The Snorricam: Turning Actors into Equipment
In February 2016, director Paul Trillo released a short film called; The Irrational Fear of Nothing. There aren’t many short filmmakers around that can match Paul Trillo when it comes to creating captivating short films. His latest work only continues to enhance his reputation as an exceptional filmmaker.
The film follows Terry, a neurotic and paranoid man as he walks around the streets of Manhattan. Along the way, the audience hears his irrational inner thoughts and concerns as he attempts to overcome his anxieties. However, what makes this film unique is that it was filmed, almost entirely, using the Snorricam rig.
This is a large camera rig that is mounted directly to the actor’s body. This body-mount system keeps the actor perfectly centered in the frame while the rest of the world changes with their natural movement. The final result helps to create an unusual sense of vertigo and disorientation for the audience.
The Snorricam has also been used to great effect in some classic Hollywood films such as Requiem for a Dream (2000), where the audience is placed right in the characters personal space as they overdose on drugs.
It effectively turns your actor into a walking, talking piece of camera equipment. This doesn’t come without a few issues, one of which Paul Trillo experienced first hand whilst filming his short film.
One of these issues is the physical strain that it puts on the actor. Once you’ve attached the camera to the rig, the weight is effectively tripled. They opted to shoot on the Olympus OMD EM5 II, but even using a small, lightweight camera can take its toll on the actor. During the Behind the Scenes filming, Trillo said that he didn’t think the actor would be able to do the same with a heavier camera. He also joked that the rig that Michael Puzzo (Terry) had to wear was “nothing to envy & bordered on war crimes.”
Another issue they had was trying to keep the framing consistent during the whole video. Their solution was to draw the characters position onto tracing paper and place this over the monitors, using it as a reference point. They also struggled with excessive camera movement. Because whenever the character moved, the camera would shake slightly. So in order to combat this, they improvised by activating the camera’s built in image stabilization. When things got even shakier, they simply supported the camera with their hands.
Such is the effect and power the Snorricam mount brings that, if you filmed the same film without it, the film probably wouldn’t be as effective. This is what makes this video special. The Snorricam hasn’t been used for the novelty or as a gimmick. It was specifically chosen because of how the technique lends itself to the narrative and how it could elevate the story.