Production Notes aka: "The Blog"

One From The Archive: See The Future

I’ve been cleaning out the literal and figurative hard drive recently, and came across this piece from mid-2006, I believe. It’s a corporate video for Microsoft that I made with my Seattle collaborator Fred Northup. It was commissioned as a brand piece to show what mind blowing next generation technology Microsoft Research was working on at the time.

I am posting it because:

1) It’s pretty well done! We took what could have been an incredibly boring corporate talking head/b-roll video and convinced them to let us tell a story and really entertain. It was a relatively small budget, but we built this great set, and maybe that helped loosen up our non-actor cast of young Microsoft guys. I also shot it, cut it, and masterminded the VFX.

2) There is a charm to how much the “futuristic” visions of technology have dated in just a few short years. When am I going to get my Minority Report hologram screen anyway?

Enjoy!

New Site

Hooray! The new site is live. A little more under-the-hood work stil to do, but overall what you see is what you get. All of the videos are now hosted on vimeo.com, and I am left thinking “why didn’t I do this earlier?” Enjoy. There’s new work still to come in the near future.

Summer Updates

What a whirlwind. This year I have been shooting everywhere but New York, which supposedly I call home. I’ve been to Seattle, Palm Springs, Moscow twice and Los Angeles three times. This week is literally the first down time time I’ve had all year.

I am now organizing much of the new work and will soon be posting new projects. Along the way I’ve also been working on a new site design that will streamline navigation and add needed mobile phone and iPad compatibility. You should be seeing all of this in the next couple weeks.

The highlight of the recent work was Adult Swim’s upcoming “NTSF:SD:SUV.” As the name implies, it’s a spoof of the many police procedurals flooding primetime. It is created and stars Paul Scheer and is produced by some of the folks who brought you “Children’s Hospital” and “Fat Guy Stuck in Internet.” I was in LA for two months this spring shooting six episodes. I OD’d on 24 and CSI as part of my prep work, and basically we took all of the painfully formulaic aspects of these shows and added a steaming pile of ridiculous on top. More on that as its roll out begins.

Also I recently signed with a manager, breaking from a long career of working only from immediate connections. Peter Principato is his name, and as comedy people know, he’s a true nexus figure and more. He’s already helped widen my circle of collaborators, and I think will help further push my narrative work.

Lastly, “The Electric Company” again won a bunch of Emmy’s, including Outstanding Children’s Program. And just like last year, I was nominated as a children’s director only to lose to Sesame Street. Damn you, Elmo!

The Latest And Greatest From The Electric Company

Twelve new episodes of “The Electric Company” are about to hit stations this month. Sesame just released teaser clips today. Below are a couple excerpts from the six episodes I directed.

First, Francine uses her trusty assistant Gilda to spy on The Electric Company’s newest member.

And a music video where Hector recalls his earlier, less savvy days.

Bi-Annual Update

Dearest website, it has been too long since I’ve updated you. But fear not: I’ve been making you plenty of new baubles to add to your collection. So then…

First up, an awards update, since I never followed up on the prior post. The Electric Company won five Emmy’s last summer. Unfortunately “Sesame Street” beat me out for the Children’s Directing award, but we did take best Cinematography, Editing, Sound Design, and overall Best Children’s Program. It was a spectacular night, and winning so five of our eight nominations was a stunning endorsement of the show.

In other award news, the Cutzilla spot won a bronze Cleo. Go, go Cutzilla.

For the rest of the summer, I directed another six episodes of Electric Co., and also worked on a few other projects for the show: I did some animation direction, revised our beautiful title sequence, and created a really cool music video using light painting. I’ll post the latter once that episode has aired.

In the Fall, I created a spot for Cirque du Soleil’s new NYC production entitled “Zarkana,” opening at Radio City this Summer. It’s a fairly simple spot, so I won’t be posting it to the main portfolio pages. Instead I’ve posted it here for inquiring minds. All of the work was done here at Ryantown.

FanKick

December took me to Moscow, where I shot a crazy VFX/comedy commercial for Russian television. The job was pretty wild and complicated, but it came together nicely. The spot is still in post right now and I am eager to post it along with a behind-the-scenes. Here’s a tease photo. Look for that in early March.

