Inspiration from the Commercial World

I’ve come to believe that it’s often commercials and short films that are pushing the boundaries of cinema today. The best commercials are unparalleled in their ability to deliver narrative economy, emotional connection, and style. As a follow-up to a previous post, a few spots that I find inspiring: More than three years after its […]

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Note to Self: Fail Harder

Love this artwork made by students at WK12, the experimental ad school at Wieden + Kennedy Portland. The message is one I need to remind myself of every day. The view from Kostava Street: rain, and too much analysis. The continuing mission: Fail. More. Now.

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The Art of Layering

The visual complexity of successful motion picture work––particularly high-concept imagery––can be challenging to deconstruct, even for those of us who do it for a living. As the audience we know viscerally when a piece works, but it’s often difficult to understand what elements came together to create this effect, or even how the artists conceived […]

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A case study: color grading

There was a time early in my career when post-production work was less about color grading and more about basic color correction: making global color adjustments to rough in a general look (and fix photographic mistakes I made during the shoot). It was more broad strokes than anything else. These days the look I want […]

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The Enchantment of Decay

There is something powerfully seductive in images of environmental decay. These locations––often sites of mass abandonment––can facilitate spectacular photographs, and typically the more sudden the exodus, the more interesting the photographic potential. It’s fascinating how quickly nature reclaims the man-made world; we are drawn to these images in part because they remind us how temporary […]

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The audience is always right

Some recent commercial shoots have inspired me to think more intensely about the role of client-driven work in my motion picture practice. As much as I love shooting movies, I have to admit that shooting commercials presents an exceptional opportunity to hone one’s craft: the projects are short, each spot requires a specialized look, and […]

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Picture Wrap: “Kiss A Robber”

I just wrapped production on a short narrative film with directors Magdalena Zyzak and Zachary Cotler. The story’s main scene takes place in a bedroom in which the lead character, played by the talented Goran Kostic, has barricaded himself. He is joined by his wife (Lili Bordan) and mistress (Sophie Ellsberg), and their discourse in […]

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The Art of the Title Sequence

. Over the past year I’ve been following the work of a few photographers, most notably Aneta Ivanova, who have created striking visual work by superimposing images of environments—natural and constructed—onto human portraits. I’ve found myself asking how one could use this technique in a motion picture context. A flashback? A dream sequence? A music […]

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