Cinematography isn’t something I take lightly. Just like photography it requires an extreme amount of time and attention. I’ve done a lot of videos… some I’m proud of, but most I look back and think “what was I doing?”. Filmmaking is not something I necessarily want to make a career out of, but it’s something that has always come completely natural to me. As a creative infant I would shoot movies in my backyard with an 8mm camera and a bottle of ketchup, using firecrackers for explosions and pine cones for grenades.
I eventually made the grave mistake of leaving that 8mm camera outside in the rain and I never owned another good camera until 2 years ago with my first DSLR. Over the years following my creative infancy, I kept my editing chops up by cutting up various videos using stock footage or footage I had filmed with my small DVR camera, nothing serious.
When I switched on the live view of that DSLR camera 2 years ago and pressed record, I was hooked. The quality was astounding and I felt has if a whole new world had opened up. I started simple, recording videos of my dog or some nature stuff outside, then moving onto documentary style videos. My first big project with my new found appreciation for video was with Josh Eskridge and his behind the scenes documentary “Exposure”, the flood gates opened. I was being approached constantly for video work, on top of my photography. A year and a half into it; I had made a short film, several music videos and was being contracted for major commercial jobs and one of those being, Z Salon & Spa.
Z Salon had planned a big photoshoot with photographer Lana Wilson and the videographer had backed up for whatever reason. Lana referred me and I was brought into the picture a week before the first shoot. The project would be submitted to Aveda for a contest in which the winner would be featured at Aveda Congress in Minneapolis, MN in 2013. The pressure was on and Z Salon had taken a gamble with me. I needed to bring everything to the table, something both edgy and unique. There was no clear direction except they wanted a look that brought energy to the stylist’s with the aesthetic of a “high-fashion” behind the scenes.
The first official day of filming was the photoshoot with Lana Wilson. I’m not sure the ladies of Z Salon knew what they were getting into when I warned them about my steady cam shooting style… That being, “running around like a madman”. The day moved quickly and I filmed absolutely everything. 4 models, 3 looks each, 12 looks total, my head was spinning by the end. When I sat down in my car and cranked the A/C the exhaustion finally hit me, but was confident in the footage I had shot.
Filming days two and three were a breeze, but unfortunately I didn’t have as much room and space to play as I did on the first session. Nevertheless, I made the best of it and pulled off some absolute stellar shots. Soon after I was brought in to do overdubs and capture some audio for the overall flow of the video. I experimented with the setup by using an cheap wireless microphone and my good ole’ iPhone. In post, I blended the two together for a sharp and rich overall sound. I was pretty impressed and plan on using that setup more for future interviews.
After three full day sessions the filming was complete, but the fun had just started. Once I imported the footage and start cutting up sections, I hit a big wall. The music wasn't doing it for me. I had a selection from Adele and it didn’t have the energy I really wanted, so I closed up the project and put it to rest for a week.
The most difficult portion of the project was finding that right element of music. I scoured the internet and listened to dozens of royalty-free tracks. It wasn't until I was driving home from a shoot in Atlanta that Spotify stumbled on a remix of deadmau5 - Raise Your Weapon… The beat was solid and the groove was there. I played the track over and over for the remaining 4 hour drive. I was convinced this was the track.
When I returned home, I immediately dove in, head first. I had the music nailed and the rest came with ease. I put time into the color grading and effects like never before, I paid attention to details and really put in that extra step to make the video flow flawlessly, but keep the raw feel. Like a giant puzzle, it all came together with the film burn and black & white sequences. Fortunately for me, Z Salon loved it and all are confident about the contest. I absolutely love working with Lori, Denise and the Z crew. They have become a great clients and I’m looking forward to producing many more projects with them!
Nearly 50 hours of time was put into this short and every second was worth it, as this is probably the finest piece of video I’ve shot and cut together to date.
Below are the images that came from the actual photoshoot. Lana did a fabulous job capturing the aura of the styling. Click a pic to view her website.