It's been a big few months for commercials... In June I was commissioned to write and direct a spot for Sole Society, which - I'm glad to say - they liked so much that it's going to go out nationally as their first ever TV ad: you can catch it on air, or check it out online. A big thank you to my producer Rachel Brenna, our lead Laine Rettmer and the rest of our great cast and crew.
Add to that: two spec commercials I wrote and directed for Mofilm won awards earlier this month! Focus Group (for Pepperidge Farm) won first place in its category, and Got Your Back (for Valspar paint) came in third. The generous people at Mofilm flew me out to Chicago to collect a gratifyingly shiny award... I'm just sorry I couldn't take my Jetpacks Go! collaborators, Alden Ford and Justin Tyler.
But on that note: I came back from Chicago and straight into DPing a commercial for Fairpoint Communications, which is hopefully the first of many Jetpacks Go! projects in partnership with the very cool ad agency Mister Face. It's going to be airing in New England soon, or you can watch it here.
Oh: and in non-commercial news, Casual Encounters won best feature at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. Hurrah! And congratulations to Will McCord.
Things are picking up for Jetpacks Go!, my collaboration with Alden Ford and Justin Tyler. We've been commissioned to make several comedy projects so far this year, including this video for IdeaScale. The deepest, nerdiest parts of our minds also generated this and this in honour of our favourite TV shows - which also gave me the chance to work again with Chris Hirsh from God of Love and Emily Hartford from Casual Encounters.
On which note: Casual Encounters is soon to have its premiere, as one of the opening films for the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. And Lovesick is getting towards the end of post-production. Looking forward to seeing both soon!
Over the past few months I've shot two shorts in very different places. First up was Irene and Marie, set in Astoria's Greek-American community, directed by Alex Thompson and starring Olympia Dukakis and Burt Young among others. It's always a pleasure to work with actors who are absolutely on top of their craft, and I'm beginning to appreciate the other side of cinematography: sometimes a DP's job is just to provide an environment where the cast can work, then step back and let them do their thing. I was also lucky to work with producers Roberta Monroe and Rachel Brenna - both real pros.
Then off to Singapore to shoot In Sunrise, a student short for Jenny Wang of NYU's Tisch Asia (sadly soon to be defunct) starring Lu Huang. Didn't get much of a chance to see Singapore, but it was a pleasure to get to know the NYU Singapore students.
Another busy six months...
The big news is that I've just wrapped on my latest feature as DP. Lovesick is my friend Luke Matheny's debut as a feature director, shot in LA, and it's definitely a step up in scale from the indy projects I've mostly cut my teeth on so far. Our impressive cast included my new hero Matt LeBlanc, Ali Larter, Adam Rodriguez, Chevy Chase, Rachael Harris, and one of my favourite character actors, Richard Riehle.
It was great to work again with some of the same team from God of Love as heads of department - as well as Luke, the super-talented Casey Smith made a welcome return as Production Designer, Lydia Sudall came on as part of the G&E team, and my frequent collaborator / road-trip-buddy Levi Abrino reprised his unusual-but-effective double role as scripty and editor. And as well as old friends, I had the pleasure to work with the classy Michael Roiff and Travus Pope as producers, and an amazing G&E, camera and production team who I'm looking forward to working with again whenever I'm on the west coast.
Otherwise: I shot a short, also out in LA, for my film-school classmate Jae-Ho Chang, produced by Tim Kang of The Mentalist - expecting to see a cut soon, which I'm looking forward to. Plus plenty of interesting work coming up with Jetpacks Go! - earlier this year we shot a spot for OutBid.com and a Game of Thrones sketch which has had a gratifying 50,000 views. Watch this space...
It's been a long time coming, but I'm glad to say we finally have our last shot for Detour... Which, ironically, is the first shot. It involved dropping a 16mm camera out of an airplane from 5,000', which took a little bit of planning and a lot of luck to manage. Now I can finally concentrate on getting the final cut together...
And: it's a new year, so it's time for a new reel. My new narrative DP reel is now online for your viewing pleasure...
It's been a busy couple of months for Jetpacks Go!. First we were commissioned to produce a commercial for Boost Mobile to tie in with their 'Bring a Fighter to Work' Campaign, in conjunction with the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Our spot starred UFC fighter Rich Franklin, who has a genuine pleasure to work with.
