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Cinematography and The Creative Process

“Proverbs 3 trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge him.”

Practical Wisdom in Biblical literature pushes us away from Self reliance and towards a trust and dependence on God.

In my life right now i am researching, almost tirelessly, a purpose for living in this city bc of the amazing change i see around me with the developments in downtown. In doing so I have found what quite possibly is the continuation of God’s plans all along; that I would simply tell the same story as I have been over the past 8 years In this city but with a greater more focused purpose. This excites me greatly.

With that excitement combined with my creative capacity, I can easily rush the risk of searching for fulfillment in my calling, spending so much time, energy and resource as I have time and Time again.

My drive has led me around the world. I’ve personally seen impressive oppression and injustice as Ive wandered across the globe; human trafficking in Eastern Europe, hunger in central Africa, children with American government caused disease in south Asian countries and I can come to this informed theological view: as i look for satisfaction on earth, this planet doesn’t have what it takes to ultimately give me what I actually need to gain complete me. And if we’re honest, that completeness is the fundamental basis of a great majority of our daily decisions, conversations, tweets and motives.

There are a lot of good, freaking awesome fun things in this world and making films for me is one of them. Satisfaction and contentment in being happy (for me happy with my work) is not bad but if I fail to find my ultimate satisfaction in God I will be left seeking.

And so my prayer for my family and community reflects this below which in due process will leave a healthy satisfaction of separation from creating.

1 Colossians
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the [k]knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, [l]to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and [m]increasing in the [n]knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to [o]His glorious might, [p]for the attaining of all steadfastness and [q]patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us [r]to share in the inheritance of the [s]saints in Light.

This is not at all complete, merely thoughts from a study before bed. Please advise.

We are living citizens that will be ushering in the light in this city.

2kings2.
When you fall will the world care. Will your fall mean anything?

Elijah went from wealth to poverty for the calling of the gospel.

He has everything he could ever want but when the call of the gospel comes he is revolutionized.

Eph 2:10
God is the artist and you are the work of art.

The artist will slave away at the notion of their creativity, from one spark to an blueprinted anthem of purpose, the artist will go at every length to fulfill and complete the work.

That is true to how God has called us and created us.

Our life matters.

The call on everyone is to repent, turn from a self centered life to a God centered life, and to become like Jesus. He molds us to become.

As camera and editing technology increases creativity finds new releases and form. As new technology becomes more affordable trends form and then die off and then take off again years later in a new way. Just like it says in that awesome series “Everything is a remake”. Some notable trends in Vimeo films I have seen over the past two years and tried my hand at are Stop Motion, Timelapse and now Slow Mo. Slow Mo is the new Timelapse, or is it it will be for a bit when it becomes really high quality. No matter the trend, at the end of the day I like what my homie Vincent (laforetvisuals.com) says, “It is after all about STORY and HOW WELL you tell it.”

I was excited to try slow mo and time remapping after watching the Art df Flight. I asked a Nikon rep if I  could borrow the Nikon V1. I was excited to use the function where it would capture 400 frames a second for 5 seconds. That would turn the 5 seconds into 1 minute 5 seconds. The Biggest problem is the quality. To meet that function records in 640×240…way less than HD. So my wife and I filmed our daily life for two days very slowly. 5 seconds at a time.

I initially liked all the lenses that it came with and found that the zoomed in 30-110 was the sharpest when zoomed in.

I found this camera hard to use from someone who is used to the functionality, speed and response time of high end DSLR. It wouldn’t record at times when I wanted it to. Another big problem I found were the two sensors on the back that were there to detect if your face was close to the view finder. I would lose visual during different camera angles sometimes and that sucked. Between the three lenses I shot with, nothing ever really seemed in focus either.

The cool thing about this camera was the inspiration it gave me to view the world differently. I had a new lens (so to speak) to explore and to make a film about stuff I love.

More to come….

Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival

I had the privilege to design a flyer for this year’s Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival with my wife. It is a weekend for women’s bike riding. My wife got asked to help the main lady putting on the weekend. She brought her vision for the layout to me and over the next few hours I worked and ask her for more direction. It was an awesome time. So proud of it because of the artistic flow my wife and i had together on this.

One of my favorite parts of the poster is the dirt in the left hand corner.

Original thoughts are great. Often hard to come by.

When you are searching for your own voice in your art medium and can’t find it or don’t know how to define it, try listening to others and repeat what they are saying with your own accent. After awhile you will find what you are looking to say. Einstein said “creativity is creatively hiding your sources”.

What a great day of shooting!!!

