Production Notes aka: "The Blog"


Hello world. The past year has been ridiculously busy with no updates here. Many shows have been happening that will slowly be finding their way here as they come to air.

Amy Schumer and I are nominated for a directing Emmy for our “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” episode. The show has seven nominations total. Last night at the craft awards it won Outstanding Original Song for this bit of magic:

We’re excited and hopeful to see what happens next week at the full ceremony.

More John Oliver

I’ve continued to shoot field segments for John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” We shot this one Saturday and it ran Sunday night: instant gratification.

I worked with Meryl Streep!

I shot this simple piece as part of a live show for Lewis Black’s May 5th Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser at Lincoln Center. The video opened the stage show and led into a music and dance sequence that ultimately introduced Lewis Black on stage. I’ve included the first cue below, although there was a second cue that integrated with the dancers and live music. That’s veteran Joe Grifasi playing alongside. Working with Meryl was thrilling! Not surprisingly she was lovely and effortless to direct.

We brought a guitarist and drummer into the soundstage and recorded the music live off camera: no playback needed. That allowed us develop the song quickly and organically. And for those who know my work well, these backgrounds might remind you of something… hmmm.

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight

Just this last weekend I shot this parody duly ridiculing an Oregon healthcare ad for the premier of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO. We shot it the morning of the show and it aired twelve hours later. My contribution is the musical piece at the end of this clip. Yes, that’s Lisa Loeb.

Inside Amy Schumer

The season is nearly half-aired as I write this, but last fall I shot the complete second season of Inside Amy Schumer. We shot fifty sketches over three months. I directed everything except for three pieces that Amy and co-creator Dan Powell guest directed. It’s my first sketch show and I found it a welcome break from the longer creative development that goes into mapping out a full season’s tone and arcs before you begin. Each day I got to play with new styles and new people. Cameos included Paul Giamatti, Parker Posey, Janine Garafolo, Rachel Dratch, Missi Pyle, Colin Quinn, and Josh Charles to name just a few. Wow.

This was also the first NYC project for me in a couple years, and so it was wonderful to be home and shoot primarily locations. A handful of my favorite sketches are posted on the main page, but there’s just too much for me to possibly link to here. Browse the whole season on Comedy Central.

Tiny Commando

Premiering this week on Yahoo is “Tiny Commando,” a project I’ve been working on since the Spring of 2012. Ed Helms came up with the idea to do a show featuring miniature action sequences using all sorts of radio-controlled vehicles. His premise: what if there’s a little guy inside driving these things? Along with Jacob Fleisher and myself, we developed this into a twelve episode series about a four inch tall private detective for Yahoo’s expanding original programming. There’s a total of six stories, each told in two acts. I’ve posted a bunch of excerpts on the portfolio page, or you can check out the complete show on Yahoo. Below is the title sequence which provides a little backstory.

The show was incredibly complicated, not surprisingly, with a shoot schedule that moved between RC-only “toy” days, full-up location days with our full-size cast and guest stars, and the studio portions where our miniature stars Zachary Levi and Ed Helms came to life. I can’t think of a project that has used so much of the breadth of my experience as we moved from miniatures, to improv comedy, to greenscreen. I managed to storyboard about 80% of the show and we shot everything in 21 days. And while I am comfortable with long, dense shoots, the number of different action sequences and their respective VFX shots was nuts. Our budget was pretty modest and I couldn’t have balanced it all without solid prep and a good battle plan.

Post was complex and tricky to farm out on our budget. So much action inevitably meant lots of tracking and roto. So I singlehanded composited the entire show. I think I’ve reached my After Effects and Mocha quotas for the next five years.

Finally: Site Updates!

Finally, I’ve got some new pages up here. And, yes: I actually forgot the password to this site it’s been so long. Thank you web hosting customer service.

The first addition is Garkfunkel & Oates, a web series I shot nearly two years ago for HBO GO, featuring the comedic musical talents of Garfunkel & Oates, aka: Riki Lundhome and Kate Micucci. HBO released these last summer behind their paywall, so I figure enough time has passed that I can post a handful of the shows.

Enjoy. More work coming.

Summer Updates

Hello out there! Here I am with updates on the typically quiet blog:

Season Two of NTSF:SD:SUV:: premiers August 9th on Adult Swim! I directed four of the new episodes, and I think this second season is even stronger than the first.

I have recently added a bunch of clips from season one of NTSF:SD:SUV:: to my portfolio, here on the site. Check them out from the homepage.

The Electric Company won its third consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Show. I was, again, nominated as a director, and – again – lost to Sesame Street. Damn you Elmo!

I have a couple of new shows coming. It has been an extremely busy year, and hopefully I will be able to post clips soon.

And here’s another crazy commercial I shot in Moscow this Spring. Apparently there’s a law in Russia that you can’t use people or anything living in alcohol advertising. So I was asked to create this mini musical populated solely with props. The results are pretty nuts, and I am not even going to try a explain what it’s about. The entire commercial is composed of three shots, with just two CG transitions. Enjoy.

Cookie Monster for Xbox

I recently shot this simple but charming PSA for Xbox featuring Cookie Monster. My buddy Fred Northup at Southdown Creative produced, and is also visible in the window reflection. Cookie may count as the biggest star we’ve worked with. I mean, who’s more recognizable than him, right? Enjoy!

New Work: Aport

I just added this Russian commercial to the homepage. It is now my third spot for Russian clients, and my second job in Moscow in a year. We shot in an Olympic sized pool with local production company Pacific Film. All of the foreground action is practical, and Helsinki VFX house Talvi Digital created all of the deep backgrounds and beauty work.

Underwater shooting is incredibly tedious. And underwater shooting in a foreign country when you’re relying on translators is plain brutal. Somehow we made it through one very long shoot day without any drownings, electrocutions, or nervous breakdowns. I owe a huge thanks to our actor Viktor Pipa. He was in the water on and off for sixteen hours.

Below is the animatic I created for this spot. I often build these for my complex or VFX driven shoots. This one is especially nice in that it established the visual style. I made this in New York before I left for the shoot. You can see how a few of the shots evolved once I was on the ground with the agency and client.