Extreme close-up

Extreme close-up
Date:1 August 2011 Tags:

When it came time for Evan Glodell to direct his first feature film, Bellflower – about two Mad Max-obsessed friends who prepare for the apocalypse by building flamethrowers and battle-ready cars – he wanted to shoot on a large-format camera, one so big that it didn’t yet exist. So he constructed it himself. “I’ve built things my whole life – I can’t help tinkering,” says Glodell, who also wrote and starred in the film. It took him a month of R&D to build his 8-kilogram camera, the Coatwolf Model II. Glodell’s only training was a week of engineering classes in university, but that didn’t deter him: he also built Bellflower’s flamethrowers and turned a 1972 Buick Skylark into the film’s fire-breathing Medusa-mobile (right). “I never stop building,” he says. “It seems like it happens naturally.” – Erin McCarthy

Glodell's Coatwolf model II camera

The Adapter

Glodell constructed a 35-mm groundglass adapter, which focuses an image on a screen between the external and main lenses, to create a very shallow depth of field.

The Lenses

Glodell wanted to shoot on a 100 x 125 mm plate – twice the size of IMAX fi lm – so he needed large-format optics. To get them, “I ripped apart old projectors and spyplane surveillance lenses that I bought at an Army surplus store.”

The effect

“There was this huge trial-and-error process,” Glodell says of the camera. “I kept switching parts until I got something that looked cool.” The resulting shots – some tilt-shifted, some partially blurred and some narrowly focused – give Bellflower a unique cinematic look.

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