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.
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.

Picture8-bit Phoebe Hilton by Tim Gafney
The New Year is here and I am looking forward to a productive year. Another year means more growth for my transmedia project: "Geeky Pheebs." Over the past few weeks, I have been updating the website The new updates included making the short film "An Ideal Man" available to watch, launching "Phoebe's Playhouse," a weekly character blog, and getting ad affiliates placed to hopefully generate some income for the project. We have much more in store for the project over the course of the next few months, including some promotion at MARSCON 2015 in early March.

In the hopes of sharpening my screenwriting skills, I have also joined a pair of elite writing groups that both kick off this month. Many of the professional screenwriters I have heard speak over the past year, have all stated how vital writing groups are in achieving 'next level' status.  

In addition to that, I've been invited to contribute articles for the Writers Guild Foundation's blog as well as my friend Sarah's new movie magazine (currently untitled). Both articles will be published in the next few weeks in their respective outlets.  [Expect to see both pieces re-posted here.]

As if all that won't keep me busy enough, on the weekend of Jan 16-18, I'll head down to San Diego to direct the webcast for the 'Jantastic Tournament' hosted by the San Diego Derby Dolls. It will be a weekend of hard hitting and exciting roller derby action from some of the nation's top skaters. I have been looking forward to this event for quite some time.

Finally, because I wanted to kick 2015 in to high gear early, I embarked on a high-octane adventure this past weekend when I joined GSI (Ghost Stories Inc.) on a ghost hunt of 'The Oman House.' 'The Oman House' is located in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles and is a mere 200ft from the site of the ghastly 1969 murders of Sharon Tate and her friends at the hands of the Manson Family. Since the construction of the house, the owner has reported paranormal activity and has invited many investigations. What did we find during our investigation? You'll just have to wait until I post my recap later next week.

Until then, a wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2015!

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.
Tomorrow marks the end of the 2014 LA Derby Dolls season and I will be the directing the action in the video booth.
It has been a lot of fun working with the league this year and I hope to continue in 2015.  The championship features the Tough Cookies against the Sirens and it should be a bout to remember.

If you are in the LA area come check it out at 1910 W. Temple.

You can buy tickets HERE

My hiatus from directing derby won't be long as I am scheduled to direct the "Jantastic" tournament next month in San Diego hosted by the San Diego Derby Dolls.
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.

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.

This week I was surprised to stumble upon my video from 2010 on the ECDX Facebook page. The posted it in the lead up to ECDX 2014 this weekend. It was a good feeling to find my work still highly regarded so many years later. 

It brought up so many memories of when I was just beginning my journey in roller derby. I had traveled in June of 2010 with my good friends Wijadi and Ger across the country from Saint Paul, MN to Philly, PA to capture some national roller derby action for the first time.

I came back with a mess of footage, some new friends, and a bit of a broken heart. When I started to look through the footage, I plucked some of my favorite shots and put together a short video expecting nothing to ever come of it.

I posted it on my own personal Facebook page and it soon caused an earthquake in the sport of roller derby. No one had ever seen the sport shot and delivered the way I did it. I soon began getting emails and messages from all over the world thanking me for my work to which I replied "Thank you."

This video cemented my relationship with roller derby forever and I will never forget the kindness of the Philly Roller Girls for allowing me to show the derby world what I could do.

Sadly, due to current WFTDA rules, I am locked out of taking any video like this ever again at a WFTDA sanctioned event as their contract with Blaze Media prohibits independent video producers. Oh well...

To watch this video, visit HERE.

PicturePhoto by Marc Campos,
I spent last weekend (June 5-9) in classy San Diego to direct the webcast of 'Battle on the Bank VII' for the Los Angeles & San Diego Derby Dolls.

I had a fun time capturing the excitement of banked track roller derby and everything went off without a hitch (okay there were a couple, but had nothing to do with us. Promise.). The days were long and it really taxed my mind as I had to manage multiple cameras, a switcher, announcing talent and replay. I think I have a new threshold for mental toughness.

Overall, it feels good to play a part in capturing the early days in a sport that will only grow more and more popular as time passes. Those junior derby games were amazing. Plus, I got to meet a bunch of really cool people to add to my ever expanding roller derby network.  To watch the archived bouts from 'Battle on the Bank VII' please visit the San Diego Derby Dolls YouTube channel HERE