Bad Axe follows the Siev family as they fight to keep their local restaurant and American dream alive in rural Michigan, amid dealing with backlash from a divided community, the financial stress of the pandemic, and intergenerational trauma. Following a very successful festival run with more than 20 awards, including Best First Feature at the Critics’ Choice Awards and the SXSW Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature, Bad Axe recently had its streaming premiere on Hulu.

The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s portable design helped Siev, who also served as the film’s DP, stay flexible while shooting. He explained, “Bad Axe is a cinema verité documentary, so it was shot very run and gun. Since the subjects are my family and it was during the pandemic, I didn’t have a crew. There were no specific shoot days or schedules; everything was just a ‘pick up and go’ situation. If something interesting was happening, I would grab the camera, so it had to always be within an arm’s reach of me and ready to go.

“I’ve always wanted to share my family’s American dream story. My dad is a Cambodian refugee who came to this country in 1979 with nothing but the shirt on his back after having survived the Killing Fields,” Siev noted. “When I first picked up the camera and began shooting, I was in the midst of writing a script about his life of surviving genocide and overcoming the struggles of trauma, loss, and PTSD. There originally wasn’t any intention to make a documentary, but as we reached the summer of 2020, I realized this American dream story I’d always wanted to share about my family had to be told within the context of what the American dream is today.

“There became a sense of urgency to the project because the American dream was being challenged in ways it never had been before, with not only a pandemic, but heightened racial tensions, political division, and so much more. Having tools like the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K allowed me to capture that story in a way that invited the audience to view these universal issues through a personal, yet cinematic lens.”

Bad Axe was captured in Blackmagic RAW and then color graded and conformed with DaVinci Resolve Studio. “The ability to shoot in 12 bit RAW was such a game changer, especially when making a run and gun documentary like this where we needed that flexibility to push the image when we were in situations where we couldn’t control lighting. The dual native ISO was also a huge plus for us in that regard, as well as the menu layout for quick usability when grabbing the camera on the fly. I wish all camera menus were as intuitive as Blackmagic Design’s,” Siev added.

“In some ways, Bad Axe feels like a home movie due to the approach of picking up the camera and shooting such intimate family moments. However, what separates it from a typical home movie is obviously the craft that goes into filmmaking, like framing, composition, storytelling, and the overall image quality,” concluded Siev. “Blackmagic Design has changed the game for indie filmmakers in terms of having the capability to capture beautiful, cinematic images without a $50K or $60K price point.”

About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to