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Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

Traveling with Andrew Bui

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland
It is always a pleasure chatting with Andrew. He is a great friend, a top-notch shooter and editor, and just an overall amazing artist. We are thrilled to have him back on the blog to discuss his work traveling the world and making stellar video content out of those journeys. Join us as he discusses best practices, gives helpful tips and tricks, and more!
1. Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

Hello there, I’m Andrew Bui but some people may know me as Dru or @drubui from Instagram. I’m from Marrero, LA which is located on the Westbank of New Orleans. Currently I’m in the “video” field and do a little bit of everything from directing to shooting, but overall, I am a content creator.

2. Tell us a bit about “Andrew Bui Films.” Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc.

So Andrew Bui Films is actually my “official” business side of things, (somewhat separate from me as a brand) where we produce primarily wedding videos and event videography. We’re based out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and our mission is to produce cinematic stylistic event coverage. When I’m not freelancing, traveling for work or creating content for social media, I’m probably out filming a wedding.

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

3. So last time we talked, we talked a lot about “sloppy/dangerous” filmmaking vs. “guerrilla” filmmaking. You have clearly continued down the path of strong, powerful guerrilla-like content. In particular, you have been busy over the last few years traveling and showcasing/highlighting the unique cities, cultures, and people you’ve met along the way. Tell us a bit about how you got into doing these projects and how’d you’d describe them.

Haha, yes I’ve definitely held on to those same principals of guerilla filmmaking. I got into doing these kinds of projects through a good friend of mines “David Jones” who brought me into his brand (The Pioneer Collective), we did a ton of projects which involved us traveling all over the country as well as internationally and this is essentially where I would say I was able to hone in on creating content which revolved around travel/day2day stuff. I would definitely consider those videos to be more along the lines of travel vlogs/cultural pieces. However I would love to dive more into being able to really showcase a locations cultural aspects, I feel like that’s an area that I’m currently gearing towards.

4. How do you choose where to go? What is one of your favorite places you’ve traveled to? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced or are constantly keeping tabs on when doing this kind work?

The culture, the landscape, costs & time of year. Those are some of the things that I factor in when choosing a place to visit, I have a few places in mind that I’d like to travel to this year but definitely would prefer to wait for the right time to visit to make the best out of my trip. Iceland, hands-down has been my favorite place to visit, I really did feel like I was on another planet at times, there’s just so much to see, vast & scenic views for miles, with endless possibilities to capture the beauty of it all. Some challenges I’ve faced with this kind of work is, trying to stay consistent in putting out quality work that exceeds the last thing I made in some way, and not falling into the hype or current trendy thing to do.

Andrew Bui flying drones in Iceland

5. How do you decide what to pack? How do you get such high quality content while staying mobile?

If I’m traveling for a client shoot, it really just depends on the job & location. I usually start with the essentials that I know for sure I’ll be using, my primary camera, lens, and my gimbal. From there, everything else I pack is just an additional add-on that may or may not be used. I like to keep things somewhat minimal, with the technology being crammed into these smaller form factors, it just makes sense to want to keep things lightweight without sacrificing on the quality.

6. Do you generally go in with a concept in mind, or do you see where the trip takes you and put it together after?

I do usually try and brainstorm a concept the week leading up to my trips but rarely do I have a flushed out idea until I have all the footage in front of me and start piecing things together.

7. What are some tips you’d give to people considering doing this sort of “travel video” work? How can they keep costs down, best utilize their time, make contacts in new places, etc.?

Some tips I’d give, if you’re already going somewhere new & exciting, document it, don’t be afraid to get away from the touristy places everyone else goes to, show your unique perspective/outlook on the place you’re in (wherever that may be) and than piece it together and share it with the world. I’m not the best at budgeting but I do try to save money in areas where I can, a good example, when we were in Iceland, food was pretty expensive so to keep costs down we would just go to these Gas Stations which sold affordable sandwiches and hotdogs, which we lived off of for a week, you could also keep an eye out on sales throughout the year for flights, my friend was able to snag a round-trip flight to Iceland for around 400 bucks.