We've also made a pilot for our childrens' web series Totally Normal Todd, about a boy who just happens to be the only human in a puppet family. We were lucky to collaborate with the super-talented puppeteer David Fino, who also worked on The Fuzz, one of my favourite web series.
I also shot another commercial, this time for Hoppit.com, a smart personalised review website. Written and directed by Jonathan Coleman and starring comedian Brendon Colhane, it's shaping up to be pretty funny. I'm also now, apparently, to go-to guy for films featuring mediaeval knights in modern-day Manhattan...
After almost four years of shooting, it's a wrap on Casual Encounters!
Written and directed by my friend Will McCord, the feature - following the interwoven stories of five New Yorkers who use the 'Casual Encounters' section of Craigslist - was broken down into a series of five shorts which we've shot one at a time. With Eric, which just wrapped, we now have the entire film in the can. Which marks a first feature for both Will and myself.
I think we're both excited to see the whole thing, finally put together as a single piece as intended.
I spent an enjoyable month on the west coast filming Creative Future, a 6-part documentary for Shanghai TV on the creative industries. Subjects in San Francisco and Los Angeles included the Tesla factory, a very interesting interview with Rob Minkoff - director of The Lion King - and 3 surreal days covering E3, the annual games industry expo.
While in California, we also decided to take advantage of the nearby Mojave desert to get the last shot missing from Detour - unsuccesfully, as it turned out. But we've learned some valuable lessons about the ups and downs of dropping a camera from 10,000' which we'll be applying to take 2.
Before heading out to CA, I shot another collaboration with comedians Alden Ford and Justin Tyler: Ferris Bueller's Last Day Off, for Atom Films. We've had an amazing 200,000 hits so far, which bodes well for our new production company Jetpacks Go!. The first fruit of which is a comedy pilot which I directed and Alden and Justin wrote, produced and starred in: Accidentes, centred on Brooklyn's three worst lawyers... Hopefully I'll have a trailer online soon.
Back in May I also shot José, part 4 of Will McCord's feature Casual Encounters. Part 3, Miyuke, played as part of the prestigious New Directors New Films festival at New York's Lincoln Center and won the Audience Award at Scene: Brooklyn in May. We're gearing up to shoot part 5 soon, so I'm a month away from having my first full feature cinematography credit...
And finally, I shot a fun spec commercial for writer/director Jess Brickman - looking forward to seeing a cut!
After a lot of complications, I managed to make it out to Los Angeles to support Luke and God of Love at the 83rd Academy Awards, along with Levi Abrino - who edited the film - and a substantial part of the rest of the cast and crew.
Amazingly, we won, and Luke's memorable, charming speech made him an instant hit at the surreal succession of celebrity parties which we were subsequently ushered into while brandishing the golden man. It's not every day that I get name-checked on TV to an alleged one billion people worldwide.
I'm immensely proud of Luke and everyone else involved in the film. It's rare to have a production environment which enables the entire cast and crew to put in their very best work. And it's encouraging to know that when that happens, audiences respond. Thanks again to my amazing team: camera crew Amanda Laws and Chad Young, our DIT Clair Popkin, and my G&E crew Lydia Sudall, Ryan Kollin, Lapo Melzi, Daniel Silva and Doug Lenox.
If you haven't seen the film yet, you can check it out on iTunes, along with the other excellent nominees. Now: onwards and upwards!
Okay: another busy few months. Headline news, though, has to be that God of Love has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short! Which is amazing for all of us who worked on the film, and especially for Luke. Also nominated is The Confession, directed by Tanel Toom and written by Caroline Bruckner, who I met at the Student Academy Awards - congratulations to both of them.
With great timing, my work on God of Love is also featured in an article in this month's American Cinematographer magazine. Which features maybe the worst possible photo of me... but which also gives a good sense of the approach Luke and I took to the film, along with my talented gaffer Lydia Sudall.
Otherwise, I've mostly been working on two projects. As a follow-up to the teaser we shot earlier in the year, Anya Migdal and I have been filming brother-and-sister photography team The Shaltzes on assignment with the band Locksley. And in a crossover with my pre-film days, I've been commissioned to produce a short film for the East-West Institute to mark their 30th anniversary, for which I've been shooting in New York and London. I also contributed to an interesting short documentary on Burma's nuclear ambitions which screened on PBS's Need to Know in November.
Still waiting on one last shot to be able to finish Detour... But with that in sight, and with several substantial projects already lined up, 2011 is looking to be a great year. Watch this space!
