Episode 28 - Shal Ngo

Shal Ngo is a director and writer splitting his time between narrative and commercial work. He is on the directing roster at Acres having been there from its inception as the company’s first director. One of Shal’s notable projects for Acres was his work on the Bill DeBlasio for Mayor campaign. The campaign has been credited for a significant boost in DeBlasio’s polling and was viewed as a beneficial factor in his election win. Narratively Shal has been working on an ongoing short film series called Tangents.

This podcast episode takes on a special approach as we recorded it on-location in Vietnam where Shal and I were filming his latest sci-fi short film. Having just wrapped production the day prior, we sat down to discuss the project, our collaboration between director and cinematographer as well as the usual podcast journey of chronology and discussion about moments throughout Shal’s life.

Episode 27 - Oren Soffer

Oren Soffer is a cinematographer primarily working on narrative in addition to commercials and documentaries. After growing up in Israel, Oren studied at NYU’s film school where he spent time working under Reed Morano ASC. Upon graduating it has been a constant stream of narrative and commercial work building his chops and aesthetic. Some commercial clients include Discovery Channel, Bloomberg News, Time Inc, Refinery 29, Target, MTV, Nickelodeon, L’Oreal and Skype.

tIn the podcast we take a deep dive into the craft of cinematography. Not just the technical aspects but the mental ones as well both in the micro view of being on set and the macro view of how to shape a career as a director of photography.

Episode 26 - Michael Tringe

Michael Tringe is a filmmaker, business owner and all around industry thinker who has spent the majority of his career democratizing film. Working in both the creative and business aspects, Mike has seen the power of the internet as a transformative tool for creators. A tool that allows for education, monetization and of course distribution. An interesting career with stints at CAA, Vuguru and Blip among others, he eventually co-founded his own company called CreatorUp! which is a self described digital storytelling academy.

In the podcast we discuss Mike’s path from teaching film to students in Morocco to his current role teaching creators globally through his CreatorUp! platform. Along the way we discuss the influence of the internet on Hollywood, the rise of Youtube and the Youtube star, the pitfalls of the early years of internet filmmaking and the steps the industry has taken in trying to create an ecosystem that works for the creator and platforms alike.

Episode 25 - Todd Wiseman Jr.

Todd Wiseman Jr. is a producer, director and the co-owner of NYC based production company Hayden 5. Having skill sets in both the creative and business aspects of the industry, Todd is that rare character who is equally comfortable and happy creating his own work or helping facilitate others. Having directed or produced works with screenings at Tribeca Film Festival and with big names such as Oscar Isaac, Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen, Todd is a true industry professional maximizing the advantages of Hayden 5’s indie-like approach to the craft.

In the podcast we discuss how his time at NYU Film School helped set him on his path to owning a production company from an early age and how he navigated the early years. We also delve into how he balances his producing/directing mindsets and goals while managing big projects and talent.

Episode 24 - Molly Kaplan

Molly Kaplan is the Head of Multimedia at ACLU National. The job is unique within the ACLU in that while the majority of its employees are lawyers, Molly is one part artist, one part campaign specialist. Her job is to help captivate the American public bringing to their attention the issues the ACLU is undertaking on their behalf. Her more formal film roles would include executive producer, creative director, director, producer, editor… every project requires a different hat.

I’ve known Molly for a few years now having first worked on a project with Joey L. for the ACLU. It was not until our current collaboration, the Know Your Rights Campaign, that our working relationship manifested into something much greater. To cut straight to the point, working with Molly is nothing short of fantastic. A true collaborative partner, the power of her inclusive and open minded nature is evident in the final products she creates working alongside talented filmmakers.

In the podcast we discuss the somewhat meandering path Molly took to get to her current role. Having started in the food industry traveling around the world studying olives, her way in life has never been concrete or straight forward. I believe it’s important to note and discuss this fact for everyone out there who thinks success comes from clear and definite goals. We also discuss our working relationship and what makes for optimal client/vendor collaboration. Lastly, given the outcome of the election, we discuss the importance of the ACLU specifically examining the role film pieces play in legal cases that are under the national spotlight.

Episode 23 - Patrick Lawler

Patrick Lawler is a director, cinematographer, editor, motion graphics artist… the list is long. It’s honestly best to describe him as an artist who uses film as his medium. Having a background in music videos, the genre’s flexible rules allow him to try out new ideas and interesting tricks without worrying about the confines of more traditional storytelling. Having now started a production company called Deca, Patrick is looking to expand into narrative film work after spending the last decade honing in on his unique visual aesthetic.

