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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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Light Talk – Ep. 1

Light Talk – A Film Podcast

Episode 1: Introductions, New Gear, Lighting Tests, and more

This week Greg (inDEPTH Media) and Ben explore Sony’s A7sII, Panasonic’s recently announced GH5, LED lights by Savage, and more.

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An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

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We conducted an interview with sound mixer Eric Rice, an incredibly talented mixer here in New Orleans. Eric brings immense skill, positivity, and just the right level of humor to our sets. We are very excited to have him on the inDEPTH blog and hope you learn as much as we did from our great friend and colleague. If you want to learn a bit more about to get started, check out our blog post on the basics of field recording. 

 

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

Hello! My name is Eric Rice. I’m a born-and-raised New Orleans local sound mixer with an affinity for both gourmet and gas station hot dogs and clean room tone.

2. How did you end up doing sound? Did you start at an early age? Study it in school? How did you land those first jobs?

I’ve always been fascinated by sound. Much like on set, our brains interpret images with highest sensory priority, but we often do not realize how important sound and our ears are to everyday life. Sound is a visceral experience that affects many aspects of our life whether we realize it or not. Sound can affect our moods, provide warnings or comfort, it allows us to communicate with each other through a man-made system of sounds our brains have been trained to recognize as language, our auditory system keeps us balanced and walking upright. If you were to spend time in some of the best designed anechoic chambers (highly reinforced, specially designed sound absorbing rooms) you can hear your heartbeat and the blood flowing through your head. You can hear your joints move. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I appreciate sound for the same reason I can look through a microscope at a droplet of pond water and see hundreds of things going on that we never think about. There are nuances in sound that are beautiful if you stop and listen. That’s why I love doing sound; I can shape someone’s mood with different sounds and techniques, and I’m constantly observing and learning. I get to do that for a living.

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Truly the attire of a gentleman Sound Mixer

My first sound job came completely by accident. I was in school at the University of New Orleans for film and found a Facebook post looking for non-paying PA’s. I went out just to meet people and get my feet wet. I spent my first two nights in the extra’s trailer on a no-budget web series. About 4 hours in, I got a call to send the extras to set… and that was pretty much my whole day. I then helped out breaking down set and cabling stingers for 2 hours at dawn in the swamp (got my feet wet). AND I WAS ECSTATIC FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. Same for day 2. On day 3, I went to the 2nd AD (who was also the sound recordist) and told her, “I’m going to be YOUR PA.” She had a lot on her plate so I knew I could help, but more selfishly, I knew sound was going to be a part of every shot. “If I follow the sound person, I’ll hear every conversation between director and crew,” I thought. The sound person is like the catcher in baseball (which I played growing up) in that the sound person is at least in the know on every shot. I figured that would put me in a perfect position to learn from all departments.

The next day, the sound person and production parted ways. I show up and immediately asked, “What’s your name again? Okay, cool. You’re running sound.” I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. This was a simple shoot for sound. “Boom into a Zoom.” No real mixing, just swingin’ the boom and making sure nothing clips, but to me, that was my big break. I was with them for a few months and got my first sound mixer credit (technically). From there, I got on a couple other free shoots working as a boom operator or just as hands on deck and it just kept snowballing.

I did a lot of “fake it ‘til you make it” in my first year or two. Eventually, after being fascinated with this new area of information I had to learn every day, I stopped having to fake it. That was that. I still research new techniques and gear every day and try to find new ways to convey the beautiful information that sound has to offer.

3. How would you describe the sound scene and general film scene here in New Orleans? What are some of the opportunities and challenges that come with working in video production here in New Orleans? What sort of improvements/changes would you like to see in the industry, whether local or beyond?

New Orleans film scene is f’in awesome! Every day I wake up, I’m thankful for ending up in the career I have with the people I work with. Think about it, we get to wake up and make art every day. Even if the current project isn’t all that artistic like covering a convention or filming a political ad, we’re still utilizing these long-honed skills to put our artistic touch on whatever it is that comes across the desk that day.

From my experience, everyone I know, love and work with in our independent film scene here in New Orleans feels just about the same. The low budget features aren’t great on the checkbook, but you get 20-30 of us together that have all grown up working on similar project together, and beautiful times are had. We really are a tight-knit community that enjoys spending our days together both on and off set.

We New Orleans soundies have a little different experience than most other crew positions/departments, in my experience. Fortunately, there’s just less of us around for the same amount of jobs that everyone else is vying for. This keeps the sound mixer community very tight. I get more than half of my work from other mixers who are booked on other projects, and I enjoy passing work to them as well. We are always in contact about what jobs are out there, who’s looking for what, what productions may not be the most sound friendly, etc.

