I am bipolar and Chimaira was a huge influence to me creatively, as well as an outlet for anger when I was 15-16 and a mentally disturbed kid. Like Emily says in the piece; "They got me through hard times" so this project meant quite a lot to me.
It was a great experience being able to shoot something with a band I respect, showcasing a subject I care deeply about. The idea came about in late 2017 when Mark, Dr. Runnels and I were asked to be on a panel together for Acting Out! a 3 day arts/music festival in Cleveland to remove the stigma of mental illness.
After we did the panel, Mark and I connected and he agreed to do the piece. I wrote a treatment and we set dates around their 7 year re-union show. The idea was to create a film for the 16 year old version of myself, and to use Mark's story as an allegory for mental/creative struggles. I'm happy with what we made, and stoked for the world to see it. You can read more about the filming process here.
First and foremost, thanks to Mark and Chimaira for letting us in and giving me permission to pursue this project and being open to the end result. Huge thanks for Centers for Family & Children for making this possible, and for Hope for the Day for the marketing support. Thanks to Dr. Patrick Runnels and Emily Kmiecik for being a part of this. Biggest thanks to the amazing crew. Thanks to Marty Geramita and James Waters for producing/EP-ing. Huge thanks Tyler Clark for your moody vision on the cinematography. Thanks to Luke De Jue for his location mix and assistance. Thanks to Rob Arnold and John Winter for the live recording and mixing for the show. Thanks to Mikey Tell and Nolan Ritter for their AC work. Thanks to Magan McLaughlin for her art department work. Thanks to Michael Seifert and Dave Shaw for the sound design and post mix. Thanks to Clifton Stommel for his awesome color work to complement Tyler's vision. Big thanks to Adrenaline PR for the hard work on getting this story out there into the world.
Excited to share this short anti-political sketch I made with Greg Santos. Go outside people. Thanks to Clifton Stommel, Evelyn Stommel, Mauricio Van Hasselt and Dave Shaw for the hard work on this piece.
Super excited to announce a release date for Down Again. The film releases October 10th in honor of world mental health day. Big thanks to Jon Wiederhorn and Loudwire for taking the time to interview Mark and I and his thoughtfully written article, and thanks to the awesome ladies at Adrenaline PR. Stay tuned!
Let's talk documentary. It's something I'm super passionate about after 10 years of honing my craft. It's something I've been spending a lot my time on lately as most of my projects are leaning towards a docu-style approach to content or full on documentary films.
I want to use this blog to write about some of my philosophies and opinions about process, and what defines good or bad work. What lessons I have learned over the years. What is ethical, and moral and what qualities are needed in any piece to move the craft forward into the future. These are my opinions, some will be unpopular, and some will be common sense. For better or worse, here it is.
** These are my opinions backed up with facts and past experiences. Not all filmmakers will agree with these views, and that's sort of the point of film isn't it? Every person is unique and so is every subject. How we express ourselves through the medium should be as well. **
Defining Documentary: What is documentary? Well rather than bore you with a long winded explanation of what true documentary is currently and has been before, I'd like to talk about two types of documentary content. Documentary Journalism, and Documentary Film.
Most people agree the first film was a documentary film. It is titled: L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (translated from French into English as The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (US) and The Arrival of the Mail Train, and in the United Kingdom the film is known as Train Pulling into a Station) is an 1896 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. Its first public showing took place in January 1896. (Source: Wikipedia).
Legend has it that the audience was so freaked out by its realism that most of them hid behind their seats or left the theater in a panic. If you put this in the context of 1896, it must have been an alien experience, likened today to showing your parents VR for the first time. ;)
The reason I bring this up is that it's a classic definition of what documentary is to most people; a single static camera passively observing reality. However we have come a long way from this first film, and today we take great creative liberties with how we do this, and what information we withhold or transmit. This brings us to my two categories: Documentary Film and Documentary Journalism.
Some of you might be saying in a sarcastic tone, "Well Nick, aren't those the same thing?" Well that's a hard no smart ass. I don't think so at all.
