In a slight change of pace I was encouraged to make some food related work. Definitely not my usual MO but a really fun challenge to tackle!
The voting for the Dominica Film Challenge beings today! Take a look at all the incredible projects and cast a vote for your favorite. And best of all, enter for a chance to win your own trip to the island!
Our film recieved over ten thousand views in the first week which was a wonderful milestone for us. With people reached strictly through social media it is awesome to known that so many were interested in viewing our adventure on the island. The film has also popped up on a variety of sites. Check a few out below:
There are two things I watched recently that both resonate strongly with me as a filmmaker.
The first is a deconstruction of a few scenes directed by Edgar Wright. Edgar is easily one of my top 5 directors and this piece by Tony Zhou really gives some strong insight into the strength of his craft. Watch it below and see why framing can mean so much more then a cool angle.
The second is the HBO show True Detective, with all 8 episodes directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Most TV shows have a director do one or two episodes during the entire season which makes Cary's directing of all 8 crazy impressive. He essentially directed an 8 hour film during the production span of a TV show which means two things, he is a great leader and he gives away a lot of control to his crew. I don't know how someone could create something so strong without incredible collaborators. Watch the show and try and not walk away inspired.
I am extremely excited to present this film I directed for Firefighter Nation. It was a very rewarding project to create and one of the most fun shoots I've had. Nick Mihalevich of Cape Status was a huge part of this project with the sound design, mix and most importantly the original music. Take a look below and enjoy what some men and women do without a second thought.
I'm super excited to share the expedition that Josh Becker and I were able to take part in about a month ago. Surreal to think this all started with a pitch video the two of us put together in a day. It was an amazing adventure and I got to meet even better people. Hit the link to see all the awesome people who worked on this project including composer Andre Gaskins, writer Molly Augustin and post sound extraordinaire Nick Mihalevich. Oh and I can't forget the gravely voice of Mark Mazur and the other peeps at A2F. Hope you dig it!
Things have been super post heavy this month which means a lot of new work is coming down the pipeline.
In addition to these three projects that should be wrapped in the next month, I'm prepping some new work with DP Scott Regan that will be a bit of a new avenue for me. More bread and butter work but it should have some potential. I'll post more about it as we get closer to production.
Going into the Dominica Challenge I had project ideas, concepts and a wikipedia based knowledge of the island, leaving the Island I had 10 new friends, an experience of a lifetime and a whole lot of amazing footage.
Day 1 - Travel to Dominica
It was a travel day like any other, well beside United not giving out any sort of food, what's up with that? And Josh Becker "leaving" his passport on a plane in St Maarten. He claims it wasn't "lost" because he got it back before our next flight but I'm not sure that's how it works...
We arrived at the island some 13 hours later, did a quick meet and greet with the other teams at the airport and hopped on a bus to travel toward the south side of the Island, Roseau for the first few nights of the trip.
Day 2 - Orientation, "Whale Watching" and The Press Conference
We started the day figuring out how we would spend our week adventuring, we quickly learned a week was far from being enough time to really dive into the island so we had to choose what we would be doing very specifically. We had the advice of our week long driver, Matthew and our tech advisor Jawanza to help guide us. We then hopped on a boat and went whale watching.
We were told there was an eighty five percent chance we would see whales. I guess we were the fifteen percent but that didn't stop us from getting some amazing footage. We also may have partially, slightly, kinda submerged the camera on our first shoot day...
After whale watching, the Discover Dominica Authority had a small press conference officially declaring the 1st annual Dominica Challenge to have begun. Josh and I then got to meet a few of the cinematographers on the Island and geeked out over gear, production and all the fun of making movies for a living. It was a good night.
Day 3 - The Boiling Lake and 100lbs of Gear.
The Boiling Lake Hike - The hardest hike in all of the Caribbean, 7 hours of hiking a total 16 miles going up hills both ways to get to the second biggest boiling lake in the world. Everyone told us to hike as light as possible but we were too stupid/ambitious/naive/dedicated to listen. It ended up taking us 11 hours but we got to drink fresh spring water from a leaf, venture though the Valley of Desolation, yes that's it's real name and eat a fresh sugar apple. But boy did our legs hurt the rest of the week.
Day 4 - Scuba Diving and Exploring
After a day of some of the most intense hiking I have ever done I figured what better way then to spend a little time "recovering" in the water. So I hopped on a boat and dove a few incredible places. Josh tried to game the system into diving as well but he didn't get a chance to get his PADI card in time so he was restricted to snorkeling which I heard was pretty swell as well.
