Mr. Doxxer (a Mr. Robot parody)

THE VIDEO

Mr. Doxxer, written by Brad Gage, takes a feminist slant on the issue of doxxing, which is the act of  hacking someone’s personal information and publicly exposing it on the internet. It is based off of many incidents where angry guys doxxed women who spoke out against misogyny, framed in the structure and style of the Season 1 trailer for Mr. Robot because of the connection to hackers. I shot and directed this puppy for Mr. Gage and it was a really fun exercise in re-creating a great looking show with very little money.

CREW: basically just me, though occasionally we had a friend run sound

LIGHTING: natural, two fluorescent soft boxes, an LED panel, one Arri kit

CAMERA: 5d mkiii, shot in Cinestyle

LENSES: Rokinon primes, Canon L-series 24-105mm (f/4), Canon 70-200mm (f/2.8)

COLOR: DaVinci Resolve Lite

 

LIGHTING (OR NOT)

A lot of this video was shot using no film lights at all. There were so many shots to get in so little time, that I decided to choose locations and block the actors in such a way that the natural lighting would look good on their faces and I could color correct to perfection later. Brad and I spent one morning scouting cafés, which was the only location needed that we didn’t have access to already.

The Café

Mr. Doxxer coffee shop
In the café, the key (and only) light is coming from sunlight through the window. I put the table and actors next to the window to maximize the natural lighting. I knew we would only need over-the-shoulder coverage and I didn’t want to deal with shooting directly into the window, so it worked out perfectly. I was also able to position the café’s curtains in just the right spots to control the light and add some layers.

 

The Subway

Mr. Doxxer subway.jpg
This was us straight up buying some subway tickets and grabbing as many shots as possible before making it to the last stop and back. I had no lights for this scene, but the key to getting decent stuff was my Rokinon primes. It was somewhat dark in the subway, so the fact that I could open up to an f/2 helped to, not only let in more light, but also to give me some lovely shallow depth of field. Another trick was to use my monopod to steady the shots as much as possible, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to setup a tripod or anything. We were, of course, trying to be as quick and discreet as possible, a skill we mastered on Rough Day.

 

Meltdown Comics

Mr. Doxxer Meltdown.jpg
The comic book shop was our version of the arcade location in Mr. Robot. Brad and I both worked at the theater for a while and we also produced and performed in regular shows there so we knew the location well and they were nice enough to let us pop off a few quick shots. We wanted to make sure not to inconvenience them or get in the way of shoppers, so again, I shot the scene on a monopod and used only a small LED panel to give Brad a little eye light. Otherwise, the natural lighting worked well and the fluorescent fixtures overhead made for some cool geometry in some of the shots. Again, I was very deliberate in the area we chose and the way I positioned the actors to maximize the existing “set dec” and lighting.

 

L.A. Live

LA Live Brad.png
L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles is a fun spot with lots of cool restaurants, theaters, and museums. It was also a great substitute for Times Square in Mr. Robot. There is lots of light that was amazing for the background, but I needed to add the LED panel to key light Brad’s face. I didn’t have a crew, so my girlfriend (who was acting in the scene) was able to hold the light since her and Brad were never on screen at the same time. Thanks, Melissa!

 

COLOR

Color correction was super important for this video, since I wasn’t able to finesse much of the lighting on set.

Mr. Doxxer Ferris Wheel.jpg
Shooting on the ferris wheel was pretty crazy. Totally worth it…but crazy. First of all, we needed to do it because the ferris wheel scene from Mr. Robot is pretty iconic to those that know the show. We bought four tickets: two for the actors, one for me, and one for our friend who was working the Zoom for sound (we used lav mics). The ferris wheel buckets only fit four people anyway, so we were lucky the scene only had two characters. Turns out the ride is only 8 minutes long, so the plan was to just run through each person’s lines a few times and I’d get a couple different angles. Then sound and I would quickly swap sides mid-air and get the other person’s coverage before the ride ends. So we get to the front of the line and the employee sees my monopod and tells us that we’re not allowed to mount a camera on anything. “That’s just the policy.” Ok…handheld it is. Luckily, my Canon 24-105mm has image stabilization so, fine. I have a steady hand. YOU THINK SOME LOUSY POLICY IS GOING TO STOP MEEEEE???!!! No. We get situated and the ferris wheel starts…and it’s really fast. The light is constantly changing because the top is exposed to sun and the bottom is completely shaded. Plus, I can’t really see the LCD well because it’s so sunny. I had a variable ND on the lens and I was adjusting willy-nilly to whatever seemed right at the moment. We were basically trying to grab the lines whenever the ferris wheel stopped and people were getting on and off below us. After some issues with the Zoom recorder, we were able to get all of Bob’s coverage (playing the Christian Slater character) and part of Brad’s on the first ride. Then Brad and I bought two more tickets and went on another ride to finish his coverage while Bob and Eddie (our sound friend) went to eat some churros or something. Needless to say, and as you can see above, I had basically no control over anything except for composition, so I just tried to keep as much as possible within exposure and color correct the crap out of it later. I’ll just say, the way I shoot and the quality of my images has vastly improved since I learned how to color.

 

Mr. Doxxer Subway color.jpg
The natural color on the subway made me want to vomit. But you get what you get. I shot in Cinestyle because it gives me the most control over contrast. Then I took out the ugly green cast, though I kept a little hint for a few reasons: it’s natural on a subway because of the fluorescent lighting, it adds to the mood of the scene where Mr. Doxxer is suspicious of women looking at him, it matches the subway scene in Mr. Robot, and it adds a nice little flavor that’s different from the other scenes.

 

Mr. Doxxer My Office color
The same goes for this shot of Mike Diva. I shot in Cinestyle and the only lights I had access to were two fluorescent soft boxes, which turn up green on camera. My white balance was set at daylight because I was also letting in natural light from the windows for fill. Then I keyed and backlit him with the fluorescents, knowing I could take out the green in post.

 

HOW’D I DO?

A fun comparison of shots between Mr. Robot and Mr. Doxxer:

Mr. Doxxer shot comparison.jpg

Here’s the original Mr. Robot trailer in case you’re curious:

 

LESSONS LEARNED

This video was the perfect chance to experiment with new styles of composition that I’m not used to using. Mr. Robot has opened up a whole new world when it comes to extreme, non-traditional comps and it feels like it’s gonna be a sweet, sweet new world.

 

CREDITS

A Mr. Robot Gamergate Parody
Written By and Starring Brad Gage
Directed and Shot by Eric Lombart
Executive ProducerAnna Akana
Sound – Eddie Mauldin
Featuring: Bob Turton, Anna Akana, Mike Diva, Jasmine Elist, Beth Rowe, Janell Lenfert, Christina Kalvelege, Melissa Tabares
Special Thanks – Christian Spicer, Urban Social House

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