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:

 

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.

Time (Short Film)

 

One of the few things that we all share EXACTLY the same amount of in life…is time. It’s the great leveler that no matter how much money, power, fame, or ego one has, one can’t get more of it…or less for that matter. We all get the same 60 seconds in every minute. The same 60 minutes in every hour. And the same 24 hours in every day. Ponder that for a minute. But what we each do with time…now that’s the ticket that takes each of us on our own unique ride!

Filmmaker Joshua M Lambeth takes us on a short exploration of time with his short film aptly titled Time (2010). Inspired by Hans Zimmer’s incredible piece of movie score magic from the movie Inception (2010), Lambeth puts his awesome photographic skills and emotional editing finesse to work telling a finely crafted tale on how one photographer can spend a night playing with light and image…in time. Having recently met Lambeth while working on the crew of an independent TV show pilot named House Call shot in Phoenix, Arizona, I was immediately impressed by him right from the first instant. He’s a tall lanky guy whose presence and confidence behind the camera inspires the best in all those around him. But he can be goofy and funny too! It’s only a matter of time…pun intended…before Lambeth and his incredible filmmaking talents are put to use in Hollywood on feature films…probably with Hans Zimmer asking to write the score to his visuals, instead of the reverse as was done here.

What I love about the short film Time is how emotionally poignant the imagery matches and builds upon Zimmer’s emotional build-up in his music. Granted, I’m very partial to Zimmer’s music and especially his new track “Time”. It’s probably my favorite piece of movie score music from the last 10 years. So obviously Zimmer’s music is the star of this attraction, and without it (or something equally as powerful), Time would probably just pass me by. But Lambeth did an excellent job of catching my imagination for a few moments and making me look at the subtle little things that are out there in our everyday environment that keep track of time. From the opening shot of an airplane taking off, to water bubbling in a fountain, to a light rail train making its umpteenth stop along its track as an observer watches, Time interprets the themes and ideas in Zimmer’s music beautifully. While our perception of time is constantly in flux, time itself is always rhythmically beating away one click at a time…and Lambeth captures that in his work here.

I think part of what really works in Time is the choice of black & white over color photography. Again, time being so simple really in concept, the best way to break it down into its most basic elements and communicate it, seems to be with the use of black and white. We easily get distracted by color, but the use of black & white keeps us focused on time itself. And by blurring much of the imagery to where it’s just various dots of light blinking or flashing, time is emphasized on its most basic level almost like ones and zeroes in binary code. On…Off…Black…White….Dark….Light. Time manages to measure time go by. Lambeth’s black and white photography reminds me of one of the most incredible uses of black & white in film I’ve ever seen, in the movie Tetro (2009). Check that film out for black & white photographic eye candy galore!

I’ve written before in my blog about the artistic and practical importance of short films and their comeback because of the internet (specifically through YouTube), using Australian short film Clearing The Air (2009) as an example. Lambeth does the same thing in Time…he uses just 5 minutes to capture our attention and show us what he can do with a camera and some time on his hands. One could argue that this film is really just a music video. And that’s true. It’s a tribute to and interpretation of  Zimmer’s movie music. But Lambeth’s also telling a story without words, using only images and music for his palette. At it’s core, Time is a short film made by a young filmmaker full of promise and incredible passion for his work. I look forward to seeing Lambeth’s future work and hopefully many years of collaboration with him as a fellow filmmaker. This guy is definitely one to watch.

House Call – Main Titles

I’ve been extremely privileged this past month 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, House Call is an independent production by their company Second Chance Productions. My role during production on the show was as the Boom Operator. And during post production, I’ve been one of the Film Editors and the Sound Editor. One of my jobs as a Film Editor was to design and edit the main title sequence for the show. Co-Director and Producer Chance Lastra shot a bunch of video footage in Las Vegas, Nevada that he wanted to use for the title sequence since the show was set there. The footage was all shot in partial HD on a mini handheld camcorder. Shot at night, most of the footage had a rough, out-of-focus look, but with an incredible kaleidoscope of light and color. Upon first watching it, I immediately had the thought that this video footage looked like it was shot by someone driving through Vegas as a tourist. My concept for the title sequence was simple: to embrace the fast, choppy, abstract, and artistic look of the handheld video footage and use it in a quick-paced edit set to quick-paced music.

This 44-second main title video uses my favorite bits of Chance’s footage. The video starts with a royalty-free HD clip of time-lapse aerial video over Las Vegas from DigitalJuice.com. But everything else was shot by Chance. All the work putting together this motion-graphics video sequence was done in Adobe After Effects CS5. For the titles themselves, I chose a font called “spotlight” that had a neon sign look, apropos for the Vegas setting. The music is “Tribulations” from LCD Soundsystem, which is the “placeholder” music that inspired me for this video and what I cut too. The music will get replaced eventually since we don’t have the rights to use it for the show, but it definitely had the feel and beat that I was looking for. I’ve gotten pretty attached to it now, but I’m sure we can have something with a similar tone created for the show. Or maybe we can get LCD Soundsystem to let us use their song? You never know!

Under The Hood – Initial Photos

These area a few photos from my Under The Hood short film/video project I’m working on. All of them have been tweaked a bit in Photoshop to adjust color, contrast, saturation, etc. It was mostly just minor tweaks to pull out the color a bit from the original raw images. I wanted this “flood” of golden light that was catching the dust and pollution in the air to show through as magically as I remember it when I took these photos. I’m really happy with how the images are coming out so far! It will be great to see all of the photos put together into a high-def video/film with sound and music.

Here’s one candid behind the scenes shot of stars Gabe & Jessica Lara:

And here’s a “grunge” experiment on one of the photos of Gabe: