In the Spotlight with FUJIFILM – Filming “RAINFALL THE BAND” with X-H2S

In the Spotlight with FUJIFILM – Filming "RAINFALL THE BAND" with X-H2S

CineD is always searching for a way to connect creators and manufacturers – and, of course, to help filmmakers show their work. This is why we teamed up with FUJIFILM to show our filming community work that has been done with FUJIFILM cameras. If you use a FUJIFILM camera and are interested in getting your work featured, click here to learn more. “In the Spotlight” is proudly sponsored by FUJIFILM.

For this “In the Spotlight” article, we caught up with Director/writer Shane Petzman and DP Alex Levin as we wanted to hear from them about their latest project, “RAINFALL THE BAND“.

On the “RAINFALL THE BAND” set. Credit: Shane Petzman

First, here is Shane sharing his thoughts about the project:

Shane: RAINFALL THE BAND is a short film about an up-and-coming rock band in their green room in the fifteen minutes leading up to the most important show of their careers. The film was originally intended as a film but actually was performed as a stage play in the 2021 NY Theaterfest, winning Best Short Play that year. Most of the actors who performed in the stageplay reprised their roles in the film, which was shot in the very same theater where the play was performed a year prior. Since the scene worked so well as a play, we decided to use that magic in the film version by shooting the scene as an owner.

This presented a huge opportunity and a plethora of challenges as the scene runs fifteen minutes long. We found some natural points in the scene where, if needed, we could hide some cuts in post and stitch together different takes.

Luckily, with the support of FUJIFILM, we had a decent enough budget to have two days of prep and one day of principal photography. That single day of shooting proved to be a lot tighter than we had anticipated, and we really only got about five takes of the scene – most of what you see on screen coming from a single take.

The biggest challenge was having every actor and Alex (DP) in perfect synchronicity like a flawlessly timed dance – and after our first three takes of the day, we ended up having to re-block a decent chunk of the scene as we found it simply wasn’t achieving the fluidity we had anticipated. So with only a few hours left in our filming day, Alex and I had to re-block the camera and the actors in order to get what we were hoping for.

Our cast and crew were so adaptable and quick to learn that we ended up only going about ten minutes over schedule to get what we needed. My favorite part of making films is creating a community on set – an environment where people are making friends, making memories, and making art all in one fell swoop. RAINFALL THE BAND was the most incredible expression of that environment and I think that shows in the film you see on screen. 

With DP Alex Levin on the "RAINFALL THE BAND" set.
With DP Alex Levin on the “RAINFALL THE BAND” set. Credit: Shane Petzman

Next, we asked DP Alex Levin to share details about his filming career and his impressions working on this short film project.

Name: Alex Levin

– Currently based in: Brooklyn, NY

– Language(s) spoken: English and conversational Spanish

– Occupation: DP

– How did you get started in our industry? Went to film school but before that, I was always interested in photography and filmmaking. I was always shooting skateboarding videos with friends and often would make videos for classes in high school when I could.

– Current assignments: I’m currently in pre-production on a short film shooting in November. Other than that I have a few small commercial projects that I’m working on for the next month or so. It’s been a relatively slow year, though, with the strikes and tightening of marketing budgets. 

– What types of productions do you mostly shoot? I mostly work on branded commercials and documentaries.

– What is your dream assignment/job in our industry and what are you really passionate about? Personally, there are a few different types of projects that I really enjoy working on or would really love to work on more. I’ve shot a couple of rock climbing docs – I do a lot of climbing in my free time – and I’d love to do more of these. Having the opportunity to be outside and combine my climbing hobby with my professional work as a DP has always been really fun and I would enjoy working on more of these types of projects. I’d also love some more narrative work. It’s something I’ve been pursuing a little more in the last few years and having complete creative control to build a world and construct shots is basically the opposite of the doc work I’ve done. Though they’re time-consuming in a different way than the doc work, I’d love to have a few more narrative projects on my plate. 

Director Shane Petzman with DP Alex Levin
Director Shane Petzman with DP Alex Levin. Credit: Shane Petzman

– In the work that you are presenting us, now that it is done, what would you have done differently throughout the production? I’ve spoken about this before but I think the only thing I really would have done differently with Rainfall is to hire a camera operator. Shane and I collaborated well and had done a lot of work in pre-production, but I would have preferred to be at the monitor with him so I could watch with a more critical eye. Instead, operating and DPing, I was so heavily in the space of paying attention to blocking and framing that it was hard to be objective about what I was shooting. I was relying on Shane a lot to figure out what was and wasn’t working, and I wish I could have been more involved in that conversation at the monitor.

