Bruce Logan, ASC has worked on some of the most iconic movies in existence, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars. His career has taken all over a film set, which prepared him for his latest project, writing and directing the new indie drama, Lost Fare. In this interview, he takes us behind-the-scenes of working with one of the world's greatest directors and directing his own feature.
ProductionHUB: Bruce, for those not familiar with your extensive history as a Director of Photography and Visual FX pioneer, can you share a few words about your background?
Bruce Logan, ASC: Well I was a huge Disney animation fan as a kid and taught myself to be an animator at age twelve. When I left school, I got a job at an animation company as a rostrum cameraman. This training allowed me to capitalize on an opportunity to work for my favorite director Stanley Kubrick. Doug Trumbull, one of the VFX directors, was looking for animation artists.
People at that time in England rarely took freelance work, but I was footloose and fancy-free and started work as an animator. When they found out that I could also shoot animation, I became doubly useful. At age nineteen, I spent the next two and a half years sitting in dailies every day defending my work to one of the world's greatest and most demanding directors. Stanley gave me my first screen credit and the rest is history.
Bruce shooting animation for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
ProductionHUB: You’ve worked on some of the most iconic sci-fi films ever including Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Tron (super revolutionary at the time). What was it like working on these ground-breaking films?
Bruce Logan, ASC: I really had no idea at the time that I was having an iconic career. It just seemed that I was looking for work and moved from one picture to another. But the great part about working on a hit movie is that your resume builds itself. In retrospect, it's only when I started to lecture and attend comicons that I realized how blessed I have been. So I think I can say that I got a lot of lucky breaks in my career, but I had always laid the “groundwork" and was ready for my next move when the opportunity presented itself. Something about opportunity meeting preparation.
Filming the Deathstar explosion in 1976.
ProductionHUB: Having experienced so many technological changes since you’ve been in this industry since the ’60s, what are a few of the biggest advancements that stand out to you? What has truly surprised you over the years?
Bruce Logan, ASC: Well clearly the biggest change in the industry has been the addition of the computer as a tool for filmmaking. I have to say that the basic elements of film are unchanged for over a century now. A story, an actor, a camera and a pair of scissors. What the computer has done for those elements is to democratize them and made all the filmmaking processes accessible to everyone. But more specifically, the first real use of data was "motion control." This was a technology not available for 2001 which was entirely analogue, except for the adding machine in the accounting office.
I did one of the earliest motion control shots in 1970 using a reel to reel tape recorder to run the stepping motors. This technology was developed and optimized by John Dykstra and his merry men at ILM for Starwars which allowed the spaceships to move at high speed and create "motion blur” while being matted over moving backgrounds.
Then Tron and Jurassic Park changed the landscape forever when computers were finally used to create images directly. This has been the biggest change in filmmaking since the camera was invented. VR? Don’t get me started. In my opinion, great for games and news, but not really a storytelling medium.
Bruce behind-the-scenes of Tron.
ProductionHUB: Recently you directed a feature film entitled “Lost Fare”; can you share about the genesis and process of this movie?
Bruce Logan, ASC: In spite of a highly technical background, my true passion has always been storytelling. To that end, I have trained as a self-taught screenwriter since the late seventies and have a 20-year background as a commercial director/camera operator. This has put me in the right place to create my own feature. Although I directed Vendetta, a "women in prison" movie for Roger Corman in ’84, which became a little cult classic in its own right, I wanted to create much more personal movies.
It took me many years for the stars to align to make it possible for me to create this next project “LOST FARE.” I had recently been attached to several feature projects which I rewrote, cast and developed and which came within a few weeks of commencement of principle photography, only to have the financing fall through. So I decided I needed to put my money where my mouth is, and find a project I could self-finance. Yes, I broke the golden rule of filmmaking, “never use your own money."
ProductionHUB: What were some challenges shooting “Lost Fare” — and also highlights that you can remember?
