Favorite Shots of 2016 Pt. 4 of 4/New Years Resolutions

     My last favorite shot from 2016 is another one from my latest film FAILSAFE. In this shot, our antagonist has just shot someone and is making a painful escape.

     This shot is one of my favorites for several reasons. Looking at lighting first, this whole scene was lit as if it were around midday. The idea and emotion behind this choice was to make the house feel like the light was trying to work its way in to uncover whatever secret lay inside.  We used 3 lights total for the shot. First, we had a fatboy (2x4 Kino) rigged up on top of the cabinets in the kitchen for a subtle backlight and fill for the rest of the room. Second, we had two 2x2 Kinos rigged on the stairs to add a slight bar-like effect across our antagonist as he was walked past them like prison bars. The 2x2 kinos were originally supposed to be a lot more prominent but due to weather and the time of year, the sun ended up falling directly on the front windows right before we had to go for our first take. This change in lighting was a big curveball and because we were on a very tight schedule, my only option was to bump up the kitchen exposure and throw a circular polariser on the front of the lens to compensate for the harsh change in exposure in the front room.

    Now because we were also working with a promist filter in the mattebox, the polarizer on the front of the lens started to give us some harsh filter reflections. Upon first sight, I was a little annoyed to see one more thing I had to fix before we could go for a take, but then realized during our rehearsal that these reflections went right through our antagonist and it was a great way to portray the transparency of the character now that their secret was out! The reflections stayed and now we have the shot you see below:

     For camera work, a large inspiration was the free flowing camera movement from Children of Men (2006), shot by Emmanuel Lubezki. The director of FAILSAFE, Jon Levert, and I wanted our camera to feel like it had a mind of its own, looking at whatever it wanted for however long it felt like it. This example is most felt when the camera lingers on the body before turning--almost begrudgingly--to follow our antagonist to the door.

To watch FAILSAFE in its entirety, click HERE

To watch a short BTS of FAILSAFE, click HERE


Camera: Sony A7sII

Lens: Zeiss B speed 35mm

     So this wraps it up for this 4 part blog post that I wanted to do to see off 2016. If you read all of these despite how rough and amateur they may seem, thank you. I have two goals for 2017:

     The first is to start creating more personalized content on my website through this blog and whatever other means I can find. Be expecting more in depth posts from me as we move forward into this new year. Instead of single shot breakdowns, I want to work my way up to entire production breakdowns, Prepro all the way through post!

     The second is to shoot lighter hearted work. I am currently putting together my reel from everything I have shot this past year and I have realized I am not broadening my style of work enough past drama. This second goal is definitely my biggest and I am already making steps towards it as I am currently signed on to shoot a more lighthearted, independent pilot this coming spring.

     That about wraps things up so once again, thank you for visiting my blog and Happy New Year!

                Good riddance, 2016.


Favorite Shots of 2016 Pt. 3 of 4

     This summer I had the amazing experience of shooting a completely independent pilot titled The Blockade Runner. I have never been on a shoot where everyone was so passionate about the project but overall just wanted to have fun and I think that energy really shines through with this. This shot comes from the opening scene of this first episode where a mysterious girl lies in the forest at night. She reaches up into the sky and a single drop of blood falls onto her cheek.

     This scene takes place on a distant planet so I wanted the night to feel surreal and a bit cooler than normal to contrast with the very warm daytime scene right after this one. Due to budget and time constraints, we had to shoot this scene day for night. I accomplished this by having our actress (Laura Dromerick) lie down in the shade where there was dense wood to camera right and open field to camera left. This position was shielded from direct sunlight allowing me to work solely with a very blue daylight along with having the line of trees act as a natural negative fill. On top of that I added a silk just above Laura to help soften the light even more. You can see the straight out of camera image below.

     After getting the image into DaVinci, I brought down the levels and increased the blue in the highlights. I have never been the largest fan of day for night shooting but overall, I am actually pretty pleased with this shot and how the entire scene turned out.

     If you are at all interested in learning more about The Blockade Runner, you can visit the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheBlockadeRunner/


Camera: Canon C100 MkII into Ninja

Lens: Zeiss ZE 35mm


Favorite Shots of 2016 Pt. 2 of 4

     This shot hails from FAILSAFE my last film in 2016. The classic top down shot of a reporter organizing papers containing a very controversial story. This film was shot as the last of a monthly narrative series on the youtube channel The Control Room.

     Starting off with lighting, I knew I wanted this scene to feel uncomfortable in some way. My first instinct was to go with a cooler tone, however because the following scene takes place in a cool white daylight, I decided I wanted a more sickly, warm color scheme to contrast what comes next. To get the color I wanted, I used spring yellow gel over tungsten bulbs of a fatboy (2x4 Kino) rigged directly over the table (behind the camera). I also believe I had the white balance set to around 4000K to push things even warmer.

     For composition, FAILSAFE’s director, Jon Levert, and I landed on the idea of surveillance feeling shots to help push the sense of eyes being on the reporter as he works. This top-down shot really emphasizes the importance of the story he is putting together while maintaining the feeling of eyes from a higher power. I also allowed the camera to fall off the table at the top of the frame just to create a little bit of depth to really drive home the idea that there is deep importance to the papers on the table. This angle was achieved simply with a C-stand armed out with mafer clamp attached to the top handle of the camera (picture below). It does not get more indie than that!

     I also have to mention that I cannot tip my hat more to the production designer, Ania Bista. She blew me away with every frame in this film even after only being signed on the night before principle photography.

See the full film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o95Y2Uay-l8

See the BTS here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL4_ivsTSOM


Camera: Sony A7sII

Lens: Zeiss B speed 28mm


Favorite Shots of 2016 Pt. 1 of 4

    Alright, well hello everyone! With 2017 hot on our heels, I have started a blog. My first posts will involve looking back over this year at the different projects that I have shot and breaking down my favorite shots and describing their inspiration and execution. 

This first frame comes from a short scene study I shot last spring during my last semester at Columbia College Chicago. This shot is the final frame of the film: a slow push in as the protagonist walks into her room after a very emotional breakup.

Looking at lighting:

   Believe it or not, but this shot’s main inspiration for lighting was the new age horror film, It Follows. Specifically, this shot:

It Follows (2014)

     I wanted the lighting to be soft and warm while at the same time really highlighting our main character. A large motif in this film was isolation. We shot this film in a high rise apartment in downtown Chicago, and after our location scout, I had the idea that in this last shot we could use the buildings outside the window as an emphasis of loneliness. At the end of the film, our character is lying down with only the company of what might as well be stars across the blackness of space outside her window. Here is an overhead layout of what he had at play.

Lighting Overhead

     Camera: Canon C100

     Lens: 24 - 70mm EF L series

First post down! I plan on getting better at these as I go along so stay tuned.