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APPLETON ASCENDING

From film loader to the ASC Awards in a few short years, Ben Appleton is one of the UK’s top DITs.

 



BEN APPLETON DIT


 Ben has worked with cinematographers such as John Toll ASC and Phedon Papamichael ASC on some of the biggest budget movies shooting in the UK. We caught up with Ben early in 2016 in Los Angeles.

How did you get to where you are today?
I started working at Visual Impact, a Sony dealer. I became the key technician going out with the F900 camera. I quickly realised that I preferred the on-set life so I started working as a film loader on TV shows and then movies. When the digital revolution happened, I was well-positioned to become a DIT. One of my first projects was working with Darius Wolski ASC on The Counselor and then I worked with John Toll ASC on Jupiter Ascending. Now I have a few 1st ACs that I work regularly with – Olly Tellett and Dave Cozens to name a couple. I also first worked with Will Gardner on The Counselor and Jupiter Ascending and he’s worked with me as my data wrangler ever since. The last three movies I did were with Olly. I was fortunate enough to work the whole of 2015, moving from Now You See Me 2 to The Huntsman to Assassins Creed.

On-set for The Huntsman

When did you first come across Codex?
I was working on commercials using the ALEXA plus Codex Onboard Recorder combination. Then on Jupiter Ascending I came across the ALEXA XT which was a revelation because the Codex recording engine was inside the camera.

How’s your experience with Codex been?
Codex’s support team are superb – always straight back to me with an answer to my questions. I now own a Codex Vault myself. With the new Production Suite software, I have everything I need for archiving, review and dailies. It’s the ideal solution for the massive amount of data that is being generated on-set nowadays. On Assassins Creed we generated at least 9-10 TB per day and 22 TB on the biggest day. No other system could handle that volume so efficiently – we were done 30 minutes after wrap every day.


“WITH PRODUCTION SUITE, I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED FOR ARCHIVING, REVIEW, AND DAILIES”



Left to right: Ben Appleton, Mike Green (C Camera Focus), Tobias Eedy (B Camera Focus), Mark Dempsey (DIT Second Acc)

Do you have any mentors?
I love being on set and the collaboration between everyone on a movie project. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several incredible cinematographers that I consider to be mentors – John Toll, Phedon Papamichael, Peter Deming, John Mathieson and Mark Patten – to name a few.

Tell us about a particular movie that was challenging but enjoyable.
Assassins Creed gave me the opportunity to work with Adam Arkapaw, a very talented young DP, and the great team he had assembled for this challenging project. We worked in some difficult locations – the tops of old, historic buildings in Malta for example – and pushed the envelope of what could be achieved, sometimes filming four or five massive stunts in one day. We used a combination of ALEXA XT and ALEXA 65 – 65 for the modern day scenes and XT for the historical sequences. There were new challenges every day, along with vast amounts of data, but it was an amazing project to be involved in.

How is the role of the DIT evolving?
I am becoming more involved in the digital intermediate process. I like to see a job through from beginning to end and understanding the DI helps me to make better decisions up front.

Images courtesy Ben Appleton