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.
 
 
During my travels in Iceland for the Transatlantic Talent Lab, our group had an excursion at the famous Blue Lagoon. It's a geothermal spa that is southwest of the capital city. It features vibrant blue water, wonderful natural scenery and it is all outdoors.  After everyone survived the rumored (and true) "Shower Police," a good time was enjoyed by all.

I knew I wanted to try a video portrait at some point in Iceland and while taking in the scenery at the Blue Lagoon, I figured there would be a great opportunity to do so. I was able to do two of them, but I think one turned out better than the other. As I do more video portraits, I am realizing that actors make the best subjects. They love the camera and it really comes though in the final product.

So I present the video portrait of Michael B. Fresco, a wonderfully talented German actor and all around good dude. Also, cheers to my Polish friend 
Nikodem for letting me do a video portrait of him as well. His can be found HERE.
 
 
I returned last week from Iceland, where I attended the Trasatlantic Talent Lab at the Reykjavik International Film Festival. It was an incredible experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I met so many talented, beautiful and unique people from all across North America and Europe. In addition, I made many new friends and had a ton of adventures.

In sharing time with fellow filmmakers, I came to realize that while
we all come from different places, we all share a desire to tell stories and express ourselves to the world.

I would like to thank our hosts from RIFF and wish the best of luck to my new filmmaking brothers and sisters. I would also like to thank my GoFundMe sponsors for their support. Below are pictures I took from my trip. Enjoy!
 
 
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.
 
 
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.