Andrew Bui traveling by rapids in Iceland

It’s definitely a good idea to come up with an itinerary for the place you’re traveling to, to make the best out of your time. Definitely have a few places in mind that you know for sure you’d like to visit but that aren’t too far apart from each other, driving to these locations will eat up the bulk of your time. I think a good way to try to make contacts in new places you’ve never been before is to maybe reach out to some local FB groups or see if that place has an Instagram Community, for example here in New Orleans/Baton Rouge there’s this new and growing community of photographers & videographers (LocalNomadsLA) that have meet-ups almost every weekend where they hang-out, take pictures and network with each other. Their completely open to newcomers and anyone who’s generally interested in learning and connecting with other like-minded individuals.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Get out there and make stuff, seriously! I appreciate you guys reaching out again and having me apart of this awesome blog, excited to see what else you guys have in store!

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

You can contact Andrew and find more of his awesome work at his website, vimeo, instagram, facebook, and beyond! 

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An Interview with Actor Bianca Jaconetty

An Interview with Actor Bianca Jaconetty

Photo by Abagail Clark abagail-clark.com

Photo by Abigail Clark
abigail-clark.com

We conducted an interview with actor Bianca Jaconetty. Anyone who has worked with her can tell you that not only is she a truly talented, hard-working actor, but she is also an incredibly warm and positive force on set. We love working with Bianca and are proud to call her a colleague, so you can imagine how thrilled we were when she agreed to do this blog post. Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.
My name is Bianca Jaconetty and I am an actor and writer originally from Chicago, Illinois.
2. How did you end up in New Orleans? 
My plan was never to come straight to New Orleans. After theater school I saved up enough money to move to Los Angeles where most of my peers were migrating. A few months before my move, one of my closest friends who lived here, suggested that I try it out. After moving down for a few months with several call backs, auditions and contacts, I made the decision to stay.
3. How and when did you first start acting? What’s your background (formal or informal)? Who or what were some of your biggest influences? 
I first started acting when I was very young. Luckily, I had parents who were very dedicated to sending me to classes where I could explore the world of performance. At a young age I took classes at a small theater called Childs’s Play in Chicago and was a part of the Chicago Children’s Choir. Growing up I went to Lookingglass summer camps and even took classes in Second City’s young adult acting program. From there I participated in high school plays and went to college for a degree in fine arts at Southern Illinois University. My time at Southern Illinois provided me the chance to delve into the world of theater further and was where I first honed into writing and got my first glance at film. Some of my biggest influences were my professors at Southern whose voices still pop into my head when I need advice. They were the ones who helped me grow into the artist that I am today.
4. So acting is one of those worlds that has a lot of preconceived notions/myths about it. What are some of the surprising/unexpected sides of acting world you’ve seen, if any? What are some of the “stereotypes” you’ve found hold true, if any? 
Bianca 2One really big surprise, which seems silly now because of how large and fast it has grown, is how crucial social media has become to casting in films. I was in L.A. for a film that was accepted into Hollyshorts film festival, and was talking to casting directors in the industry who say that Instagram and Twitter are an easy way for Hollywood to see who is popular. The more followers you have shows casting agents that you like to be seen by audiences, and that could make or break you. One actor could be more talented than the next, but if he’s got the backing on social media, they will choose him. It is a craft in itself to master the art of social media and something that I am still learning.
5. Do you find you have to face particular challenges as a woman, not only in the real of acting, but in film/video production in general? If so, what are some of these challenges? 
A common stereotype for actors around the globe is that it is all in the people that you know. If you have the right connection, then you will get further in your career. This, I have found to hold extremely true. Although New Orleans is a completely different beast than Los Angeles or New York, I know that I would not be where I am today without the people I have met and helped while working on a project or even out for a drink. You never know who is going to lead you to your next step, and it is essential to build these bonds, almost like industry karma.
6. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out here in the film industry, especially if they’re just starting out here in New Orleans, what would be your main piece of advice?
I think that women are faced with struggles in all facets of the film industry. Personally, as an actor, my biggest qualm has come from the characters that I play. Many female characters in film are sexualized and lack depth. This came to me as a surprise in my transition to film because I was taught to study strong intricate characters in theater like Lady MacBeth or Martha from “Who’s Afraid of Viginia Woolf?”. To me it seems backward that these characters were written over 50 years ago and by men, where in 2016 we can’t seem to get it quite right.
I have also found that many of my colleagues who work on the other side of the camera are limited to what kind of positions that they can access in the industry. So few women are allowed the opportunity to explore the technical aspect of film, because those positions are already filled by men. Try as they might, they are rarely given the chance to delve into these jobs no matter how capable they may be. They can move a key light, carry a 30 pound mixing bag, set up an advanced rig or prep a camera better than the next guy, if given the chance. That being said, I do believe that there are people out there that recognize this struggle and are willing to help make a difference. I have many friends who see the issue for what it is and I know that the film industry is changing in this aspect for the better.
Put yourself out there! Go to classes, seek any and every audition and make friends with people who are doing what you want to do. The more you work, the more likely someone is going to recognize not only you, but the talent that you can bring to the table. Also, find a good photographer and constantly get new headshots. Having an up to date shot will keep you prepared for anything.
7. What are you working on now?
I just finished working on a music video called “Where is God?” with Worklight Pictures, and an independent film “Alone” directed and written by Michael Lowendick, where I was the lead. I am also finishing up a short comedy that I wrote and directed called, “Magical Fruit”, that was all thanks to InDepth Media, for letting me use their equipment and location. Rules We Live By, my first feature as a lead role has proudly been submitted to film festivals around the country. I’ve been keeping busy writing and collaborating with friends and hopefully will have some fun pieces to show in the months to come.
8. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Acting is hard. It is more than being a pretty face or reading lines off of a page. You have to consistently educate and dig so deep within yourself to pull out a magic that not everyone is capable of. No matter how prepared you are, how many exercises you practice, or hard you push; you will mess up. I am lucky to have friends that remind me constantly that there will be days of defeat, but you have to forgive yourself and not let it destroy your confidence. I allow myself 15 minutes, a very grueling self-dissection of what I could have done better, and then I take my lesson, I put it away and know that there will be worse days, but that I will exceed as an actor from it.

