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An Interview with Nate Houghteling of Portal A

nate houghteling

Nate Houghteling runs one of the best content creation operations we’ve seen (and is an incredibly generous host and guest!). If you are on youtube, you most likely have seen Portal A’s handiwork. We are excited about their original series, One Shot, and all the great content they have in store. Check it out! 

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

My name’s Nate Houghteling and I’m the Executive Producer at Portal A. We’re a digital studio in San Francisco and Los Angeles (I live in SF). As the Executive Producer, I oversee our slate of branded and original projects at a high level, connecting the various elements that make our projects successful (ideas, talent, writers/directors, production approach, etc).

2. Tell us a bit about Portal A. Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc.

Portal A was founded in 2009 and we have about 40 people in SF and LA. Our mission is pretty simple: to create breakthrough content.

3. Give us a bit of a feel for what it’s like doing work in San Francisco. How is the local film scene and community? How does San Francisco’s videography/film world differ from other cities’?

San Francisco is a great film city with deep roots in both narrative and documentary. In terms of digital video production, the hub of tech means that there’s always plenty of work to go around and dozens of small production outfits have popped up just to service the tech sector. There’s still a scrappy/indie attitude to the film community in SF that differs slightly from LA.

One Shot

4. So you recently launched a series, One Shot, on YouTube Red. Can you tell us a bit about the show? Main plot, the look and feel of the show, the core message(s) and themes, etc.

One Shot was a series we developed with YouTube Red, YouTub’e new SVOD service. It’s an unscripted show about a breakout choreographer, Willdabeast Adams, traveling this country to find undiscovered dance talent and give them their shot at stardom. The series is shot in a cinematic, fluid style to reflect the language of dance.

5. How did One Shot come about? Where did the concept/script(s) come from, what made you decide to produce that show specifically, etc.

With so many “shiny floor” dance shows out there (Dancing with the Stars, SYTYCD, etc.), we wanted to do something that took dance out of the studio and into the streets. That eventually led us to Will, someone we’ve had a relationship with for a while but have never worked with in this way.

6. What’s it like working with YouTube Red? Why did you choose to work with YouTube, specifically? Were there other distribution avenues you considered?

YouTube was a natural fit for us because we do so much work with them and Will himself is a native YouTube creator. We considered other paths in streaming or cable, but ultimately this made the most sense.

7. What are some tips you can give for people considering self-distribution, working with indie distributors, going with “traditional” distribution methods, etc.?

Put something out into the world. We live in a time where creating a show or a feature is easier than ever. Networks and distributors are still important, but there’s no better way to establish your creative voice and build your own audience than putting something out yourself.

Check out One Shot on YouTube Red today and keep an eye out for the awesome work by Nate and the whole Portal A team!

The Wonderful World of Lenses

The Wonderful World of Lenses

lenses

image from premiumbeat.com

So you want some lenses. You don’t? Wrong, yes you do. Like with the post on sound, forget your camera. Lenses are arguably the most important pieces of equipment in your arsenal and can, quite literally, last a lifetime. “Buy once, cry once” heavily applies here. There are so many options out there and so many numbers/letters to learn, so before diving in to the wonderful world of lenses, here are some basic terms.

Focal length” is the “mm” on your lens. 40-60mm is generally a “normal” look, 75mm+ is  considered a “long” focal length (lenses that see far), below 40mm is generally considered a “wide” focal length (lenses that let you see a wider area around you) and may or may not be “fish-eyed” (distorted on the sides, creating sharp angles on the ends).

“Fast” or “Slow” refers to how open your lens can be – how low can the aperture go (letting in more light, giving a shallower depth of field)? Fast zooms are generally f/2.8 and lower, fast primes f/1.8. It’s important to note that there is no number-definition for “fast” and “slow,” it’s more of a guideline. Fast lenses are generally more expensive than their “slower” counterparts.

So with these terms in mind, let’s get to some things you need to consider when buying a lens.

Prime vs. Zoom: A prime lens is a lens that does not zoom. A zoom lens has an “adjustable focal length,” meaning you can zoom in and out. The advantage with good prime lenses is that they are generally more “precise” than zoom lenses as they do not have the multiple pieces of glass that a zoom needs. Primes are also usually more “accurate” and provide a nice cinematic softness while still being sharp, This does not mean zoom lenses are imprecise, though cheap ones often are (as are cheap primes). Primes are also generally faster than zoom lenses, with most zooms tapping out at f/2.8 and even the cheapest of prime lenses being able to go lower. This makes them better equipped for lowlight situations.

