I love the color; the color reproduction is fantastic,” says Messerschmidt about the VENICE 2. Color was extremely important in Ferrari because it’s how we see the two different worlds that Enzo Ferrari lives between: racing Ferrari and running it. “The film is very much about contrast.”
While the majority of the film was shot on beautifully modified Panaspeeds, Michael Mann is known to have a penchant for a modified periscope lens called the Skater Scope.
“It puts the lens very close to an actor's face without their knees running into the steadicam sled,” describes Messerschmidt. “So Roberto could operate the camera, and we could get the lens right here, without the camera impacting Adam or Penelope. A lot of the very dramatic moments in the film are shot with that technique.”
According to Messerschmidt, the only problem with the Skater Scope is that it’s a slow lens. He didn’t want to have to light an entire set to a 5.6 just in case Mann decided to use it.
“The VENICE 2, the dual ISO capability of the camera made that easier. I could light the set to 800 ISO or 1000. And then if Michael felt that this particular moment necessitated the Skater Scope, he could turn to me and say, ‘I want to use a Skater Scope’ and I wouldn't need an hour and a half to relight the set…The tools supported me enormously in solving that problem for him.”
The camera’s overall versatility also aided in Messerschmidt’s favorite scene in the film, where Laura (Penelope Cruz) and Enzo (Adam Driver) have an argument about their young son who passed away.
“That scene in particular is very much about blocking. You have Laura, she's the strongest character, I think, in the film. She's static, sitting in the middle. Enzo is orbiting around her. She is shot static, and the camera moves with him. That's Michael, understanding how to stage a scene dramatically.”
Mann and Messerschmidt were very deliberate that at the most vulnerable moment of the scene, when Enzo grapples with the gravity of his occupation, the camera would be as close as eight inches from his face.
"Michael, as a filmmaker, I think he needs the camera to be free,” says Messerschmidt. “He needs the actors to be free. He doesn't want to be held back by the process of filmmaking…It was about supporting an environment where Michael could always feel free to move the camera.”