The Grein (Short Film) – TRAILER

The Grein_Trailer Poster 1A

I’m very pleased to share the trailer to my upcoming directorial debut short film The Grein (2013), starring actors Maryam Cné and Chris Labadie. Presented by Grein Optics and featuring Grein eyewear, it’s the story of two people in search of an adventure with each other, exploring nature and creating a life long memory. The full short film will debut on March 13, 2013 on YouTube and Vimeo. The trailer features music provided by Entende.

I was blessed with two talented actors and two awesome camera men who helped me shoot this crazy adventure in completely unexpected blizzard conditions. But the results are really cool (no pun intended) to say the least.

Four Them (Short Film) – First Look

I apologize for the lack of new blog posts this year, but I’ve been busy writing, producing, and directing my own first short film. Here are a few promotional still images from it. We just finished production on it and are now in post. It was shot entirely on Canon EOS DSLR’s, mostly the 7D, but also the 5D MkII and 60D. We plan to get this short into the film festival circuit next year (2013).

You can “LIKE” Four Them and follow the film on Facebook.

Innocents – First Look

 

Innocents is one of the local Phoenix, Arizona independent film projects that I worked on earlier this year (in May and June 2011). Written by Jeff Houkal and directed by Joshua M. Lambeth, Innocents is a feature length dramatic film. We shot about 5 minutes worth of selected scenes from the script to create a trailer for the film to promote the work of the cast and crew and garner funding for the production of the entire feature. The director and screenwriter are hopeful that production on the entire film will be possible in the near future. The cast of Innocents includes Kasim Aslam, Gina M. D’Atri, Jeff Houkal, Xavier Christian, Cecilia Coloma, Suzanne Ziad Yacoub Yatim, Tim Valdisera, Skyla Cochrane, and Robert Jakob.

Shot entirely on location with a Canon 5d Mark II DSLR camera in 1080p HD, Lambeth served as both Director and Director of Photography, two roles he is well suited to. Lambeth has a knack for lighting and shooting detail images. He simply has that photographer’s eye and his body of work so far shows it. I previously posted a review of his short film Time. My favorite scenes from the Innocents trailer are the interrogation room scenes between writer/actor Jeff Houkal and actor Kasim Aslam. I absolutely love the lighting and cinematography. In collaboration with director Lambeth, I assisted as Production Designer for that scene, suggesting the black wall backdrop and selecting the stainless steel table the two actors sit at. So I guess you could say I am a bit partial to it. But even with my normal impartial film critic hat on, I do stand by my love of that scene for it’s writing, acting, cinematography, and production design.

My specific roles on Innocents were mostly in the sound department. I was the Boom Operator, Co-Sound Mixer, Sound Editor, and Sound Designer. And I dabbled in Production Design on the interrogation scene, and assisted Josh Lambeth with a bit of editing. The sound was recorded with a Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun microphone (provided by Broadcast Rentals in Tempe, AZ) and a Sennheiser EW100 G3 wireless lavalier microphone. All sound was recorded onto a Zoom H4n portable digital recorder and edited/mixed/mastered in Avid Pro Tools LE 8. Sound work was a bit challenging on this project with some dynamic locations, but I think it turned out decent in the end. This was my fourth short film project where I worked on sound, and I learned a lot. I continue to improve my work and I really appreciate sound on movies like never before in my life! When I see that a film like Unstoppable (2010) had a team of 28 people in the sound department, I can see why my work, along with my fellow crew members, pales in comparison. Their is strength in numbers when it comes to good sound I think! Josh’s brother Christopher Lambeth and Max Goessing created the musical score for the trailer, lending it some emotional gravitas.

I gotta say it was a pleasure working with the cast and crew on this project and I look forward to working on the entire feature film.

