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My friend and co-shooter on this current documentary project, Jesse enjoying the giant-headed mannekins at a mall in Tegucigalpa

When I’m at that point of exhausted topics of conversation with people at a party or get-together, the inevitable question arises: “What do you do?”

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More and more I’m embracing the answer, no longer as a petty point of pride that comes from insecurity at a perceived lack of accomplishment, but as an honest agknowledgement of what I do.
I get paid to travel and tell stories through motion picture.

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IMAX traffic jam

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Usually this involves spending time in the presence, and at the mercy of, people from different places, with varying stories.

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In the past few months I have been involved in telling the stories of a massive dog-adoption fair, an engagement ring company, a multi-national film festival, a Native American tribe, an online start-up, a Spanish-language Instagram commercial, a rum-cocktail competition and now a safe-house for victims of abuse in Honduras.

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It’s a good time. And though it isn’t directing a piece of narrative, fictional cinema, it does pay the bills.

I am thankful for a job that allows me to live and travel and come in contact with amazing people doing amazing things, along with the added benefit of extra time to write a few works of cinema yet to come.
It is great to know this goodness has nothing to do with deserving anything. This is grace in real life.

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Can you do that? Even if you're a Tesla?

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My friend and co-shooter on this current documentary project, Jesse enjoying the giant-headed mannekins at a mall in Tegucigalpa

When I’m at that point of exhausted topics of conversation with people at a party or get-together, the inevitable question arises: “What do you do?”

image

More and more I’m embracing the answer, no longer as a petty point of pride that comes from insecurity at a perceived lack of accomplishment, but as an honest agknowledgement of what I do.
I get paid to travel and tell stories through motion picture.

image

IMAX traffic jam

image

Usually this involves spending time in the presence, and at the mercy of, people from different places, with varying stories.

image

In the past few months I have been involved in telling the stories of a massive dog-adoption fair, an engagement ring company, a multi-national film festival, a Native American tribe, an online start-up, a Spanish-language Instagram commercial, a rum-cocktail competition and now a safe-house for victims of abuse in Honduras.

image

It’s a good time. And though it isn’t directing a piece of narrative, fictional cinema, it does pay the bills.

I am thankful for a job that allows me to live and travel and come in contact with amazing people doing amazing things, along with the added benefit of extra time to write a few works of cinema yet to come.
It is great to know this goodness has nothing to do with deserving anything. This is grace in real life.

image

Can you do that? Even if you're a Tesla?

image

My friend and co-shooter on this current documentary project, Jesse enjoying the giant-headed mannekins at a mall in Tegucigalpa

When I’m at that point of exhausted topics of conversation with people at a party or get-together, the inevitable question arises: “What do you do?”

image

I found this guy on my lens after shooting a timelapse in the prairie grass

More and more I’m embracing the answer, no longer as a petty point of pride that comes from insecurity at a perceived lack of accomplishment, but as an honest agknowledgement of what I do.
I get paid to travel and tell stories through motion picture.

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A frozen waterfall on Oklahoma

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IMAX film in the mechanism that sends it to the projector

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The IMAX projector owned by the Chickasaw Nation

Usually this involves spending time in the presence, and at the mercy of, people from different places, with varying stories.

image

In the past few months I have been involved in telling the stories of a massive dog-adoption fair, an engagement ring company, a multi-national film festival, a Native American tribe, an online start-up, a Spanish-language Instagram commercial, a rum-cocktail competition and now a safe-house for victims of abuse in Honduras.

image

It’s a good time. And though it isn’t directing a piece of narrative, fictional cinema, it does pay the bills.

I am thankful for a job that allows me to live and travel and come in contact with amazing people doing amazing things, along with the added benefit of extra time to write a few works of cinema yet to come.
It is great to know this goodness has nothing to do with deserving anything. This is grace in real life.

image

Can you do that? Even if you're a Tesla?

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Freelancing often brings unique projects and opportunities to engage in stories that break from the norm. One such project I worked on recently was a video exhibition for the Chickasaw Nation’s cultural center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The goal of the project was to create 4K motion picture content that would appear on a massive wall display. The video would highlight the range of Chickasaw success, from the their vibrant continued traditions to their varied business interests and the strong leadership that makes the Chickasaw a great nation.

 

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The Chickasaw Cultural center grows corn, squash and beans along with other produce in a spiral garden behind the traditional village.

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This is a 500-year-old dugout canoe found in Mississippi, part of which is the original land of the Chickasaws.

I found this guy on my lens after shooting a timelapse in the prairie grass

I found this guy on my lens after shooting a timelapse in the prairie grass.