Patrick was one of the first big users on Vimeo back in the platform’s infancy. No coincidence that social media is how we first met and it’s fascinating to see how being a part of that first internet wave influenced and helped shape our careers. We discuss this interesting time in our lives and the industry in the episode along with Patrick’s approach to internet relevancy and how he likes to engage his captive audience. 

Patrick has worked with bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Run The Jewels, Big Sean, Riff Raff, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Raekwon and DJ Shadow among others. He's worked on commercials for LRG x Star Wars, Audi, Honda, Cadillac and Intel among others and has been teaching courses and giving lectures for the RED camera company for three years.

Episode 22 - Ezra Cimino-Hurt

Ezra Cimino-Hurt is an artist, craftsman and small business owner. He is the proud mastermind behind Case of Bass, a shop that turns vintage luggage into beautiful boomboxes. Ezra grew up a capable carpenter without a real understanding of what he wanted to do in life. He spent time in the film industry as well as construction before stumbling into what would eventually become a dream job he made for himself.

I first met Ezra in 2012 at the Portland Design Week screening of my documentary Graffiti Fine Art. Case of Bass was only a year old at that point but the idea and execution felt like an obvious hit. It’s been a long road since then and this episode delves into the trials and tribulations any creative faces when committing to their ideas. Straight up, Ezra is an inspiring guy. His positive attitude and zest for life make him a pleasure to be around, the good vibes are infectious and they are clearly the foundation of his company and the cases. 

This episode is slightly different in that we are not speaking directly with a filmmaker but I’m encouraged by the conversation we were able to have and draw parallels from one type of freelance life to another. We recently collaborated on a short film about Ezra and Case of Bass called Updating Philosophies - There Is No Away, please check that out beforehand to get an even better sense of the products and Ezra’s life philosophy.

Episode 21 - Tiffany Chang

Tiffany Chang is a film and commercial producer currently living in Vietnam. Originally a commercial editor at a boutique post production house she felt the need to get out of the edit bay and have a more varied working environment. Transitioning into freelance producing she found consistency working with production company Acres (previous guest Matt McLaughlin co-owns Acres). From there the desire to branch out even further has resulted in her moving abroad where she nows lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.

I’ve known Tiffany for 3 years originally through Acres and it’s creatives. Her wit and sharp commentary have always been a joy to witness. Now that she lives abroad it has been great getting to hear her stories and compare/contrast with the experience I had living in Brazil for two years. Our similar experiences were the reason why I wanted to sit down for an episode as I know many freelancers who have contemplated working and living abroad.

Episode 20 - Joe Simon

Joe Simon is a cinematographer and director based out of Austin, Texas. Originally a sponsored BMX rider, Joe took his need to film himself biking and turned it into a full blown career. From there he dominated the wedding film industry filming celebrity weddings such as Tony Romo’s as well as global destination weddings for high end clients. After reaching the top of the wedding world Joe transitioned into documentary and narrative filmwork. He started a production company called The Delivery Men and freelances as well, most notably for the CNN show The Wonder List with Bill Weir.

I’ve known Joe for 6 years now having first met at the original Masters in Motion, hosted in his home of Austin, Texas. He has always been a laid back guy who never took himself too seriously. He’s simply a hard working talented dude who puts in the time to execute at a very high level. A real pleasure to be around, it is easy to see how people gravitate towards him for freelance work.

In the episode we discuss his path from BMX to weddings to proper filmmaking. Within that journey we chat about the value of having a collaborative partner, his new passion project “Everything has a Feeling,” and the ins and outs of working on The Wonder List.

Episode 19 - Timur Civan

Timur Civan is a cinematographer working on commercials, documentaries, scripted narrative and experimental. Working his way through the craft and the New York film scene for over ten years, he sets himself apart with his experimental work. A notable example of this style being the music video for Nigel Stanford titled Cymatics.

I’ve known Timur for the past 3 to 4 years meeting and hanging out in the same NYC film circles. We both frequent Vincent Laforet’s poker game where Timur acts like he doesn’t know how to play but miraculously ends up winning rather consistently. Somehow I felt this information was relevant and helps paint a picture for you all.

In the podcast we discuss Timur’s current transitional state as he finds himself very close to joining the union as a DP. Reflective and thoughtful, this conversation provides insights into the lesser discussed aspects of craft building, the ways in which our talents and opportunities can feel cyclical and how to anticipate these cycles and make them work for you both artistically and financially.

Episode 18 - Jason Wise

Jason Wise is a film director and the driving force behind notable documentaries SOMM and SOMM: Into The Bottle. Both films take a deep dive into the world of wine, documenting the perspectives of the master sommelier and wine purveyors. The cultural impact of the original SOMM reached full strength after it’s release on Netflix becoming one of the go-to films on the subject.

