Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Unless you are a “gear head”, you probably don't care about the technical side of filmmaking, but even so, the technology of today always amazes me…that, and the fact that it only takes a couple of people to operate it.

Take us here at Americonic Films for instance. We are about as lean as it gets, comprising two core people; Glenn Scott Lacey and myself, Steven Dempsey. Even with the exceptional and dedicated people who assist during the shoot we are still a tiny crew. It all works so well because we are a mulitalented bunch. Glenn is a film composer, director, editor, schmoozer and solution-finder. I am a camera operator, lighting director and, well, that's about it but we do kind of share roles when it's needed. So really, our combined skills could be spread out over at least six or more people. But because we love doing what we do and keep going until we literally fall down, we don't ever regard this as actual work. No way, it's play…(n.b. on our invoice it's still billed as “work”).

But back to the technology part. It's now possible to shoot a really really high quality video using just a still camera and some decent lenses. Canon introduced the first full-frame video-capable camera about 5 years ago and the technology exploded in the world of independent filmmakers. Before that, I was attaching all kinds of adapters to my regular video camera to get the “film look”. Hey wait, what's a film look and where can I get one? Well, for some reason people think that when the subject of the frame is in focus and the background is out of focus, it looks more appealing (or filmic). You see this kind of aesthetic in most movies and TV dramas and, up until recently, only movie cameras using actual film could make a moving picture look this way.
Regular still cameras have been capable of shooting this way for eons but companies like Nikon and Canon only recently figured out how to make these still frames move. The benefit to people like us is that we no longer need a fork lift and associated crew to move our gear. Most of it can be carried quite easily by our lean team. Not only does this give us many more options in terms of location but most of all it allows us to work faster and more efficiently. Of course, you can't just pick up one of these cameras and suddenly make beautiful pictures…at least not on purpose. There is a wealth of knowledge that goes into framing, exposing and moving the camera as well as learning the actual language of film and knowing how to direct actors, etc…oh, and don't get me started on how much work goes into post production.
Still, I never become complacent about the fact that I have everything I ever wanted now and the capture quality of my beloved 5D MarkII, the camera that really started it all, continues to blow my mind.
Despite the copyright watermark on the photos, they were taken by Nicholas Nascimento.

As 2012 winds down, I am sitting in my favorite armchair reflecting on all the wonderful experiences I've had.

A real motivator for me in my daily life is to imagine myself doing versus not doing. Many a morning I have looked out the window at dreary weather and then looked back at this comfy chair. I wonder if I really want to make the effort to get out there and, in my case, photograph something. Mostly I grab my camera gear anyway and come back with at least one shot that becomes a favorite. In fact, I've actually sold some work that nearly didn't exist because I almost chose the comfy chair.

My point is, for most of us, there are choices to be made everyday that will decide whether we just exist or enrich our lives in some small or big way. The bigger reward, ironically, is the harder choice mainly because it requires effort. It's becoming increasingly harder for us to get motivated in a largely passive world. Everything is at our fingertips and we are bombarded with things that entertain us. It's not even necessary anymore for us to use our imagination. Are parts of our brains shutting down due to inactivity? Maybe.

Just over a year ago, Glenn and I founded Americonic Films. The experiences we have had in that short time have been amazing to say the least. We have produced a commercial, a number of documentaries, a music video and a creative short film. Each of these projects has provided opportunities for us to work with wonderful people. These artists are not only highly skilled but some of the kindest I have ever known. There is no pretense, no obligation to prove ourselves and no ego on the set. We are all equals and the mutual respect we have for each other brings out the very best in us. And in the end, the finished work moves every person who helped make it. I never lose sight of the incredible gift I've been given to be part of this world.

So, as much as I love my big comfy armchair, I'm not really at ease in it anymore. Glenn and I constantly motivate each other because each time we work together, miracles occur. I'm looking forward to creating new films, new memories and new friendships in the coming year.