Here are some still images from the Innocents trailer:

 

Jackie Daum – Going To New Mexico

 

As a new filmmaker, I’ve been chomping at the bit to put my skills to work on various projects that showcase my talents, skills, experience, and interests. Ever since I met Jackie Daum back in May 2009, I’ve wanted to work with her on a music video for her debut music album “The Sky Inside”. Two years later, we finally created the opportunity. And the culmination of our creative collaboration is this music video for Jackie’s single “Going To New Mexico”.

About the production process:

Read my previous blog post from right after shooting this video as well.

While typically there’s a lot of pre-production work that goes into creating a music video or a movie, Jackie and I decided that we wanted to have more of a fun, spontaneous process for creating this video. Jackie had gone through a rigorous pre-production process on her “You Give Me Air” video, but wanted to try something different on this project. And I felt up to the challenge as well. Jackie even chose the single Going To New Mexico in sharp contrast to You Give Me Air, which is much slower and more contemplative. We knew Going To New Mexico would be a more fast-paced and energetic video. So the only pre-production work came down to logistical things like figuring out when and where. We settled on a weekend in March of this year and chose for her to visit me in Phoenix, AZ. We knew that we wanted to film in the desert so that we could get a bit of a “New Mexico” look into the song. And parts of Arizona aren’t too far off from looking just like parts of New Mexico.

At the time of shooting, I was living in downtown Tempe, a part of the Phoenix Metro area. One night while driving home, I got the idea of filming some scenes for the video with Jackie walking on the bridge over Tempe Town Lake. But with a large concert going on the night of the shoot, we were confronted with having to shift locations at the last moment. So instead of the bridge, I thought of shooting at a light rail train station nearby, thinking that could present an interesting venue. And of course it did! Our first night of shooting was about 3 hours long. With trains buzzing in and out of the station the entire time, we both felt completely energized there and captured about half of the footage we would end up using in the video at that location.

The next day, we starting driving from Phoenix to Globe via U.S. Highway 60. Jackie had this idea of shooting in front of an old wooden fence. And then BAM! We ran across an old wooden horse corral by a trailhead along the highway. So our second location clicked into place for about 2 hours. We also shot at two further locations along Highway 60, one of which we didn’t end up using at all in the video. I think what guided Jackie and I through this spontaneous process was our mutual commitment to making the video with whatever options presented themselves. I wanted to see simply what we could put together with just the two of us, shooting “guerilla” style! And I think the results speak for themselves. While it could have been nice to have more of a structured narrative weaving through the video, I also like the loose narrative we crafted here.

After shooting, we started editing a rough cut the next day. And we found that we wanted a few additional pieces of footage at the light rail station, so we went back from an hour or two more. And by the time Jackie left Phoenix just 5 days after arriving, we had all the footage for the video and about half of a rough cut. The video then simmered on the back burner for a few months while we both worked on other projects. But we got the opportunity to get back together for more editing for 2-3 days in San Francisco while I was up there on a work trip. We locked ourselves in our “editing studio” and went to work fashioning a full rough cut for the video.

For another month, I worked on the final editing, color correction, and other little touches to finish the video, getting it ready for its world premiere on YouTube on July 13, 2011. In the course of 4 months, we were able to shoot and edit the video and package it for distribution. It was an exciting process with Jackie as an integral part throughout. I couldn’t have done it without her enthusiasm, commitment, energy, and creative ideas! Thank you Jackie…for the opportunity to collaborate and complete my first music video. I’m already planning the shoot for my next one with another musical artist whose a friend of mine. And that one will actually be shot in New Mexico…so looks like I too am “going to New Mexico”!

Purchase Jackie’s music through her website or iTunes.