Documentary Journalism: This is the Walter Cronkite of documentary. It's presenting information to an audience that's perceived to be devoid of meddling and manipulation. It's often referred to as raw, and un-biased or un-filtered. To me, documentary journalism is that boring history class you had in high school. The monotone teacher transmitting to you dates and information in a sterile and detached way. (Bueller?) It's the lesson plan on paper. It's a way of communicating that seems to makes sense for the nature of the craft, It's un-biased. It's transparent. (I will make strong arguments later, as to why being unbiased is impossible, but for all intensive purposes this approach is closest to that.)
Solid (on the surface at least) examples of this style to me include Icarus, Citizen Four, Oliver Stones The Untold History Of The United States or anything Ken Burns has done throughout his career. It's communicating information over time that is perceived as factual, and very to the point. It's often observing things as they unfold, or recreating the past with historical footage or still images. While it can be fascinating (especially if you already have interest in a subject) It can also leave us wanting more.
To use the history class metaphor, It's dates of history being told to you as straightforward textbook information; "Cortez Landed in Mexico in 1519 with 500 men and 11 ships".
Documentary Film: A documentary film to me is defined like any other film. It's a piece of art that leaves you with awe and wonderment towards the world. Some lesson was imparted, some new perspective or nugget of truth. This could be your truth, or a universal truth. It's a message created and crafted by the director, which mirrors his/her existing view on the world or a lesson he/she learned through the process of making the film. It gifts wisdom. It makes you think, and most importantly, it makes you feel. Often times it's poetic and understated. It treats the viewer as an equal, not less than. It's human and raw, while also conveying a deeply engrained perspective (bias) which is a unique viewpoint. It's factual, but it's presenting that information through the eyes of the person creating it. This becomes very important later on, as we discuss the why in what you do. Some examples of this in modern doc films would be Grizzly Man, An Honest Liar, or even my film on Derek Hess Forced Perspective. (shameless plug)
To liken this to history, it's the lesson being illustratively explained by a masterful storyteller while communicating facts:
"So Cortez leaves Spain in the 1500's right... and he sails these 11 giant Spanish style ships with ornate wood carvings all over the hull. When they left Spain it was horrific sailing conditions, rainy and windy. So they lost quite a few men to infections and accidents the whole way there. When they finally land on the beach it was that calm tropical island weather with almost electric humidity in the air. They cruise up to the sandy white beach and plop out of the ship one at a time. After the last man leaves the ship, Cortez lights a small torch and catches the ornate hull on fire. The men stood by with a look of horror as they knew they would never make it back to the old world they called home."
So who cares? What's the difference? Is one better than the other? These questions all have super subjective answers, but since this is my blog and the goal here is to convey my perspective I will go ahead and pick one. I believe a Documentary Film is better. The reasoning from my side of the table is that there is no such thing as true Documentary Journalism.
Think about it, even our world history is colored by the people who conquered and wrote the history books. The Bible was written on dead sea scrolls (408 bc) translated from Aramaic to Hebrew, Hebrew to Latin, Latin to German, German to English. Thousands of years passed, and the people who translated the text from the original intent had completely alien cultures in comparison. Not to mention alphabets. It's silly for us to think what we are reading in that small leather book in your hotel room droor in 2018 is exactly what was intended or what actually happened. The Bible is nothing but old storytelling.
Our films are shaped by each hand that touches it. The director, the cinematographer, the editor, the producer, the composer. Each one of those people have their own background and perspectives that shape the final outcome of the film. I'd argue even more than the physical act of directing or editing or any of the technical is the intent. The intent shapes the tone of the piece before a single frame is ever exposed. It's important for us to understand these things as content creators and storytellers before we make anything of our own. It will allow you to make calculated technical decisions that help realize and communicate your vision effectively. Education is empowerment.
