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John Pope talks about “Blood Brother,” and how the small form factor of the EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D helped him capture some of the most moving scenes without being intrusive
Blood Brother is a feature documentary about a young man with a strong desire for a family he’ll find at an AIDS hostel in a small village outside the city of Chennai, India. The movie got the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the Sundance Festival 2013.
Rocky Braat, a young man from a fractured family and a troubled past, went traveling through India without a plan. Then he met a group of HIV positive children living in an orphanage — a meeting that changed everything for him.
Rocky left his life, friends, and career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to live with the kids. Steve Hoover, his best friend and filmmaker, was unsettled and intrigued by this drastic action. In an effort to find out what compelled Rocky to give up every source of stability in his life, Hoover decided to trace Rocky’s story, following him to India.
He witnessed Rocky and the kids endure disease, abject poverty, and death. But, strangest of all, in the midst of these troubles, he also saw their deep joy. And he came to understand why Rocky had given up everything he had to experience it.
‘Blood Brother’ is a story of friendship. It’s a story of a life, stripped down to its essence. Most of all, it is a story about love, enduring in the face of death.
Blood Brother was shot starting 2011 over a two-year period using various gear: a venerable Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D, Vixia camcorders, and a random use of smartphone video. About the full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II John Pope says:
At the time in 2011 […] there weren’t many cameras on the market that were as good in low light as the EOS 5D Mark II. Being able to shoot in low light is always important especially if you’re going for a natural look of existing practicals in a location that you don’t have control over. […] Although it’s not always easy to articulate the look of a larger sensor, I think that it lends itself to a different feel of the space within the image.”
More about the technical background can be read at Canon DLC. The movie caused some controversy you can read about here while director Steve Hoover’s response can be read here. All filmmaker proceeds are donated to the children seen in the film and to HIV/AIDS initiatives.
- Director: Steve Hoover
- Writers: Steve Hoover, Phinehas Hodges, Tyson VanSkiver
- Producers: Danny Yourd, Leigh Blake, John Carlin, Steve Hoover
- Editor: Steve Hoover
- Additional Cinematography: Tyson VanSkiver, Phinehas Hodges, Steve Hoover, Danny Yourd
- Colorist: Allan Stallard
Video below: Blood Brother trailer