Episode 8 - Jeffrey Hagerman

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Jeffrey Hagerman is an on-set colorist and camera technician/operator working on everything from major Hollywood blockbusters to high end commercials. He assists in creating the look for world renowned cinematographers such as Spielberg’s DP Janusz Kaminski. His credit list is quite impressive and includes the newly released Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters, Marvel’s Daredevil, Philomena, Victoria Secret Campaigns, Olympics Telecast and much more. The list is long and eclectic, an opportunity made possible by the genre agnostic nature and universal need for on-set color and data management.

I first met Jeffrey on indie film sets in New York City 5 years ago. At the time he was dialing in his technical expertise but had yet to join the union. It has been quite the experience watching him join the union and catapult from indie features to major summer blockbusters. Sitting down and chatting about these rather abrupt changes in his life proved interesting and totally on point for the larger Art vs. Commerce discussion. Hearing him talk through the decisions he’s made along the way, and the general risk involved, made for an intriguing and thought provoking hour.

This episode is sponsored by Masters in Motion, a filmmaking conference that takes place in Austin, Texas. Speakers include the DP of Game of Thrones, the editors of Breaking Bad and Birdman, production designer of Master of None and many more. Jeffrey was a speaker at this event.

Episode 7 - Andy Baker

Andy Baker is the Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. Having worked at the National Geographic channel since it’s inception in 2001, he has overseen its growth and set the aesthetic for its promotional materials. The past few years have turned towards a cinematic approach which has garnered widespread appeal and is raising the bar for television show promos across the industry.

In addition to inspiring beautiful work Andy also expresses a unique view from the client side with his blog The Client Blog. Here he shares his views on everything from execution to relationships and how to manage it all. Creatives rave about him as he has a keen sense of self awareness and uses it to approach delicate situations with the utmost care and respect for the artists and the creative process. Having worked on a few of his sets, I can attest that his candor and attitude provides the foundation for a successful shoot.

Andy was an interesting choice for the podcast as he seemingly sits on the other side of the Art vs. Commerce table, or at least it appears that way from the outside. I think the more we discussed the realities he faces the more it became apparent that he is an artisan of his craft. When you realize that, it comes as no shock that he cares for and treats everyone in a way that feels inspiring and meaningful. Andy’s openness allowed for interesting conversation about the client/artist relationship and how to foster positive growth, not just for the sake of the product but for actual happiness in your life and in the workplace.

This episode is sponsored by Masters in Motion, a filmmaking conference that takes place in Austin, Texas. Speakers include the DP of Game of Thrones, the editors of Breaking Bad and Birdman, production designer of Master of None and many more. Andy was a speaker at this event and we recorded this episode during our time there.


Episode 6 - Ethan Mills

Ethan Mills is a Director of Photography for documentary television, promos, commercials and narrative. An industry veteran, he has been working in production for almost 20 years. During the earlier stages of his career, the creative freelance environment posed different challenges to today. The Internet had not yet become a place to showcase personal work and editing a passion project was simply impossible without access to an editing suite. In the episode we discuss this challenge and how he dealt with it.

Later on we discuss his work shooting Mind of a Chef, the Emmy award winning television series that airs on PBS/Netflix from Zero Point Zero, the makers of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. I met Ethan working on this show as a cinematographer alongside him and find his personal relationship to it quite interesting. We discuss how it has helped his career and what perspective he has gained from 4 seasons.

Ethan is one of those guys on set constantly teaching. Every opportunity presenting a new moment to pass on a helpful trick or philosophy, his positive vibe is infectious and often a saving grace on a grueling day of production. I’ve seen it firsthand. My favorite part of the conversation is our reflection on the difficulties of freelance life and the realities of coming to terms with the inevitable ceilings of one's own success.

Episode 5 - Ryan Booth

When thinking about people in the film industry who inspire me I think it breaks down into two groups of people: Hollywood level stars and people I view as peers. Ryan is a friend, peer and complete inspiration. Not only in the way he motivates me to be a better filmmaker and person, but on a more technical level as well. I love his style and try to learn from it. His eye is top notch and given the right opportunities I really do think his career is limitless.

In this episode we cover his background and how he eventually became a filmmaker. Unlike a few of the other guests, being a director and cinematographer were not things he wanted to be even into his early to mid twenties. It’s always interesting when someone with such raw talent does not tap into it initially. I think the conversation about how to find it and stoke that fire can be beneficial and applicable for anyone regardless of craft or trade.

