up.
With only a couple days left until the deadline, the finance company presented me with a whole list of prospective funders. Naturally, the parsimonious voice inside my head told me to avoid most of them like the plague, but there was one funder whose interest rate was the least characteristic of a loan shark, and my sights were zeroed. Once the funder was chosen, further paperwork — that could have been mistaken for a small telephone directory — was required to be filled out before any money was to be released to the finance company, and on the very last day, the day RED was going to pull the plug, the funder releases the funds to the finance company, who pay RED just before they closed up shop for the weekend. Talk about “cutting it fine”.
Two weeks pass, then Ben and I drive to THE Pinewood Studios on a frosty Monday morning, after little to no sleep the night before, coked up on energy drinks and high calorie candy in an attempt to preserve what little vitality we had left. After signing in at the reception, then going through more security checkpoints than Langley, we were presented, with all its might and vigour, the building to RED EUROPE, signified by the almighty, but discreet, RED logo on the side wall. Upon entering this technological leviathan of unrestrained possibilities, and being buzzed into the offices of RED FREAKIN’ EUROPE (!!!), I was warmly greeted by my “Bomb Squad Rep”, Sam Measure, who shook me confidently by the hand and introduced himself. After many pleasantries, and Ben doing what Ben does best and bending Sam’s ear on a few RED-related technicalities, Sam presented me with my first ever RED camera — The RED Scarlet-X — and at that very moment in time, history… had been made.
A photo of me using the Scarlet. Snapped by Ben Dean on my iPhone.
So why does all of this matter, why should you care, and why is it such a huge deal?
To become self-sufficient within the independent film business is what it truly means to be “independent” — to not have to rely on other people (within reason) to pursue YOUR dreams the way YOU want to. Being forced to rent equipment when you have to be spontaneous due to time constraints imposed upon you because you and the people you work with lead a life outside of film, and not being able to afford rental cost after rental cost puts you in a position whereby it makes it very hard (though not entirely impossible) to move forward and progress at any sort of measurable rate. But because I have now invested in a professional piece of technology made by an innovative company that renders obsolescence obsolete, I now have that ability to be more self-sufficient than ever before, and can tackle one of this project’s main hurdles since 2006 — FILMING THE DAMN THING!
My onslaught into the battle for independence doesn’t stop here. I still need to obtain SSD cards for the Scarlet so that I’m able to capture any footage at all, and at £570 a pop, thinking plural is perhaps a little too ambitious right now. I also need a Switronix battery plate for powering the camera separately from the mains, and will need to acquire a Sound Devices sound recorder and mixer, as well as a few more Cinelight lighting fixtures to add to my already growing collection. All of these things will have to happen before we can begin to think about moving forward with the actual film, but the important thing to remember is, they WILL happen. In the mean time, you guys will be treated to many Payne & Redemption related camera tests whilst we get to grips working with the Scarlet and its profoundly different workflow.
Before wrapping up this now TEN PARAGRAPH update, I feel I should say the following: To all you naysayers out there, all you pessimists and libel-spreading prevaricators, I will continue, day after day, to prove all of your erroneous theories wrong, as well as destroy your inflammatory speculation. But to all you believers, all you newcomers, to everyone who has stood by me and supported me, and continues to do so, whether emotionally or financially, you’re in for one helluva journey. I won’t let you down.
Remember; NEVER give up on what you believe in, follow your heart, and always… stay frosty.
Fergle “Winning!” Gibson,
Writer, Director & Executive Producer.