Category Archives: Filmmaking

(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.

Continue reading (Belated) News for the New Year

Absurdity at Work

Each day, 22,000 people die from cancer worldwide. Each one of us has been affected in some way or another by this horrible disease. That is insane.

No Shave November is a month long commitment to forego shaving as a means of promoting the cause of cancer research and preventative awareness. That is absurd and hilarious.

I personally find that the pursuit to find meaning in the tumultuous lives we lead can often be resolved with good humor. No Shave November is a fascinating case study of absurdity at work – allowing something as mundane and routine as hair growth to literally save lives.

In the spirit of absurd humor, I used No Shave November as a platform to create a humorous short about mutton chops. It will premiere online on November 30th.

I ask that if you find this to be something interesting, engaging, humorous, weird, stupid, or if you have no opinion about my hair growth, that you consider donating to or sharing my No Shave November campaign.

Summer Giggin’ Happened So Fast

Since leaving school, I’ve spent my summers shooting with Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, an accelerated learning program for child prodigies. I always enjoy the month I spend with them because the content is fascinating and I get to dabble in every department. This year in particular, I operated camera, gaffed, and ran audio on three weeks of travel work up the east coast. Most notably, we filmed at an oyster and sturgeon rehabilitation center, then rode the Chesapeake skipjack Sigsbee from Cambridge to Sandy Point. If given the opportunity in the future, I’d love to learn how to crewhand on a sail boat because it was awe-inspiring to watch.

Skipjack Sigsbee
Skipjack Sigsbee

My favorite part of the CTY jobs is watching classes so passionate about education that everyone involved, teachers and students, get to nerd out about a specific subject. One of the teachers we followed was formerly a professor of a medical college before becoming a high school science and drama teacher. The diversity of his skillset brought fascinating pedagogical methods to his classroom, including discussing the W.H. Auden poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” and Pieter Brueghel’s “The Fall of Icarus,” as an example of humanity’s apathy towards the suffering of others. These are middle school students taking a “History of Disease” course, mind you. It was incredible to watch.

Production continues on “What Happens Next Will Scare You,” the microbudget anthology film I am gaffing and assisting camera on. We finished a segment in August that I am particularly excited about. I can’t give details, but I’ll say that it’s shot like a news package and will be digitally degraded to look like it was videotaped in the 1980s. Multiple times our first night, I would set a frame and then realize that I had to re-frame for 4:3 with a broadcast aesthetic. It was a fun challenge.

WHNWSY
BTS Photo of the latest WHNWSY segment.

Revolving Doors, a feature documentary about the faults of the national prison system, was shot in Baltimore over the last two years. With this latest round of shooting in mid-August, production has come to an end. The New York crew on the project came down to tie together the pieces of their current edit and I’m excited to say that I they have an amazing film on their hands. When I shot with them last year, I was merely an extra set of hands for their skeleton crew footprint in East Baltimore. However, I struck up a relationship with the director and producer on set and they asked that 2nd Unit DP Kyle Deitz and I watch a rough cut of the film to give notes on.

Subject Tard Carter, shot by Kyle Deitz.
Subject Tard Carter, shot by Kyle Deitz.

This year, when they returned to finish out the film, we were again invited to look at the latest cut of the film. This allowed me to suggest future interview questions and edit notes to our director and producer, who openly welcomed the collaboration. I gaffed our interviews and camera assisted for Kyle Deitz on the back half of the film, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to see it premiere. Although my role in the grand scheme of the film is small, I felt an immense contribution to production because of the way our director and producer invited us in to the mix. The documentary process is fascinating, invigorating, and important to me, so any experience in that world further pushes my heart and mind in that direction. It’s what I ultimately want to end up doing, and so I always jump at the chance to flex my departmental skills in documentary.

Speaking of which, a new Amazon docu-webseries, tentatively called Human Kinda, came into D.C. a few weeks back. I worked with the DP and production to assemble a package on budget, did a fair amount of run-and-gun doc style shooting, and wrapped out our week with a big, staged lighting scenario. Needless to say, it was a ton of fun and immensely rewarding. I can’t talk much about specifics, but be sure to look for it in the near future!

The most surreal experience I’ve had lately was being in a sports bar full of TVs and seeing a  commercial I worked on. I worked as a third electrician on a Sportscenter promo featuring the Nationals racing presidents back in August. The content itself was funny, but watching the President mascots goof around in their costumes after hours was hilarious. We had the whole stadium to ourselves overnight, so I and my fellow G&E crew posted up on the first base line to watch the events of the evening. If you’ve never had the opportunity, trust me when I say that it’s a unique experience to see the content you watched live on a director’s monitor projected to a national audience. I hope to never lose that excitement for the work I do.

 

Ravens
Raven’s Stadium.

I never expected to find myself on the field of a professional baseball stadium. Literally the only scenario I could anticipate finding me at home plate would be as part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Needless to say, when my girlfriend invited me to camera assist at Raven’s stadium a few weeks later, I jumped at the opportunity. We filmed a youth group’s scrimmage football match during halftime. Our DP took a direct hit from an over-eager tackle the previous week, breaking part of the follow focus, so we were told to be on the defensive. Luckily nothing bad happened, and I walked away with an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

IPsuedo’m spending the coming weeks gearing up for graduate school applications, but I hope to find some time to work on a new project I’m calling, “Pseudointellectual.” This is something I’ve spent a long time thinking about, and most excitingly, it’s something I hope to structure and flesh out through the process of making it. I have two projects that I feel are representative of what I want the “brand” to be at this point, but I have ideas for many more. My plan is to release more content first before coming to any ultimate conclusions about what the project actually means to me. If you follow the link above, you can learn more about Pseudointellectual.

