Work

Hooray for ’33’

No, not my age as I just flipped the calendar over to year 36. Instead it’s a heartfelt congratulations to the passionate, dedicated and, most-of-all, talented cast and crew of the short film of same name, as it has be awarded the prize of ‘Best Dramatic Short’ by the Oregon Independent Film Festival.

33 laurels

Responding to an ad on craigslist (sure, it’s a wasteland of scam artists and dead ends, but it has honestly led me to some of my interesting work) brought me into the company of Julie Sullivan and Charlie Vaughn, two industry veterans of diverse backgrounds. I say that as both have operated both in front of the camera and behind the scenes over the years and their savvy shown brightly as they maneuvered the intimate shoot days.

Serving as A.D. and Line Producer was a great experience as I learned a great deal about techniques for working with actors and how far people are willing to go to tell a good story. The screening is September 26, 2015 @ The Clinton Street Theater and you can peep the trailer below. Kelsey Tucker and Kellie Holway both turn in levity producing performances to counter the bottoming out of Julie’s character.

 

Nemo Television

2014 ended in fine, albeit furious, style as we partnered with Nemo Design on a video for their company-wide year-in-review.  The partners at ND pitted their account managers against each other for most creative presentation, so there was a lot at stake for our team.  What initially began as an editing exercise utilizing Beavis and Butthead soundbites to ridicule a Tillamook County Smoker video the team had created, quickly got blown out into a more full fledged concept that encompassed all things MTV, er NTV.

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is rock n’ roll.

Working primarily with footage sourced from YouTube, we embraced the degraded nature of much of the content and decided to present the video as though it was recorded on an old VHS tape (that had obviously been taped over numerous times), complete with tracking warnings, audio warbles and rolling transitions. There were also some retro ads and MTV promos interspersed throughout, like Juicy Fruit and this Bo Knows Nike spot.

The lampooning opened with an NTV News segment sending up work done for Abominable snow goggles.  We shot Nemo’s IT director, Michael reading a script and composited his mouth (goatee and all) over the venerable Kurt Loder and added a graphics package that included Abom’s admittedly expensive Kickstarter campaign video and stills of packaging and display units designed by Nemo.

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“For those who want goggles that put a heater right next to your delicate, fleshy eyeball.”

Perhaps my favorite MTV show of the early 90’s era was The State, which ignited the careers of Joe Lo Truglio and others (and gave us comedic gem Reno 911!, but we digress), so I was delighted when a bit featuring The Talking Sandwich came up during the brainstorming session.  We shot the puppet on a black seamless and composited it over work done for Nike like their Pendleton collaboration and The N7 campaign.  It was ridiculous and obtuse which made it both hilarious and perfect.

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These Nike Pendleton kicks are awesome, but the sandwich is the star.

The icing on this proverbial cake was circling back to where the whole idea started and using Beavis and Butthead insults to lambast the Nemo produced video for Tillamook County Smoker.  The video was composited in context of B&B watching TV thinking they were going to be seeing pornography.  Scouring hours of old episodes for pearls and nuggets of audio is not the worst job we’ve ever had.

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“You got a real purty mouth.”

The Nemo Design projects we’ve been fortunate enough to work on over the years have been some of the most fun and creatively fulfilling and while this one was no different in that regard, it gets bonus points for dragging us down a nostalgia drenched rabbit hole of a time when MTV stood for Music Television and our home movie viewing habits were tangible and fragile plastic cassettes.  Not a bad way to bid adieu to 2014. Not bad at all.

Brew Brothers

It’s been a busy summer full of family excursions mixed with a full compliment of work related activity.  Here’s a snapshot of what I got up to shooting The River Bride, travelling around Oregon and Washington chasing family time and answering the call of the ocean:

 

 

I also logged a multitude of hours at Transport busting out some top secret Nike projects for their Emerging Markets group that while challenging and rewarding to work on aren’t designed for just anyone to see. On the flip side of that coin, I lit, shot and edited this highly informative set of videos for Widmer Bros. Brewing, starring the namesake brothers answering user submitted questions about all things beer.

As a proud Portlander and unabashed beer enthusiast it was great to hear some of Oregon brewing’s founding fathers talk about their 30 years in the business.  One of the things I found most interesting that didn’t get included in the responses above was that Kurt and Rob operate on a we’re-all-in-this-together attitude that finds Widmer opening their state-of-the-art laboratory to other local brewers free of charge.  It’s a unified quality control measure that helps keep Portland entrenched as a veritable Beervana and that’s good for everyone involved.  Salut to 30 more years, fellas!

The River Bride: Synchronicity pt. 1

This is part of a series I’m writing on how I came to be involved in the short film The River Bride.