– What current camera, lenses, and sound equipment do you use? Currently, I use all sorts of cameras. I have some shoots in which we use REDs, some in which we use ARRIs, some in which we use FUJIFILM, and I own a Blackmagic 4K with a set of Canon FD lenses as well. It’s really about what’s best for the project. Maybe on a documentary project, you want a small camera and small zoom lenses – maybe on a narrative, you want an ARRI with Anamorphics, maybe on a content job you want a FUJIFILM with a small form factor. It really depends entirely on the budget and what we’re shooting.

– You chose to shoot your project with the FUJIFILM X-H2S camera. Did you impose on yourself any limitations like not shooting with a tripod? For this project, we did the whole film in one take on a FUJIFILM X-H2S, so I’d say that was a pretty significant limitation. It was both a practical and creative choice for us – when we sat down to storyboard/design shots we realized that it was going to be so hard to shoot every part of the scene the way we wanted to that it made more sense to do it as a single take. I also think it puts you more in the moment with the band. The short plays out in real-time and we wanted to heighten the tension by keeping the camera almost as if it were a member of the band or just watching things play out backstage. 

DP Alex Levin on set. Credit: Shane Petzman

-Filming with the X-H2S: We shot this film in particular on the FUJIFILM X-H2S and the FUJINON Cabrio 19-90mm T2.9 zoom lens. Overall they were great to work with. I’m very familiar with FUJIFILM’s line of zooms and they’ve always been great lenses. Clean but with enough character to warrant bringing on narrative projects. This was my first time working with the X-H2S and I really loved that experience as well. The small form factor was perfect for doing these long takes where I needed to hold the camera handheld for extended periods of time. It also has a nice high-resolution capture and a really great LOG format that allowed us a ton of room in post to tweak the grade the way we wanted. 

– What’s your favorite lighting equipment and why did you choose that kit over other solutions? These days I tend to work a lot with LED units, usually Aputure lights, but it really depends on the project. For Rainfall, we actually had fluorescent housings (like you’d see in a garage) that we bulbed with LED tubes. I had seen a video about Full Metal Jacket and they used a lot of fluorescent tubes to light the barracks scenes which I thought was a really good idea. It allowed us to light practically, so if you saw any fixtures, it wouldn’t necessarily look like we’d lit the scene. Outside of that, we placed a lot of practical lamps around for small pockets of light in the scene. We really wanted it to feel like the backstage of a venue and this helped us achieve that.

– Do you use drones/gimbals in your productions? If so, what is the most effective way you’ve found of deploying them? Sometimes I do – I’ve been using gimbals more and more. It’s usually easier when you have a system that the camera can easily go between handheld or sticks and the gimbal. This way you’re not spending 20 minutes switching between support systems. Otherwise, I think these, like any other tool, should just be used when necessary. See how they incorporate into the story you’re telling and use them deliberately when needed.

– What editing systems do you use and are you satisfied working with it? I use Premiere – I don’t do a ton of editing and I’m used to it so it works for me.

– How much of your work do you shoot in “flat picture profile” and what is your preferred way of color correcting? All of it. I almost never shoot with a baked-in look unless there’s a very specific reason to do it. Preferably I’d pass things to a colorist or use a LUT that I like – though I’m not the best at using color-correction software so I find it’s usually better to send it off to someone I can collaborate with instead of trying to do it myself. 

– How frequently do you travel and do you have any tips when it comes to packing your gear? I travel fairly often, though not as much as I used to. I think the best advice I have for packing gear is to just have a few different bags – sometimes you’ll want a smaller one if you’re not taking much with you and sometimes you’ll want a bigger one if you have more kit. Having a variety of bags that you can reconfigure depending on what you need to bring has been key for me. At this point, I have a small bag for just stills cameras, a medium bag that I can basically get a whole kit into, and then a large bag that I can load with accessories or even bigger cameras if necessary.

Director Shane Petzman with DP Alex Levin
Director Shane Petzman with DP Alex Levin. Credit: Shane Petzman

If you are interested in knowing more about Shane’s work and Alex’s projects, please head over to their sites and social media links below.

Shane’s Website –, Shane’s Instagram – @shpeltz 
Alex’s Website –, Alex’s Instagram – @alexdlevin

RAINFALL THE BAND film website:, Instagram – @rainfalltheband

Full disclosure: This “In The Spotlight” series of interviews is sponsored by FUJIFILM.

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