Selecting a Subject: OK, now what? So we discussed the two types of Documentaries, where do I go from here? When I speak at schools I always get asked the same question. How do I start? You start by being interested in something. Anything. And then you set out to make the mundane extraordinary. I believe you should be making the films that only you can make. They should reflect your passions. Mirror your perspective. Of course this starts with you knowing yourself and what you are into. Find a subculture you are into, or simply make a film on an interesting ordinary person in your life. Just start making things, and sort out the how later. The who and why is most important. Through throwing yourself at a subject you are passionate about, you will learn the craft and your approach in relation to it.
The first short doc I ever did was on my friends skateboard company in 2010. He made awesome one of a kind skate decks. He hand laid and glued the ply and cut super funky shapes.
We were friends, and more importantly I had a deep interest in what he was doing. His Decks were really well built, and I had a curiosity to find out how they were built. I believe that curiosity is important when exploring a subject. It translates in a genuine way on screen because you are learning with the audience. Also background is important. I used to skate. I loved skateboards and grew up with them. It was my prerogative as a storyteller to find out how they are built, and what made my friend different. Sometimes the subject picks you.
Now this comes with one big caveat in the beginning. You likely don't know how to craft something yet. You have not found your methodology. Take this scary challenge as an opportunity to explore your voice. After watching this piece, you can see some themes and through lines in my current work that are already present here in this piece. All I did over the years was refine those themes into a voice by getting rid of what I didn't like, and keeping what I did through what I learned on set and in the editing room.
As you learn about yourself through the craft, you can spot good subjects that fit your style easily. When I made Forced Perspective, it was a no brainier for me. Derek was an inspiration for me growing up. I suffer from bipolar and I am also a fine artist, so the subject was a perfect fit for me. I found an old Headbangers Ball CD he did the art for in my childhood bedroom. I sent a cold e mail through his website with some of my work while I was in town visiting family. We met up and talked about old comics, metal and 70's playboys and he agreed to do the story. That short film evolved into a feature.
Ethics - Respecting Your Subject: Whether it's a commission piece for a commercial client or a feature film on a tortured artist, you need to respect and honor your subject. We do this in more than one way:
We do it by understanding who we are making a film about. Learn everything you can about the subject, company or person. Research. Get your facts straight to help you set the stage and context for what you are making. This will allow you to narrow what you want to reveal or omit based on what you connect to with in the subject matter. In the case of Derek Hess, I decided to focus less on his technical creation of art or his accolades and more on how his struggle with bipolar and alcohol shaped the dark art. That is what I personally connected to after learning about his life and work.
We do it by understanding our subject is human. There are times to push and there are times to let it be. Especially when dealing with a biographic story. You need to honor the persons life. With actors, they pretend to be someone for a long period of time, and they eventually kill the character off in their mind and can carry on with life. In documentary, you are dealing with real people, with real experiences. Often times you are making them relive those experiences, and those feelings are very real. They will carry the feelings of reliving that experience long after the film releases. Plus, they have to watch themselves on film, and know that the film will be out there forever. Know when to let them rest on set. Know when to cut a scene in the edit to respect that persons life. Don't censor yourself, but honor the persons life as you create their story.
We do it by presenting the information in a flattering way. This aesthetic and tone should embrace the qualities of your subject and the setting in which they inhabit. It's the mood of your film which is a personification of the subject itself. For the piece on Gotta Groove Records, they make really well crafted quality focused records. Our film's aesthetic reflects that. Crisp camera movements, beautiful use of color and frame. Well crafted cinematography, editing and sound to reflect the well crafted records.
Execution: Every project is different. The subject is different, the location is different, the budget is different, and the audience is different. You should approach each project differently to help meet the needs of the particular story. In doc, it's really about embracing the unknown and positioning yourself to create the best possible product with whatever limitations are in your way, or advantages and tools are at your disposal.
Can't get a 4K camera or can't draw attention to a crew because you are in a foreign country? Shoot with a DSLR. No budget for a large crew? Shoot it yourself. Can't get to location ahead of time to add lights? Learn to shoot with found light. Sometimes these limitations create the piece for you. That being said, follow the fundementals. Make a plan, and use it as a mission statement, but don't be afraid to deviate from the path.