I’ve been speaking with Jason for a few years now on social media following his rise and his continued efforts at both documentary and narrative. He has always taken an inclusive approach with his commentary on various social media platforms creating a friendly vibe that makes you want to root for him. It comes as no surprise that our conversation continued this sentiment resulting in a discussion that went deep into the honest reflections that come from finding success.  

In the podcast we discuss his early career, how SOMM came to be, an incredible story about how it entered film festivals and distribution as well as his mission to switch back to shooting his next projects all on film and why.

Episode 17 - Dallas Taylor

Dallas Taylor is a sound designer and business owner of Defacto Sound, a sound design and mixing house based in Washington D.C. The shop takes on projects from a wide variety of genres including commercials, video games, network promos, short docs and feature length films. Clients include National Geographic, Audi, Redbull, Fallout and Skyrim (video game trailers). A recent feature doc they did titled Blood Brother won Sundance and another titled Almost Holy is currently in theaters after screening at Tribeca.

I’ve known Dallas for a few years now since he began working with fellow film collaborators (and podcast guests) Jon Bregel of Variable, Ryan Booth and Andy Baker of National Geographic. Dallas is always inquisitive, eager to steer conversation away from the mundane, diving into deeper discussion about the craft, the industry or life in general. I think this approach to people, wanting to get past the surface pleasantries, is at the root of his continued success.

In the podcast Dallas takes us on his journey from aspiring jazz trumpet player to high end sound designer. Along the way we pick up advice and insight on how to make big life moves and how to build a successful company.

Episode 16 - Johanna B. Kelly

Johanna B. Kelly is a production designer with 7 feature films under her belt. Beyond her main role on set, she has undertaken a feature documentary as a director and producer diving into the world of the insect food industry. Her documentary The Gateway Bug is currently in post and is being prepped for a festival run.

Living in New York as an Australian expat, her backstory of how she began in the industry provides great insight into the struggles that come with moving abroad and starting a new career.

This is my first episode with a guest with whom I’ve had no prior relationship. It was an inevitability I suppose and I’m excited for the future of the podcast. Great to sit down with Johanna learning about her from scratch, on air. It added new elements to the discovery aspects of the conversation and I found Johanna’s rise in the industry particularly fascinating since production design was not her first career.

Episode 15 - Craig Ormiston

Craig Ormiston is a renaissance man. He is a consultant for multiple tech and entertainment companies, a film producer, writer, craft beer enthusiast and hails from the great state of Colorado. His eclectic list of interests, hobbies and professions serves as a defining characteristic about him and his career.

We first met on the set of a worldwide travel show based out of Dubai. Craig produced the impossible and managed a crew of 10 circumnavigating the globe. The project was logistically one of the most challenging of our careers and Craig made it’s success possible.

Unlike many of the podcast guests we’ve had on, Craig is hard to define by one role, industry or passion. Our conversation is founded on this and discusses new topics to the show such as how to know when to leave your current job, how to assess your career and how to deal with a shifting career trajectory.

Episode 14 - Matt McLaughlin

Matt McLaughlin is the co-owner of the production company Acres in New York City. He serves as both executive producer and media strategist working with brands, political campaigns and organizations. Their work on the Bill de Blasio NYC mayoral campaign is notable as it helped transform de Blasio's poll numbers and gave Acres large scale publicity. Now a young and successful company, they support a small roster of directors out of an office space in TriBeCa.

I first met Matt when working with Acres’ director Shal Ngo. Matt’s a warm and welcoming guy with a sharp wit. Always eager to get into deeper conversation about complex issues, it has become clear to me that these interests act as a guide for where he sees Acres going as a company.

Always interesting speaking with people who are more on the commerce side of this ongoing discussion. Matt is unique in that he straddles the line, truly making art out of the commerce. Speaking with him I hear the same passion akin to a director or cinematographer, except our conversations are about brand identity, financial distribution models and the importance of relationships.

Episode 13 - Christian Schultz

Christian Schultz is a freelance Film and Commercial Director. He recently left his staff job as a Film Director for The Musicbed, a music licensing company. He was part of the inaugural film team at The Musicbed and helped craft their aesthetic and setup the foundation for a strong collection of films ranging from stylistic marketing materials to short online portraits of musicians to feature documentaries.

I first met Christian at the filmmaking conference Masters in Motion. At the time Christian had just started putting out work with The Musicbed and it was clear they were focused on changing the way brands made films about themselves and their collaborators. Gone was the commercial tone and in was the thoughtful moody atmosphere more akin to heartfelt documentaries.

Christian is a soft spoken thinker. Never the loudest in the room, he tends to let his work speak for himself. It was great to meet him at this time of transition from being on staff to going full time freelance. It’s a challenging time for anyone and I believe he provides solid insight into his process and how he is evaluating his success.