Moscow Sneak Peak

That’s the update! Come back soon for clips of the new work.

I am now an Emmy-Nominated Director

Wow. That has a great ring to it. “The Electric Company” was just nominated for eight Daytime Emmy Awards, including a directing award! Here’s the press release. Hurray! It’s thrilling to be recognized both personally and for the super team that creates the show. The shear magnitude of eight nominations in just our first season is really stunning.

I shall bask in the glow of this. The first nomination is inevitably the sweetest, if only because you get to drop that “Emmy-nominated…” at the beginning of publicity materials! The awards are at the end of June. Fingers are crossed.

And speaking of things Electric, we are gearing up for season three this summer. I’ll be shooting six episodes in July and August. After this long, the cast and crew are like family and it’s going to be a blast to do it again.

Here’s hoping we take home some winged trophies!

Doggies and Doppelgangers

In February I shot a pilot tape for IFC created by four girl comedy troupe Variety Shac. It’s a sketch show called “City Dog Park” where the four Shac girls meet up in the dog run and we throw to surreal, ridiculous sketches. The Shac (Shonali Bhowmik, Heather Lawless, Chelsea Peretti and Andrea Rosen) brought in a bunch of their celebrity comedian pals, including Sarah Silverman, Caroline Rhea, and Fred Armisen. We designed the sketches so that the scripted parts could support a healthy amount of improv. Hilarity ensued.

I won’t be able to post clips of the show anytime soon, so instead here’s a selection of frame grabs. And finally I have photographic proof that Fred Armisen and I are not, in fact, the same person.

Go Go Cutzilla

Here’s the second installment of behind-the-scenes thrills. The “Cutzilla” spot was fairly low budget, so I built and shot everything in my apartment using a small crew. I brought back the all-stars of the art department from “Fat Guy Stuck In Internet,” namely art director Katie Akana, modelmaker Bill Logan, and art assistant Cara Alpert. The monster puppet was built from scratch and puppeteered by Will Krause. The smashable models were mostly built from balsa and rigged with debris. My favorite was the hospital’s breakaway tower which is built out of graham crackers.

I shot and lit each scene while the art team rigged the puppet and props for every shot. We spent five days building and two long days shooting. The trail of destruction meant just about everything had to be shot in sequence. Our client Bill Van Slyke visited our “set” and helped cue matchbox cars. It made for a really fun, low-key shoot. Although later I learned the hard way what two days of running a smoke machine does to upholstered furniture. Not pretty.

Enjoy these stills, and there’s also a brand new behind-the-scenes video up at the Cutzilla project page. Have a look.

On Location in Portugal

Tonus Street Scene

Last Fall I shot a Russian commercial in Portugal called “Tonus.” The whole experience was incredible: both the shoot itself and the adventure of three weeks in the country. The crew was fantastic and it seemed like everyone there had lived and worked in NY or LA at some point. The Russian production company and clients were all incredibly cool, as well. We spent about every free moment exploring the country. It’s hard to beat opportunities like this.

I just finished cutting together a behind-the-scenes video. It’s now posted on the project’s page. Have a look at it here and click on the button over the slideshow.

One From the Archive: FanKick

FanKick

A few years back I was shooting an industrial video for Microsoft in Seattle. We had hired a two girl choreography team named “FanKick” who had an 80s street performance act. I hadn’t actually seen their routine myself, but I promised them we’d try to shoot a few takes of them on the soundstage during lunch. If it worked out, we’d have a music video. I asked them to prepare one song.

They emerged from the green room decked out in neon lace with their “Yes” CD in hand. I had no idea they were this committed. We shot four stunning takes of their routine while our clients were out.

I returned to New York and made a rough cut. Later that year, the girls were visiting NYC themselves. So we hit the streets and shot a couple more takes around Brooklyn.

After that, I got sucked into other projects and dropped the ball on this one. It was ages until I finally returned to this footage, finished the cut and created a look in After Effects. But the results are pretty cool for a project that literally grew out of thin air.