Going To New Mexico – First Look

 

A few weeks ago, my good friend Jackie Daum, an extremely talented singer/songwriter, came to Phoenix, Arizona to shoot a music video with me for her single “Going To New Mexico” from her debut album The Sky Inside. In the sample video clip above is a bit of raw video footage we shot while Jackie was in town. And below are a few still images from some of the other video footage we shot as well. We have about an hour of footage for this 4-5 minute video. Everything you see here was shot on my new Canon EOS 60D Digital SLR camera in full 1080p HD at 24 fps, using only the lighting available at the locations we shot at (natural and artificial). Some of it was shot handheld and some was shot on a tripod. To my surprise, the low lighting at the light rail station at night still gave us some incredible video footage. The 60D definitely has a very nice light sensor that captures a lot compared to the typical video camcorders and digital cameras out there. Of course I would have liked to have had some supplemental lighting from a light kit, but we didn’t have access to additional lights or power for them. This music video was shot “guerilla-style” with just Jackie and I…her in front of the camera and me behind the camera. Jackie was great at lip-syncing. We played her music on my iPod through my portable iPod speakers while we shot…which worked incredibly well!

I’m currently editing the music video and I hope to have it done in the next month or so for it’s worldwide debut. In the meantime, enjoy the sample video snippet and the few images here.

An extra image of Jackie while she was writing a new song at my place one afternoon:

Purchase music by Jackie at her website or through iTunes.

House Call – Independent TV Show Pilot

 

Back in February, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the production and post-production teams for a local Phoenix, Arizona independent TV show pilot called “House Call”. Written and Directed by Jonathan R. Millard and Chancellor J. Lastra, and photographed by Joshua M. Lambeth, House Call is an independent production by their company, Second Chance Productions. This 13-minute video is only the first part of the approximately 45-minute full TV show pilot that Second Chance intends to film the rest of later this year. My role during production on the show was as the Boom Operator. And during post-production, I was the Sound Editor and one of the Film Editors. I designed and edited the opening main title sequence, as I previously posted here on my blog.

We recorded the sound (i.e. dialogue) on the shoot using a Sennheiser shotgun boom microphone (rented from Broadcast Rentals) attached via XLR cable to two different digital audio recorders: the Marantz PMD-661 Professional Portable Flash Field Recorder and the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder). We primarily used the Marantz recorder for most of the sound, but also recorded some sound on the Zoom H2. In post-production, using Avid Pro Tools 8 LE, I mastered, mixed, and edited the sound for the entire production. I found the recorded sound from the Zoom H2 to be lesser in quality than the Marantz unit. Now it might have been partly due to two different Sound Mixers who each provided their own digital audio recording equipment, one with the Zoom H2 and one with the Marantz PMD-661, or it might have just been the lesser quality of the Zoom H2 recorder. I’m not 100% sure, but my gut tells me that the Marantz is a better sound recorder since it’s a higher end piece of equipment from a more professional sound company. I’m leaning towards getting the Marantz recorder for my own production gear.

While not a “perfect” professional sound mix, I’m pretty pleased with what we did in a very short time and with the budget (basically zero) we had. The sound is better than most zero budget amateur/independent productions. I assisted with selecting music for the show as well. My contributions for music included choosing the opening track during the main titles, which is “Tribulations” by LCD Soundsystem, and choosing “Scheming Weasel (Faster Version)” by Kevin MacLeod from http://www.incompetech.com (a royalty free music site), which plays during the breakfast house scene. I also worked with Chance in music editing for “I Need A Doctor (featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey)” by Dr. Dre, which plays during the opening jail scene. The other music choices that we chose as a team include “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith (off the Armageddon Soundtrack), “Right Round” by Flo Rida, and “Whiskey On The Mississippi” also by Kevin MacLeod from http://www.incompetech.com (which plays during the birthing scene at the end). All of the mainstream music are placeholders to give the pilot the emotional feel that we were looking for, but the rights to use that music have not yet been obtained. Obviously if this show gets picked up, alternate music would need to be selected/created, or the rights obtained to use the music we selected.

While not the typical type of TV show or film work that I would create on my own, House Call was great to be a part of the team on. The guys at Second Chance Productions are all professional, talented, and hungry to put their skills to work in Hollywood, as I am. I’m pleased and proud to have been a part of this project and hope to continue collaborating with these guys on future productions.