Changing batteries, swapping cards, taping things, carrying tripods, squinting at monitors while pulling focus, wrestling with ~magic arms~, shaking the camera you just built while saying “let’s shmake a movie” –these are all duties of the Assistant Camera (AC). Earlier this month I had my first legit AC gig – building a run and gun A7sii and an ARRI Alexa for Director/DP Macaela Vandermost on a Jenny Craig reality series. Although the camera build was quite simple, I still feel really proud of putting that cinematic chonk on a tripod so it was ready to go. There are two more episodes to shoot on this project and I cannot understate how stoked I am to keep learning the ways of the AC. Not that I don’t LOVE being a PA – (I vow to never be too proud to carry pelican cases and grab coffee in the name of movie teamwork) – but I would like to climb the mountain a little in this industry.
This past week I filmed an amazing event for Raymond Productions – the event was a Stories-on-Stage style of gathering. Young, middle aged, and older women spoke about their experiences with raising families, or choosing not to raise families. I was damn near in tears through while listening to these tales behind the camera. It’s not surprising but I came away feeling really blown away by the gravity of the life touchstones many of the speakers shone a light on that night. The amount of bs women in this society have to put up with is crazy and I’m very proud of the ladies in my life who continue to navigate these waters so bravely.
Read more about SLAM here! http://deliveredslam.org/
It’s true – I have been silent on the blog for months now – but I am resolutely typing with intent to post tonight for my correspondence with this page is long overdue!
In August I moved to the Boston area – I am living with my sweet and generous Aunt and Uncle and their two dogs in Natick Massachusetts. It’s a medium-large sized town about 30 minutes outside of Boston proper (without traffic, which is near constant). Coming from living alone on the cape – I cannot overstate how grateful I am to be around family again. Every day I drive to the Riverside subway train station and commute into the city with intentions to broaden my world here. So far the world-broadening process is going pretty! – I would estimate that my Boston reality has widened from 100mm a 35mm at least, but hopefully approaching some kind of off-brand pancake lens soon. Not go-pro though, never go pro.
– The months since school permanently ending my green vessel has encountered some of the stormiest seas I have ever splish-splashed in. The “what-am-I-even-doing”s have subsided to a near bi-weekly basis, an inspiring improvement from the hourly spot they once held on my daily programming. The answer is repetitively clear – I’m doing what I said I would at the beginning of this day or this week or this month; surviving and trying my best to help people out.
If I were to start an viral movement based off my last few months I think it would be a picture of myself eating Wendy’s with the following caption:
#OddJobsGalore #SetLife #BrokenFromEmotioniallyRivettingPodcastsAtWork #IDriveTrucksNow #FumbledElevatorPitch #AspiringDP #ProfessionalPizzaPhotographer #PPP #SubjectingUberPassengersToPopPunk #FIDLAR? #B)
The defining experiences of the last bit have been mostly through being a PA. PA stands for Production Assistant – basically the monkey at the bottom of the totem pole on and around any set doing whatever needs to be done to make sure the production ends up going to plan. It’s a lot of loading and unloading, quite a bit of driving to the story to buy a screw with specific dimensions or some cleaning supplies. Lets see.. I have been lost in at least 3 super-malls while returning tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of costume clothing for the wardrobe department. Oh and truck-driving, a lot of truck driving.
You haven’t known purpose until you have driven a cube truck – I swear its not as difficult as it looks! Truck driver the most noble of PA jobs, so little time spent idling – wondering what your true purpose is. There’s no time for that when you are being citizen’s arrested by an angry Bostonian that you cut off in traffic while the production manager was blowing you up with ‘WHATS YOUR ETA’ texts. In those moments of traffic-derived passion, the purpose becomes all the more clear as a godly voice reminds you that “you drive this cube truck so that JET Blue will have all of the fake leaves they need for their yard work commercial”. Reassured, you thank Set-God and calmly proceed to cut off the angry driver once more. You are in a cube truck and that means all your traffic wishes will come true…because they must come true.
I digress – but being a PA has really shown me what sets are generally like – I say generally because no set is like another and that is exactly what I love about working in production. The lifestyle is erratic and the revolving door of familiar coworkers creates exciting new group dynamics.