I recently went to Brazil with my friend Jade Catta Preta. She approached me 2 weeks before she was heading to Brazil to perform comedy for the first time in Portuguese and said, hey let's go and film it.
Sh*t. Huge logistical challenge right? What's the story? What direction do I take? What gear do I bring? Will I get mugged?
Well when we went it ended up being me with a DSLR, and a 24-70 f4 lens with a boom mic. What this limitation did is create intimacy. I was able to catch Jade in her most vulnerable moments. We were able to film in situations that having a giant shoulder camera, we flat out would not of even been let into the space.
Long story short, don't let these limitations cripple your project. Let them define it. Embrace those challenges and make the best of them. Resourcefulness and problem solving is the mother of creativity. These details along with your perspective will create true originality born out of circumstance.
Substance - Using Direction as Self Expression: OK so you've made a few projects. You can now build something with technical proficiency. But you are bored. Why is that? Likely it's one of two things or both. Either you are not challenging yourself, or you have not discovered a voice. Finding a voice is ultimately the key to happiness as a creative person. Knowing yourself and what you are good at will take your work to newer more intimate levels. It's at this point that you start competing with yourself instead of other people. It's where you become an artist, and you can begin to use the craft to express yourself.
The most important part of being able to do this is knowing yourself. Know your strengths and weakness. Know your influences. Know your heroes and the impact they had on your work.
The second part of this is ability. You need to understand the craft and stand on the shoulders of giants to be able to find your way, and methodology. Picasso learned to paint people in an anatomically correct way long before he created any abstraction. Know the rules and master them, and break them with intent. Once you do that, your work will skyrocket to another level of originality. You will also know what work to go after with complete clarity, and if a client is a good fit, or someone you should runaway from at 100 miles an hour.
Aesthetic Quality: Documentary is often looked at like the ugly redheaded stepchild of the filmmaking family, and there is a reason. Most filmmakers in this world simply don't have the technical skills or resources to make something visually striking. This is not a personal attack on anyone and I mean this to be taken as constructive criticism of our industry as a whole. It's simply a historical fact that I've noticed over time, most documentary films are sloppily put together from a technical stand point. Part of this is the barrier to entry to become a doc filmmaker is much lower than narrative. There is a bigger forgiveness on the quality of film in the category, because of the reality of the content. It's however getting much much better as technology and access to information increases, and audience expectation is higher.
In the past this technical faux pas was made up for by tremendous heart or storytelling. But as audiences attention spans get shorter, technology gets better and the standard for industry excellence gets higher; we have a responsibility to make films with lots of heart, that are also beautiful and visually/editorially engaging.
High art in my opinion is a combination of highly technical ability and self expression married in the form of a physical medium. The only way to move documentary forward is to create technically astute and proficient films. They should rival narrative films in quality. Why don't they? Below are some things I've noticed that can be changed in our field by simply paying attention and creating better habits.
- Don't round corners: I'll fix it in post!! Don't ever say that. Measure twice cut once. Make a plan for your project, structure interview questions and a story arch, make a shot list. Write a screenplay as if this were narrative and reverse engineer it. Set yourself up for success with a plan of attack.
- Partner with people better than you: Find cinematographers who can shoot footage that is better than yours. Find editors who add a huge storytelling value. Find a composer who is right for the project. Work with pros, and let them make you stronger. You will learn from them and integrate it into your process.
- Meet all technical standards: Does your film sound like crap? Find an audio mixer. Shots don't match? Pay a colorist. You need to invest in your own future, even it it costs you fiscally, it will make your work stronger in the long run.
Editing is Writing: In documentary, editing is writing. The reason being is that as much as we plan our day, and write out a shot list, just like the nature of life, on set.... Sh*t happens. Sometimes the location isn't available, sometimes the light isn't right, sometimes it's too noisy for sound. When all of the footage from the project gets put in the timeline it becomes a puzzle to solve. It's my favorite part of the magic trick and it's something I'm naturally good at.
