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Sex, punk & Canon cameras: behind the scenes of Sex Pistols Disney+ biopic

Sex Pistols documentary
(Image credit: Miya Mizuno - Canon)

A brand new documentary about pioneering British punk band The Sex Pistols has been filmed using a range of Canon cameras and lenses. Directed by Danny Boyle, the six-part series focuses on the band's rise to fame and the subsequent notoriety that followed them. 

Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle opted to choose a range of different cameras including 18 Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camerass, and a Canon EOS 1DX Mark III DSLR, a Canon XL 1 and a Canon XL H1 professional camcorders. 

By using a range of cutting-edge and vintage Canon cameras, Mantle has been able to create footage that resonates with The Sex Pistols era while taking advantage of modern technology. 

 • Read more: Best 4K cameras (opens in new tab)

Danny Boyle who also directed 127 Hours and Trainspotting said, “With this series I wanted to capture the limitless energy from the punk community and the furnace of potential that was the Sex Pistols. I’m very visual and with Anthony, we constantly talked about how we were going to manifest this”.

The documentary is based on Lonely Boy, the memoir of legendary Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams joins Toby Wallace from Baby Teeth and Toby Williams from Paddington in this star-studded production which NME described as a "fast-paced biopic that captures the Sex Pistols story." 

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle on set of his new Sex Pistols film with one of the Canon cameras (Image credit: Miya Mizuno - Canon)
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In the pre-production stages, Anthony contacted Canon to see if they could help him make two-multi camera solutions that would allow him to create a bull time effect.  With support from Arri Rental and UK-based technical production studio The Flash Pack, Anthony was able to create a system comprising of 12 EOS R5 cameras mounted vertically to make it as compact as possible plus a more portable six-camera rig that was able to move around the set.  

Antony chose the EOS R5 due to its size, weight and ability to capture high-resolution full frame footage in Canon Log at 24P. Bullet time is an effect used to give the visual impression of detaching the time and space from a camera and it is famously used in films such as The Matrix. 

"It's a flat screen but you do everything you can to not make it flat," says Danny Boyle of his and Dod Mantle's experimental approach to shooting Pistol, which included using a novel configuration of multiple Canon EOS R5 cameras rigged together. (Image credit: Miya Mizuno - Canon)

Aron Randhawa, the European product marketing specialist at Canon Europe who supported the project said, "As a world leader in imaging solutions, we are committed to creating cutting edge technology that helps creative artists bring their stories to life. Pistol is a fantastic example of how our cameras and lenses are being used in new and innovative ways by some of the world's leading filmmakers. 

Pistol is now available to watch on Disney+ and whether or not you stood for the anarchist movement they believed in or hated every part of it, the music industry has a lot to thank the Sex Pistols for. Without them, Punk wouldn’t exist and while many considered their music and attitudes unruly, they are without a doubt one of the most groundbreaking acts in music history. 

Read more:

Best Canon cameras (opens in new tab)
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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.