Saturday, May 18, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Yesterday was VISION SUNDAY for Immanuel, the church I'm a part of in Traverse City. Matthew Bouwense and I were in charge of creating video content for the event and were given the task of creating one "vision film" and "four testimony films." The "four testimony films" turned into "three testimony films" but we did manage to get them all done in time! It was a rushed process, but we filmed the day before, edited through the night, and delivered the finished films 30 minutes before they were shown. So, in other words... NAILED IT.
Matthew helped with all the filming and did a great portion of the editing as well, so many many thanks to him. The Vision film was the most collaborative piece I've done in a while, Matthew helped shape that greatly, he also appears in it, and my only regret is not having more time to really polish it. I'm really happy how everything turned out, BUT, I have to say that JANICE is my favorite. She's such a sweet and wonderful person and I'm really glad we got a short version of her story on film.
Thanks for watching!
Monday, January 21, 2013
(scroll down to watch the full film)
WATCH THE FULL
>> Lighthawk XT Short Film <<
I approached Armor Express in July about being considered as a candidate to produce their film. They wanted a chase scene, they had their stuntmen and police force, and now they were accepting bids from all the production companies in the area.
I found out about it late, but managed to get a proposal in shortly after the suggested deadline. It was a great project with a decent budget and I was really excited when I found out that Eleven35 was their first choice. Pre-production moved quickly, we scouted locations and reworked the storyline countless times after being given advice again and again from the SWAT team we were working with that "this" or "that" in the story wasn't realistic or wasn't consistent with police protocol. But it was advice greatly appreciated and helped us start the film with a foundation of realism and legitimacy, a foundation that we had fun destroying as the action progresses.
We filmed in August with one camera and a very small crew. Katie Fox produced, I directed the photography, Grant Floering was AC (assistant camera) and Alex Courville was our location sound. We had 4 stuntmen and a whole task force of police officers under our direction, guns, grenades, and all. And the bearcat. And we did all the filming in three days!
We started editing in October and had the film essentially finished by November. Some highlights for me would probably include --
1. Being able to film with the Canon 1DX and Zeiss Cinema Lenses. The camera rig was a BEAST.
2. Having to wear a vest because the camera was being shot at. (2:14)
3. Having free reign to explore the Grand Traverse Commons (Old State Hospital).
4. Realizing that the officers were just as intimidated by my camera as I was by their rifles.
5. Watching Alex get really excited about everything.
6. Editing and grading all the footage we got. Watching it come together was pretty cool.
7. Working with people who, after you tell them to go flip over something, go flip over it.
8. Sleeping. But really, this shoot was physically taxing in a significant way.
9. Filming the stunt guys running full speed through the woods. That was really rewarding. (2:55)
10. Almost wetting my pants when one of the officers fired his gun during a rehearsal, entirely unannounced.
When I heard that Armor Express wasn't going to release the finished film until January it seemed like forever to have to wait to share it, but January came quickly! They released it at Shot Show in Las Vegas last week, which is the biggest gun show in the world and a big deal for anyone in the industry. They flew me out for a few days and I got to see how the film was received and meet Lt. Brian Murphy, the police officer who was the first on the scene to a Sikh temple massacre in Florida and survived being shot 15 times. He was wearing a vest made by Armor Express.
Now I'm working full time with Armor Express until spring, producing content supporting and promoting their company and life saving products. I'm blessed by the opportunity for sure, and I'll try to keep the blog updated with the hot to-do's.
Thanks for reading!
(The SWAT team would have to bust down the door and this meant removing the screen door for filming purposes.)
(The SWAT team posing for a photo.)
(After testing a Flash-bang grenade in the house, meant to blind and deafen targets, this is the mark it left on the floor.)
(Adam and Greg scouting possible shoot locations with Eleven35 in Grand Traverse Commons, the old State Hospital.)
(This was a location that was really cool, but ultimately unusable for the shoot.)
Monday, November 26, 2012
Here is the finished, official video for Roo Panes! (roopanes.co.uk)
(Official video though credits and copyrights may vary from released version)
Roo is a wonderfully talented British folk artist who I had the pleasure of collaborating with on this project. Half was filmed in Grand Rapids in September and the other half in Leelanau County in October during the beautiful fall colors. So essentially we get a British croon with international appreciation with West and Northwest Michigan landscapes as the foundation.
Filming and production happened almost flawlessly, with the exception of the tail end where strong winds and heavy clouds frustrated much of the final landscape shooting. But we only needed 4 minutes of strong footage to tell the story and we ended up with nearly 10 times that. Editing with an excess of GOOD footage is a joy and a nightmare. There are dozens of shots that it nearly breaks my heart to think that they didn't make it into the film.
It was shot almost entirely with the humble 5D Mark II and nikon lenses. A DSLR like the Mark II isn't necessarily what I'd want to use to shoot a music video, mostly because of the thin dynamic range, but it's the camera I know the best and how to get the images I want out of it. The footage was top notch though, as much as it can be with a DSLR... the light was great, exposure was always right where it needed to be, and the composition and content of each image was appropriate and intentional.
The trick was though, to manipulate the footage from a DSLR camera to get it to look like footage from a much more expensive and dynamic camera. The best place to manipulate that was during the color grading process. To colour my film, I use a program that I make a habit not to mention since many in the industry may frown upon my allegiance to it. Of course, I would argue that it's the most capable and controllable way to adjust and enhance color and tone. With it I was able to (in appearance, not in actuallity) expand the dynamic range of the color and tone in the footage to mimic the appearance and aesthetic of something shot in raw or on film. Color, or colour as I like to call it, is one the things I am most picky and geeky about, so I will always spend an unfair amount of time thinking about, talking about, and working on it for my films.
Here are some before and afters, see if you can spot the adjustments. Final image is on top, the original un-edited image is below.
We filmed with what can barely be called a skeleton crew. I'd call it a femur crew. It was essentially just me. The talent in the film, Matthew Fowler, while acting and carving also assisted me in moving equipment, setting up shots, and even shared some producing responsibilities. Matthew is also an impressive person in that he also successfully carved a beautiful owl (even though he doesn't call himself a carver) and was able to handle a full grown great horned owl like it was his job. Handling birds is always difficult since they are very picky about who they do and don't like, often based on nothing their trainers can discern, and are also very keen to pick up on their handlers unease if any anxiety is present and then get nervous itself and misbehave. Matthew and the owl, Eoin, became great friends during the filming I'm so thankful for that, because if Eoin hadn't taken to Matthew the way she did then most of not all of the owl footage we got would have been impossible.
So, cheers Matt! You are the bird whisperer.
Written by JohnPaul Morris