Bruce Logan, ASC: I found a story on Virtual Pitch Fest, which spoke to me on a very deep level. It’s the true story based on the childhood of writer Rachel Reaugh. It's a story of an eleven-year-old with an indomitable human spirit in spite of a fatal illness and being sold into prostitution by her mother’s pimp. She goes on a journey with a suicidal cab driver to save her brother. And the central question is asked, “Who’s saving who?" I loved the story, the characters and some of the dialogue but it was not a produce-able screenplay. Job one was to whip the script into a shootable format.
ProductionHUB: To rewind, can you talk about the pre-production process?
Bruce Logan, ASC: As I worked on the script with Rachel, I decided I wasn’t going to go ahead and make the picture unless I could find a young actress to play the little girl. We started the casting process right away. We found the super talented Alexis Rosinsky and the die was cast. My longtime buddy Elliot Rosenblatt (The Cooler, Bad Lieutenant and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) agreed to produce for me.
He quickly did the math and informed me I had enough money to shoot for eleven days. The problem was, I had a kid who was in every scene in the movie. I needed to shoot on school vacation (August), and even then, I would be lucky to shoot for more than ten hours a day. In eleven, twelve hour days, we had to shoot a 90-page road movie. I don’t know how we did it, but somehow we did. Great preparation I guess… the greater part of which was great casting.
Behind-the-scenes of Lost Fare.
ProductionHUB: In production, what did you shoot with: cameras, lenses, lights and other tools to create and capture your images?
Bruce Logan, ASC: We got a great camera package from Tim Smith at Canon including two C300 Mk 2, and all the lenses we could carry. We used two XC-10 for the car shots, using suction cups on the windows. The exteriors were all natural light. The interiors were shot with "racticals" and china balls.
The only way we made the schedule was to shoot “street theater," two cameras at all times — either crossing, for both sides of the scene or next to each other, shooting wide and tight. We had a day of greenscreen, as I couldn’t afford to travel the actor up to the redwood forests for the fantasy sequences. The entire movie was shot in the San Fernando Valley including the driving scenes which were shot in Griffith Park.
ProductionHUB: Tell us about the Post Production process including color on the movie.
Bruce Logan, ASC: I wanted to cut and finish the film with my original 4K dailies without transcoding or "on-lining." Having worked part-time as a colorist for the last decade, I thought that Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve could do everything I needed. I started in DaVinci 12.5 and finished in 14. Quite a journey. I could edit and color as I went. The dailies were in a RAID on my desktop and I output the finished product without ever leaving my 12 Core Mac Tower. That’s what computers have done for us. It’s truly amazing.
ProductionHUB: I understand you’ve also taken charge of its distribution — tell us about this new journey for you as well as some of the lessons learned with digital distribution.
Bruce Logan, ASC: What they don’t tell you when you finish a movie, is that you’ve only just begun. Getting eyeballs on the movie is the next gargantuan task. We started off with film festivals so we could get some laurels on the poster.
We tried major festivals and were disappointed, but we ended up with ten wins for best picture, best director and best actress. That done, we didn’t know any distributors so we got a producers rep, who in turn got us offers from four distributors. We had meetings with each one and decided which one we felt was the best fit for the movie, based on enthusiasm and reputation. Now is when the real work begins with social media, PR and etc.
Behind-the-scenes of Lost Fare.
ProductionHUB: What’s next for you? And what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet?
Bruce Logan, ASC: Well if I ever finish selling Lost Fare, I have written a screenplay about a Marine pilot who is raped by a psychotic war hero. When the justice system fails her, she takes matters into her own hands. This, of course, is a bigger budget and needless to say I won’t be self-financing. The list of different things I want to achieve is getting smaller as time goes by. But as always, the next project is always the most exciting.
ProductionHUB: Being a member of The ASC, and this being its 100-Year Centennial, anything you’d like to say about the organization?
Bruce Logan, ASC: It’s always an honor to be accepted by the highest authority in your profession. Being accepted by the ASC for membership was all of that for me. As a self-taught DP, I’ve never really had the opportunity to meet and confer with other DPs. This all changed when I joined the ASC.
ProductionHUB: Where can people go to view Lost Fare?
Bruce Logan, ASC:
We are available on many platforms and will soon be out in BluRay and DVD.
Find Lost Fare on these platforms:
ProductionHUB: Where can filmmakers follow you online?