The Sword and the Pen featured on IDW Publishing website

With the comic book Usagi Yojimbo moving from Dark Horse Comics to IDW Publishing, I was asked if they could use my documentary on the IDW website as an introduction of Stan Sakai to their readers. I was happy to oblige and now it's being featured along with the announcement of the publisher change.


Correspondence: a suicide prevention awareness mini-series

I got involved with this shoot via a producer, who I met on Mystic Cosmic Patrol. The idea was fairly simple: show what it's like being a phone worker for a suicide prevention hotline. It was to be shot simply and with a budget of basically zero (though we did get pizza!). So, with those in mind, I hopped on board to help shoot the thing.

What's interesting is that I filmed with the hotline worker, but the callers on the other end recorded in a completely different room simultaneously. Because of this, I only heard the worker's half of the conversation and didn't hear the context of the other side of the conversation until I saw the completed videos.

Since the budget was basically non-existent, our camera was a Canon 60D and I supplied a Canon 24-70, which we shot most of the project on. G&E was minimal (I was basically the G&E department anyway, so not enough people to do elaborate setups even if we had the gear) and I lit mostly with the existing space lighting and my Kino Select 30. We generally shot 3-4 takes of each script all the way through and, being handheld for most of them, I would jump around during the take to get a variety of angles to try to give us a little more visual interest.  The first episode arrived today and the subsequent episodes will follow over the next couple weeks.

You can read a nice interview with director JD Mendonca and actress Sheryl Lee over on the Welcome to Twin Peaks website.

Episode 1


Fast Netflix turnaround

The other day I was 2nd Unit DP on this commercial for Netflix. We shot on a Friday and I happened to see the ad on Facebook the following Tuesday. A four day turnaround (over the weekend no less) is probably the fastest I've seen for a commercial. That's pretty crazy.

While I haven't seen Marie's show yet (or read her book), the internet let me know not to let her see my book collection. I might have a couple more than 30 books. As in, add a zero to the end of that number. She should also not see my movie collection, though I'm working on cutting down the movies that don't "spark joy" anymore. Okay, maybe she should just avoid ever seeing my entire place at all.


Free - A Mosaic Film Performance

This is a project I shot a few years back that I thought I had lost the final video. I was going through some old hard drives the other day, however, and came across it, so I thought I'd share.

I love shooting in black and white. I also love shooting in odd aspect ratios, so this is one of those times the two coincided. We shot the project on a RED Epic MX, which is a color sensor. To get a better idea of how it would play in black and white, I merely turned the saturation all the way down to give us a black and white image while the color information was retained in the R3D file. We shot in widescreen, but created custom frame lines to give us a 3:1 guide for our final aspect ratio. The whole thing was shot gorilla style, with only a bounce board to help shape light. Shooting black and white also helps with that, as you can shoot a bit harsher light than you would in color and it will look good as long as you get the image properly exposed.

Story-wise, this was to be exhibited as part of a live performance, with the protagonists leaping off the screen at the end of the film and onto the stage to perform a dance routine (with the faceless people as background dancers). It was pretty cool to see this exhibited as a hybrid film/live performance piece.


End of 2018 recap

I closed out the last couple of months of 2018 with a few shoots. The first of these is Correspondence, a 5-part anti-suicide project. It was nice to work with actor Chris Candy (Mystic Cosmic Patrol) again and we were fortunate to have Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks) involved as well. We shot this one on a Canon 60D with various Canon lenses (24-70mm F2.8 did most of the work). It was a tiny crew, with me DPing, lighting and gripping. But we got it done and even ended our day on time.

I've also been involved with a group of filmmakers doing a collaborative series of related short films, for which I shot one of the first batch of episodes. Our episode is called A Mother's Love and was directed by Marilyn Ghigliotti (Clerks), a longtime friend of mine. This was shot in two locations on the Alexa Classic and Cooke S4 lenses. We had a small lighting package and I opted to use as much available light as possible, utilizing sunlight through the windows and shaping the light with flags instead. I think this style of lighting fit the piece really well and let me shoot a little more into the shadows than I usually get to.

Finally, to end the year, I went to Guatamala to shoot a documentary project in VR for Free Wheelchair Mission, a program that helps people in developing nations that can't walk and don't have access to wheelchairs. We brought along two Z Cam S1 VR cameras. While my Spanish is pretty terrible, it came in pretty handy while down there. We had a translator with us during the day, but when we'd go out to eat, I was the only one that sort of spoke Spanish, which turned out to be good enough to get by. We spent a couple days working in a more touristy town before driving a few hours out into the interior, far from the tourist traps for a couple more days of shooting. I always enjoy getting to see the "authentic" side of other countries, traveling far from the normal places that you'll find tourists and getting to experience a place that isn't all dressed up for the sake of foreigners.


The Sword and the Pen available to watch

After a successful run at the Temecula Valley Museum, I've made The Sword and the Pen available to watch online. I'm hoping to do more directing in 2019.