We also are unique in that there is only one sound rental shop in New Orleans, Professional Sound Services at 8222 Maple St. in the Riverbend. Justin Ditch and Lukas Gonzales run not only a tip top sound shop but also offer a place where mixers can meet, talk shop, shoot the breeze and nerd out on gear. A lot of time, as a sound mixer, I’m the only mixer on set, so meeting other mixers is sometimes rare unless it’s a bigger production with multiple sound bags running. Pro Sound is like my Cheers. I’ll show up when I’m bored just to hang out and meet whoever walks in the door. The New Orleans sound scene would be severely lacking in many different ways without those guys at Pro Sound.

As far as improvements, I’d like to see producers move away from relying on their “low budget” status to justify paying people less. Yes, some productions are what they are by necessity; I’ll work on any of my friend’s projects regardless of pay if I’m not booked. But I’ve seen too many productions come in from out of state for tax credits, fly in their big wigs, blowing money left and right while offering rates 1/3 of what they should because “they knew kids are hungry for work.” I was actually told that with audible words one time. Pardon my Cajun, but get fucked. It’s a shame some productions see an opportunity to take advantage of locals rather than being thankful for the money they’re saving on tax credits and taking care of the people who made their movie. I did about an hour and a half long podcast with Greg about this that probably won’t see the air because I get pretty heated about this. The whiskey we shared probably didn’t help either.

I’d like to see us independent film makers hold productions to task. I want to see us all making money and having profitable careers rather than taking whatever pops up because rents due soon. It’s tough and everyone’s path is different, but ‘take-advantage-of-locals’ rates really hits my limiters.

4. What are some of your favorite types of projects? Any particularly fun/interesting stories? 

Okay good, a lighter subject. I enjoy different projects for different reasons, mainly just a change of pace is nice. Narratives are great because I can setup a cart or at least a sound world and have some day to day stability in a given location. Narratives give an opportunity to spend a lot of time on a scene and really find interesting sound effects or mic’ing methods; however it does sometimes get pretty boring sitting around recording a conversation at a coffee table for 12 hours which is why I like reality. Every day is something new to shoot and new people to meet, but the hectic-ness can get tiring pretty quickly. It’s a yin and yang situation.

But in the end, as I said before, we’re on set making cool things with (most of the time ) cool people. “A bad day on set is better than a good day in an office.”

5. 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.

First things first, Taco Tuesday.

Secondly, I try to just have fun. I enjoy my job and most others do as well so anything I can do to keep the positive mood. I particularly like the “how many pieces of lav tape can I stick on ______” game. I enjoy shorts or features where we have interns from the local colleges. Those kids are hungry to learn and just want to be a sponge absorbing all they can.

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? 

DON’T BE A JERK. It’s so simple but seriously, just be a cool person and you’ll get work. Be helpful – don’t think it’s beneath you to help setup crafty or anything like that. Yes, we all have our department and our own responsibilities, but at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to make a great piece of work. I’ve seen some of the most accredited people replaced because they’re jerks. People on set have to be able to work and live with you for perhaps months at a time. If you disrupt the flow and mentality of the set, you’ll be gone real quick.

Meet people. Meet everyone you can. Go to the parties after screening of festivals and pass out business cards. Starting out, just get on a set, any set. People I’ve met as PAs are now my bosses. They call me because we go way back. Get on set, be positive, be great at what you do and make friends. Everyone has their own projects or get calls for other friend’s projects and you want them to call you. Think of it like a tree, your first set is your first branch and you’re going to meet 10-30 people. Impress them and get on another set, that’s another 10-30 people. And so on and so forth. The growth is exponential. If you make yourself memorable as a positive,hard-working, knowledgeable person, it’ll just be a matter of time before your career starts to grow quickly.

7. What are you working on now?

My pride and joy is a show called Big Easy Motors which comes on the History channel every Tuesday at 9pm central. One of my closest sound friends in the area Raam Brousard got me on that when he had to return home to Israel for his family to meet his beautiful baby daughter. We’re both very proud of the work we’ve done on that show and look forward to a second season.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Have fun today. Work can suck; more for some than others, but it doesn’t have to and it doesn’t always. Life’s too short to not do cool things each day. Find a way to make money having fun.

And last but certainly not least, shut up during room tone.

