How two filmmakers made their own device to make a double movie - without twins |  Precision cutting |  arts and culture

How two filmmakers made their own device to make a double movie – without twins | Precision cutting | arts and culture

At the start of the pandemic, Luke and Ethan Montgomery, twin and junior brothers in the Film Program at Biola University, were looking for a project. One day, Luke was watching “Back to the Future Part Two” when he found inspiration. The 1989 film pioneered the motion control camera work. For its filming, ILM developed VistaGlide, a dolly motion control system with video playback that made it possible for Michael J. Fox and other actors to play several different characters in the same scene.

Ethan says, “It cost millions of dollars to build this camera device that could silently do the same camera movement over and over until they could stitch it together on physical film.” With the help of their older brother, Schuyler, an engineering student, Ethan and Locke decided to try making a similar doll at home. Ethan says, “We thought, ‘This is so cool! “And it would be much easier and cheaper to do it with our older brother, who can program it, and some plastic tubes and wooden wheels and skateboards.”

The Montgomery brothers pose with a motion control camera in action in their garage. Ethan and Luke Montgomery used help from their older brother and engineering student, Schuyler, to program the doll. | Courtesy of Luke and Ethan Montgomery

Luke and Ethan who make movies together under the name Montgomery Brothers, developed an interest in visual effects in sixth grade, when a computer teacher showed them how to use a green screen and free video editing software. Luke says, “Initially, it was the cool factor of what we could do with this kind of technology that got us into the world of cinema.” In high school, they became more interested in telling stories. Ethan says, “We’ve applied visual effects in our films, just as a tool to tell a story.”

For their epidemiological project, they wanted to make a movie about the twins, so the idea of ​​building their own motion control camera device attracted them. They also had an actor they wanted to work with – Emery Gordon, a girl from their church – and she wasn’t a twin.

A person bends over a table saw cutting wood in a garage.  Behind them, another person stands on top of pieces of plastic pipe and wood.

The Montgomery brothers cut and assembled the wood pieces in their garage to build their camera doll. | Courtesy of Luke and Ethan Montgomery

Making “Amelia (The Twin)” was a challenge in two very different ways. The first was to build and control a dolly camera. To make it look as if the movie had real twins, they knew they would have to repeat many shots. Luke explains, “You have to control the camera very precisely, even to a greater degree than we realized when we started. Because even when the camera is moving at the same time, you are working at 24 frames per second. And even at 1/24th of a second, it can be There is a difference. We actually had to shoot everything at 60 frames per second, so that there is a shorter window for the potential difference between the two panels.”

rob Bredow, the creative director at Industrial Light and Magic, is a Biola alumnus, so the brothers emailed him for advice. They initially hoped to build something they could operate like a regular camera in the group, then press a button and have them repeat what they just did. Bredow made some suggestions on how to improve the process, and they ended up preprogramming each camera movement instead.

A little girl in a yellow shirt sits at a blue table in an outdoor primary school.  Next to her two people stand in front of her and talk to her.

The Montgomery Brothers direct actress Emery Gordon who plays the twin in “Amelia (Twin)” to perform the twin effect. | Courtesy of Luke and Ethan Montgomery

After making measurements of where the twin character, Amelia and Jane, would be in the shot, they mocked the motions of the camera in their garage. Luke says, “We can run that over and over to get it right and adjust how fast it’s going to accelerate and decelerate, and its overall speed, and then see, ‘Are there bumps?’ How can we get rid of it?

For repeat shots, they used audio tracks to guide Emory as to when to say each line. “It was a logistical nightmare,” Ethan recalls. Some picks also require a double to play Jane or Amelia. Locke says, “There’s a shot where Amelia pushes Jane out of the way, gets out of the shower, and looks for scissors. This is a double push. But earlier in that shot, she sees both of them, so she’s controlling the movement — and then there’s a second where she comes out.” Jane is out of the frame and back again as a double. That was complicated, but kind of fun.”

