(Belated) News for the New Year

It’s been almost six months since my last update. In that time, I’ve done more union work, entirely paid off my school debt, directed and edited a project, and started my graduate school search. With this new year, I’ve pledged to work on my personal portfolio content, especially for the purposes of grad school. My creative content banner, Pseudointellectual, is the biggest part of that venture, and I hope to produce a variety of pieces for this new brand. Check in here or on Facebook for more information regarding Pseudo. It’s very much a fluctuating, ever-growing project, so stay tuned for more!

I’m proud to announce that one of my Pseudo projects, Dump Truck Bounty Hunter, has raised a little over $1,200 for cancer research and preventative awareness measures sponsored by No Shave November. You can read more about “Dump Truck,” and the background and intent of the piece in its press release. I couldn’t have achieved that level of success without the help of my amazingly dedicated crew and donors, so thank you to all who participated! This is my second project writing and directing since leaving college, which I’m proud to say given the amount of other work I’ve been balancing as well.

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The grip truck from Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, shot on location in Frederick, MD. Photo courtesy of Zack Frederick.

Finally, I can offer a quick wrap up of some of the coolest projects I’ve worked on in the last few months. I’m excited to say that I’ve worked set days on House of Cards Season 4, House of Cards promotional content, Jason Bourne, and a Bollywood film centered in Frederick, MD entitled Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, both in the grip and electric departments. Being on big union sets is always a fun experience, learning from the most talented individual’s possible. In that time, I’ve been fortunate to meet two of my filmmaking heroes – shaking Wally Pfister’s hand and hearing Paul Greengrass excitedly claim that our day’s catering was “posh.” Outside of the above-the-liners, my G&E crews have always been fantastic, patient educators who have helped to bring me up on set. I’m proud to call myself a union grip and electric, having joined IATSE 487 around this time last year.

In my commercial work, I’m amazed to say that I lit an advertisement for International Delight Coffee Creamer entirely with Christmas lights and practicals. The low light qualities of the A7s are pretty remarkable, and I’m increasingly under the impression that grips will eventually reign supreme over electricians. Given the way aesthetics and camera technologies are changing, I can imagine a future where electricians supply power exclusively to crafty and video village, while grips work overtime to shape natural light and practicals. Just look at the use of natural light in The Revenant as an example.

Sitting in for camera on the set of the 2016 CES Intro video.
Sitting in for camera on the set of the 2016 CES Intro video.

Then, I gaffed the introduction video for the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show under the leadership of DP Michael O’Leary and director Chris LaMartina with 15Four. I learned a lot on this set. Given the strange nature of “device POV” aesthetic, there were a few interesting gags that I had to talk over with Mike to figure out. For the child playing with her tablet under the covers, we had an LED panel that she could flicker gag by adjusting the dimmer. For the car shots, I had to not only rig a RED body to the interior of the car from the perspective of the control console, but also match exterior lighting to stock footage.

The gag used to simulate a soldier in a tent.
The gag used to simulate a soldier in a tent.

My favorite gag was the soldier conversing on webcam from what appears to be a military-style tent. We built that set in a living room and backlit it with double and camo nets to give the appearance of the tent’s exterior.By gently pushing on the muslin backdrop and camo net, we could give the illusion that the tent was waving in the wind. I’m incredibly happy with the end product and it’s premiere at CES – a trade expo I’ve read about since I was young!

Another awesome project I gaffed for was a trailer for JHU’s Master of Arts in Film program. Directed and shot by Daniela Mileykovsky, a student of MICA’s film program, she opted to use JHU’s ARRI Amira, while additionally renting Master Prime lenses – the same lenses used to shoot The Revenant. After watching it, I’m sure you can see the influences she pulls from. The end product is simple, elegant, and beautiful, and I hope that it attract many prospective students to the program. In the very least, having access to an ARRI Amira as a student is a game-changer.

The car rig from "People Live Here."
The car rig from “People Live Here.”

Finally, I’m stoked to plug my buddy Tyler Davis’s new music video “People Live Here for the band Rise Against. Shot entirely on location in Baltimore with a simple doc-style aesthetic, it most reminds me of Leon Bridge’s awe-inspiring new video for “River.” Telling simple, quick vignette stories, we are reminded of the neglected communities surrounding us. The piece feels like a call to action to constantly be reminded of our shared humanity. Although I only played a small part in the production of the music video – rigging the car shots, and gaffing our businessman’s home interiors, I’m proud of my work and it’s contribution to the overall piece. I think it’s an incredibly beautiful and realistic portrayal of Baltimore, and I praise Tyler for his ability to capture the story.

Oh, I also made my acting premiere on the Investigation Discovery TV show “Hell House,” but you don’t need to know about that.

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