You can check out Bianca’s reel here and reach her at bianca.jaconetty@gmail.com

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 9.42.46 PM

From “Rules We Live By,” produced by Flittermouse Films

An Interview with Film Critic Bill Arceneaux

An Interview with Film Critic Bill Arceneaux

Drawn by Zach McGovern, Picture by Leslie Almeida

Image by Zach McGovern and Leslie Almeida

We conducted an interview with film critic Bill Arceneaux, a writer based here in New Orleans.  Bill has been covering films, the New Orleans film scene, and more with a fun, straightforward writing style. He is incredibly supportive of  the film industry here and was a pleasure to chat with.

1) Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

I’m Bill Arceneaux, a Metro NOLA native. I’ve been a film critic – working from amatuer blogger to professional writer – since 2011, and a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (1 of 3 in Louisiana) since 2014. I write movie reviews and articles, conduct interviews and produce podcasts from time to time.

2) So saying you are “fan of film” is a bit of an understatement. Clearly you are passionate about movies – what fostered your passion for it? What were some of the earliest films that resonated with you?

To provide a proper answer, I’m gonna have to time travel back to 7th grade. For an in class assignment, we were all asked to write about our best friends. I was the only student to choose a setting, not a person: the movie theater. I’m sure there was some kind of childhood moment that I strive to connect to everyday that is responsible for my love of cinema – perhaps my first memory of movies, which was watching Rocky IV with family – but I just love the public intimacy of watching a film with others. You may be surrounded by friends, neighbors and strangers, but when the lights flicker and fade, it’s just you and the illusion of movement. It’s the most consistent romantic relationship in my life, you could say.

Movies that I loved growing up:

Top Gun
Searching for Bobby Fischer
UHF
– Superman II
The Original Star Wars Trilogy

3) So you’re from the New Orleans area. Do you find it informs how you do your work? Does it impact you professionally?

