“Cinematographers have a lot on their plates. They need people who have their backs on set and can help get their vision from set to the lab with confidence. As a DIT, I work side-by-side with DPs to make sure the image represents the final product as much as possible. And I have cup holders!” - Lonny Danler, Local 600 DIT based in Los Angeles.
This week, we’re chatting with DIT Lonny Danler, who just came back from a 4-month shoot for Jumanji 2 (now in post-production). Lonny has worked on some major productions recently, including Bird Box, The Greatest Showman, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the upcoming film Ford vs Ferrari.
He shares how he landed jobs on these big films, and the important pieces of his cart he brings to every set.
From RED One to Blockbusters
“Right after I graduated from film school at the University of Utah, I moved out here to Los Angeles. Thanks to my buddy Ryley Fogg, who owned a RED One, he helped me get into doing DIT work. So a lot of my early jobs revolved around the RED One, Panavision Genesis, Varicam and the Sony F35, back when the industry was quickly transitioning into the digital world. Honestly, I was really fortunate to get tied in with some really talented filmmakers who were instrumental to where I am today.”
“On my earlier jobs, I worked with August Bradley, who’s a cinematographer and still photographer. I met 2nd AC Martin Moody on those jobs, who’s actually now a DP and doing very well. Martin brought me onto a commercial with Janusz Kaminski, who as everyone in this industry probably knows is Steven Spielberg’s cinematographer. I’ve since gotten to work with Janusz regularly and is always a treat.”
“Early on I got introduced to Phedon Papamichael who then brought me onto Nebraska, a pivotal film for me. Not only was it a black and white movie that was nominated for an Oscar for best cinematography, but everyone that I worked with on this job was phenomenal, and the first time I was on set with filmmakers who were so accomplished. Rafael Sanchez was the chief lighting technician - we also did Jumanji 1 together, and just finished Jumanji 2 as well. Ray Garcia was the key grip. And of course Papamichael was amazing to work with and someone I’ve learned so much from on subsequent films as well. I consider all of them my mentors.”
What’s on Lonny Danler’s Cart?
“I have four different carts that I’ll equip and swap around depending on the project I’m on. One is for your typical feature film. The second is for commercials, which sometimes becomes a download cart on features. The third is a utility cart that has the extras. The fourth is a bigger cart built to handle 4K playback and big data.”
4x Custom Backstage Carts - "I chose these carts because I like how customizable, sturdy and versatile they are. I think I was one of the first people in LA to build a vertical DIT cart, similar to how VTR and sound guys build theirs. These carts are lean enough that I can easily get them up and down stairs and through all kinds of tough environments."
LiveGrade - "Cinematographers increasingly want their images to look great all the time right out of the gate. As the image comes out of the camera, I’m livegrading it to achieve as much of the final look as possible, which helps not just the Director and DP see a color graded image, but also wardrobe, lighting, producers, script supervisors, and the whole crew. They use this image to inform how to move forward with their roles as well. It can build a lot of confidence when all the elements are working together on set and the image is looking its best."
Silverstack - "This is a data management staple for me. Whether you’re shooting on ARRIs, REDs, or any cinema camera on any professional set, it’s one of the best tools on my cart."
Freakshow DAs - "Super durable and tough as nails! On one of my jobs, this thing got crushed under a dolly and it still works. It’s robust, has solid connections, and has an internal battery that lasts 12 hours - which is pretty much an entire day of shooting. I also love the signal lights on the Freakshows. If there’s a signal, it’s red. If there’s no signal, it’s blue. Very simple and straightforward."
Teradek COLR - "The COLR is a Swiss Army knife for color and camera control: sometimes I have it on the camera, sometimes on the back of a monitor, and sometimes on my cart. When on camera they’re great cause I can do camera control and livegrade wirelessly off my cart network. On the back of a monitor I can pre-load a bunch of show LUTs/looks and call them up when needed. They can go anywhere. When the monitor becomes the viewfinder, the DP always has the image close and handy."
Bolt 3000 and Bolt 10K - "Just goes without saying, these are essential for every set now. On Jumanji, we were running all 1:3 kits from the cameras to the DP (who was operating), 1st AC, and me. Video village would get hardwired video from my cart so hair & makeup, Director, VTR and others can see it. And then sometimes I’d use another kit to transmit the live grade back to set, or from vehicle to vehicle. The need for accuracy and speed on set have made these crucial for on set efficiency."
Teradek Link Pro - "I’ve been playing with this one from Teradek to create an extended network with my cart on set. When we’re on a stage or in certain locations, it’s impossible to get an internet signal. So what I do is have the Link Pro mounted to a light stand outside the studio, use four 4G modems to get an aggregated internet connection to the Link Pro, and send that internet via a long Ethernet line all the way to my Link on my cart. Now my Link has internet and can broadcast it through the entire set."
A Place to Charge iPhones - "Having someone to troubleshoot technical issues on set is pretty useful, because many of the issues are actually fixable and preventable. While that’s really important, most people also know that my cart’s one of the places they can charge their iPhones on set (haha!). I also usually have gum, screen cleaners, and cup holders. Those are really useful too."