Talking with Whales

Have you seen “Finding Dori” yet?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out.  Yes, most of it is pretty fantastical and completely unrealistic but who said entertainment had to be resemble actuality?  After all, it’s a story about talking fish.

Even if you haven’t seen “Finding Dori” (or “Finding Nemo” *Gasp!*) you’ve probably heard someone try to speak whale just like Dori.  In Pixar’s world, speaking whale is something like “Weeeeeelllllcooooommmme tooooo theeee oooooccceeeaaaan!”  I’m sad to say that it’s not nearly as lyrical as we’d like to imagine but instead is more like a series of clicks.  You know, kind of like morse code.

No, I haven’t been taking whale lessons but in the last year I’ve learned a lot about whales (and virtual reality) for a relatively new project – “The Click Effect“.  I won’t try to explain the science or even how it whales communicate as I’m certainly not not a marine biologist but this little film explains it beautifully.

The Click Effect Poster

Here Be Dragons

Back in December, we embarked on the journey of creating a new virtual reality (VR) film about how marine researchers use freediving to research how whales communicate.  Besides the fact that I got to be a part of this project, the whole introduction to VR is quite amazing.

Unfortunately, VR is something that requires a separate headset (you can buy inexpensive versions from Google or you can go for the gusto and buy a high end headset from Samsung or Valve) but if you have the chance to experience it at the many new venues that this technology is popping up, I would highly recommend the experience.  It’s impossible to explain how cool it is without experiencing it first hand. To get some sort of an idea, check out this film that I shared a few months ago.

Of course, there are other ways to see “The Click Effect” if you’re interested.  Either visit Here Be Dragons or NYTVR and it will show you how to watch the film without a headset.

Now that this project is done and out in the world – it was at Sundance International Film Festival in January and released online in March, we’re on to other projects.  Many, are underwater and will premiere in a VR format but that’s all I can tell you for now.

Until next time, just keep swimming!

New York, NY

One whirlwind trip from Seattle to New York and The Human Face of Big Data has made it’s official debut into the world.  Well, it’s been making it’s way into the world for a while, but we now consider it officially premiered.  Woohoo!

I got to go to New York for three days for the event (my first time ever into the city – I know, hard to believe) and actually, I ended up with about two days to try see something of the city.  Even with battling traffic into Manhattan and out again and everything that I need to get done for work, I got to squeeze in a few things.

  1. Spectacular views from where I was lucky enough to stay:


2.  Wonder through a few neighborhoods:


And sort of see the Empire State Building – it’s pretty spectacular at night.

3. Eat fabulous food


Just one of the delicious menus I got to sample – mussels and frites at Un, Deux, Trois.

4. Attend my first New York Premier


The official poster blown up to a 7-foot display.

5. Finally see members of the crew that I haven’t seen in a couple of years and meet a few others in person that I’ve talked to on the phone for hours but never actually seen.

And now I’m back home and researching for a new project.  We’ve got all sorts of things in the works but  I can’t share what they are yet.  Hopefully, in the near future I can make a few exciting announcements.  Until next time, back to work.

More screenings of the film coming to cities across the U.S. as well as broadcasts of the film in over 35 countries in the next year.  I will announce as we get schedules finalized.  A full list can always be found at

House Key

Filmmaking is about stories and I feel like I have forgotten that in the last few months.  When you work behind the scenes, one film takes months, if not years to plan, produce, edit and finally get it out into the world for people to see. When you’re worrying about the minute details, like I often have to, it’s hard to remember the bigger picture – that you are telling a story.  Stories are what caught my attention in the first place, and so I’m trying to go back to the base element of what I do.  I tell stories.  Or at least I try to.

In trying to keep up with a posting schedule that I made for myself for this blog, I’ve found that I’ve moved away from finding work that inspires me and that makes me want to tell stories in new and different ways.  Instead, I’m sharing whatever I can find to fill the space, and that’s not what I want this to be about.

This shift has exhausted me (like so many other bloggers out there) and I find that I’m struggling to find content that I feel goes with what I am about.  To be blunt, I’ve started to resent the pressure that I’m putting on myself.  Stupid, I know.  The good news is that I’m not going to stop posting, but I am going to stop with my monthly themes.  I may even stop with the weekly posts.  I’m not going away.  Just getting more picky about content but NOT about what month each item fits into.

So with this new freedom that I give myself, I’m sharing whatever I find when I want to.  And, I won’t have the pressure to find weekly content when I’m at my busiest with other work.  Yahoo!

