Earlier this year cinematographer Edgard Ferreira undertook an amazing project with Bondi Films called The Ultimate Ride. He would see a motorcycle team travel to Lake Gairdner in South Australia on the search for speed records and adventure. Shot primarily on a Sony FS7 II along with the A7s, what was produced was a documentary currently being shown on Qantas’ in-flight Qstream.
From the moment Ferreira engaged with this project he had one big challenge to manage; expectation versus budget. “I knew from the beginning that I would have to work with a very small crew, if not just myself and my co-director Adam Dostalek,” says Ferreira.
“I had big ideas for this project,” he says. “It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to spend five days on salt flats with a custom-made Harley Davidson riding at such dangerous speeds.”
Ferreira’s problem revolved around how to bring the project together with only himself responsible for filming, sound recording and directing. “I knew I needed a camera that was easy to work with. Something that I could pick up and start filming with in seconds, and on top of that give me amazing pictures. I also needed something that would allow me to record good quality sound.”
Production company Bondi Films were planning on telling an amazing story. Lake Gairdner is a special place, and the importance was not lost on Ferreira. “Dramatising this story was really important to me,” says the Brazilian-Australian cinematographer.
“After seeing images from the salt flats, it was clear to me that I needed to handle high dynamic range. This is the kind of place where humans cannot spend more than a few minutes without sunglasses. In the middle of the harsh desert of Australia, we were going to be racing on a crystal clear, salty white surface which would intensify the brightness of the sunlight.”
“This is the kind of place where humans cannot spend more than a few minutes without sunglasses.”
Ferreira faced challenging situations whilst on the salt plains, not least of which was the amount of ground and footage he and his co-director had to cover. “The scenarios changed all the time and there wasn’t much warning as to when things were going to happen. Quite often I would be running around going from one location to another, filming from inside of a car to filming on the ground, with the camera handheld most of the time,” he says.
Being a single cameraman on a documentary such as this, and not having the luxury of having a second cameraperson, can be quite challenging. There are so many angles to cover, so being quick between shots, changing angles from low to eye-level and quickly adjusting exposure within seconds was very important for Ferreira.
“As I was filming a documentary where I didn’t have control over the changing environment, I needed to be highly adaptable,” he says. “I had to always be ready for things to happen and so did my camera. There was no chance for second takes.”
“The results I had from five days filming on the salt flats of Lake Gairdner were unique,” says Ferreira. “Elliott Motorcycles broke the land speed record, and they now have the fastest Harley Davidson Softail in the world.”
Edgard Ferreira is a cinematographer, editor, producer and director who has been working in the film industry for the past fifteen years across Brazil and Australia. He is the Managing Director of Bondi Films in Sydney.
Salvatore Di Muccio is owner of Well Above.
‘Spotlight on Brazil’ is a collaboration between Australian Cinematographer Magazine and the Associação Brasileira de Cinematografia (ABC).