In addition to this realization we discuss his current transition into directing and his desire to continue pursuing cinematography in tandem. Process and approach are big themes and I loved hearing what goes on inside his head including his beliefs about how to deal with the facets of filmmaking as well as life in general.

His portfolio is strong with a recent commercial campaign for Spotify as a highlight. A lot of his work is in the music space, creating a project called Serialbox Presents which showcases up and coming musical acts. He also directs and shoots cinematic music videos often turning them into short films with Hollywood level actors.

Episode 4 - Eliot Rausch

This conversation holds a special meaning in my heart. Eliot is a profound human being. A past filled with addiction and excess, he has pushed himself to the brink and back, now working as a sought after commercial director with a humanistic/documentary style.

His life blindly air dropped into the fast lane after the meteoric success of a short film he made about his friend putting his dog down. What was supposed to be a simple ode to a dog turned into the spark that exploded his career.

In the episode we discuss what lead up to this moment and how it impacted his life in the immediate and long term. This kind of rise can be a dizzying thing to navigate in every way possible; mentally, physically, fiscally, socially, politically - the higher you go, the bigger you get, the more complicated it all becomes.

Eliot’s honesty is something to behold. He shares his heart with anyone who is open to accept it. After we finished recording we kept discussing these topics for another few hours, it’s a conversation that never ends for him. He’s a unique soul and I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Episode 3 - Vincent Laforet

Vincent Laforet is a professional photographer turned commercial director and cinematographer. He was the youngest staff photographer ever hired for the New York Times where he shared The Pulitzer for his international coverage in The Middle East documenting events unfolding post 9/11. After years of success at the paper, the need for creativity and artistry prompted him to do the unthinkable, he left what most considered to be the job you held onto forever.

In the pod we discuss his upbringing and how he managed to become the youngest hired staff member of the famed NYT photo dept and the journey he’s been on ever since. Vince is well known in the photography world as a teacher through his prolific blog. This side of him is impossible to turn off and comes through during our conversation. He’s always trying to extoll advice and share what he’s learned.

Compared to the previous episodes, Vince is older than the first two guests and brings with him a different perspective. I’m hopeful that the podcast can continue to bring in a variety of voices either because of age, experience, background, artistic genre - with each new voice the conversation becomes richer.

Episode 2 - Joey L.

Joey L is a wildly talented photographer working on everything from top tier commercial work to thoughtful documentary work. Living every young photographer’s dream he headed to New York at a young age and found critically acclaimed success quite early, he was still a teenager. His work has been featured in top magazines, billboards in Time Square and wrapped around double decker buses in midtown Manhattan. Clients include Lavazza, National Geographic, The U.S. Army and many more. 

When not shooting for a client, he’s usually on the road working on his travel photography. Differing from photojournalism, he brings his commercial aesthetic to far flung places mixing his technical ability with a dive into human exploration. One of the more interesting notes is that he routinely visits the same tribes, forming relationships over years, which grants him unique access.

Now entering his mid-20s, he has accomplished more than most people do in their whole career. For that reason I enjoyed our discussion on how to stay engaged when many common photography goals have been achieved so quickly. He’s well spoken, articulate and has a keen sense of self awareness.

At the time of recording he had just returned from a personal trip to Syria and Iraq. He went to document the Kurdish resistance. It was fortuitous to catch him in such a fresh state of mind about the experience as it was his first formal discussion on that project. Those photos have now been seen the world over and achieved international acclaim.

Episode 1 - Jonathan Bregel

Jonathan Bregel is an accomplished commercial director, cinematographer and personal friend. Finding success at a young age, he started a production company called Variable at 22 years old. That company now boasts a growing roster of directors and houses a full staff taking on large scale high-end commercials and doc-style campaigns. Some noted clients are National Geographic, Cadillac and Tiffany’s.

Speaking with Jon is always an inspiring experience. He’s a thoughtful and deep guy who is constantly analyzing the world around him and his participation in it. In the episode we discuss how he came up in the industry embracing his friends help and creating a film family from the very beginning. We dive into the importance of having a team and how he dealt with the transition to large projects that came with an exponential rise in responsibility.

His views on the industry and how to stay grounded really resonate with me. For someone who has accomplished so much, it’s exciting to see him still curious and inquisitive. He’s about as egoless as they come. It was a great conversation and even though I’ve known him for years, it opened up a whole new appreciation for him and his outstanding work.