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EMPIRE IN THE EAST Dan Edelstyn on shooting his vodka-fuelled journey to the heart of the Russian Revolution on the HVR-Z1E

“The Sony HVR-Z1E has been a great basic ingredient in the making of our huge and ambitious feature film, and its sheer versatility has been its strength,” says Dan Edelstyn, the filmmaker who has spent the last two years turning the rags-to-riches life story of his Russian grandmother Maroussia Zorokovich into a film. But his feature How T

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Empire is more than a vivid re-creation of his grandmother’s diaries, in which Edelstyn discovered the story of her escape from Russia during the 1917 Revolution. It’s also a quest by Edelstyn to discover his lost Jewish identity and a business story about his bid to save his great grandfather’s Vodka business, on which her fortune was founded.

A co-production between Optimistic Productions and Dartmouth Films, the film, which combines documentary footage with drama reconstruction, will be

2011. Edelstyn recalls how both he, DoP Hilary Powell, and the HVR-Z1E braved two Ukrainian winters and some unusual conditions to make the feature. “Enduring temperatures that I shudder to remember – the lowest being -20ºC – the HVR-Z1E has been poked down cauldrons full of bubbling spirit,” he reveals. His favourite way of shooting was to mount the Z1E on a tripod and shooting on the longest focal length. “It has the effect of compressing space and creating a narrow depth of field effect, so you get images that look as if they were taken with a camera with a much more expensive lenses. Everyone always asks: ‘What was that shot on?’ as they gasp at the cinematography,” says Edelstyn, who also cites the camera’s colour palette and its handling of low light conditions as other big bonuses on a low budget feature.

Summer 2010 theproducer 29

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