"April Showers" brings 4K digital filmmaking


Indie filmmaking is becoming more and more high-tech. This is evidenced in April Showers, one of the very first feature-length motion pictures to be filmed entirely in 4K digital photography.

April Showers is a account of a school shooting, based upon the events in Columbine, CO, on April 20, 1999. Though it was written and directed by Andrew Robinson, a survivor of the Columbine shootings, it isn't a re-creation of the events. Instead, according to Robinson, it's a fictional, more generalized story intended to resonate more deeply outside of the context of the Columbine shootings. I spoke with Robinson earlier today about the film and the ideas behind it.

"I didn't want the audience to sit down and go, 'Oh, this is the Columbine story,' and divorce themselves from the fact that school violence affects us all, whether it's a school shooting or a bullying or someone bringing a gun to school but not getting the chance to discharge it," Robinson says. "No school is ever identified. It's a high school in Everywhere, USA."

The film was recorded on a Dalsa Origin II camera, a digital video camera that records 4K video (4096 x 2048) at 24 frames per second. With the exception of a few short news camera sequences shot at 1080i, the entire movie was filmed in 4K.

While many films are being recorded at 4K resolution, they are usually physically filmed, and then scanned into 4K resolution (and later downscaled to 2K for most projection systems). There are very few 4K-capable digital video cameras on the market, even among professional filmmakers, and only a handful of 4K digital projectors across the country. While the standard has been available for some time and 35mm film is equivalent to 4K resolution in detail, 4K digital filmmaking is only beginning to see widespread use.

April Showers will premiere on April 20, the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shootings. It will see a limited release of about 25 screens across the country. It hasn't been confirmed that the film will be shown commercially in any of the 4K-equipped cinemas, but a preview screening on a Sony 4K digital projector in Los Angeles is scheduled for April 14.

Will Greenwald