Cloning Around – by Chris Waitt
The challenge of the movie Dupe was that the script called for several identical people. Award-Winning Director Chris Waitt describes how motion control was the answer.
Dupe is a short film, funded by the UK Film Council as part of their Digital Shorts scheme. It tells the story of a young slacker called Adam, who finds a cloning machine on eBay. He clones himself in the hope that the clone will tidy up his flat. Unfortunately – but perhaps inevitably – the new Adam is as lazy as he is and suggests they make another clone who will make a start on the dishes. Before long the house is full of lazy slacker clones who start to take over Adam’s life.
“Obviously the script required us to have duplicates of our main character on screen at the same time. In one particular scene – in which the original Adam comes back from work to find a whole pack of Adams partying away in his living room – we wanted a long one-shot pan across seven Adam clones, all of them interacting with each other. Another scene required a fast whip pan around a bedroom to reveal a number of versions of the main actor in various positions in the room. Motion control was obviously the best way to achieve those shots. However, our low budget meant that shooting with a large motion control rig was simply not an option. Nor was it particularly practical, given that we didn’t have enough money to build a set and were therefore shooting on location in a small second storey flat. It looked as if we might have to do all our effects shots as stationary lock-offs. This was not an appealing prospect as it wouldn’t allow us to let the effects shots sit comfortably in the film, whose style was quite handheld and loose. When we consulted Mark Roberts Motion Control they suggested that the Ulti-Head might be right for the project. First it was much more affordable on our tight budget, second it was small and very portable, and third it didn’t have to come with a specialised operator. In fact we were in a position to shoot with it after just one day of training. The Ulti-Head turned out to be the perfect solution in every respect. Its size and portability were ideal for the location, and it proved to be a very user-friendly rig to operate. ”
“On a psychological level, too, the Ulti-Head was a pleasure to work with because it was very easy to set up and dismantle, and didn’t dominate the set. It quite quickly became just another part of the camera kit. This meant that we didn’t have to structure the whole shoot around the motion control shots, allowing us to focus on how the actual performances and story played out across a scene. Ultimately we were very happy with how quick and easy the Ulti-Head was to use. For us it was a perfect low budget solution to achieving motion control.”