Editors are problem solvers. They are also creative writers. The context of the imagery shown on screen juxtaposed to audio information can create profound realizations and visual contrast. We can personify objects. We can anthropomorphize animals. We can give the most monotonous scene life. Never under-estimate the power a good editor has over the final product, they add huge value and deserve as much credit as directors in shaping the story.
What sound should we use here? Where should the music start? How do I hide this cut? Can I make this flow faster? All of these details create emotion on screen and are multiplying factors to the effectiveness of your story on an audience. If the magic trick is done correctly, the slight of hand is never noticed.
Three Piece Suit: The classics are still relevant for a reason. There are many stories told over the past 100 years, but damn few very good ones. Ones that stand the test of time. Why do some hold up and other not so much?
I'd argue it's not the devil in the details as much as it's the skeleton that we wrap the meat around. Would you believe Goodfellas is the story of Icarus? Or that The Sopranos is the story of Oedipus? Well they are. The windows may have different trim, but the scaffolding of the building remains the same.
It's important as a storyteller to study the timeless myths in the Iliad and the Odyssey. They can provide you with profound insight into making a modern story timeless. In order to move forward to the future, it's important to understand the past.
There is no such thing as different and equal. Sorry social justice warriors, but unfortunately this is a fact of life. Some people are born rich, some people are born tall and athletic, some people are musical prodigies out of the box. In our incredibly polarized society with tons of keyboard warriors shaping your perception of yourself or the world (if you allow them to) it's an important statement to make. Love who you are and where you came from and translate it to the work.
I am from Cleveland. I am blue collar at heart. I was also a deeply troubled kid with serious mental issues. Bipolar disorder pretty much tainted my childhood and adolescence as I was in and out of mental hospitals and behavioral schools from 10-16 years old. I was angry, and withdrawn and hated society. It would be easy for me to marginalize myself and say woe is me. It would be easy to make excuses and to rationalize giving up. I didn't give up and as I've grown as a person I've learned to embrace these parts of my life and put them into my work. It's made me a better storyteller. It's made me a better person.
The good news is that who you are matters. What has happened to you matters. Your life experience will shape your work as they are inextricably connected and they both will grow over time. Your interests will change as you grow with the craft, and believe me doing something as difficult as pursuing filmmaking will force you to grow as a person.
It's important not to compare yourself to others. That rich kid who has dads bankroll to make films all day long without working doesn't necessarily have an advantage. The advantage might be in the struggle. You will learn faster and adapt because you have to.
If you give yourself to the craft and fall in love with the process, it truly makes you a better person over time. The key here is continuous and brutal introspection and critique. The nature of getting better at anything difficult in life is to be objective about your shortcomings and advantages. Be honest with yourself about your work. What qualities do you like? What mistakes did you make? How can you improve next time? Regroup, replan, reshoot, re-edit. Work hard, get better and stay humble.
Several months ago my friend Greg Santos approached me to do a simple sketch about a cop who loves to be filmed. It was a hysterical short script acting as sort of comedic relief or a social commentary on some of the issues in our culture around cops being filmed doing heinous things and sort of turning that on its head. What if the cops actually wanted to be filmed?
That video ended up going viral and reaching 3.2+ million people on facebook, as well as being featured on Funny Or Die. See it below.
One of the coolest parts about our film going viral was seeing the first responder community embrace it so much. I feel like cops were waiting for content like this and we tapped into a need for humor in a world where the job is unimaginably tough.
Because of the success of the first film, we decided to make a follow up. This one involving two cops, one of which is Aram Choe, an actual officer on the force who was a fan of the first film. In addition to the cell phone footage, we also added a third element of the body cam, as a means of a vehicle for comedy, alluding to a "larger scale" film production for the two aspiring actor/filmmaker cops.