I also fill my weeks with interning 2 days a week at Engine Room Edit – the post production company that introduced me to the Boston film scene in the first place. I love being around these people.
Tired now but going to post soon about my experiences as a Taxi Driver!
This last year I was assigned to create a “portrait of a place”. To capture a location through the lens in a way that conveyed your personal experience of that place’s essence. My buddy Ryan and I headed out to the town of Martinez, California armed with video and audio equipment. The location we chose to focus on was a graveyard bathed in golden light that looked down on the town from a hill. The graveyard was really a beautiful place. The light shrouded headstones were reminiscent of a coming of age story I never had – one where kids would skate and scooter over the cracked pavement in their longest venture from the cul-de-sac to date. Later on they might sit as young lovers on gravestones in the moonlight gazing down at the town they grew up in. It’s was super zen and relaxing to just look for details that defined a place’s character.
I want to start doing a thing where I examine a photo that I took (or am in some way connected to), and write about it and whatever it brings to my mind.
Today’s photo is this one that Julia took of me sitting in the bathroom of this broken down house across from a Cape Cod church. We were giddy at the time with the rush of trespassing somewhere beautifully decrepit. I remember at the time this photo was taken I was processing consternation that I wasn’t feeling present despite being in my element (on a risky adventure in a broken down building). The inspiration of the moment would subside into a formless, low humming anxiety. There wasn’t one particular thing that was bothering me that I could point to or address– this has been happening a lot recently. I think it’s about the general feeling of growing up really quickly all at once – the infamous sensation all beings are trying to avoid.
It’s interesting because I used to love being in the fog – I used to love uncertainty. Only looking at what is directly in front of you. But lately I have been straining my eyes and mind to see further past a wall of mist that is ultimately opaque.
I’m tired of scouring every panorama for a deeper understanding – colorful views are rendered unsaturated in my mind’s eye. It’s like I’m at this juncture where the inspiration so closely associated with summer just won’t flow for more than a few hours. I struggle to accept that my brain just isn’t the romantic blob of humanity that I know it can be - for right now at least.
Contentment with the ‘lostness’ of this chapter – that’s my goal. Everyone’s lost and purpose is an illusion – but a sense of purpose is as real as you choose to let it be.
So here are some of the things that remind me to wake up and get out of bed every day – and why I think filmmaking can be such a valuable thing to pursue to improve the world.
It’s as simple as making something that will make someone else smile or release a feeling of any kind. Art and passion chip away at the weight inside of people.
To tell the story of anyone and be in a receptive state to see the beauty in every lifeline I intersect with. To continually re-realize that everyone has an equally complex existence regardless of the surface appearance.
So for this picture I want to recognize it for what it means to me, and for what it will eventually mean: a time where I was really unable to appreciate being surrounded by beauty. This picture may remind me that landscapes, artifacts, and panoramas really have nothing to do with the physical world.
I was driving from Boston to Raleigh for a family reunion and decided to take a detour through New Brunswick, New Jersey, the home of all my earliest childhood memories. I grew up to the age of seven on the 16th floor of the Colony Building, a creamy-manila edifice that towered over the lush, to-the-point-of too-lush, Buccleuch park. I hadn’t been back to this place since I was 7. The scale of the map and distance between memory locales had of course shrunken – but I was surprised to find so many similarities to the images in my mind. I took pics of the details that stuck out to me for one reason or another. To recreate the scenes from my memory. - The rough concrete surface under my thumb forms a smooth contour of the lions face.
- The dugout bench and the warped chain-link fence. Im glad they still haven’t fixed this place up.
-The adult-sized swings and my babysitter telling me about her ex as she sadly dangled there while I excitedly pranced around the playground vowing to battle the X, a new unknown enemy apparently at large in the world.
-My sneakers sinking into the red clay by the creek bed – the area most likely to be rich with dinosaur fossils (I wanted to be a paleontologist)
-The place where @alexandermwirth and I made a “ball catching machine” in the outfield during our baseball team try out. I forsure didn’t end up playing.
This was a low-hanging-fruit of personal reflection that I’m glad to have sunken my teeth into it. This post may be considered the fibery, sucrosy residue left around my face for the world to see. It was ripee aand umm yeah this metaphor is ready to be finished.