My dad was an odd duck, even to those of us who knew him best.  He possessed an unequivocal vocabulary that he wielded like a fencing foil; it was targeted for effect, not an instrument of brute force.  He was also a big believer in God, sacred geometry and the power of dreams.  From those elements he embraced a philosophy embodied by a word, synchronicity, that he used to describe things that by whatever manner were happening simultaneously for the greater good.  I’ve never been one to buy into my stupid old man’s theories, but the more life that unfolds, the more I’m forced to realize that it was synchronicity that brought me to The River Bride and I’d like to share the details in order to illuminate why I believe that.

I first met Caitlyn Larimore on my first commercial shoot. She was cast as the actress in a spot for the Bend Film Festival and I was there on behalf of Limbo Films, doing what I always do: whatever it takes, but mostly lifting heavy things and moving them around.

Bend FF

It was a hurried day and we were on either side of the invisible curtain that separates cast and crew, so I didn’t talk to her in the course of the shoot, but at the wrap party among the various agency people and crew with long-standing relationships, I noticed Caitlyn sitting with her ear to a plastic cup away from the crowd. An odd scene to be sure especially in contrast to the glad handing going on around me.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“The warm soda is making the ice crack and pop and it sounds incredible.”

After a few minutes conversing, it came to light that this shoot was her first professional work outside of completing a theater degree and the only reason she was still there was that her car had broken down. We were both on our first shoot. Syncronicity. That also meant she was going to be forced to stay with the rest of us in a house that someone had generously donated to our Portland based crew. With a dozen crew and 4 bedrooms, some of us were going to literally end up outside, and I counted myself among them.

Following a sleepless night that saw half a dozen horn-blaring trains pass within a half mile, I was ready to pull my sleeping bag over my head and grab a few Zs. Then the sliding door opened and Caitlyn emerged with a cat that she was teasing with a piece of string.  I mumbled some pleas for decency and she responded by throwing the cat on my head. I was awake, to say the least, and our friendship was forged.

Having spent the next few weeks editing said spot, I became aware that not only was Caitlyn a charming and slightly weird person, but she was also a talented actress.  I was in the beginning stages of casting a music video and thought she’d fit the bill for a part.  She agreed to give it a go and ended up co-starring in my first music video.  After that, she asked me to help her shoot an entry for an Old Spice commercial competition, which I gladly accepted.

jeff_oldspice

It became readily apparent that we had a similar sensibility and that helped foster a relationship that found us helping each other out where we could.  Given her talents, Caitlyn’s star ascended higher than the Portland stratosphere could contain–Leverage and Tampax came calling–and she moved to L.A. to do commercials and, at least for awhile, joined Upright Citizens Brigade. I bring that up because I didn’t have the stomach for Los Angeles and am insanely jealous that she had any association with UCB, both rating her highly on my admiration index.

We kept in touch and talked whimsically about future collaborations from time to time, but nothing of note happened until Caitlyn sent me an early draft of The River Bride to provide notes on/proof read.  I was immediately taken with the story of struggling writer Gene and desperate and aimless Amy primarily because of the way the script balanced dark reality with humor. My favorite films tend towards black comedy, and though this isn’t that exactly, it grabbed me for similar reasons.  Synchronicity.

Throughout the revision process we found ourselves routinely on the same page, literally and figuratively, and as the script took shape I thought more and more about how I’d love to direct it. I’d been taking some time off from extra curricular projects in an effort to focus on my family, but was looking for a project, so when Caitlyn asked if I’d direct I jumped at the chance.  Timing and interest, well, you get the idea.

The River Bride Poster

We set things in motion from a preproduction standpoint almost immediately as we wanted to get it shot and edited in time for the upcoming festival season.  We discussed potential artwork for a poster and Caitlyn unknowingly sent me a link to a poster for Outsourced, the very film that I spent two days rotoscoping into the rearview mirror in the spot for Bend Film Festival.

Then, I lost my job. Initially this seemed like it would spell the end of my involvement, but as luck would have it, my inquiries for a recommendation from my Limbo Films, led to both a contract work position and an offer to help produce The River Bride. As the venerable Ted Theodore Logan said: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

So, here we are launching a crowd funding campaign to help make this thoughtful, funny script a set of frames strung together in a manner that you, our potential viewers, will see it come to life as a living, breathing thing.  All this because on our first commercial a car broke down, ice was broken and a cat was thrown. What’s the word for that again?

I should be sleeping like a log.

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It’s been a hard days night…

One of the great things about my job is the view it often provides into worlds you’d never otherwise see.  Last night was a case in point as I was hired at the last minute to help shoot a full scale first response/active shooter training.  It was evident when the MAX train pulled up at midnight filled with five dozen volunteer extras in full injury make-up that this was going to a unique experience and it didn’t disappoint.  I got perhaps the best gig roaming the scene handheld as the passengers evacuated the train and the police, fire and EMT teams descended upon the platform.  Blanks were fired, injuries were acted out and I got to see the way our various public defenders coordinate when shit hits the fan.  It served as both a reminder that we live in a chaotic, fragile world and that it feels damn good to have a camera in your hands, running around like a mad man in search of the next shot.