On a personal and professional note, this angle was a lot of fun as it allowed me a vehicle to poke fun at the tendency of greener filmmaker folks who lean on laurels or film school, tools and gear instead of the quality of their work. We all make that mistake in the beginning. ;)
Additionally, we decided to partner with Oscar Mike and Humanizing the Badge, to sell a t-shirt called for support of the "Thin Blue Line". Proceeds of sales go to the Oscar Mike Foundation (Rehabilitating disabled veterans through adaptive sports) and Humanizing The Badge (Providing support for first responders, and bringing awareness to the job).
I am super happy with what we created, watch below and make sure to stay through the credits.
Huge thanks to the crew and all the talent; Greg Santos for being, well Greg. Aram Choe and his family for thier hospitality, and putting himself out there as an actor and crushing it. Felicia Folkes for replacing Dallas Mclaughlin (kidding dallas) and adding so much playing it straight comedy. Clifton and Evelyn for shooting, sound and color and all the technical. Dave Shaw for his audio clean up and expertise on the "Nick wind" front. Michael Seifert for his awesome 80's cop music that matches Gregs moustache. All of you guys made a small scale shoot a lot of fun, you gave it big production value and even bigger heart.
One of the coolest things about this panel was I got to meet two exceptional people, Dr. Patrick Runnels (Medical Director at Centers for Family and Children), and Mark Hunter (Chimaira vocalist and photographer) This panel sparked an idea for me, a deep exploration of the subject matter discussed, inspired a short film on the connection between creativity and mental illness. It's something I'm passionate about and I am personally affected by.
I believe bipolar, depression or other mental afflictions have inspired some of the greatest art ever created. I know in my case, bipolar is not only a burden, a callus monster you have to harness, but a source of great power. It's a disease that forces you to look inward, sometimes in painful ways, but ultimately providing a deeper connection to the human condition. If you can harness that and translate it into any medium, then we are talking about a giant creative advantage.
After hearing Mark's story at the panel, I approached him to create a documentary portrait about his issues and his art. He was kind enough to let me explore this topic through his art and his experiences. I am calling the piece Down Again, after Chimaira's hit song. The title and song have a much deeper meaning which will be explored in the doc piece. On a personal note, Chimaira's music was something that helped me through dark times when I was an angsty teenager, So I played this one pretty close to the chest.
We wrapped the first leg of our principle photography around Chimaira's 7 year reunion show on December 30th at the legendary Agora. I wanted to interview Mark leading up to the show as it was bound to stir up some feelings, as well as using that time as an opporitunity to gather interesting B Roll around the band practicing and re-uniting for the big show.
Metal music by its nature is intense, and this piece is shaping up to be a window into that world I feel no one has opened before. Metal musicians and metal fans are often misunderstood and I hope to change that. As a fan of metal myself, and a fan of music and how it affects people, I really want to pour myself into this one. It's deep, it's moody and it will hopefully be profound.
It was awesome to see how the band approaches music in such a professional way. The setlists were rehearsed religiously, the songs were played to a click track live, and every detail from lighting to sound was meticulously managed and thought through in advance.
I am also putting together a short film around Chimaira's return to commemorate an awesome evening I will never forget. The crew was on point and the band absolutely crushed. It was a barn burner of a show.
Huge thanks to Mark and all the fellas in the band for letting me into their world. It was an honor to be a part of the Chimaira family and share such an amazing night with such awesome people. You guys are the best dudes, and should be very proud of what you built with the band and the music and how it's touched fans around the world.
Big thanks to the crew, Tyler Clark for his vision and eye for making the piece moody and atmospheric. Luke DeJeu for running audio and assisting with camera needs. Mikey Tell for wearing all the hats and helping with whatever we needed. Nolan for his assistance on camera and helping with gear on the shoot. Magan for her looks, charm and the Miller High Life. And lastly James Waters for putting this together last minute in a classic hail mary fashion as only he can do.
I am really proud of what we have so far, and am excited to start putting something together. We will be shooting the remaining content in March and the piece will be edited sometime in April. Stay tuned!
Happy new year. Excited to see what 2018 brings my way.