After diving, Josh and I met back up and did a little exploring. We found the coolest one seat barbershop.
After another day of discovering the island we met back up with a large part of the crew for dinner. Things got a little crazy that night, Josh jumped into the ocean fully clothed after being paid off by the others and I ended up arm "fighting" a local dock worker. He won but everyone said he was cheating. Either way it was a great night.
Day 5 - A One Man Rum Distillery, Recreating the Experience & a Night Bonfire
Josh and I went back out on the hunt for adventure and we ended up coming across a man who makes his own rum from local spring water and local sugar cane. It was moonshine to the nth degree but an amazing process to see the most authentic version of rum creation especially considering rum punch flows in Dominica like water.
After buying some of the local rum we moved up to the North for the final few days of the trip. There are two main towns in Dominica, Roseau and Portsmouth, it was now time to see what Portsmouth had to offer. All the teams met back up for a late night cocktail and this is where Josh and I decided to start incorporation our own adventure into what we were shooting. We went to the island to find adventure and ended up living it ourself so we re-created a few of our favorite moments through out the week.
Day 6 - The Kalinago & Titou Gorge
Seeing where Dominica had come from was really important to us to grasp a better understanding of the island. We visited the Kalinago Model Village where the past of the locals was represented with authenticity.
We ended the day by putting the camera in more danger, just the way Josh and I like it. We rented a small kayak and moved through the Titou Gorge. It was a beautiful little gorge tucked away near the boiling lake.
Day 7 - The Indian River and The Waterfall
The final day of shooting was bittersweet, we shot so much great stuff but at the same time it felt like we barely scratched the surface. We climbed aboard a paddle boat and went down the Indian River, the only river in Dominica that's boat-able.
Dominica, has 365 rivers and at least half of those have waterfalls so we had to see one before we left. We ventured down to the Syndicate falls and enjoyed one of Dominica's most notable natural landscapes before calling our final day of production. The night ended with one last cocktail hour featuring the teams.
Day 8 - The End and Beginning of Much More
And the end of the trip one thing stuck out the most - the people we got to meet and spend our week with. The other explorers became great friends in such a short time that it was sad to see everyone disperse back to where they came from. I can't wait to see what everyone else creates in the coming months. Check out their work below - It's phenomenal and I feel blessed to have been in the same group with such talent.
Our Wild Abandon - Kyla and Jill - Two extremely talented photographers who capture the essence of travel and life. Keep an eye for them as they will be big before you know it.
Hello Margeaux - Sarah & Amy - Two artists who work with a very focused and human touch. Check out their insights here.
And a very special thank you to Michael Kraabel & Nathan Eide for giving Josh and I a shot at something special, running the whole thing and keeping us all in check through out the week. This adventure wouldn't exist or be worthwhile without them.
Last but not least a huge thank you to Nikki and the entire Discover Dominica Authority who took a chance on us to travel to their beautiful country. It will be something I'll be talking about for a long long long time.
We wrapped Nike! Super excited to have it in the can, three days of intense shooting allowed us to get what we needed despite a medley of production variables. We had a few last minute cast drop-outs that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we snagged a better set of talent. The weather decided to start melting after our first day of production so we resorted to shoveling snow onto locations, framing very specifically and moving locations around. All in all it worked out well and we were able to shoot nearly everything without compromise. I'm a stern believer that the harder the shoot gets the better the final film will end up. That pressure really puts your creativity to the test. Check out a couple of ungraded stills from our last day below.
Now I need to finish packing for Dominica. I fly out tomorrow morning...I'll try and get up stills as we move across the island.
When all said and done the Dominica Expedition had over 1,100 people pitching for the job. Josh Becker and I snagged two of the twelve total spots available! We couldn't be more excited to get to the island and see what unfolds. Luckily for us we only have to wait another 11 days. Now I just need to purchase a bathing suit...
While waiting to hear back on the Dominica Challenge, Alex Horner and myself were hard at work getting everything prepped for the Nike spot we had been working on the past couple months. We dove into production and have had two amazing shoot days thus far. The first day involved bouncing between a variety of places in a downtown metropolis and running across a frozen lake. The second was a night shoot with a more warn and urban look. We have only one more shoot day left, let's hope the weather holds out for us. Check out some ungraded stills below.