 

A Quick Note About Thanksgiving

I have much to be thankful for this year, but instead of going on about who or what I’m thankful for, I want to extend a proposal to you. Ignoring the fact that this is about Christmas for a moment, “Thankful Heart” from A Muppet Christmas Carol is the most beautiful song about the act of thanksgiving ever recorded. Michael Caine’s “dulcet” (this is his first time singing on camera) tones epitomize the joy of brotherly love and grateful expression perfectly.

Like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” itself, the song is universal regardless of time of year or religion – thanks to Muppet composer Paul Williams’ lyrics. I always play this song on loop starting right about now through to the New Year to remind myself how beautiful life is when viewed through a thankful heart. Please give it a watch, a careful listen, and consider the message that Dickens first wrote about and Williams wants you to take away.

“Life is like a journey
Who knows when it ends?
If you need to know
The measure of a man
You simply count his friends”

Peace my brothers and a very Happy thanksgiving 🙂

A Wealth of Cool Autumnal News

Hey! I have an insane wealth of awesome production updates! Ingress, a film by a lot of old friends from Towson and which I Key PA’d on, will be having its world premiere at the Alexandria Film Festival on November 9th. Tyler Davis, our director, will be in attendance for Q&A. See the trailer below:

Producer Paul Hutson stands in for a shot in front of a Stefan Ways mural and instillation. Kyle Deitz camera operates on a Ronin.
Producer Paul Hutson stands in for a shot in front of a Stefan Ways mural and installation. Kyle Deitz camera operates on a Ronin.

A few weeks back, a lot of the same crew from Ingress worked on a music video for our steadicam operator, Paul Hutson’s collaborative music project “Bond St. District.” I worked as a Grip with an awesome G&E department of badass ladies. We shot tons of vignettes of Baltimore City over the course of a weekend, goofing off, hanging out with friends we hadn’t seen in a while and GETTING STUFF DONE.

I’m really proud of the video and am excited to see where it will take the musicians, DDm and Paul Hutson’s “Bond St. District” collaboration. The band’s EP, “Everybody’s So Sleepy,” manages to be a mashup of hip-hop, motown, and electronica. It’s awesome. Check the video out below, as well as the links to the coverage the music video is getting, including from Baltimore’s City Paper!

Coverage:
City Paper
Stereo Champions

Next, I worked on a series of United States Postal Service safety videos where we gripped trucks with camera mounts and crashed them. It was everything one could possibly imagine a shoot like this would be. The crew I worked with was super cool and I learned a ton from the expertise of my IATSE department heads.

Then, our continuously bizarre production team for the Frederick 72 Hour Film Festival, Stepdad Productions, produced a ridiculous film about… well… you’ll see. I’ve worked with this team for three years now and I’ve been involved with the 72 Festival for five years total. This year’s criteria was Movie Mashups and we received Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (the Costner version) and Forrest Gump. When you watch our film, you’ll notice that we very loosely interpreted the criteria:

I rarely act in roles, but when I know that nothing I do as a poor actor will truly affect the audiences perception of the film, I sink my teeth in. What I mean to say is that if I can ham it up and just be ridiculous, and the poor acting actually becomes a character element, I get super stoked. This role has that in spades. We were selected by the audience to move on to the second night of screenings, and I can confidently say that we got some of the biggest laughs of both nights.

Oh. I also got a full-time job at Serious Grip and Electric, the coolest production rental house on the planet. Not only am I working full-time in a position that is actually relevant to my college major and I am gaining essential knowledge for my career goals, but I’m working with the world’s best group of co-workers.

I'm being challenged to eat an entire cupcake in one bite.
I’m being challenged to eat an entire cupcake in one bite at lunch.

John Vallon, a talented camera operator in the Baltimore-D.C. area, stopped into the shop one day to test out a new robotic camera mount and shot this video for us, a remake of Scrub’s opening scene:

Then, on Halloween, we broke our backs to grip the next week’s truck packages so that we could shoot this Halloween postcard. Stuff like this is just part of the normal ebb and flow of working at Serious. We work hard, we play hard, we love our jobs and we love one another. I am excited by the notion of being excited to go to work every morning.

The last two months of my life have literally been some of the most fun I’ve ever had and I credit all of that to the blessings that life, friends, family, coworkers, and random strangers have thrown my way. I can point to so many moments as being particularly awesome, but in other respects, it’s all been one awesome blur.

I don’t normally post selfies, but I take them. Everyone does. Admit it to yourself.

In the Spring of this year, I was dealing with some junk. It was the hardest semester of my life in relation to my schoolwork, I was having to abandon friends and social events to focus on what I needed to graduate, I was holding down two part time jobs to pay rent… the list goes on and on. I took a picture when I was at the LOWEST of the low, one of those real Dark Night of the Soul type of nights – filled with introspection and self-loathing. That picture is on the left.

On the right is a picture a friend took of me two weeks ago on set. Not particularly proud of it, but I think it exhibits a marked change in expression and what someone might feasibly describe as something akin to joy.

Whoop
Or murderous intentions… Whatever. The point being, my expression changed.

I know that as soon as Christmas time rolls around, I’ll be a constantly grinning mess. The lessons I’ve learned from A Muppet Christmas Carol are to share the joys of love and friendship in all you do, so soon enough, I’ll be watching Michael Caine’s oscar-deserving performance on loop and just going crazy with  good-will-vibes towards all. I highly recommend it; there is no drug better.

Thank you so much for reading this and for supporting my work and the works of my friends! I hope something here has brought you the same feelings of optimism I feel and that this joy can be infectious. Best to you, my friend!