Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Houston, TX but currently base out of Dallas, TX.
Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a filmmaker?
A: I originally began my career as a professional actor when I was about 15 years old, had an agent and all that. Initially, acting was the career path I saw myself following, but I always seemed to gravitate to conversations with the crew when I was on set, and less with the actors. I found the stories that the crew were telling to be infinitely more interesting than what other actors were saying, which usually revolved around themselves in some capacity. It occurred to me at that age that I should consider working on the crew to help support my acting career. When I went off to college I enrolled in the film school at my university. Between semesters of college I would return home to Houston and work on as many film sets as I could in whatever capacity during the summer break. Of course once that Pandora’s Box was opened, I quickly lost interest in acting and focused all of my energy on learning everything I could about the craft of filmmaking.
Q: Where in the country do you primarily work?
A: I suppose I primarily work mostly in Texas since I’m based here, but I do work all over the country.
Q: Often people think of the major hubs (Hollywood, Atlanta, New York, etc) as the ONLY place for content creation. Could you tell us a bit about the filmmaking community in Dallas and why people should think about setting up shop outside of the “typical" hubs?
A: Dallas has been a great market for me over the years. Primarily we are a “commercial town”. The majority of what is shot here is either commercials or Industrial/Corporate films. When I first moved to Dallas in the early 2000’s there was a lot of episodic TV happening, namely “Walker Texas Ranger” was the big show at that time. As far as the community goes, I like to say we are just large enough to attract big productions but not so large (like LA or NY) that crew/rental houses are forced to be overly competitive with their rates in order to combat a saturated marketplace. Inversely, we are just small enough that our crews have to be really good at their job or else they get quickly weeded out. One’s reputation in a market this size is critical, there’s no room for the bad eggs to slip between the cracks and still make it.
Q: What does a typical production day look like for you?
A: Typical. Hit snooze on the alarm 3 or 4 times. Realize you’re going to be late to set. Rush to make coffee and jump in the car to hopefully not get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Light, shoot, wrap. Get stuck in traffic coming home.
Q: When you’re prepping for a shoot what’s the one piece or gear you never want to forget?
A: For me it’s my light meter. I guess I’m just old school like that. When I started, Film was still king, unless it was a low budget shoot, then it was whatever video format was the soup du jour of that time, but we didn’t have all the exposure tools back then that we do now. At best we had waveform monitors for judging exposure, and vectorscopes to make sure we weren’t clipping on any of the channels. So for me the light meter has always been the first tool I reach for when determining exposure or lighting.
Q: We’ve heard your are prepping to pitch a feature with the hope of getting funding, tell us about the project.
A: Yes! We recently completed post production on a proof-of-concept short film called, “PandemiQ” which we are currently showing to potential private investors and streaming services in hopes of getting funding for the feature version. It’s about a modern family traveling back to their childhood home to visit ailing relatives in the fall of 2020. When they arrive, they discover that the family has taken on the beliefs of a dangerous online cult, leading them to harbor an extremist fugitive willing to stop at nothing to protect and defend himself against the government.
Q: How did that project come about? Who did you work on it with?
A: The film is written and directed by Ike Duncan who I’ve known for over 13 years now. I was the DP on his first feature back in 2009. The story is inspired by and loosely based on a real experience that Ike had while visiting extended family living in rural Georgia.
Q: Do you have any advice for others who are looking to pitch their projects to possible financiers?
A: Have a budget in mind of what you think it will cost, before you meet with investors, have a plan. Having an experienced producer on board to help breakdown the script to determine budget is critical. Expect to hear a lot of no’s.
Q: Whats the latest piece of gear you added to your kit?
A: I’m buying new gear all the time be it grip, lighting, or camera gear. The biggest investment that I recently made was the Red V-Raptor, but the most recent was probably some camera filters (I tend to buy a lot of filters lately).
Q: Why did you decide to add that piece of gear?
A: The Raptor was a no-brainer. That camera at that price point has no equal, even besting more expensive cameras from other manufacturers.
Q: Whats an undervalued piece of gear that you wish more people knew about?
A: Probably the one piece of kit that I get the most questions and strangest looks on set with is when I use my Gaffer’s Glass.
Q: Whats one piece of gear that you wish existed?
A: That’s a tough question and one I’m not sure how to answer. If I come up with the next million dollar idea for film equipment, I’ll let you know! My Gaffer Scott Payne, used to always joke about the need for hover technology for cameras. One can dream.
Q: Any interesting shoots coming up for you that you can tell us about?
A: Unfortunately, nothing I’m at liberty to currently discuss, but hopefully if we get fully funded for “PandemiQ", that will be my next major project in the pipeline.
Q: Any advice for young filmmakers looking to break into the industry?
A: Make sure this is the industry you want to work in, it’s ok if it’s not your cup of tea. Regardless, be passionate! This business requires a thick skin and very hard work, and it certainly can be difficult on relationships, and finances. It may take several years before you’re able to make a decent living in this industry so be prepared to sacrifice certain things if you have to. Also expect to hear a lot of non-industry friends and family tell you in the beginning that you should just go get a “real job”. I’d also say don’t be afraid to take risks. When you’re young and new, you have nothing to lose, so don’t be afraid to stick your neck out, but at the same time always remember to respect the craft and the filmmakers that came before you. We’ve been making films for well over 100 years, don’t be so bold that you think you’re going to reinvent the wheel 2 weeks out of film school.