The Reset x Simon Burstall


I was invited to support photographer Simon Burstall with video for lookbooks of the FW19 capsules from The Reset. Fashion photographers are some of the hardest working folks I’ve met in this business. They’ll do anywhere from 15-40 looks per day, shoot thousands of frames and edit right on set. Unlike scripted film where costumes are often overlooked or relegated to a secondary role (perish the thought - I’ll do my importance of design/costumes rant another time), in fashion the clothing is the whole point. Motion picture plays a very different role than in other mediums and when approaching a fashion shoot - especially as a BTS cameraperson, it is so important to remain nimble, fast and keep a light footprint. I love it because it forces me and my team to think outside of our usual comfort zone - we can’t alter the set, we can’t control lighting to the extent we’d like, etc etc. I really rely on lenses and a good camera sensor. For the FW19 Capsules from THE RESET I wanted a small, light camera that would use good lenses and wireless focus and eliminate the need for a DIT completely. I selected the BMPCC4k and ad the producer furnish a Samsung T5 SSD. This allowed us to shoot ProRes422 files in 4k directly to the drive and eliminated the need to reload throughout the day. The amazing Charles Miller pulled focus for me and came up with a brilliant, lightweight rig that allowed me to grab-and-go with the camera, switch between frame rates, and land on a tripod for our full-body shots. I lit the seamless with the available window light supplemented with a KinoFlo Select 30 into a vflat to make a book-light fill and anoth Select 30 over the lens for fill and eyelight. Considering the tight space and time, I’m extremely proud of how this one came out!

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k, Zeiss CP.2 primes

The Tragic Comedy of Fame

Producer Lara Heintz tapped me to shoot two episodes of the ongoing Vice Digital series Fameish which examines people, mostly in LA (coincidentally?) who are on hopeful grinds that lead them to some strange kind of fame.  While they're not exactly household names, you probably have come across them somewhere in the depths of the internet or late night 24-hour news channels.  Hence Fame-ish.

Personally, my ideal life is living off-grid and having enough time to slow-smoke large pieces of brisket on a weekday so I'm not going to comment directly on my own thoughts about the struggle to find fame and fortune.  Thematically, what that thirst for love and recognition suggested to me is that we treat these folks like icons - lots of commercial, slick photography, camera moves, slow motion, bright sunlight - essentially the most Hollywood, LA look we could create in the day or two we had to shoot each profile.

The crux of this type of camera movement was based on the C100mk2/MoVi combo that I've written about in a prior post.  This time, however, I wanted to explore the use of L Series Canon primes at their maximum aperture of 1.2 or 1.4 - giving a hazy image with lots of aberration.  Doing a quick DoF calculation right now...on the 50mm that would be 1.68 inches at 5' distance.  Not a whole lot.  The reason for overcranking was the autofocus was often searching for something to focus on - giving these dramatic back-and-forth focal racks that, in slow motion, look really cool.

For my A and B cameras we settled on the C300mk2 with a range of zoom and prime lenses and from there I kept the subjects mic'd and looked for opportunities to show their quirks.

I do want to address the call drop in the Sex Tape Broker's video.  As with anything in Hollywood, I'm not totally sure what is real.  The day we showed up and met him, he was very gregarious and seemed to take pleasure in having an insider's knowledge of all sorts of places.  As the day progressed, we kept running into people he knew who would give seemingly prepared statements on how unbelievable and salacious they found his occupation. I lost track of the number of times he said "you can't make this up."  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  When, in the diner, I noticed that his phone was on the home screen and he was still talking, I didn't zoom in for effect. In truth, I couldn't actually believe it and so I was using the lens to get a closer look.  While the dude isn't someone I would probably be friends with in real life (see above ideal of off-grid bbqing), I never set out to deliberately assassinate his character. I think he does that for himself when he says "these women exploit themselves," and doesn't need my help in doing it at all.

Canon C300mk2, Canon C100mk2, Canon L-Series Primes & Zooms, MoVi Pro

An Insane Trip

Apple keeps an incredibly tight grasp on their supply chain and when a new device - like the iPhoneX - is set to release, they specify a date and time.  Because folks in Australia and New Zealand arrive at dates and times about 18 hours ahead of people in NYC, there is a culture of crazy Apple fans that fly to Australia in order to get devices the day before they are available in the US.  We joined some of these crusaders:

Canon C300mkII, DJI OSMO X3, Sony A6300. Canon L Series 24mm-105mm F4 USM II

Body Modification

I love this video.  We did a bunch of spinning around while I panned a light around.  We shot in 4k for reframing in post.  We did stop motion animation on the spinning human. It was a barebones studio shoot at its very best.

Vic is an awesome dude - fearless and open with everything and it was awesome to work with him.  If you saw him in public, aside from the hair, you'd have no idea what he was capable of. Really a pleasure to work with!

Canon C300mk2, Canon 5Dmk3

Rokinon 35mm Prime

Drag Queens and Their Moms

I teamed up with director Barbara Anastacio to create a series of 3 short films about up and coming drag queens and their "moms."  Traditionally, drag queens new to the scene will find a mom to teach them the ins-and-outs of drag - from painting to performance to persona.  Before the internet, the relationship was necessary to teach the art form as there was no other way to learn.  In the digital age, the mother-daughter relationship is still somewhat practical but largely symbolic. 

Sharon Needles was and is as crazy as people say. The stories are true.

Canon C300mk2, Nizo

14mm Zeiss Prime, Rokinon Primes

Super8mm Vision3 500T