Absolutely. First off, I do my best to cover films being locally shown at local theaters. This can be pretty difficult, especially if the only regional outlet you write for is in Baton Rouge. However, I do what I can, either through social media sharing or blog writing. Though, I DID just get rid of my most recent blog… Second, I think the laid back atmosphere of New Orleans trickles its way into how I write reviews. I tend to lean towards being cheeky and funny, with the context being that I’m taking the piss out of something instead of straight up negativity. Usually, there’s at least one thing to enjoy in a film. I don’t let the humidity and mugginess of poor craft seep into my attitude.

New Orleans has movie fans and all, but isn’t treated well as a moviegoing (or even movie making) town. We have great theaters, sure, but the culture could stand to be improved upon. If you’re a critic in this area and you’re independent and/or freelance (like me), you write because you love to, not because it pays the bills.

4) You’ve written on several platforms and experimented with various ways of funding your writing, such as Patreon. Monetization is always a challenge for anything writing-based. What have you found to be effective? Where have some of the challenges been with regards to monetizing your work?

Patreon is a wonderful tool if people know who you are and follow you. Or if you’re in a medium that they care about. So far, my campaign has been limited to a network of immediate friends and colleagues. Honestly, finding outlets willing to pay has kept me afloat. This can be a daunting and even depressing scavenger hunt, but I find having an editor to work under only improves my work, with constructive criticism and idea exchanges. I often wonder if potential readers and supporters look at my work and scoff or worse, close the browser tab without finishing. What am I doing wrong or not enough of? How can I better myself? These are always on my mind.

5) What are some of the key elements you look for when critiquing a movie? Are there certain criteria and metrics you use? What are some of the biggest turns-offs for you in a movie? What tends to draw you in and win your approval? 
Only five years into my pro career, I’m uncertain as to the “appropriate” or “scientific” formula for film criticism. I used to treat reviews as autobiography capsules, telling stories about myself that would tie into the movie being written about. I’ve since abandoned that for discussing more of the specific atmospherics of the film than anything. How did it make me feel? What was it trying to make me feel? Was it trying at all?

Brevity and technical cleverness always win out. It’s hard for me to stick with a film when it drags its story on and on, or when there is no flair or mastery of craft (subtle or not) at work. Maximum effort!

6) If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to write/critique films, what would be your main piece of advice?

Keep an open mind and KEEP WRITING. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t get discouraged. I could’ve started earlier had I really listened to certain people.

7) What are you working on now? 

I’ve begun writing for Occupy.com, doing reviews and columns. It’s gonna be a challenge, getting into political and societal territory. Though, movies ARE a reflection of us, so it’s only natural. I’m also working on a new article series for Movieboozer and a podcast for the local cinephile group SwampFlix.com – stay tuned!

7) Anything else you’d like to add? 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might be some kind of reverse or misunderstood masterpiece. Consider and reconsider that.

Follow Bill on twitter (@BillReviews), facebook (facebook.com/reelbillreviews), and support him on Patreon (patreon.com/billreviews).

An Interview with Director Ben Zschunke

An Interview with Director Ben Zschunke

Ben Zschunke

We conducted an interview with Ben Zschunke, a talented director/cinematographer based here in New Orleans. We have worked with Ben for a few years now and have been fortunate to not only employ him for our work, but also participate in his projects. Ben brings out the creativity in everyone around him and pushes us all to hold higher standards for ourselves and our work. 

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

My name is Ben Zschunke, I am a filmmaker native to Minnesota. I attended UNC School of the Arts and earned my BFA in filmmaking in 2011 with a concentration in screenwriting and cinematography. Afterwards, I moved to New Orleans to find my place in their growing film industry. Today I’m a freelance director, cinematographer, and editor who has worked on videos for GQ, Vice, A$AP Ferg, Ceelo Green, and others.

2. Over the years you’ve experienced film sets across the country. What are some of the practices and outlooks you’ve seen no matter the place? What are some of the key differences?

