This past weekend, I traveled down to San Diego for "Jantastic" presented by the San Diego Derby Dolls.  It was there to direct the webcast over the two-day tournament. The last time I was there was in June for the "Battle on the Bank" tournament.

It was so great to work with a well-run and professional operation like the Derby Dolls and with such great people like Isabelle Ringer and Amber Alert! It was also nice to see a lot of familiar faces from roller derby community from players to announcers.
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Me in the production booth, switching. Photo by: Amber Alert!
PictureTunnel vision. Photo by: Me
I'd like to thank my camera ops, announcers, and the SDDD staff for putting on a great production. I'd also like to thank all the skaters from all around the country that displayed great talent and incredible skill throughout the entire weekend. Also, congratulations to the "My Little Ponies" team that claimed 1st place.

I hope the games will be available online soon, until then, enjoy the championship  game that I directed from the BOTB tournament in June of 2014. The bout is between the Los Angeles Derby Dolls Ri-ettes and the Arizona Derby Dames Hot Shots.


 
 
This past Saturday marked the end of the LA Derby Dolls' 2014 season.  It culminated in a championship bout between the Tough Cookies and the Sirens.  The Tough Cookies survived the season with an untarnished record, even during the round-robin tournament, and they were the runaway favorite the walk away with the trophy at the end of the night.  But there's a reason they play the game, because on any given day, the underdog can come up the winner, and that was the case, as the Sirens pulled out a three-point victory in a nail-bitter of a finish.  The game should be published online sometime in the near future.  At the end of the bout, I mentioned to my production crew, "I guess we now know why Minnie's privates are private, because she makes champions."  I guess only a few RaD people will get that joke.

Before the game started, I found Sirens skater, RegulateHer to see if she would allow me to take a video portrait of her.  She's a veteran in the league and this bout would mark the end her career with the LADD.  I thought this would be a good reason to have her be a subject, it's good context for a thing like this.

Recently, I have been chipping my way through, "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" by Mark Cousins.  It's a fifteen-hour documentary that chronicles the history of film.  It is streaming on Netflix, and if you're a film buff, I highly recommend it.  It gets a lot of flack for excluding many films, but it's a documentary, not a book, so he obviously doesn't have the time to mention everything.  It really does a good job of balancing American/Hollywood film history with world cinema.  Really, check it out if you have time.

Anyway, in the documentary, Cousins brings up that Japanese director Yasujio Ozu was the first to use the foreground of the frame in film.  This was a technique later adopted by Orson Welles.  While I was watching, this foreground technique really stuck in my head.  His examples in the documentary really made me rethink how to utilize the foreground in my own work.  Long after viewing this foreground segment, I thought, 'this technique would be something cool to try out in a video portrait.' 

I kept that thought positioned in my front burner of my mind, and soon I realized that the banked track at the Doll Factory would be the ideal place to tryout the foreground video portrait.  Flash forward to early last week, and the fast approaching LADD Championship bout.  I figured the Championship bout would be a great opportunity to try the video portrait, because of the context. 

So, from that moment, I had the portrait image floating around in my mind of how it would look, framing-wise.  Then, when I found out it was RegulateHers' last bout, I knew I wanted to get her as a subject, as it would add another layer to the context.  Plus, given one of  RegulateHers' trademarks is her skull mask, I thought this would make the image even more striking.  I'm sure the mask is meant to intimidate, because RegulateHer is one of the nicest people rolling around the Doll Factory. 

Besides the context of the portrait, I wanted to visually communicate the mental state of mind of a player before a game.  There she is, in the middle of madness on the track, solitary, focused, trying to meditate on the task at hand.  In this moment, nothing on the outside is important, except, focusing on making sure she is ready to play.  I picture this is what is looks like in the mind of someone before they take the field or stage.
The shot looked pretty much the way I had it in my head.  In the foreground, skaters whipping by as they warm-up and in the background, they continue on.  My telephoto lens is only an f/4.5 so there is a bit more noise then I wanted, but to me, the framing was the most important part and it is 100% how I wanted it to look. 

I like to think that maybe it was this moment of meditation that helped RegulateHer focus on victory and help her team win the trophy.  But in reality, it was probably a season of hard work and well-executed team strategy.  Either way, congrats to RegulateHer and the Sirens for being the 2014 LA Derby Dolls Champions.
 
 
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I was just invited to participate in a ghost investigation!  It's with a group called, Ghost Stories Inc. (GSI) and they are led by author and filmmaker Jessica Freeburg, who extended me the invite. GSI is a group of authors and artists seeking inspiration through paranormal research.  They are currently in production of a documentary titled "After Life" about paranormal research. 

The group is coming to LA in January to investigate the home where the Manson Family murders took place.  I have always had an interested in the paranormal and I am excited to help out in this investigation.  I really don't know what to expect, but that is part of the fun.

I'll update you here on what it was like. I imagine it will be spooky.  Check out the video below for a teaser clip from the forthcoming "After Life."
 
 
This past Saturday, I volunteered for camera duty at the LA Derby Dolls’ Baby Doll Brawl.  The Baby Doll Brawl was a special event to showcase the fresh meat skaters. It was an entertaining bout to watch. New skaters always skate with just a little more passion and drive as they have something to prove. I can relate to that as I try to claw my way into the professional entertainment industry.

It was a close bout that saw the Bad Hatters take the win. It has been a while since I’ve held a camera and shot derby, I think close to a year and a half. It was nice to hold the camera and shoot some roller derby action. I was a little rusty but was able to shake off the cobwebs and capture some but hits. I’ll look into retrieving the files to share here but for now, just enjoy the still frame.