Used or New: Lenses are wonderful because if they are well-built (which many are) and the owner takes good care of them (you do, right?) then they can last a very long time and be great used purchases. Many sites have a strict system for rating a lens. The biggest consideration you should have when buying a used lens is the condition of the actual glass. Does it have scratches? Cracks at all? Any fungus (this happens with old glass)? After that, make sure the focus rings and aperture rings are listed as fully functional, otherwise you’ll have poor or no control over the lens. Anyone worth their salt selling lenses will list EXACTLY the condition it is in and will provide several photos. Return policies are always a huge plus. KEH.com is an extremely popular site with some of the best product grading I’ve seen thus far, and Lens Authority (Borrow Lenses’s retail arm) is also a great site for finding used but well-maintained gear.

What Now? You must ask yourself 3 questions: Do I need a zoom or prime for most of my work? Do I need it to be a fast lens? What focal lengths will I be working at? Documentary/Broadcast shooters often need fast, precise zooms. If you’re “making a movie” (non-documentary) you generally need sturdy, fast prime lenses. That being said, you should never restrict yourself to just primes or just zooms – virtually no one does for all their work.

This is just a primer. There are so many considerations to take into account when one is buying a new lens, but we hope this helps you get started. Now go invest in some glass!

This post is an adaptation/updated version of a previous post done by co-founder Greg Tilton Jr. for 52 Businesses back in April of 2014. 

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 

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

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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!

An Interview with Filmmaker Andrew Bui

An Interview with Filmmaker Andrew Bui

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We conducted an interview with filmmaker Andrew Bui, an editor/cinematographer based here in New Orleans.  Andrew brings a unique style to all his work and demonstrates a serious propensity for quality, original visual content. His social media presence is not only impressive but also incredibly fun to follow – his work is consistent, deliberate, and very stylistic. We love working with Andrew and are excited to help share his lessons.

1) Please introduce yourself, where you’re from/operate out of, and what you do.

Hi my name is Andrew Bui, I’m a cinematographer based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

2) Tell us a bit about how you got into film – when did you start working with cameras/editing, what were some of your influences, what may have pushed your development?

I developed an interest in video at a young age watching my dad and older brother work our old VHS Camcorder, it intrigued me although I never really understood how to work the camera and wasn’t allowed to actually use it. Throughout my pre-teen years I shifted my focus away from video, it wasn’t until my last year of middle school when my parents had purchased a Sony cybershot. Whenever I got the chance I would “borrow” that camera and make the most random videos. I’d film anything from myself playing basketball to footage of me lip-syncing some of my favorite tunes.

Once I discovered YouTube I realized there was a platform to post my videos to. I’d upload these really bad videos just because, to me it was awesome that you could upload something and than tell your friend to go watch it. I started a new YouTube channel with my friend and throughout my high-school years we’d come up with ideas for sketches and film and edit them, hoping to have one of our videos potentially go viral.

Some of my influences are Ryan Connolly, Devin Graham and Phillip Bloom.

The thing that really pushed my development was when I finally committed to choosing video as a career choice. Before that I had no clue what I was going to do with the rest of my life, I was a kid about to graduate unsure of what career path to go down.

3) A lot of your work has a strong documentary/filmic quality to it. You have a very authentic and “guerrilla” style while still maintaining rigorous visual standards. Can you explain your look in greater detail? What do you look for in your shots and editing?

It really depends on what I’m shooting and the gear I have at my disposal and how much time do I have to pull off the shots I need, but for the most part I like to get as much coverage as possible. I like to keep things as smooth and steady as possible when it comes to camera movement and have been sorta obsessed with investing into the tools that would help me achieve this.

When it comes to editing, a lot of the content I make I upload onto instagram. Recently instagram rolled out an update which allows users to now upload videos up to one minute. Before this update users would only be allowed 15 seconds or less so every second counted. I start off all my edits by selecting a musical piece that I feel fits the overall video. From there I cut the video according to the song making sure to select the most interesting and dynamic shots.

4) A lot of productions we see try to be very “DIY,” “indie,” or “guerrilla” in their practices. In our experience, a lot of this can come off as sloppy or amateur while other times it makes productions look very grounded/innovative. Do you agree with that sentiment? If so, what would you say are some of key differences between “guerrilla” and “sloppy” filmmaking?

I definitely agree that it can be seen as either one. To me it’s always been about how the shot turns out, if it’s a great shot and you used a DIY or Guerilla technique than kudos to you.
If you’re cutting corners and not using the right equipment because you want to save on time or money and the shot turns out bad, well than that’s just sloppy filmmaking.

5) How would you describe the New Orleans film/video community?

The New Orleans Film Community is great but I’d love to see more folks collaborating on projects more often or just shooting something in general. There are a few local organizations that have screenings for filmmakers to showcase their work to a live audience and get feedback from them.

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

Pick up your camera or phone and go outside atleast once a day and film something.
Don’t be afraid to try different techniques with framing and composition.
There are so many platforms to share your work now so use every available social media site to post your content.

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