So for my first week of my new found freedom, here is something that I found a while ago, but had never found a good time to share it:

Mackenzie Sheppard

I love the camera movement, and the sentimentality of what so many of us consider an everyday object.  I myself have so many keys on my keyring, that I tend to only think of it as another thing not to forget as I run out the door.  This little short reminds me to stop and appreciate even the seemingly mundane objects in my life.

Until next time…

Championship :: Film Awards

In two days, it’s the finale of the film awards season.  I don’t think I’ve seen many new films this year, not to mention I haven’t had much of a chance to see any films that have won or been nominated at various award ceremonies. Yet the Oscars are only two days away.

One of the films that I did manage to see: The Imitation Game

I loved it.  I was initially drawn to the story because being a film about WWII and that being a topic that I’m extremely interested in, it seemed like a no brainer for me.  But that aside, I thought the story was beautifully told, one that has only surfaces in the last few decades.  The acting and the filmmaking were also breathtaking and I’m interested to see how many awards it takes home.  It’s not easy to make the story about the first computer’s creation during a desperate time appealing for the masses, but I think this film has done that.

This is a tough year to be nominated for film awards.  There are a lot of good ones (or from what I hear) that came out in 2014 and it’s too bad that there aren’t more awards to go around.

So here’s to those champion films that have even been acknowledged by the masses.  Wishing those films that have inspired us, brought us to tears and made us laugh out loud the best during this last competition of the season; bringing home an Oscar.

Rejuvenation :: Controlled Chaos

It’s been ten days since I got back to work, and I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.  And… I’m ready for vacation again.  It’s not that I don’t like what I’m doing right now, but it’s that the routine hasn’t changed much and I’m ready for a new one.

These last ten days have felt a bit chaotic, even if it was only a mental chaos, but now I feel like I’m back in control again.  In other words, controlled chaos – like in this video:

MP Cunningham

I feel like this video is the perfect metaphor for what most of us go through while working in a creative industry.  I often feel like I’m drowning or that I’m never going to make it, but every once in a while something happens, like when the photographer makes $25 for one photo and feels like he has finally made it.  I have that feeling every once in a while.  Now I’m waiting for that next fleeting moment when I can tell myself that I’m actually doing ok and that this decision to work in this industry is not a huge mistake.  Those little moments make it all worth it and I’m sure another one will come when I least expect it.  Those moments are rejuvenating enough to make me work for the next one.

So even if I’m not feeling completely sure of what I’m doing, it’s reassuring to know that everyone seems to go through this in life. I seem to be right on schedule.

Rejuvenation :: Ballet & Robots

I’ve been working more on the editing side of things that last few months and so I tend to notice the camera work more than ever lately.  Some can seem kind of… well, still.  I like the kind of camera work that includes motion and unfortunately, includes using a dolly and or a jib arm or if the director is really lucky, some sort of drone with a camera attached.  Let’s be honest, all of this equipment does’t come cheap and therefore, it’s not unusual for smaller productions to forego the extras.  At least I know I’ve had to several times.

So as I was perusing new videos on my feed a while ago, I came across this one:

Da Rimini Film

One I like going to the ballet, even if that happens only once every few years and two, this had an interesting aspect of the camera moving with the dancers to add a whole new element for those in the audience.  What would it be like if we did this more often on our shoots?  Of course, this is all possible with the help of CGI and other special effects, but I mean for those of us without the millions of dollars poured into our productions.  I’m not expecting this to be used in any of my upcoming projects, but it’s an interesting thought.  It’s a completely new take on how we use the camera as a part of the story telling process.

And so that you can see what happens when the camera moves with the dancers… et voila!

Ode to those behind the scenes

As cliche as it is to designate November the theme of

thanksgiving14I can’t help it.  It just seems to come with the territory as we are thrown into a string of family holidays which, for the most part, make us feel thankful for various aspects of the holiday season.  I’m not sure if I’m all that thankful for the extra stress that it brings with menu planning, new work projects and upcoming travel BUT I am thankful for the opportunities that it brings. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this time of year less stressful as it all seems to culminate into one large stress fest, but so far I am at a loss.  Anyone have any ideas here?  I suppose I could just say “screw it all” and forget about a lot of it but that wouldn’t be in my nature.  Darn myself and my over commitment!

