August 3, 2015
By Rechelle Tangcangco
George Gittoes and his Sony PMW-200s shooting Snow Monkey in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Sydney, Australia—Recently distinguished war artist, filmmaker, photojournalist and Sydney Peace Prize winner George Gittoes shot his latest documentary Snow Monkey with two Sony PMW-200 cameras over a one-year period in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Gittoes is enthusiastic in his choice of and love for the cameras that have made so many of his projects look and feel so special. He explained, “I have been using Sony cameras since I switched to tape from 16mm film in 2003 with my film Soundtrack to War. The first of these cameras was shot by a US sniper when I was attempting to film suspicious activity for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. It was a huge revelation to me when Michael’s people took the digital footage from my small cameras and converted it to 35mm film for the big screen. I was amazed sitting in the Academy Cinema in LA and seeing how my Sony footage blended with the other footage, much of which was shot on film. Over the years I moved on to the Sony HVR-Z1 HD and HVR-Z5 cameras. At the point that I purchased the Z5 cameras there were fully file-based cameras like the PMW-200 available through Sony but I was concerned about having to rely on field downloads to hard drives. Tapes seemed more real and stable and less destructible or liable to technical issues in post. I now regret this decision as I compare the image quality of Snow Monkey with some of my previous movies. Snow Monkey is the last in a trilogy of three films starting with Miscreants of Taliwood and it is fantastic to know viewers will be getting the full detail of the amazing medieval world of Jalalabad with its many characters in their exotic cloths and environments thanks to the Sony PMW-200.”
Working on the trilogy of the three movies required Gittoes to train Afghan-Pashtuns to use all his equipment. He continued, “They had all used Sony equipment in the past for their dramas and found it easy to adapt to the upgraded models of cameras which I provided. With all of my movies I always shoot with two or more cameras simultaneously, on Snow Monkey it was two PMW-200 cameras. I do this as I seek an immersive experience. On Snow Monkey we also had a small Sony digital camera and often shot with a fourth camera by using one of the Z5 cameras. I have worked with the same editor, Nick Meyers, since Rampage in 2006 and actually shoot for the style of cutting we have evolved together – which is a kind of all round holographic effect.”