Denver Cinematographer

Work-Trade

I should've posted this video with the last update I just did, but it got a little lost in the mix.

A couple months ago, right as we were going into heavy post production on the PEIVDF promotional video, I got an email from Andrew Millican, a local musician that was looking to make a music video for one of his songs. It seemed like a great opportunity to trade my work for the ability to use some of his music in the PEIVDF video. So we set that up.

The video that he was looking for came with some unique challenges:

  • He wanted the video to be filmed while they were recording in a live environment: Mammoth Cave Studios in Denver.
  • The entire band was going to be playing all at the same time.
  • There was no guarantee of a certain number of takes. If they were happy with the first take, they would stop after that.

What those challenges translated into in terms of how I could shoot was:

  • I mostly had to stay set once I was set, otherwise they might pick up some of my movements in the recording.
  • I had to plan out shots that would give me depth access to as many musicians as possible, even if I had to pan, tilt or rack focus to get to them.
  • I would need to get some B-Roll ahead of time, just in case they did one take and nailed it.
  • Also, I would have to hope that their playing was consistent enough across the multiple takes that I could cut images from one take with the audio of another and not have it out of sync.
  • AND, I would have to try to light for every angle of the entire group at once since I wouldn't have time to reset in between takes. This, I wasn't quite as worried about, but I still wanted it to look as professional as possible, while still maybe giving off the tone that I wanted for the song.

Since I'd never done anything quite like this before, I just had to give it my best shot, hope for the best, and get enough B-roll and closeups to help fill in the gaps. Check out the finished product.

While it's not perfect, I hope I addressed most of what Andrew and his band wanted, and in return he was gracious enough to let us use his songs "Ursa Major" and "The Far Away Sea" in the Peter Emily video.

Hope you enjoyed it! Please feel free to comment with any additional questions, comments or feedback that you might have.

Juice

Back in December, I worked with the incredibly talented monster makeup artist Midian Crosby and a couple friends to create a horror short for Bloody Cuts' "Who's There? Film Challenge". Everything had to be made on an extremely low budget, and all of the makeup had to be practical. And yes, it was as much fun to make as it looks.

Note: I was the Director of Photography.

Hard Rain

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Despite the rain this last week, life goes on. Or I suppose I should count myself among the lucky ones that I can say that. Besides helping recover some PVC pipe and an old science fair project from a flooded basement and having to clean out my gutters, I was relatively unaffected by the floods that hit the state. So, we keep moving forward.

This weekend brought two different projects which were just lucky enough to miss the rains as well. First was "Aurora", a short film from Gaston Yvorra, about a hotel, the inhabitants therein and a maid there who feels stuck in her job. There were some great performances from Jen Stone and Jason Delancy, and I can't wait to see it as a companion piece to "Commerce City", Gaston's last film, which I'm currently finishing up sound for. They're both powerful stories about people at the end of their ropes.

The other project was a wedding at Wash Park, which I joined a couple of my friends for. I don't generally do a lot of weddings, but this one was quite a bit of fun. It was very laid back, and everyone was relieved that we finished up the ceremony just as the wind and rain rolled in. So we moved into the boat house and the music started up. I think one of the reasons I don't connect with most weddings is because there doesn't always seem to be a story that's being told. Or there's too many. Or it's the same story over and over. "We've gathered here today." "Do you?" "I do." Of course it means a lot to the people involved, and it's entirely unique to them, but when you try to make any individual wedding look unique from another, it can be a little bit harder.

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I always find that the easiest way to make weddings work is to not try and hide the fact that you've seen it before. Don't try to cover the events with artistic style, just find the genuine moments. One such moment I found happened as I was panning through the crowd as everyone was dancing. Aretha Franklin was blaring out, "All I askin'... Is for a little respect" when I pan across an old gentleman laughing and dancing with the kids half his age. I settle on him a moment, but as I move to keep going, his eyes catch his friend from across the dance floor, and they begin to dance towards each other, matching one another move for move. With each new move, the smiles grow bigger on their faces, and when they finally reach each other, they embrace in a hug, laughing with all their hearts. It was a great little moment that I was happy to capture, and for me it was entirely unique and memorable, suitable for a wedding video.

So overall it was a good weekend. I hope everyone out there is safe from the flooding, but at the very least it's good to know that even in the midst of tragic events, the world can still be filled with laughing and dancing. 

Date: The Play

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Date: The Play, a multi-media play about online dating which I worked on a couple months ago, is finally coming to an Austin, Texas near you!  

This project was completely different than any other I've worked on before or since. Back at the beginning of the year, Luci Lajoie approached a friend of mine to see if we could shoot some interviews. Pretty straight-forward, then she went on to explain that she runs a one-person theater play which incorporates video elements into the design.

Having this setup gives an entirely unique perspective from which to approach the subject matter. How do you shoot interviews when they'll be projected above an on-stage character? Will they just turn into genies floating above the crowd? How do you expose video so it's properly projected, sometimes in the dark, sometimes in the light? Where do you place them in the frame when you don't always know which way they'll be facing when projected? You don't want them looking off-stage.  

These were all questions which arose when looking at a project like this, and in the end, we didn't have all of the answers. And in a way, there are no real answers to some of them.  

Either way, it was a pleasure to work on and gave me a chance to expand my mind a little about what media really is, and the different ways that we can use it to tell a story.  

http://www.datetheplay.com/