‘American History X’ Producer Jon Hess on shooting his new film with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design today announced that Dead Men Float, the first new film in more than a decade from American History X producer and the creator of dozens of films and television movies, Jon Hess, was shot on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera.

Jon Hess is an award winning director, producer and writer, having developed and co produced the Academy Award nominated American History X, as well as directed films such as Watchers and Alligator 2. After leaving the film industry at the end of the 1990s, Jon has returned to filmmaking with a new production company, GK Hess, and his first new full length film in more than 15 years, Dead Men Float. Part of what brought Jon back to filmmaking was the creativity and image quality of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera.



Dead Men Float is a horror film focusing on the evil that remains in a house years after a terrible event and how this impacts a family in their new home. The film, which will be released theatrically worldwide and online later in 2014, combines a number of different looks that Jon and his production team worked on, as the dramatic and horrifying events unfolded. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) was the main camera used on the film, with the Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPC) used for hard to reach angles and shots.

(image from Photo Cine Rent)

Blackmagic Cinema Camera (image from Photo Cine Rent)


Shot completely in RAW and taking full advantage of the cameras’ 13 stops of wide dynamic range, Jon was able to capture a huge amount of data with the BMCC and BMPC and create an efficient post workflow, which included colour correction using DaVinci Resolve.

“With the Cinema Camera, it is amazing the amount of information that you get in each clip and then are able to use that data as creatively as you want,” said Jon. “The camera really opened up what I could do creatively. One of the best examples of the camera’s quality was during a pivotal night scene. We set up the camera, shot at ISO (1600) and were able to get this beautiful night scene, that in the past, would have taken a whole film crew and a large budget to get.”  


“During shooting, we really tested taking the camera as far as it could go. Even going five stops over what the scene needed in some shots, and every time we were able to come back and get great final images with the amount of data that shooting in RAW allowed,” he continued. “We could be incredibly flexible in how we wanted to approach each shot.”  

Jon concluded: “After being away from filmmaking for so long, it was really a joy to get behind the camera again and have them be Blackmagic Design’s cameras. With filmmaking, it has to be about the content and not about the technology used to make the film. With my new company and this film, our success is based around that belief, and Blackmagic’s cameras are part of the foundation for how we get this done. They are letting me compete with the largest companies out there in terms of image quality and creativity, while giving me a very efficient workflow.”


(image from OneRiver Media)

(image from OneRiver Media)



Feature image of Jon Hess by Patrice Michelle
Excerpts from Press Release


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