My wife and I just got done shooting at Stoney Creek Metro Park outside of Detroit. We had an amazing volunteer crew who helped us a ton! Dennis and Red hauled in over 40 lbs of counter weights for the crane, two tripods, two camera bodies and lenses and audio gear. It was a mile in to the still winterized forest. I took the liberty of walking in the 10 foot crane (after all I have literally hauled this thing all over the world from Austria to Vietnam on different shoots so 1 mile didn’t seem that hard).  Derek Fischer was our talent and was killin it on his Specialized Enduro.

I heard that if you want to be hired in what you love to shoot, that you should already be shooting it. And currently, I have very little experience shooting outdoor sports like biking and snowboarding. Cory and I have all types of experience outdoors but never trying to make beautiful cine at the same time. I have been uber inspired lately to start filming outdoor sports.

I don’t think there has ever been this amount of amazing outdoor sports films out at one time in my entire life. The great thing about these films are that they include great story telling WITH great cinematography. My three favorite films right now are “All I Can”, “The Art of Flight” and “Life Cycles”.  I have been recently introduced to these filmish dreams and they have blown my mind with creativity and late night planning sessions of how to begin implementing what I am watching into my own cine vocabulary.

Our first major scene was a crane shot at the first log kicker about two miles into the forest. We had Derek hold his bike up for focus and framing before we started shooting. The goal of this two hour shoot in the woods was to get 4-5 good crane shots and 1 mounted tripod plate for a year long timelapse.

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Our second shoot had the crane up in the woods on the same shot for a wide cut away. Dennis (who is an amazing photographer) was stuck holding the crane up as I talked with Cory where she should have the second camera.

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My Awesome wife Cory on second camera for the impossible 200mm rack focus of Derek flying down the single track. (rocking her 80’s headband too!!!)

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For such wide shots, we stuck a h4n audio recorder hidden under leaves by the trail. There are tons of people in Stoney Creek Metro Park so we hid our tripod plate under some wood. Can you see it below? We’ll see if it is around in two weeks when we shoot the first leaves sprouting from all the trees. Image

After a successful shoot we cruised home in the dark. Image

A vendor holds up 9 dollars bills with Obama's face on it.

Photo thought of the day…While organizing content for my website, I came across the photos I took when my brother, his Swedish wife and I took the 4:30am train down to DC to watch Obama be sworn in. It is an amazing experience putting my first website together bc I get to look through all my work and have a platform to show my photographs and video. Check out From Slavery to History on my website.

Here are some lessons I have been learning over the past week summed up in one-liners.

Work

-During a New York Times shoot I was in a very small town with one intersection photographing a mail box. I was hired to photograph a mailbox. And it was stressful because I could have done it wrong. I paused, with encouragement from my wife, stopped, stood, and realized that all I could see what what I saw. So I took the picture of what was in front of me.

-Content is still king. It is easy to get wrapped up in producing to please others or for hits, for my own idea of success or for what I can hope to become. All of those motives have given me a portfolio of diverse work but have left me to understand that I am starting a new now that I have recognized that the only motive I should attach to exists simply within what has created me.

-The key to failure is trying to please everyone.

-Comparison is death when it becomes how the way I value my work. Constant comparison marginalizes my work by influencing me to believe my work is only valuable when it looks like some other work I have seen.  Comparison leads to a constant game of catch up. An important part of production is to relax and value what is in front of me and give it the time to be produced into it’s fullest potential.

Work + Faith

-God has called me into a specific calling. Even though other filmmaker’s and photographer’s careers look very attractive, I have my own path that will lead me.

-The young rich ruler that the bible references has no recorded name 2000 years later. He had a name once but what he built his life around, his identity was what he became known for and is remember by.

Faith

-There is no separation between work and faith.

-I am having to believe that God is doing something great in me. I undervalue his work often and with the gift of my wife I have begun to understand how important I am to Him.

-While asking God to point out the idols in my life he has spoken in many answers. For a long time I was working to become known, to have my work known, to have identity in more than just me. He revealed that I am a master of masking my search to be included in this world with the good intention of being a Christ follower. Even while preparing my new website and blog I had to check myself that I wasn’t just preparing to be famous by setting up a system by which to be famous.

-I am learning there is so much joy in the Lord as I abandon hope in the mirages of this world.

-As God’s creation, we are made to search for Him and his son Jesus. All of creation screams his glory. I search as often as I can for everything that was created through Him, totally not giving Him glory, but holding up all he has given me and could give me as my hope. And then He reminds me He is there and all everything everywhere is to point to Him.