Safety first

Safety first

You can reach Eric for sound mixing services at Ericrice20@gmail.com

An Interview with Filmmaker Hunter Thomas

An Interview with Filmmaker Hunter Thomas

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We conducted an interview with filmmaker Hunter Thomas, a young filmmaker and photographer based here in New Orleans. Hunter’s knowledge of film and editing tools, his passion for the craft, and his attention to detail makes him a very technically proficient filmmaker that compliments his very evident talent.  We are very excited to have him on the inDEPTH blog and hope you learn as much as we did. 

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

My name is Hunter Thomas, I am a 19 year old freelance filmmaker and photographer currently residing in New Orleans.

2) You are clearly very knowledgable about cameras, lenses, and general film tech. What brought you into the world of cameras and lenses? What eventually led you to take on film/photography professionally? 

I have always wanted to work in film, I was a “Techie” kid, I like seeing how each camera has different functions that do the same thing. Canon & Sony are completely different cameras, organized differently, and used in some of the same situations. I like knowing & being asked how to change settings. It makes me feel needed.

3) Who or what are some of your biggest influences? Is there any filmmaker or film style you draw from in particular for inspiration?

I take inspiration from lots of different styles, but really they depend on the style of production. One of the great things about NOCCA, (Film School I went to) was we studied all the different styles, and our teachers pushed us to try different styles of film making. My next project is a a thriller, I am using a lot of Fincher’s stylings on the project, from the cool color pallet, to low lit interiors, and smooth dramatic camera pans.

I take most of my lighting styling from Storaro, but I like tailoring lighting and camera style for each shoot differently. When I read a script, I see it as an action, and how each shot would cut together with the rest of the scene/film. I’ve working with stylistic choices from a lot of famous directors, Cinematographer’s and Gaffers.

4) Let’s dive a bit into glass. You are clearly a fan of vintage lenses. Right now, as always, there is a ton of debate in film about new vs. old technology, techniques, philosophies, and more, so these decisions reflect a lot about us. Can you tell us a bit about your lenses – brand, type, year, etc. – and what drove you to build the set you currently have? What are some of the thoughts and considerations that go into building a lens package?

I currently own a kit of Vintage Nikon Primes Revised& VariPrimes (Zooms). Nikon coatings were best in 1955. Some of them are 80 years old. I bought all of them from B&H Photo used Dept. My takeaway from the whole vintage v modern debate, I bought 13 Vintage Nikon’s for less than people pay for a modern 4 or 5 lens Rokinon Cine kit.

Since the lenses are old, they aren’t as fast as some modern lenses. Most of them are 2.8 or slower, but they have 180 degree focus throws. I looked at the way I shot with other people’s lenses to pick my set and knew I needed a wide range of focal lengths. I liked the look of the vintage lenses – they have nice roll off on the corners, some cloudiness, and beautiful bokeh. There’s something about them that just can’t be explained and I have yet to see someone try and not enjoy them.

5) Building a bit on that, how do you feel about the “film vs. digital” argument? That is, some people feel that actual film stock is the best method for making films and reject digital cameras, while others argue that digital cameras are as good (if not better) than their film counterparts (and many lie somewhere in the middle). What are your thoughts on this ongoing debate? 

I like the ease of shooting digitally, I think the quality of the cameras have made it to the point where the untrained eye can’t really tell the difference. That being said, we see high resolution of modern cameras outdated every a few years. When I first bought my Canon T2I, 1080p was high resolution, now 5 years later people are shooting in 8K Raw.

6) If you had one piece of advice for someone new to the film/video industry, what would it be?

Any advice I could give would be to a newbie in the industry, is work on as much as you can. Ask questions, but know when you should ask questions and when you shouldn’t. Learn how to network with everyone you work with. You should know what you want to do in film, so if it’s working on camera, try to get on set as a Camera PA. If it’s lighting work as a Grip, or a Best Boy. If it’s directing, try to go as an AD.

If you are unsure what aspect you would like to work in the film industry, but just know that film is where you wanna go, some of the student films I have worked on are small crew, so everyone does a little of everything. It’s a good way to meet people, and work on some great projects. The 48 Hour Film Project & LA Film Prize are great places to work, they usually have Mixer’s and it will give you a chance to meet people and find a team to work with.

7) What are you up to now?

I am currently on a feature called Meta. It’s a high octane action heist film. It’s kinda like Drive, but with motorcycles. I recently worked on a few music videos, another feature and a TV pilot. Our 48 Hour Film Grown Up Stuff did very well at the festival.

8) Anything else you’d like to add? 

I am always looking to work on bigger and better projects, and looking for people to help on my own projects.

Follow Hunter on instagram and facebookIMG_9181 

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