A HUGE part of the directing process is pitching. Pitching ideas, crew, music, locations, gear, the list goes on and on and before you even get to that point you have to pitch for the job.
The Dominica Challenge is a bit unique as anyone in the world can pitch on it. I came across it on social media and I saw it as a great way to expand my portfolio with the type work I'm trying to create moving forward - adventurous, exciting and curious. So I teamed up with cinematographer, Josh Becker to pitch for this project. His tech savviness and eye combined with my storytelling stylings and adventurousness seemed like a perfect pairing.
It was a really fun video to put together and I think it conveyed Josh and my personalties and passions fairly well. Take a look at it below and see the link to read more about the challenge.
The first few months of the year can be fairly slow but that hasn't stopped me from going out and trying to create any opportunity I can. Here is a quick breakdown of the project's I'm currently working on!
A few years back I shot this amazing footage during a House Burn with frequent collaborator Mark Mazur and never really had the right opportunity to use more then a shot or two for a project. After some time the right idea finally hit and I've been in post with it over the past month and a half. Nick Mihalevich of Cape Status (http://capestatus.com/) has been hard at work on the music and sound design plus we snagged Mark Mazur's deep sexy voice for the VO. It should be ready to launch in March. Can't wait to show it to you all!
Nike - Winter Won't Slow Us Down
The still above is from some test shooting that Cinematographer, Alex Horner (http://hornerpictures.com/) and I did about a week or so ago. This project is about the intensity and hardship of running in the winter and there is no better place then Minnesota right now to shoot it. We've still got a few weeks of pre-pro left before we put the shoes to the ice but it's coming together nicely. I have an amazing team on board for this project and I can't wait to spill more about it as we get closer to production!
Cinematographer, Josh Becker (Joshbecker.net) and I have been hard at work on wrapping up this pitch video we shot last week for a potential gig on an Island in the Caribbean sea. I don't want to say too much about it right now but it's got a bit of a Casey Nesitat flavor to it and news of the potential expedition should come down the pipeline in the very near future.
American Express - Gilman Floors
And lastly the project that is stuck in the land of post-production. I wrapped up this gig at the tail of 2013 and I'm waiting on the final clearance from legal before it goes live. These things can often take a while so it becomes a bit of a waiting game. We got to tell a pretty cool story about a company that came to the brink of bankruptcy only to be given an olive branch by American Express. A intriguing shoot where I really got to dig into the local culture. I used AirBnB for the first time on this trip and I really recommend it. You get a great opportunity to stay with locals who really instill the history in you and makes the trip feel much more intimate.
Exactly one year ago today I was in Australia. It was my first time traveling to the other hemisphere and it was on someone else's dollar, not a bad way to go. Mark Mazur, James Rautmann & myself were flown there to receive an award for a Chevy spot we produced. It was an amazing week. Check out that spot that I shot/edited and the trip video below.
"Your first 10 films suck. It's a matter of getting them made and out of the way so you can move onto something good." I'm paraphrasing Robert Rodriguez from his book Rebel Without a Crew which in my opinion is one of, if not the best book I've read on filmmaking.
He is unbelievably right about this and making good work comes down to making enough bad work to know what not to repeat. Or you could say knowing how to make good work but it doesn't sound as poetic in this post... Another person who sums it up well is Ira Glass. His words are turned into this beautifully made film called The Gap which is worth two minutes of your day:
Now the reason I bring this up is the fact that I have made a lot of crap. A lot of films in my high school, college and even professional career are less then ideal. Be it experience, time, resources, creativity or the dreaded "client." And while many people may see these films as something to ignore and move past, I see them as important stepping stones for figuring out exactly who you are as a filmmaker. And two of the most important films that I've made thus far are Surface and Cycle. Both 20 minute shorts that I created with Mark Mazur in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. These two films pushed me in ways that nothing else had because of the lack of resources and the overflow of ambition. Trying to create a post apocalyptic world and an underground science facility in the middle of Wisconsin for roughly $1000 each, isn't an easy task. And we may have only succeeded to a certain point but I think they show strong elements of filmmaking or at least skills starting to blossom. If you really want to learn how to make films, nothing is better then producing something as well as shooting/lighting/directing/production designing/editing/sound designing/foleying/ADR'ing/mixing and a few other things thrown in there. So check these films out, laugh at the bad, enjoy the good and go out and make something of your own.