It's been a great couple of months on the awards front. God of Love has continued its apparently unstoppable run through the festival circuit, including an appearance at Telluride and a win - for Best Student Short - at the Woodstock Film Festival, which I was lucky enough to attend.
And Illuminati Brothers - my collaboration with Brooklyn comedy superstars Sidecar - won Best Comedy and an actual, bona fide People's Choice Award at the New York Television Festival. Thanks to Matt and Justin for their shout out during their acceptance speech.
After a long wait, we finally managed to schedule pick-ups for Detour in September, which means that I'll be able to finish editing over the next couple of months. It was great to work with my fantastic cast again - Chike Johnson, Anya Migdal and Kenneth King were all on set, completing scenes we were unable to shoot during principal photography.
Otherwise, I've been busy shooting: a comedy video for ESPN's The Pretty Good Sports Show. which gave me another chance to work with Matt Fisher of Sidecar; That's What She Told Me, a short for Nick of Time Films; an interview with celebrated director John Sayles for a documentary about modern butchers; and interviews for an upcoming piece on the PBS news magazine show Need to Know.
And finally: my photo appears in October's American Cinematographer Magazine in a piece about the Student Academy Awards.
Busy few months...
In May I shot a TV pilot, 'Illuminati Brothers', for the popular Brooklyn improv comedy group Sidecar, which will soon be playing at the LA Independent Television Festival. The guys then returned the favour by starring in 'Mission Control', a spec commercial I wrote and directed for AT&T, which won 4th prize at the Cannes Lions Commercials Competition.
I've also been working on a documentary TV pilot alongside talented actress Anya Migdal, the female lead in my film Detour. We've been following photojournalist-turned-fashion photographer Marco Pedde on assignment for a fashion shoot, as well as shooting behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot itself for newly-launched label Apart.
And some good news: God of Love won gold prize at the Student Academy Awards. I was out in LA for the ceremony, where the film got a great response from a packed audience of a thousand at the Academy Theatre - it's great to see it on the big screen... You can watch Luke's acceptance speech, including a generous shout out to me; and read articles in Film Yap and Paste Magazine which talk about our collaboration.
Last but not least: I've just, belatedly, finished a new cut of my DP reel. Thanks to all the directors who've let me collaborate with them on their projects.
I spent a long and enjoyable weekend in the Catskills shooting a short improvised comedy web series - more news to come soon, I hope... The production team, crew and cast were great, so I have high hopes for the finished product.
Meanwhile, good news for my friend Luke Matheny's short God of Love, which I shot last year: the film won first prize at the NYU First Run Film Festival, along with a writing prize for Luke and a cinematography prize for me. It recently closed Aspen Shortsfest, where it won a special jury prize, which hopefully heralds the beginning of a long and successful festivals run.
Detour update: Chike Johnson, the extremely talented lead actor, is starring in Sizwe Banzi is dead in Chicago. Which is great news - though it means that pick-ups will now have to wait until he gets back in May or June...
Meanwhile, I've shot another short - The Hat - for director (and talented Production Designer) Maya Kaplun.
November and December have been busy months. Detour is in post-production, and I've DPed two shorts: The Devil's Got My Secret for director Jess Kaye and Withholding for director Joyce Wu.
After a successful shoot, Detour has wrapped on principal photography. Big thanks to my amazing crew, who put up with the cold, more company moves than four regular movies and some dramatically-fortuitous but comfort-compromising rain - and, of course, to my great cast: Chiké Johnson, Anya Migdal, Kenneth King and D. J. Lapité.
Thanks to everyone who attended the fund-raiser for Detour, and congratulations to John Conners, who managed to clean up at our raffle, winning the much-(ironically)-coveted set of golf clubs... Thanks to donations raised at the party, we're now a lot closer to making this project a reality.
After ten years in New York, Joseph is trapped: trapped in his job, trapped in his life, and trapped in the city. But a chance encounter with Anna, a recent immigrant, makes him realize that escape might be possible - for both of them.
Bobby is now in pre-production for his new short, Detour. Following one night in the life of a Nigerian car-service driver, the film explores themes of identity and isolation - and the possibility for two strangers to make a genuine connection - in the city that never sleeps.
This film is Bobby's thesis project at NYU's prestigious Graduate Film program, and will be shooting in mid-October 2009. We are currently looking for investors to help move the project from script to screen. If you would like to know more, please visit the official website or send an email and we will be happy to help.