Three Films in Festivals in 2014

It’s a privilege to have had three films I shot on the festival circuit this year. They were all very unique films with specific aesthetics tailored to the story. The choice of camera was essential to the final look and feel of each film. I shot in standard definition with 2 Sony Betacam’s for the Republic of Rick, to give it the 90’s TV documentary feeling the director was looking for. Teacher of the Year was shot in 720p HD to garner the authenticity of a slightly more modern documentary. And despite recognizable actors, helped evoke a feeling of true documentary even though it’s a satire. A Red Camera did make an appearance for The Big Meet, where we were going for a slick and modern Hollywood Noir, with rich blacks and vibrant color. I’ve written about each of these films in previous newsletters. In the breakdowns below are links to those articles, frame grabs, a festival list, web links, and press links for each film. Enjoy!

Republic Of Rick. A Texas secession satire based on Rick Mclaren’s (Dave Abed), quixotic attempt for Texas’s independence in the late 1990’s. Check out the detailed article here.

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Republic of Rick was nominated at the Slamdance Film Festival for a grand jury prize for best narrative, nominated for a jury prize and winner of the Frels Award at the Victoria Texas Indie Fest, selection at Arizona Underground Film Festival, selected for Worldfest, selected for the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival, selected for the Victoria Film Festival, selected for the Film Columbia Festival, and selected for the Chesapeake Film Festival.


Official Site, IMDB, Trailer, Facebook, Twitter


Slugmag Review, USA Today Highlight, Moviemaker Magazine: Top Pick in Park City, Indiewire: clip, Slamdance: spotlight video, Houston Culturemap: worldfest


Teacher of the Year. Surrounded by the eccentric faculty of Truman High School, Mitch Carter, played by Matt Letscher (Her, Boardwalk Empire, The West Wing) wins the California Teacher of the Year award and immediately receives a tempting offer that may force him to leave his job where squabbles with principal Ron Douche, played by Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele, MADtv, RENO 911!) escalate beyond control. Check out the detailed article here.

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Teacher of the Year received the Audience Award for Best Comedy at its premier at the Newport Beach Film Festival, a Jury Award for Best Screenplay at the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival, was awarded Best Feature Film at the Cincinnati Film Festival, recieved the Programmers Choice Award for Best Feature at the St. Louis International film festival, was selected into the Napa Valley Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, The Las Vegas Film Festival, and the Dances With Films Festival.


Official Site, IMDB, Facebook, Twitter, Montage


Moviemaker Magazine:mention, Review Journal: mention, Orange County Register: full review, Examiner: full review, NYFA: panel


The Big Meet. A grungy screenwriter takes a meeting with a Hollywood executive and makes a “killer pitch” … But is he actually a killer? Check out the detailed article here.

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The Big Meet won the Earth Award at the Cinerockom International Film Festival, was selected into the LA Shorts Fest, the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, the Hill Country Film Festival, and the Womans International Film & Arts Festival.


Official Site, IMDB, Facebook, Twitter, Trailer, Behind The Scenes

Watch the full short

Vimeo, You Tube

‘Rick’ on top 10 list for Sundance and Slamdance anniversary fests!

     “I call you the Doctor because it was like watching a surgeon at work and I was proud to have you on our production. I think you’re what every director would look for in a director of photography. You need to be commended for your work ethic and ability to lead overworked crews. And also for your steadfast focus on what will be aesthetically best for the film.” This is what director Mario Kyprianou said to me after completing principal photography on his film, Republic of Rick. In turn, it was a great pleasure to work with such a dedicated, focused filmmaker who possesses so much artistic integrity.

     The film is a comedy based on the true story of Rick Launer and his paranoid militia’s quixotic attempt in the late 90’s to secede Texas from the United States. It has been selected for the Slamdance film festival, starting this week in Park City, Utah, where directors such as Christopher Nolan (Memento), Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) and Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) made names for themselves along with their cinematographers: Wally Pfister A.S.C., Roberto Schaefer A.S.C. and Munn Powell, respectively. Moviemaker magazine has listed it as one of the 10 must see movies at Sundance and Slamdance as they both celebrate major anniversaries; 30 years for Sun, and 20 years for Slam.

     In approaching the look of the film, Mario found news footage covering the original incident and loved how the look of the video captured the feel of the period. So we set out to replicate it by using the same equipment: standard definition, Sony Betacam-SP cameras.

     We did a series of tests to make sure the format would hold up with today’s exhibition standards and looked at other recent films such as No and Computer Chess which were shot on even older video cameras. We liked what we saw and purchased 3 of the same model Betacams for a couple hundred dollars each.Side-by-side testing with each camera enabled me to calibrate any differences between them and familiarize myself with the exposure and latitude characteristics of the format.

     I operated camera myself, handheld, for the whole picture. I was often running backwards, forwards, and jumping around to follow the action and give Mario the documentary aesthetic he was after. Lighting didn’t have to be perfect; we wanted it rough and natural as if we just stumbled into the middle of a situation and started shooting. For exteriors, we aimed for a brutally hot and dusty feeling whenever possible but often had to shoot under cloud cover to accommodate our schedule.

Trailer, Moviemaker Magazine top 10 Article, Slamdance, IndieWire, Website (screening schedule), Facebook, Twitter