Also, Christian hosts a podcast with fellow filmmaker Jared Hogan called GOOD. It's so good, it's great.

Episode 12 - Jeremy Leach

Jeremy Leach is a Director of Photography and Director specializing in documentary films and travel television. He is an Emmy Award winner for his cinematography work on Mind of a Chef, a program created by Zero Point Zero, a production company famous for their work with Anthony Bourdain. Through this relationship, Jeremy continues to serve as a recurring DP on Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown and was a DP on Bourdain's previous show No Reservations. All three of these shows, along with many other projects, have taken him all over the world.

Like previous guest Ethan Mills, I met Jeremy on the set of Mind of a Chef. Both Jeremy and Ethan worked on the program since its inception and have been an integral part of the development process as DPs helping craft the look through four seasons. Jeremy’s impact cannot be understated as Zero Point Zero DPs are given a lot of artistic freedom. His leadership in time-pressed situations is something to behold and his creative quickfeet help guide the multitude of decisions made every day on set.

Jeremy is a humble and thoughtful guy often downplaying his overall impact. Having worked with him in the field, his clear vision sets him apart as someone who tries to always stay one step ahead and keep his cool even while under immense amounts of documentary pressure. He’s a blast to work with and I believe his personality and demeanor shine through in this episode.

Episode 11 - The Diamond Brothers

Diamond Bros..jpg

Josh and Jason Diamond are filmmakers, entrepreneurs, geeks... you name it and they’ve probably been involved somehow, someway. Having started with an interest in practical special effects, their careers have taken them in every possible direction from MTV to music videos to feature documentaries to post production, software development (Frame.io), commercial directing to everything in between. To understand the scope of the work they’ve done is to understand the eclectic nature of their personalities and interests.

I’ve known them for a few years now as we run in the same NYC indie scene and they have a solid presence in a similar social media crowd. From day one they’ve come across as genuine, tell you how it is, stand up dudes. Just a ton of fun to be around. It becomes obvious that this is also their business strength. From a networking standpoint, it feels as if they know everyone from Midtown to Hollywood, and a lot of that comes from their openness, affability and a penchant for having a good time while working their asses off.

They are an excellent example of how this industry and lifestyle can be meandering, slightly confusing and yet still successful. Conversations like this reinforce how important it is to stay self aware, embrace the world around you and trust your gut. It’s something The Diamond Bros. have done for over four decades and it’s proving to be a solid plan.

Episode 10 - Porter Fox

Porter Fox was born in New York and raised on the coast of Maine. He lives, writes, teaches and edits the literary travel writing journal Nowhere. His fiction, essays and nonfiction have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Salon.com, Narrative, The Literary Review, Northwest Review, Third Coast and Conjunctions, among others. In 2013 he published DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. The book was featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Review, CBS national news, NPR and in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

I first met Porter while searching for a new work space in Brooklyn. He owns Nowhere Studios in Bed Stuy, along with his wife, providing an ideal enclave for freelance creatives of all backgrounds. His open and supportive personality was immediately clear. Easy to talk to and knowledgeable on a diverse range of subjects, it is no surprise he’s had a successful career as a journalist and writer.

As the podcast continues these are the kinds of conversations I hope to have with creatives working outside of the film industry. I believe there are many similarities and parallels that can be made with other freelance roles. This discourse provides the type of perspective needed to appreciate the universal nature of our needs, problems and solutions.

Episode 9 - Agata Alexander

Agata Alexander is a director and editor best known for her unique music videos and music festival recaps. She has an ongoing relationship with HARD festivals and events which allows her to take the genre in new, creatively insane and hilarious directions. A genre often known for music heavy montages, Agata writes her own skits bringing a short film/narrative style that is simply unique to her. Collaborating with Hollywood cinematographers, her approach and overall production quality level far surpass anyone else in the scene.

In addition to these short film recaps, Agata utilizes her connections in the EDM world by directing music videos for the heavy hitters; most notably Dillon Francis, Bloody Beetroots and Destructo.

I first met Agata collaborating with her as a cinematographer at one of HARD’s events Holy Ship, a music festival that takes place on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. It is a fitting place to begin a professional relationship, I assure you. Agata’s charisma and trust stand out as she gives freedom to her DPs but instills a distinct aesthetic within the crew; one focused on beauty with a hint of debauchery.

Whether she likes it or not, her approach and style raises eyebrows both for the concepts on display as well as the fact that they are coming from a woman. Instinctive or carefully calculated, Agata cannot shy away from the reality that her work sparks conversation about feminism, misogyny, chauvinism and the male/female gaze.