At the beginning of July I moved to the town of Harwich which is on cape cod – vacationland New England. In this next chapter of moving to Massachusetts I am really going to be hitting the job search hard. I’m trying to define what kind of filmmaker I want to be and where I want to be within the industry. Thus far I have had full control over every part of the process of nearly every major project I have given my time to. I know that working professionally might mean narrowing my focus to a single dimension of production – specialization.
I think in the short term I am going to pursue a position where I can work directly with clients from beginning to end. So far it seems like the first and most valuable part of the process is access. Gaining to people, spaces and events through conversations and friendship is starting to seem like the most valuable skill to hone. Of course I don’t meant to undermine any authenticity in these prospective friendships – without authentic relationships to stand on nothing can really be accomplished with any real fervor or passion.
After arriving in Harwich I began making some speculative videos for the Orleans Firebirds, a baseball team that plays in the prestigious Cape League. I made little post-game documentaries and am working on a couple player features. I want to continue this theme of taking the initiative with my work into the Metropolis of Boston – where there are so many opportunities that they can be overwhelming.
Who knew baseball would make a reappearance in my life this way? My last encounter was in 2nd grade when I resigned from little league after creating a “Ball Catching Machine” in the dirt of right field. But here we are! And I couldn’t be more impressed with the work ethic of the Firebirds Media team. These fellows are true students of the game and amicable people who have welcomed me into a summer of baseball coverage. I'm very thankful for that :)
Tattered Christmas lights drape over the flaking window sill. The jungle bugs of the New England nightscape outside keep us remembering that the world is alive and in constant motion.
“Everything is changing”
So I have been pretty off-the-radar the last month, but in that time my life has been transforming in a scary and exciting way.
First off, I graduated from UC Davis on June 15th with a BA in Cinema & Digital Media. A little about that: it’s been four years of constant evolution – traversing basins and peaks of an emotional landscape, feeling both inspired and tortured by the need to live as much life as possible.
I’m going to miss being around so many of the people who I love and believe in. Forging friendships and coalescing communities whose cornerstones are the sanguine glances across rooms that say “Isn’t this just ludicrous in a brilliant way?!” Communities whose foundations are the words “stay fed, family” and “never change”.
The past looks like a funnel or a ladder of sorts; a series of sturdy, time-trusted rungs with good insurance policies, safety nets for short falls, and placards nearby that describe proper climbing techniques. And now here we are on the roof with only the sky above us – bereft of structure (just like how I always wanted) but now it doesn’t taste so sweet… I think it’s just going to take a second to realize how limitless our growth can be without the placards and rules and all that baloney.
I have been planning on moving out east after graduating for a while now. Plunging headfirst into the next chapter and leaning into discomfort until the anxiety is replaced by triumph and joy. I am formulating new goals, hustling for them, and now able to hold hands with a really cool person (Julia) all the time.
About the new goals, a lot of people who know me or follow me on social media are probably aware that I have been working towards my goal of being a “professional filmmaker” for about three years now. So far, most of the videos I have made have been commercial in nature – selling products, brands, individuals, lifestyles, myself – I enjoy making these videos! It’s positive to sell products that you believe in. Noticing and highlighting traits you admire about the world is a fulfilling practice (and the easiest path to financial independence and autonomy) so I’m definitely not going to stop… but I do want to change my course. I will focus on story and documentary – to be more journalistic in my approach to film and life in general. Documenting our lives and the lives of others feels wholesome as heck and results in, simply put, more life lived. That means going back to basics and rebuilding my portfolio, reaching out for leads, following them, writing the stories, and then converting them into videos. I am coming to this game late but I want to practice my knowledge wizardry - I want to learn how to materialize value from any situation, to pull information from the ether, repackage it, and sell it across multiple mediums.
Although acknowledging that this is what I want to do now is inspiring as hell to talk about – I have been swimming in a tide of self-doubt. Why didn’t I get involved with a newspaper or even try to get media publications before when I knew it was the first step?
But there’s no room for regret right now. It doesn’t change anything. I’m fucking stoked for this.
So to anyone: when the writing on your skull wall reads “you are a failure so stop pretending” please know that you definitely aren’t! Surround yourself with people who can see that clearly and aren’t afraid to tell you.