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The shoot lasted 11 days and mainly focussed on gathering visual assets for the project. Interviews will be captured at a later date.
The most amazing part of the experience was the immersive education in the Chickasaw world. Operating as a soverign nation they are able to govern themselves in more culturally saavy (and more efficient) ways. I was shooting alongside a producer and the two of us were constantly amazed by the quality of architecture and¬†efficiency of systems. The Chickasaw’s add so much value to their non-native neighbors by employing thousands in their various businesses.
This project was unlike any other I have worked on.

The date for my departure to Kenya has come and gone. We are halfway through what was hoped to be my first month in my role as the cinematographer on a tv show set and produced in Nairobi.

I’m reminded almost every day that reality is turning out differently, as I am asked by people I run into, “Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere else?”

R1-01627-0020I guess I’m supposed to be wherever I am. Or something like that…

Obviously working on a full-time tv show in Kenya for a production company that trains and hires young people from the slums would have been an amazing opportunity. But maybe if I’m not there that gives another cinematographer a chance to work. And perhaps my involvement with Zindua (the production company) would be better when I can bring more value to a production than just myself and my gear. Who knows, maybe I could be part of team that brings a production and funding. I am ok with the idea that my living and working in Kenya may be a long way off. Maybe it’s just more of a 10 year plan than an immediate opportunity. Maybe it’s something that will take development. Sweet.

Now what?

R1-01627-000ABesides looking for work, remaining sharp and faithful, I actually have no idea.

I should be in Kenya in 5 days, according to previous conversations with the production company I would be working with in Nairobi. Unfortunately, email, skype, facebook, and phone calls don’t seem to be a preferred method of communication so I don’t really know if I’ll actually be gone next week. Waiting for money to come in from the cable network has halted production on the tv show, thus the waiting.

Waiting doesn’t have to be so bad. This week I had the opportunity to be part of a production crew shooting the MAGIC fashion expo in Las Vegas. There were several shows going on at once with a video crew assigned to each one. My partner and I shot FN Platform, which featured nothing but shoes. Everything from high-end high heels to flip flops and John Deer work boots (yeah, like the tractor/mower company).

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Magic Vegas signI learned so much about shoes. I had no idea, for one, that there were so many shoe companies. Did you know a company called Rollasole sells shoes that come in a can and are dispensed from vending machines? Yep. There’s also Otz shoes which were inspired by the shoes found on √∂tzi the iceman. The event was an expo where designers could show their latest releases, while attendees were mainly retailers looking for the next line of shoes to carry in their stores.

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My heel after the first day of walking around the HUGE showrooms. People with fitbits were recording well over 8 miles in a day.

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It was about fashion after all.

The ironic thing about the week was all the cool people I met from Los Angeles while on the shoot. Leaving this place that has become home to go to Kenya would actually be really difficult. But not going to Kenya to take on this opportunity to be part of something amazing would be equally hard.

In other news, my trusty Saturn Ion and I were in a collision a few weeks ago. I’ve been driving around with no left rear-view mirror, but didn’t think anything of it. It turns out the car is a total loss and is destined for the salvage yard on Friday. Good news is they’re paying me for the car and I won’t have to deal with a car while I’m away. Bad news…if I don’t leave for another few weeks I’m car-less. It’s like living in medieval Uzbekistan without a horse. IMAG0297

So I’m leaving the country again. In fact, I’m leaving the continent. In 23 days.

Last July I was in Kenya as part of my grandmother’s entourage. It was her first trip to Africa, so my parents and I went. I brought my camera. She had been invited by a family in rural western Kenya to come and experience the healing work they were taking on in their part of the world. Their vision was (and continues to be) to build a rescue/education center to reach out to victims of sexual abuse in a part of the world where no formal structures of support exist for them.

During the final days of the trip I was introduced to a group of filmmakers hacking out a living in Nairobi (imagine the spontaneous craziness of Mos Eisley with a little more steel and glass and you’re not that far off).

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Nairobi, Kenya

Zindua Productions is a group of filmmakers that are not only creating quality content, but also passionate about training the next generation of Kenyan filmmakers. Although I had planned to come back to LA after Kenya, I felt a strong pull towards the work that Zindua is doing.Their non-profit arm, Filamujuani, trains high school and college-age kids from Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, in film production. Some of the graduates of their training program work for Zindua, others go on to freelance in the East African film industry. For the past year I’ve been trying to find a way to get back to Kenya and work with Zindua.

The opportunity finally opened up a couple weeks ago.

Zindua sold their first TV show to a South African cable network, Amnet. 52 episodes have been bought and are now in production. The entire crew is Kenyan. Except for one of their DPs. Me. I will be there for 3 months working on this tv show. But the opportunity to work with Zindua is open-ended. There could be opportunities to direct shows in the future.

It is amazing how much the trajectory of your life can change in a few weeks. At the beginning of this month I had no idea what I’d be doing a few months from then. And now I have no idea what I will think about living and working in East Africa in a few months from now.

It could be a short trip to a cool place, or it could be a whole new chapter.

More to follow at the date comes closer.

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