My complements to all the fresh meat skaters, you all were wonderful on the track and provided me with the best bout I have seen yet at the Doll Factory. Congrats on your achievement of making it to the Baby Doll Brawl and good luck with your roller derby careers.

If you are in the LA area, check out the LA Derby Dolls at the Doll Factory in historic Filipinotown. Their home season starts next month.

 
 
A few weeks ago, I posted a video on my blog about a couple glass blowers. One of them was artist Mark Floyd. I was saddened to learn last month, that at age 39, he passed away while waiting for a lung transplant.

Mark was a fantastic artist, a good guy to talk to and always had a positive vibe around the studio. I know he will be missed around the Stone Arch Glass Studio. When I heard the news, I went through my archives to try to find all the raw video and pictures I could of him and his artwork to give to his young son. During my time at Dana International, I had amassed a great deal of footage and pictures of many of the artists and their work.

I figured, when his son became an adult, he might appreciate it. While collecting the footage, I figured I would make a tribute video as well for a benefit event to celebrate Mark's life. Below, is the finished product. I know Mark enjoyed Hip Hop, Rock and Reggae but, I wanted a tone that was a little more timeless as I made it for his son. It was a difficult decision to pick a tone and I hope I made the right decision. 

This Saturday, August 9th, 2014 Stone Arch Glass Studio will be hosting a benefit for Mark's son. If you are in the Twin Cities area, please consider attending. You can find more info HERE.
 
 
A while back I got a call from a cousin of mine. He was in need of some video work for a new product he and a friend were developing.

They are both avid tennis players and began to create a product that could make tennis play a little more efficient. I agreed to lend a hand and shoot some footage of the new invention.

It has been months since I shoot this and earlier this week, my cousin sent over the finalized video. I shot all of it handheld with no other supports. I liked the way it turned out. I don't play tennis, but the product looks pretty cool.
 
 
Recently, I had a surprise visit from my friends Arika and Alan. They were on a day trip from Santa Barbara. We were going to meet up for dinner at one of the countless Korean BBQ places in the city.

They stopped by and I proposed that we do a quick video portrait. The sun was setting so we had to act fast. I like to think on my feet so I worked quickly to try to get set up.

The sun set a little faster than anticipated but we forged ahead. I was interested in doing a video portrait with one, a couple and two, non-actors.  

I almost wasn’t going to post this, but I didn’t want it to go to waste. Even though it didn’t turn out 100% the way I’d like, I figure it is a learning process and with each one I do the better they will become.

Also, the city skyline was enough not to just let this sit on a hard drive.  

 
 
Last summer I got an email from Red Queen Productions in Canada. They had seen some of my roller derby work online and wanted to know if they could license some of my footage for a documentary they were producing for a Canadian TV channel.  It was then untitled but now is called "Derby Crazy Love."

They had finished production but were looking for some high-def footage for a montage sequence. I told them that I would love to contribute. We took care of all the paperwork, I delivered the footage they wanted (a benefit of keeping all your archives) and I really forgot about it. They let me know it would take a while for post production. A couple weeks ago, I saw this trailer posted on the wall of the Babe City Rollers Facebook page.

I watched the trailer and was surprised to find my footage during the first six seconds! I was excited to say the least. I'm not sure what happened, but it looks like they may be getting theatrical release or may be hitting the festival circuit. Congrats to Red Queen Productions and good luck with the release. It is always good to see roller derby get more coverage in media.

 
 
A couple years back, I had an idea. It was to capture poets and rappers performing material at various places in the Twin Cities. I was really just looking for a new way to express myself using the camera.

I had done music videos, but I wanted to try to do something that was a little more raw and unpolished.


I called up my friend Adam Napoli-Rangel A.K.A See More Perspective and wanted to see if he'd like to be my test subject. I had seen him perform before on stage and thought he would be a great voice to capture. I had managed to get him to agree and on a hot summer day, we went to a Minneapolis park.

Adam preformed like a champ and after about 45 minutes we wrapped.

I brought the footage into the editing room and quickly started to try to assemble it. That was until other projects stated stacking up. Soon it was buried and filed in the "to-do" pile. Recently, I came  across the project while digging through the "to-do" pile and thought it'd be nice to finish it even though the intended series didn't pan out.

I have to give Adam props for being so patient with me as he waited for me to finish this. He gets a gold star in my book. Presented below is the finished product: See More Perspective performs "Pyramids."

Also, make sure to check out his music HERE. He is a great artist with though provoking and smart lyrics. He also has a YouTube Channel you can subscribe to HERE.
 
 
A few months back, I came across what is called a video portrait. I was fascinated  by the concept and wanted to try it out. I had recently been reacquainted with my actress friend Tristin Lee Rupp from Minnesota at her birthday party in the Valley.

We had briefly chatted at the party and made plans to meet up for coffee to catchup properly. Realizing that coffee was a boring for a couple of young talented artists, I suggested that we meetup and try to do a video portrait. We met in the Griffith Park area and tried a few locations and takes before settling on the location I eventually went with.

After this, my battery died and we called it a day. I forgot all about until I was cleaning up my card. Always liking to finish what I start, I did some post, added music and finalized the project. After I completed it, I once again became interested in the concept. I hope to try more of these in the future.

What happens at around the :45 mark was an unintended but delightful surprise. I must say, sometimes I just get lucky. Props to Tristin for holding her composure. Also, congrats to Tristin for her guest star spot on the CBS show "Criminal Minds."