Anyways, I’ll be in the Boston area for this next chapter. Let’s meet up and get inspired!
The final weeks of college for me are always marked by backpacking adventures into desolation. This trip was particularly significant for me because of the fact that it might be my last time in the Sierras for years. That thought is a lot to reconcile - so many memories and friendships have been forged in the wilderness. Arjun came up too and it was such a joy to introduce my best friend from back home to my web of friends in college. We were talking around the fire about how going out to the wilderness lets us really get away from people.. but I objected in the thought that out in the wilderness we were dealing with people more than ever. Sean chimed in that in the back country we just interact with people in a much more human way. There were times on this trip that each of us really needed each other - and we were there for one another.
Here's to the hacienda - the friends I made in college who I won't ever forget.
All of the "SU Apparel" videos I have been posting have been part of a project by Lanwei SU, a graduate student here at UC Davis studying design. Last week we finished the final SU video - and found out that Lanwei's presentation (which featured the first SU video) at the "Big Bang" competition won the award for wearable technology and a grant of $3000. I am so excited for what Lanwei is going to achieve in this world... and I also feel so lucky to have had to opportunity to work with her.
I really learned a lesson in being meticulous and patient - two traits that any video editor NEEDS.
This school quarter has been an exciting exploration into the world of design - or more specifically the department of design here at UC Davis. After taking the lighting design class with lamp guru Michael Siminovitch I began to find so much inspiration in the work of my fellow students. Although I am not master crafts person I have gained so much admiration for the people who can create tangible products and infrastructure to make their impact on the world. At least I can help broadcast their work. It's been a solid practice in selling things through video and working with clients.
Ryan Justice called me the other night and excitedly told me that I had received an award at the film fest - (I didn't attend the second night where my film was showing because my spring allergies had me coughing and sneezing to a level that I would be a huge nuisance to the audience). He drove by and handed me a glass mason jar with chocolate in it. Wooo! Honestly, It feels really good to have contributed something to the film community here in Davis before I'm out. I'm so thankful for all the people who grow alongside me. It's amazing.. Everyone's respective futures seem so bright. --I think I tried to communicate that somewhat in the video but with college actually ending within a month the sentiment seems even more prevalent.
I made this quick memory compilation of some things that I saw and experienced over spring break this year in the pacific northwest - The landscapes really inspired a sense of adventure and magic that was not forgotten and much needed. Of course it had to be put to some Meat Puppets because what is the PNW without a little grunge. Here's to always pretending I'm in the 90's.
The here void is so tantalizing – these ever-dusk forests make you feel just a little closer to the unknown side of this world – a little more used to the dark.. its surprisingly addicting.
Today I came home rather frustrated about motivation, project trajectories, and the ever-present feeling of stagnation that comes with the middle of each school quarter. I asked Elliot and Luca if they wanted to head to the sunset field to toss a disc.
We ended up finding a little bit of life marrow to suck - it was pretty cool. We watched as a massive black storm cloud collided with a golden sunset - creating beautiful golden shower that featured a rainbow in the dark. We drove home singing Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark", stoked by the beauty that weather patterns gave us.
Moments lately have been elongated with nostalgia and inspiration. The people who seared these moments into my mind are ones who I am eternally grateful for.
Last night was really special - musical friends in Buddha Trixie and Knobby put on a star-flinging, dance-laden spectacle in a living room. Many smiling faces and few inhibitions led to an overwhelming sense of joy. In the midst of it all I snapped some pictures with my 85mm - Aiming to capture the emotive expressions of the musicians and the fans. Capturing people's joy is easily my favorite type of event photography - It's just beautiful to see people lose themselves in something beautiful.
This weekend my housemates and I ventured into the Sierra Nevada with our sights set on the serene Lake Velma. It was just the four of us out there as the mountains were covered in snow and not a soul had brought snowshoes except for us. We trekked for hours and in between the whoops of joy and "stokedness" there were silent moments where we all quietly appreciated our brief escape from the hectic schedules that we are all accustomed to - We walking into the setting sun and gold-tinted slopes had me thinking about how "running-from and going-to" aren't all that different... In fact they might be the same exact thing.