Phantom Gravity is the name of a Poland-based team of filmmakers focused mainly on filming food and product commercials. As you can see from their filmmaker on Artgrid, they deliver the highest quality footage using the Phantom VEO 4k, the fastest high-speed videos camera on the market. We wanted to know more about Phantom Gravity’s creative process, filming gear and future plans, so we asked them some questions.
When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Greg (Founder/Producer): There was never an aha moment. (I think) I can say that it was quite a complicated process. Because many members of my family are involved in photography and filmmaking, as a part of my youthful rebellion, I tried to find a totally different path for myself. But it just came to me anyway, and I didn't even know how and when it happened. Maybe it is just a gene you cannot resist :)
What film(s) inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Greg: I vividly remember when, as a teenager, I went to the cinema with my class. We were supposed to watch some historical movie, but there was something wrong with the film copy, and they couldn't play it, so they decided to show us Luc Besson's Big Blue. After the projection, I was extremely touched. For me, at that moment, the movie was a masterpiece; the footage, the music, the mood. It probably wasn't the moment I decided to become a filmmaker, but it definitely changed something inside me and opened my mind to more serious cinema experiences.
Do you have a secret ritual before starting a shooting day?
Mania (Set Manager): The worst-case scenario when filming is when something is needed and cannot be found; it disorganizes work, creates chaos and causes unnecessary stress. That's why the most important ritual is to prepare all potentially needed tools, so they are easily and quickly available. Another vital ritual (already on the shooting day) is time for breakfast, coffee and some relaxation before we start working seriously. It should be a pleasant day for everyone, so we always try to maintain a positive atmosphere on the set because disliking your job could make life a lot harder.
What is your creative process when preparing for a stock footage shooting day?
Greg: It depends on what we plan to shoot. We usually start by discussing the ideas, preparing the storyboard etc. After this, we prepare the exact shooting plan for every clip. Sometimes it's a really complicated process. Often we have to build dedicated motion control programmed rigs to synchronize objects in motion. That process can take up to a few weeks before we are ready to shoot. But sometimes we do really simple things like flying tomatoes, pouring wine or coffee. So the only thing we need to do is brainstorm with the crew, followed by going to the local grocery store to buy stuff. And that's it :) We are ready to shoot.
Which of your Artgrid Stories are you most proud of?
Mania: Definitely the Beautiful Herbs Macro Shots! I'm proud of this idea to reverse the clip, so the plant we pulled into the ground looks like it is growing very quickly. I had this idea on another project when a client requested a timelapse of a growing plant, but we had too little time to film that. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention :)
What usage of your footage is your favorite?
Greg: It's really not easy to choose the one. As we produce a lot of footage every year, it's tough to have that control of how and where it's used. But it's really nice when you turn on the TV and spot your footage in a commercial break.
What was the craziest experience you had on a shooting day?
Maciej (DOP/Director): It was in Berlin, a music video for a hip-hop artist. They needed 2 bolts, which is why we were invited to the project. The director requested a futuristic symmetrical stage with robotic arms dancing in sync. Between Bolts, an artist was performing while standing on a giant version of lazy susan. As if that was not enough, he was being painted with spray paints attached to the cameras on the robot arms. There was only one chance to get it right because imagine cleaning the mess in case of a reshoot! Luckily it worked, and believe us - everyone on set breathed a sigh of relief!
What gear do you have on your wish list?
Maciej: Definitely a LED wall and virtual production system that is a game-changer for the film industry nowadays. It would allow us to work faster without having to physically change background sets and light them. But the most exciting part would be the possibility to introduce much greater variety to our footage in terms of environments. Unfortunately, this technology has some limitations in display brightness and frame rates, so at this moment, it is not usable for the high-speed shoots we specialize in. But we are sure that it is just a matter of time until it is not an issue, and we are looking forward to being a part of this revolution!
If you could choose any DOP/Director to work with, who would it be?
Greg & Mania: There are many great DOPs out there, but we believe it's not only the skill that is important. When we met Maciej, we found an instant connection, a mutual understanding and friendship that let us work calmly and effectively together. We wouldn't trade Maciek for anyone else :)
What would be your dream project?
Mania: We've got one, and we're preparing for it for next year. But today, it's our little secret. We can only say that it will be something different from our previous projects, and we'll use a different technology for this.
What would be your next filmmaking adventure?
Maciej: After spending a few years in the studio, the time has come to move outside! We have a great desire to explore the world of nature. Don't get us wrong - working with a high-speed camera robot and playing with motion control is a lot of fun, but we feel like we need to get some inspiration and a different perspective. That is why we plan to shoot some stories around forests, rivers, lakes, mountains and beaches, so we are taking our Phantom VEO on a trip. It is just a side project to recharge our batteries and get back to flying food with full power!