The Tragic Comedy of Fame

Producer Lara Heintz tapped me to shoot two episodes of the ongoing Vice Digital series Fameish which examines people, mostly in LA (coincidentally?) who are on hopeful grinds that lead them to some strange kind of fame.  While they're not exactly household names, you probably have come across them somewhere in the depths of the internet or late night 24-hour news channels.  Hence Fame-ish.

Personally, my ideal life is living off-grid and having enough time to slow-smoke large pieces of brisket on a weekday so I'm not going to comment directly on my own thoughts about the struggle to find fame and fortune.  Thematically, what that thirst for love and recognition suggested to me is that we treat these folks like icons - lots of commercial, slick photography, camera moves, slow motion, bright sunlight - essentially the most Hollywood, LA look we could create in the day or two we had to shoot each profile.

The crux of this type of camera movement was based on the C100mk2/MoVi combo that I've written about in a prior post.  This time, however, I wanted to explore the use of L Series Canon primes at their maximum aperture of 1.2 or 1.4 - giving a hazy image with lots of aberration.  Doing a quick DoF calculation right now...on the 50mm that would be 1.68 inches at 5' distance.  Not a whole lot.  The reason for overcranking was the autofocus was often searching for something to focus on - giving these dramatic back-and-forth focal racks that, in slow motion, look really cool.

For my A and B cameras we settled on the C300mk2 with a range of zoom and prime lenses and from there I kept the subjects mic'd and looked for opportunities to show their quirks.

I do want to address the call drop in the Sex Tape Broker's video.  As with anything in Hollywood, I'm not totally sure what is real.  The day we showed up and met him, he was very gregarious and seemed to take pleasure in having an insider's knowledge of all sorts of places.  As the day progressed, we kept running into people he knew who would give seemingly prepared statements on how unbelievable and salacious they found his occupation. I lost track of the number of times he said "you can't make this up."  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  When, in the diner, I noticed that his phone was on the home screen and he was still talking, I didn't zoom in for effect. In truth, I couldn't actually believe it and so I was using the lens to get a closer look.  While the dude isn't someone I would probably be friends with in real life (see above ideal of off-grid bbqing), I never set out to deliberately assassinate his character. I think he does that for himself when he says "these women exploit themselves," and doesn't need my help in doing it at all.

Canon C300mk2, Canon C100mk2, Canon L-Series Primes & Zooms, MoVi Pro

An Insane Trip

Apple keeps an incredibly tight grasp on their supply chain and when a new device - like the iPhoneX - is set to release, they specify a date and time.  Because folks in Australia and New Zealand arrive at dates and times about 18 hours ahead of people in NYC, there is a culture of crazy Apple fans that fly to Australia in order to get devices the day before they are available in the US.  We joined some of these crusaders:

Canon C300mkII, DJI OSMO X3, Sony A6300. Canon L Series 24mm-105mm F4 USM II

Body Modification

I love this video.  We did a bunch of spinning around while I panned a light around.  We shot in 4k for reframing in post.  We did stop motion animation on the spinning human. It was a barebones studio shoot at its very best.

Vic is an awesome dude - fearless and open with everything and it was awesome to work with him.  If you saw him in public, aside from the hair, you'd have no idea what he was capable of. Really a pleasure to work with!

Canon C300mk2, Canon 5Dmk3

Rokinon 35mm Prime

Drag Queens and Their Moms

I teamed up with director Barbara Anastacio to create a series of 3 short films about up and coming drag queens and their "moms."  Traditionally, drag queens new to the scene will find a mom to teach them the ins-and-outs of drag - from painting to performance to persona.  Before the internet, the relationship was necessary to teach the art form as there was no other way to learn.  In the digital age, the mother-daughter relationship is still somewhat practical but largely symbolic. 

Sharon Needles was and is as crazy as people say. The stories are true.

Canon C300mk2, Nizo

14mm Zeiss Prime, Rokinon Primes

Super8mm Vision3 500T

In Case of Emergency

During the planning of this series, we had some trouble casting.  Kim was totally on board but we also wanted to have a male host for half of them and no one seemed to be just right and to have the experience with wilderness first aid.  I had completed prep on the approach - we had a color palette to shoot for, we'd settled on the Arri Amira sporting vintage Zeiss Super Speed lenses.  Special make-up effects had been book and my beautiful wife had been enlisted to design the costumes.  We needed a male co-star and I fit the bill.

Production took place in an abandoned brick factory near Beacon, NY.  We alternated between hosts so that someone was always "in the chair" while the other was on camera.  I don't have a lot to say about this - it's a pretty straightforward concept and it was lots and lots of fun!

Arri Amira, Zeiss Super Speed MK2 Primes

Motherboard Studio Videos

We periodically do little projects in our studio - super quick and fun and it gives me a chance to mess around with new lights.  For these, I keyed with 2x Digital Sputnik DS-1 heads through unbleached muslin then half light grid (both stretched on 4x4 frames).  The key also served as the backlight.  For the rim, I like to dial in a Kino Select 20 at somewhere around 10% intensity.  I love the full color controls of the Digital Sputniks and the new Kinos.  Skypanels are amazing but if you don't have the budget, the Selects do a pretty great job.

There is no turntable, dolly or slider for these - all camera movement is done using little film school tricks and I think it works out pretty damn well.  Easy, quick, fun videos to do!

Canon C300mk2

Rokinon Prime Lenses