I was recently approached by my talented friend Jade Catta Preta to take a trip to Brazil to explore the comedy scene and her roots there. Jade is a Brazilian born comic and actress who moved to the states at the age of 12. The point of this trip was for her to connect with her roots as an adult in a meaningful way and to bravely attempt her set in Portugese for the first time.
After a week of shooting for another project I rushed into the prep for this trip. Vaccines, Visas, Insurance, Gear etc all right before the madness of the holidays. My initial thoughts were ones of concern, as I don't think rushing into a doc project is the right way to make excellent content. It takes preparation and planning to be effective in my world view. So needless to say, rushing into an international shoot was not my favorite thing in the world. Not to mention I haven't shot any of my own footage in quite some time, having the luxury of working with cinematographers. My concerns were of prep, intentionality of content, and most of all safety, as brandishing a camera in a South American country isn't the smartest idea. I could not of been more off in my estimations.
In fact the opposite was true. The people of Brazil are warm, and welcoming. They share my love for food and the whole trip was an incredibly positive experience. Jade, her friends and her family are very special people who welcomed me into their homes and country with open arms. The content was actually of profound substance, and deeper than I had imagined. The lack of preparation in this case and the spontaneity it incurred was extremely beneficial to the project. Ultimatly shooting, directing and running sound on this, although challenging, created intimacy on screen. On a personal note it allowed me to connect with my orgins and re-affirmed my love for the craft.
The experience seemed even more important for Jade, reconnecting with family and recovering lost culture. I believe it will have a very meaningful impact on her comedy and the quality of her content. In the 11 days we were there she did 9 shows in Portuguese and improved substantially each time. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her taking that risk. Could you move to another country and throw yourself into that situation? I wouldnt even be able to do an open mic here in the states.
One of the most surprising things about Brazil was that the comedy scene is so young. It's only a few years old, yet the community is so strong. We met the biggest comics in Brazil as well as open mic comics, all of which were supportive of each other and want to make the scene stronger and better as a whole. Not selfish interests, but righteous ones.
I am very excited about this project. We have another 5 days of principle to do in LA and after that I can start shaping something up. This project found itself in production. That's something I try to avoid most of the time, but the journey of making this will hopefully come across on screen. This film is about heritage, family, self exploration, fate, predetermination and personal growth. Thank you Jade and all the wonderful people involved in this. I'm honored to tell this story.
This Veterans Day I am proud to release a short film I made on the origins of Oscar Mike. Oscar Mike is military radio jargon for "On The Move". Oscar Mike was founded 11/11/11 by my friend Noah Currier with the mission of keeping all Veterans "On The Move" through adaptive sporting events. Noah's story is inspiring. Oscar Mike is a 100% American made activewear apparel company. That company donates proceeds of those sales to the Oscar Mike Foundation. That foundation sends disabled veterans to adaptive sporting events to help their physical and mental well being. This was a very personal project to me, and I am honored to have had a hand in making it. Watch it below and share. I feel this is important work and it will help save lives quite literally. See the full film below:
Thanks to so many people. Thanks to Aaron Matthews for his assistance since 2011. Thanks to Tyler Clark for shooting the re-enactments and beauty footage. Thanks to Michael Seifert and Dave Shaw for the post mix, SFX and original score. Thanks to Clifton Stommel for his color work. Thanks to Dustin Currier, Dave Padrutt and Matt Troja for the additional music. Most of All, thanks to Noah and his family for letting me into their lives in a very deep and meaningful way. And thanks to all the Veterans, wounded or otherwise for their service.
Honored to have created a few short commercial spots for Oscar Mike. Oscar Mike is American made apparel with a mission. Oscar Mike stands for "On The Move" in the military alphabet. Proceeds of every sale go directly to rehabilitating disabled veterans through adaptive sporting events. Keeping injured veterans on the move is the mission of Oscar Mike. We shot these at Rock Cut Park in Northern Illinois, and the voice overs are actual audio bytes from the interviews with each Veteran. Huge thanks to Michael Seifert and Dave Shaw for the post mix and original score. Thanks to Clifton Stommel for the color work.