For the first time, I participated in the Sundance Film Festival & YouTube joint venture called Project Direct. Once again teaming with Director Dan Dowding (Reflection, Faceless is the Killer) we shot the short film Dis-Connect in three days, on location at Custom Hotel, Los Angeles. I served as Director of Photography.
The images below were taken from YouTube screen grabs. Check www.RyanPatrickOHara.com in the near future for BTS stills and full resolution screen-grabs.
The video may be watched here, as long as the link is active: Watch HERE
Reflection, a film by Dan Dowding and Escape Entertainment, earned a Special Jury Award for a Student Film from the Action/Cut Film Competition 2008. The film was shot by Alex Winter, Director of Photography and Ryan Patrick O'Hara, Additional Director of Photography.
Congratulations to everyone,
Director Anthony Cohen and Research Producer Peter Coogan had contacted SCAD, for possible Production Assistants or interns. Somehow, my name was included, and I was contacted to attend an interest meeting.
Needless to say, I rarely turn down opportunities to work on productions. At the end of the meeting, Research Producer Peter Coogan was hurrying to leave, because he and the production crew were shooting in about an hour. Right at the conclusion of the meeting, I asked if he needed help that night on the shoot, hoping to get involved right away. It seemed as if they were not going to need PA's for that part of the shoot, but right as he was presumably going to say so, he was distracted by another persons question. When he was finished, I asked again. Either they could have used the extra hand, or maybe he was that much in a hurry, but he said if I could be on location in an hour, then yes.
From then on, I spent the next several days assisting the documentry Patrick & Me. The film is part of the Menare Foundation. According to PatrickandMe.com the synopsis is as follows:
Patrick & Me chronicles the journey of Anthony Cohen, a fourth generation descendant of runaway slaves, as he retraces the path of his ancestor Patrick Sneed who fled from bondage in 1849. Drawing from an 1855 interview with his forbearer, Cohen carefully uncovers the amazing life story of a Georgia slave captured twice under the Fugitive Slave Law who later went on to fight in the American Civil War
Meticulously reconstructing Sneed’s path to freedom, Cohen treks 3,000 miles, by foot, boat and rail, from Savannah Georgia to Canada in a dramatic and an unorthodox pursuit of historical truth. In detective style he falls upon the fugitive safehouses, underground tunnels, and slave auction blocks. He combs through diaries and artifacts of archives and museums and speaks to the descendants of masters and slaves who hold clues to his ancestor’s journey. Patrick & Me reveals the staggering impact of slavery on America’s psyche, as Cohen delves deeply into the souls of people, North and South, that he meets along the way. Seeking out black, white and Indian Americans, who bear the name of his multi-race ancestor, he attempts to discover the whereabouts of Sneed who mysteriously vanished after Emancipation.
The experience was worth the time and effort. It had been awhile since I had been involved with a documentary. On the job I got to visit the third oldest Jewish Temple in the Western Hemisphere, visit some of the oldest grave sites in Savannah GA, shoot from the roof of the tallest building in Savannah GA (Hilton DeSoto), and more.
Cohen and Coogan will be back in the fall with thier crew, but I will have left town for Los Angeles by then. I wish them luck, and can't wait to see the film in completion.
Although the video did not place in competition, it was a good experience. As far as lighting: I mainly used 1k's highly diffused in chimeras with red or blue party gels to replicate the light that neon bar signs give. I had my units usually hung from a grid on the ceiling.
The contest deadline hurried the special effects work (chips in jukebox, etc.), which in my opinion needed more time. The commercial is 60 seconds, but I think it would have benefited having a 30 second re-edit. It is what it is.
Plot: Older woman is eating Doritos and decides to insert a chip into the jukebox, which starts to wail rock music from the late 1960's- early 1970's magically taking the woman back to her youth. The younger girl dances around the bar. The places 'heats' up, and finally the jukebox rocks too hard, and the dorito flies out from the coin slot and into the mouth of the girl.
Here are some frame grabs from the Quicktime file I recieved:
As of the writing of this post, there is a YouTube copy of "The Chip that Rocks." Watch it HERE
What seems a LONG time ago, when I was just learning my ambition towards cinematography (away from directing/writing), I teamed up with now friend, Cody Greene. We wrote and co-directed (I was also cinematographer!) a short film called 'The Fall Line'.
It's the short story about a prodigy fashion designer under pressure by his agent and sponsors. In a desperate attempt to sabotage his own career, he decides to make nothing for the models to wear. The show must go on, and the models are nude. The crowd mistakenly interprets the action as a work of art, and thus the protagonist has escaped his attempted career suicide, and the pressure has been lifted as he has more time to create his next clothing line.It's a student film people, it's not that clever or original I know. We shot the entire film on an Arri SR-II camera, using Kodak 7217. There was a massive flutter in the gate for the bar scene and I learned a big lesson in camera movement. This was my first large narrative as a director of photography, and despite some learning kinks I got out of my system, parts of the film (mainly the design studio scenes) I am quite proud of.
The biggest lessons I learned on that first big attempt at the short 16mm narrative, is the importance of checking the gate and film movement, along with reading reflective light meter readings vs the incident. I discovered on that set, that I would forever be a reflective spot meter reader. I am a zone system junky, and love to plan an entire scene based off of reflective readings plotted on a zone system.
Enjoy some early work of mine!
I just came across my DVD copy of 'Hakim', a short (@7min) documentary I shot last year. Hakim is a traveling saxophone player who has quite the story. He is often mistaken as being a homeless panhandler despite his dressy casual apparel and uncanny musical ability. He is insulted when people give him leftovers or half eaten food because they assume he is homeless or jobless. Hakim simply enjoys a different way of living. He moves from town to town, city to city, state to state, playing for his living. It is his chosen lifestyle. He has been to college, played with many of the great jazz musicians of our time, and has seen the United States from East to West coast. It was great to meet him, and his musical skills are beyond most. Maybe you'll see him someday playing for whoever will listen.