Changes afoot!

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, July 16, 2007

I can hardly think where to begin, since it has been a long five months of silence.  Perhaps finishing a few ideas/thoughts from the February blog is in order. 

During the next couple of months, I had a flurry of creative energy - some of which made it to paper.  I finished the adaptation of the Chekov story, which I wrote out by hand over a couple of days commuting to and from work.  It was a greater challenge than I had expected, as much of the original story is fill with a lot of description and little action - making it difficult to translate into a purely visual story (I planned on having no dialogue).  Through work, I later met a professional animator who I explained the general premise.  She like the idea but warned me that, while animation can seem deceivingly cheap, the costs start to add up quick.  In any case, I have her contact info, and if I ever decide to shoot the project I'll have a leaping off point.  The other project I had mentioned - the novella about the philosophy professor who travels back in time to 1920s Hollywood - took some new turns and I actually wrote out a 20 pg detailed outline of the plot points, all the way to the conclusion.   It was the first time I think I had written an outline quite as detailed and complex, especially for such a ambitious project. 

Agh! It breaks my heart to remind myself that all these notes have been lost forever.  Sometime in April, I was working in the city and my entire bag was stolen - with my notebook inside.  In our age of electronic information, it is with irony that I lose these irreplacable creative thoughts not because a harddrive crashed or I failed to hit "save" on the word processor - but due to some poor soul who physically robbed me of them out of either greed or desperation.  Depsite the fact that the bag and all of its contents cost $1000 to replace, I was most angered by the loss of my notebook.  At this point, I have lost any drive to attempt in recreating these writings.  Many projects I begin - either lost in the shuffle or because my lack of interest - fizzle out because I can no longer find the magic that once held my creative curiosity.  This is a tendency in my creative process of which I have long been aware.

One project I did finish, however, was the video I put on Current TV about the aftermath of the New Years Eve celebration in Times Square.   It was a fun little project, and I feel it turned out well...take a look:

I also did a test of my new intervelometer from the top of our apartment in Astoria - take a look at that in my photo gallery!


The trip to the Bahamas was fantastic - a lot of hard work, but plenty of fun.  In the end, we had to take 23 pieces of luggage/gear, which we were required to unload and recheck after our first flight, then load into a cab, then into a boat, then into a truck...until we finally arrived at our house in Harbour Island.  The area was not what you'd probably think of as the typical tourist island.  I think there was only one or two resorts on the whole island, and mostly the population was local.  Most of our nightlife was spent hanging out with some of our local production assistants in their favorite spots.  One of the bars was called "Vic Um", where there was pool, ping-pong, and an outdoor courtyard with basketball!  We spent the last few nights there, as I tried to hoop it up with local guys who were playing serious street-ball style with no foul-calling and a lot of fouling

Everyday we shot exteriors, many times on the beach, so our workday was limited by sunlight.  Once it was gone, our day was over.   The crew had a great time and I made some good friends on the job.  Check out the gallery, I've included some shots from the trip. 


That pretty much wraps up the last blog.  Now on to the last few months.  Work finally started picking up again soon after February ended.  I was lucky enough to work on the entire Tribeca Film Festival official video crew.  Our coverage included the red carpet, opening night with DeNiro, Gore, Scorsese, and others, private interviews with actors and directors, as well as the panel interviews that were hosted by the festival.  What I found most inspiring about the whole process was that, with very few exceptions, people were passionate and excited about filmmaking (rather than cynical and jaded, of which I expected more).  I learned quite a lot about the industry, enjoyed the process, and even made a few contacts too.  Overall, it felt like a privilidge to be a part of and I walked away refreshed about the film industry.

Since then, work has been steady and I've continued to meet some great people as well as get some opportunities to step up into new roles.  One company I freelance for a lot has given me the opportunity to operate camera on a few shoots for them - the most exciting being a six-camera music video shoot for MTVU.  Another job I did for a DP, Ethan Mass, was as 1st Assistant Camera for a Pathmark Grocery stores commerical we shot in New Jersey. 

Most recently, I was able to work as a "camera intern" on a feature film called "Laws of Motion" that starred Matthew Perry, Lauren Graham, Hilary Swank, Ben Foster, and Ginnifer Goodwin (  The film shot for six weeks in Norwalk, CT, just recently wrapping.  From the start, the director Craig Lucas set a mood of humour and creativity that spread through the set, making for a very enjoyable work environment during the entire production.  By the end, many of us had bonded and I came away some of good friends.  In fact, not long after I was hired on a non-union commercial for "Dillards" by the film's operator (who is also a 1st AC), as a loader.  And now, the 1st AC from the movie is assisting me in applying to the International Cinematographer's Guild Local 600 camera union so that I can work as a loader on his next feature film coming up in August

I know this all may be confusing to anyone not in the industry.  The 1st AC (1st Camera Assistant) is the person in charge of focusing the camera during shots (known as "pulling focus"), building, testing, and maintaining the camera equipment, and managing the technical aspects of the camera part of filmmaking (and much more).  The 2nd AC assists the 1st AC in doing his job, as well as keeping track of paperwork involved in the process (such as timecards for the whole department, camera reports, etc), and is on-set next to the 1st AC most of the time aiding in reloading the camera, changing lenses/filters/accessories, and slating (you've seen the clapper boards before) each scene and take.  Then the loader is in charge of all the raw film stock - loading it into the proper magazines, downloading it back into cans once it has been exposed, keeping a film inventory, dealing with the lab about processing and transfer of the film, and many other things.  Additionally, a good loader will try to help out on-set and/or fill in for the 2nd AC when needed. 

After spending a year here in New York doing a number of jobs of all varieties and in most of the departments available, I came to the conculsion that the camera department is for me.  I enjoy the technical challenge, find it very fascinating, and find I have an aptitude in learning the technology.  One of the best parts of being in camera is that you are always close to the action - watching the actors and director interact - so I can get ideas and insight for my own personal filmmaking endeavors. 


The other big news is that Bridget has finally finished her PhD. and moved to New York!  After a long 11 months apart, she has moved in to our Astoria apartment - replacing Lara as our third roommate (Lara moved back to France).  At the end of June I flew back to Iowa to go to our friends Tom and Megan's wedding, after which we drove a moving truck cross-country to NYC (my third time doing this!).  Now she is all settled in and is two weeks in to her new job at NYU's Bellevue Hospital as a clinical geneticist.  We've spent quite a lot of time together since she arrived, and we've even done some work around the house - it looks much nicer than before.  I look forward to continuing to explore NYC with her and sharing our new lives on the east coast with each other day-to-day.

I guess it seems fitting that now would be the moment I would find the time to make a blog entry - as it is only a matter of days from being ONE YEAR in NYC!  Wow.   It really seems like I just moved here only recently, despite all the amazing experiences I've had and the successes with work I've earned.  My outlook on life changes everyday.  Not in any dramatic way.  I still feel very much like the person I was a year ago - but all of those ideas and feelings have become complicated by the realities of everyday life.  I guess I have lost a bit of my idealism because I have come to realize that so few people in this world care enough about our society and politics.  Most people care (or purport to care), they just don't care enough.  Why?  I'm not sure if its because it is simply in vogue to have an opinion, or people are too afriad to speak out (especially in the public realm, but surprisingly in the private one as well), or if its just self-preservation...

Anyway - things I'm looking forward to are the 2008 Election, my next feature film, shooting my next short film with Adam, and continuing to explore my city!

Take a look at the photo gallery - hope you are all well...
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