Battling The Burn

My experience at Burning Man 2002

Problem: 110º heat? Dust? No A/C in my ’93 Ford Explorer? Nope. My problem was that a beautiful woman had just taken off her tube top and had given it to my naked friend as a "skirt," and I missed the shot. Then the VCR tape melted. The thought "Why am I here?" ran through my head until it got too hot and I had to sit down.... Read more

Laying Down The Hammer

Covering sports can be a pain in the…back

I was working as a camera operator on an OB (Outside Broadcasting) truck for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (S.A.B.C.) at the time this incident took place. The OB truck was a five-crew, two-camera EPG/EFP cube truck-sized vehicle. The team consisted of two engineers, two camera operators and one audio technician. Our OB unit was known as... Read more

Grow Your Own

We’re selling what?

About a year ago, I received a call from a producer who needed a crew for a direct-market commercial. I was referred to him by a gaffer I often work with. The producer felt my specialty in product shooting and direct-market content would be a good match for his needs. I live in a part of Florida where direct-market content, or infomercials, is shot... Read more

Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em

Fighting fire with fire isn’t always a good idea

Is fighting fire with fire a good idea? As you’ll see, the answer is, "Not always." Several years ago, I wrote, produced and directed a training video on forest firefighter safety. The program dealt with the many dangers of fighting wildfires on the ground. Shooting a program like this requires the cooperation of active fire service... Read more

Table Manners

We should have listened to the elephant

Several years ago, I was called upon to shoot a commercial at a manufacturer of custom billiard tables in the Midwest. The company had asked their advertising agency to come up with a concept to illustrate the strength of the company’s line of high-end tables. The agency decided, after consulting with the manufacturer’s engineers, that they... Read more

Tanks For The Memories

A film production newbie learns some valuable lessons

For years, I dreamed of being in films, so after the Army, I came into contact with a local FX and stunt coordinator. It wasn’t long before my phone rang with my first job offer. There I was, standing on my first set complete with pyrotechnics, WWII tanks and people barking orders in what might as well have been Latin. My job was easy: I’d... Read more

Hiding In Plain Sight

How an orange cone almost derailed my career

I was the B-camera/Steadicam operator on a big action movie in the mid-’90s. We were filming a shootout in the desert, and I had been assigned a telephoto shot over the shoulder of a baddie firing a machine gun at a car rigged with 250 bullet hits. The thick bundle of wires from the hits ran in front of my camera, so set dressers buried the cables... Read more

One Giant Megaphone

A grain silo amplifies screams of bloody murder

A long, exhausting day of shooting was nearing the end. The crew had endured the hot sun and dusty, smelly barnyard conditions all day. We just needed the night to complete the last few scenes on Lee Martin’s The Midnight Hour, a local Michigan indie series that I was the DP on. For this particular episode, I was filling in for the sound/boom... Read more

A Strange Scene

Sought for questioning in a murder investigation

A couple of years ago, we were shooting a short video for a competition, and we needed an unusual vehicle. Since it was going to be Satan’s car (and I don’t think the devil drives a hybrid), it had to be unusual. We ended up borrowing an old hearse from one of our buddies. We spent the better part of a Saturday shooting the video. Because... Read more

Fixed It In Post!

It was 1992, and we were shooting a documentary on an air-refueling wing for public television.

Fixed It In Post!
It was 1992, and we were shooting a documentary on an air-refueling wing for public television. I was the shooter/editor on the project, and as the edit drew to a close, we realized we didn’t have all the shots we needed to complete the end-music montage. The producer called our military contact and explained our dilemma, and they agreed to take... Read more

The Bike Pirate

Driving at highway speed in a crew cab loaded with gear, four filmmakers, and two pro mountain bikers and their two bikes outside the town of Kamloops, B.C., Canada.

The Bike Pirate
Driving at highway speed in a crew cab loaded with gear, four filmmakers, and two pro mountain bikers and their two bikes outside the town of Kamloops, B.C., Canada, we were headed to the first shoot for our new action-sports film Follow Me. Unfortunately, we were only 15 minutes into our drive that morning when one of the bikes flew out of the truck... Read more

A Short Lesson In Preparation

It’s first-year film school, and I’m waiting in line at the equipment cage so I can sign out one of two ARRI BL16 film cameras.

A Short Lesson In Preparation
It’s first-year film school, and I’m waiting in line at the equipment cage so I can sign out one of two ARRI BL16 film cameras. I load my SUV with gear and head north early on Saturday morning with the crew, consisting of myself, two actors, a handy friend and one amazing film school colleague. We later arrive at a cold and desolate 200-acre farm... Read more
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