  • Story is king. If your story stinks, your film will stink. Even B-movies have something compelling about them.
  • Respect your crew. Feed them, pay them, make sure they’re getting rest, shake their hand at the end of the day. I’ve worked for a 1st AD in NC who barked orders all day and it didn’t make me work any faster than when I worked for a 1st AD from New Orleans, the key difference is I enjoyed working for the New Orleans 1st AD more. This goes along with just being a kind person in general.
  • Blocking is more important than you think. Communicate the scene to your keys. If they don’t know what’s happening in the scene, no one does.
  • Treat indie productions like a Hollywood production. If you can be as professional as a seasoned LA filmmaker on an indie flick, you’re just as good plus you proved you can work on a small budget. Once you get the big money, you still do the same thing, just on a bigger scale.
  • Ask questions. Filmmakers love talking about their craft and you can learn a lot by asking them questions over a pint.
  • As much as you love making film, it’s still a business. My producing professor told this to me once and stuck with me since.

3. There is a lot of ongoing debate about film school vs on-set experience. As a graduate of UNC School of the Arts, what were some the pros and cons of that experience? What would you recommend to people who are starting to consider getting involved in video/film production?

I remember having this debate with my roommate in college my freshman year — we could stay in school and spend a bunch of money or drop out to start working on film sets. I’d say it was smart that we stayed in film school, specifically with the opportunities that we were offered at UNC School of the Arts. We had great facilities and equipment, really this was the only reason I chose UNCSA over Columbia in Chicago. Both are great schools but we were shooting on Arri SR2, SR3, Arri Alexa, RED Epic, with Cooke prime lenses, full grip and electric packages, studio space, while under the supervision of ASC and SOC members. We learned about a standard of filmmaking that I strive to reproduce on my sets. Not to mention, now I’m part of a network of alumni. Employers in the industry generally know UNCSA grads are good workers.

Now I’m not saying that it’s the only route. I’ve seen plenty of filmmakers come from non-filmmaking backgrounds or without any higher education altogether and do great work. I’ve even learned quite a bit after college, probably more at this point.

But what people really want to know is it worth the time and money? And I always answer, yes. Not only did I learn a vast amount technical skill but it gave me a giant leap up when applying for jobs or being useful on set. I could’ve been a grip or camera assistant for years before I got to be a director/dp at this current time.

4. What’s your favorite thing to do on set? Whether an individual position, a fun practice or tradition you have, whatever. The one thing you always look forward to no matter the production.

Besides having champagne at roll 100 or doing $5 Fridays, I always enjoy watching the monitor and realizing when something is gold. My whole demeanor changes and I get excited. I think I got it from my professor John LeBlanc while watching the monitor with him.

Not only that but seeing people react to films I’ve done is always exciting too. Blood, sweat, and tears on the screen and we all finally get to enjoy it. It’s really want filmmaking is all about and it’s easy to forget.

5. What brought you to New Orleans? What is one of your favorite video production experiences here in New Orleans? Any good lessons you learned here?

I came to New Orleans on the recommendation of my college roommate and other alums. They introduced me to some who got me a couple jobs. I remember asking myself why should I stay here though, and it was because I didn’t want to live in LA or NY or Atlanta. I wanted to start a career in a city where competition was lower and help raising the bar in terms of video production. It kind of goes hand-in-hand with how people felt about rebuilding this city after Katrina. A lot of the buildings and land was still untouched when I moved here and now I’ve grown with it. I feel like a part of the city.

My favorite experience in New Orleans was probably shooting A$AP Ferg’s video. It was during Mardi Gras and I got a last minute call to meet him out at the tour bus. We went to Hollygrove and shot him in front of a house still untouched since Katrina and then the whole neighborhood came out and got in the video. Then we met Manny Fresh in Gentilly and he was in the video. It was nuts! By the time we were done shooting it was 4am but it was worth it.

6. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out here in the film industry, especially if they’re just starting out here in New Orleans, what would be your main piece of advice?

Send out inquiries. I’ve met so many people that just sent out emails to people who had similar positions on FilmNewOrleans.org and got great advice or started working right away.

Check out Ben’s reel and make sure to follow/support The Polar Bear Club!