Watch how the Montgomery brothers built a motion control camera doll that allowed them to create the “Amelia (Twin)” twins.

Creating twins in “Amelia (twin)”

The film was also a challenge for the brothers on a personal level. “There are a lot of technical things that we learned, but the most important things we learned were about finding a story to tell and digging deeper into our personal experience and how that contributed to our writing,” Luke says.

“We’ve been asked the question all our lives, ‘How do twins feel,'” says Ethan. Our responses are always like, ‘I don’t know, what’s it like when you’re not?’ He says they didn’t realize it until after they started college, ‘Our experience just like someone else’s has shaped our life experience significantly and shaped who we are in a big way,’ he says. “

They wanted to make a movie about that shared experience, but deciding what to say wasn’t easy.

Ethan explains, “Initially, it was like, ‘Oh, we’re twins, so we’re going to make a movie about twins and it’s going to be educational. “Then they realized that just having twins wasn’t enough reason to make a movie about twins. We needed to do a lot of self-treatment and realize, ‘How have twins affected our lives? How did that shape who we are?'” he says.

Twins Stories: Twins, Soulmates, and the Second Act. Watch this preview of the second episode of “Fine Cut.”

pairs (preview)

Luke adds, “It took us a really long time to figure out what we really wanted to say about it. Writing the movie was a self-discovery for us about the things we’ve been struggling with all our lives that we never really thought about.”

Ethan says, “We didn’t want to admit that we’re the same as we are and that we’ve struggled our whole lives. It took a lot of humility to get there.”

Several months after writing “Amelia (The Twin)”, all that introspection paid off, and they found the bigger truth they wanted to share. Luke says, “We were always pushing against each other, always trying to be different from each other, when the truth is very similar. And that’s when the script found its way.”

We didn’t want to admit that we’re the same as ourselves and that we’ve been fighting that our whole lives. It took a lot of humility to get there.

Ethan Montgomery, Filmmaker

Early on in the short film, Amelia and her twins Jane sing a sweet, catchy song – “Up and Down” by Justin James Sinclair – as they jump rope during the intermission. The scene emphasizes the similarities between the twins, and is pulled straight from the filmmakers’ lives. Ethan says, “When we were in elementary school, we always sang. One day a week, we’d go to the toddlers’ playground, go on the swings and sing.” At the time, they weren’t afraid of it at all. He adds, “We were singing in front of the whole class just for our own happiness…I think we both look back as a picture of our childhood where we just had this pure desire to sing, and we weren’t embarrassed about it.”

Luke adds, “And we never really thought of it as something we did together. It was just something we loved doing. There was kind of innocence to it. We both remember the day our fourth grade teacher said something in class about we were singing on the swings, and we were embarrassed The class laughed, and we never did it again. We both remember that moment vividly.”

Luke and Ethan Montgomery look at each other on set, one of them holding a board and scratching his chin.

Luke and Ethan Montgomery developed an interest in visual effects in the sixth grade and have continued to make films ever since. They are currently students at Biola University studying cinema. | Courtesy of Luke and Ethan Montgomery

“Amelia (twin)” is the most special of Montgomery Brothers’ projects to date. They made it for about $4,000, which they collected on Kickstarter. The film has been shown in several festivals, including: Dancing with the movies And the Palm Springs is shorter. Luke says, “That was really fun and a great experience, but for us, the joy of that is people seeing it.”

What advice would they give other filmmakers interested in making their own motion control camera? Luke says, “There is a part of me that says, ‘Don’t do what we did.’ I feel it takes a rare combination of us as a builder, with our expertise in visual effects, with an older brother who is an engineering student. These factors made us able to overcome a huge challenge. A lot of work “. While they aren’t excited to do it again, he adds, “We’re very proud we did it and we’re happy to finish it.”

While still in film school and after graduating, Luke and Ethan hope to continue the collaboration and start making features. Ethan says, “We’re not really interested in mentoring for employment. We want to keep doing what we’re doing and telling our own stories.”

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