To prevent myself from digging myself into a rant, I’m going to list a few things that I’m grateful for, which in many ways can reconsidered a work update:

  1. Since leaving film school almost two years ago, I’ve worked on four major projects, each with their own international distribution/broadcast deals.  (The Human Face of Big Data, The Breach, Wall of Fire: A ChefSteps Story and Out of Print)  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
  2. In the last three months, I’ve picked up two new projects and there are several others pending.  One being a film called Crazywise (click here for more info) and another that I will share more about in the near future.
  3. And last of all… there are more announcements to come but I’m going to wait a little bit longer before I share them.

Despite their warnings, seasoned filmmakers can never really prepare you for the slog that is getting your foot in door to this industry.  I have been extremely fortunate to have met some incredible mentors along the way and I am extremely grateful for their guidance and jobs in the last few years.  Their lessons and support have been invaluable.  I have a long way to go before I’m going to feel more comfortable with where I am in my career, but for now I’m grateful for all that has come my way.

My theme of giving thanks though is not just giving thanks for the various aspects in my own life, but I want to focus on others who are doing amazing things out there but with hardly any recognition.  There are so many of us that work in the stage wings and are hardly ever seen – even if we like this covert role it is nice to have the occasional moment in the limelight. So here you are – just a few remarkable people who are doing their part to make the world a better place.

Escapade :: Frame by Frame

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film about the Middle East.  That’s mostly because I’ve been shying away from them as I get tired of hearing about the wars that have been fought there and the depravity that the people live in etc. etc, but this film trailer caught my eye and I was immediately drawn in by the story.

I wouldn’t say that the U.S. has a completely free press – at least not like they do in Europe where everything is fair game until it breaches privacy laws, but it’s a far freer press than other parts of the world where the government controls everything. Completely everything. You don’t appreciate what you have until you see what it could be like or worse, you experience it first hand.

Red Reel

This film is beautifully shot and it has a powerful message: if you don’t have a visual presence on the web or in the news, then you are left behind.  As someone who has always lived in countries with a “free voice,” it’s hard to imagine living somewhere where you could be killed for documenting something on a camera.  We have become so accustomed to taking photos with our phones and other various devices to share our experience with everyone that we know.  What would it be like to not be able to document what is going on in your life? And, what would it be like to live in a place where once a group of people have left, you have the potential to be forgotten by others?

Feet Up! :: Summer Movies

I’ve never been completely sure why there are so many big films that come out during the summer- aren’t we supposed to be outside while the weather is nice?  Ok, so I live in a temperate climate and we take all we can get when it comes in the form of sunshine.  I guess its the idea that school is out and that we supposedly have “more time” so we fit in more movies- is that it?

Anyway, whether it’s us escaping the heat for a few hours or having more time, there is the usual Michael Bay film out this summer.  I believe it’s another Transformers movie and  I probably won’t see it until the it comes out on DVD unless I end up going with a group of friends who are still enamored by Michael Bay movies.  It’s not that I don’t like his films, I actually do enjoy them from time to time, but it’s that each film gets more explosive and dizzying and the stories don’t seem to matter much anymore.  It’s all about the special effects and dare I say, they are all starting to look the same?

I’ve been having these thoughts for a while, and then I saw this:

Tony Zhou


I guess if I had examined several Michael Bay films, I would have see why I’ve been having these thoughts and this little critique explains it all.  It gives me a whole new appreciation for Bay’s work and although I may not be seeing his newest film this summer, I do enjoy his work.  I probably won’t be able to watch one of his films in the same way in the future but at least I know where to go when I want an action packed adventure.

Happy movie going this summer and if you do see the new Transformers, think of this little film as a little film school tutorial.  You never know what you might notice!

Another month gone…

May was one of the busiest months I’ve had in a long time and to be honest I loved every moment of it.  It was one of those good types of busy where I was exhausted by the end of the day (in a good way) and I looked forward to the next day.  I hope June can bring something like that because I’m feeling very fulfilled at the moment.

What was keeping me so busy?  I don’t know if I’m quite ready to share that yet as there is a lot in post-production to be done, but to give you an idea, it involved:

  1. Spending time up in the mountains.
  2. Food.  Lots of food. Really good food.
  3. Visiting with friends.
  4. Camping.
  5. Puppies.
  6. Watching films at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

I know.  Not a lot to go by, but like I said, post-production is going to take a while.

I don’t have much of a theme for this month but after reflecting on this last month, I’m using themes from the last few weeks to inspire my next few posts.


A broad topic I know… stay tuned.