December 31, 2011

New Work: Windy City Rollers - Travel Season Promo


Despite clocking in at 67 seconds, this has been about 5 months in the making. It's also one of the last things I had wanted to crank out before 2011 came to a close, and I couldn't have done it without the under-the-wire assistance from my composer/friend Nathaniel Smith (nathanielmusic.com).

Hope you like it, and go see some Derby!

December 23, 2011

Photojournal Updates

Chicago Cultural CenterGoodbye To SteveSophoclesPirates Of PenzanceIntelligentsia, Pour OverRed Dude, Halo Lady
Me & Chris, Light YearsBourbon Coffee, NYCCharles The AstronomerThe Deli, Light YearsThey Shoot Cameras, Don't They?Fashionista
Best Western DecorOK'd DealsElizabeth's PearSame Lens, New FlareThe Show Must Go OnDancefloor
No TrespassingBricked UpDaisy Through ConcreteGrand OpeningHideoutLoading Only
Photojournal, a set on Flickr.
I've just updated my Photojournal with stuff from the last few months. Working on "Light Years" and a few other projects made it impossible to stay up to date, so I'm making sure I close out 2011 with a clean slate.
You can browse my Photojournal in this site's Photography section, or view in higher res via Flickr.

December 15, 2011

Wisdom, Words, etc.

Charlie Kaufman, on time:
‘That’s two hours I’ll never get back,’ is a favorite thing for an angry person to say about a movie he hates. But the thing is, every two hours are two hours he’ll never get back. You cannot hoard your two hours.

December 6, 2011

Consequence of Sound: Top Photos of 2011

Long story, long: I took the below photo of James Vincent McMorrow's awesome performance at The Hideout in Chicago this year. Earlier that day I had helped Consequence of Sound writer Nick Freed videotape a studio performance and interview with James, and he turned out to be one hell of a dude. I ended up with an invite to the show because Nick's regular photographer pal couldn't attend.

Lo and behold, Consequence of Sound put one of my pictures as #70 in their top 100 photos of 2011 (I don't think I can link directly, you'll have to scroll through 69 other photos to see in on their site...). Considering the rest of the list is full of crazy-famous musicians at crazy-huge musical events, I'm quite proud. It doesn't hurt that James is absurdly and ruggedly handsome.

And now we're one step closer towards the Irish to taking over the world...
James Vincent McMorrow 01

December 1, 2011

Found Object: "How To Lose $2400 In 24 Seconds"

This is a very short, painfully clever little film. It's a fleeting moment that never would've been seen by the world at large if not for technology. I love when film and the internet can intersect gracefully, because as a commercial venture film would probably never yield something so random and hilarious.

Maybe for a sequel he can shoot with a RED, or on 35mm?!

November 25, 2011

NY, NY

I'm back in Chicago, after a 5 week stint in New York. I'm left with the mixed impression I'd normally associate with a failed relationship: I'm better for it, but tired and sore. The project and the people I worked with were incredible, but working out of that city....

Did you know that millions of people actually live and work there on purpose?

I had lots to gain from Light Years, but even more to lose, and I think I managed a healthy balance. To be blunt, from a Production Designer's standpoint it was a Herculean task to deliver at all, much less in any meaningful, creative way. On top of the time, budget, and personnel shortages, I lived in a "charming" apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, which had hot water and heat only as often as it didn't. We filmed 27 locations over 20 days in nearly every corner of the city (plus Westchester and Connecticut). Ambitious is an appropriate word here, but only because we actually pulled it off.

Something that kept me going: The Director, aside from being a pleasure to work for, was nursing a 2 month old infant the entire project. Can you imagine complaining about sleep or fatigue in light of that? In the end, I'm really proud of this one. Proud and grateful.

I have thousands of pictures, but I may have to hold off on the bulk of them so as not to spoil the film's market exposure. For now I need to get rested, unpacked, and caught up on a mountain of other projects.

October 20, 2011

New York, New York

I'm here, quite suddenly, working as production designer on a feature film called "Light Years." Would add more, but we shoot in 11 days! Time to get to work...

October 14, 2011

Quilts of Valor - Day One (Perham, Minnesota)

Over the next few days I'm traveling by bus with a group of 30 quilters, all of whom participate in a network called Quilts of Valor. They deliver (in this case by hand) hand-made, heirloom quality quilts to wounded soldiers returning from combat as a symbol of their gratitude for the soldier's service.

The idea is: soldiers comes home from active duty, and despite all the hoopla associated with a war or conflict, very little is done for them when they're spit back out of the machinery of the modern military and back into civilian life. There's certainly no big parade, and sometimes not even a thank you. These quilters feel that soldiers shouldn't go their whole lives wondering if anyone else cared one way or the other.

With that in mind, I'll be traveling with a group of QoV quilters to film and document their journey on behalf of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting (a very popular program out of Iowa Public Television, and big sister to the internet sensation known as Quilty). We'll be escorted by an honor guard of motorcyclists, and headed for military hospitals at Fort Hood and Fort Sam in Texas to deliver 1,000 quilts.
Earlier today I flew into Fargo, and am staying the night in Perham, Minnesota before heading out tomorrow morning. I'm in the home of the Caugheys, who are helping organize the trip, and are longtime Perham residents. The town's lifeblood these days is fed in large part by tourists attracted to the ridiculous number of lakes (pictured above), and a company called KLN Family Brands, who transitioned a few generations ago from farmers to makers of potato chips, licorice, and dog food (fortunately not all in the same factory).

KLN, as I've come to find out, is a surprisingly progressive, and family owned, company. For instance, they've let residents use company vehicles to shuttle little league players to faraway baseball games, they have profit sharing benefits with their employees, and have even helped cover shortfalls in the local school's budget so their workforce wouldn't have to contend with closing elementary schools. It's rare to find a company so readily invested in the livelihoods and communities of their workers, and that attitude has certainly helped Perham withstand the downward cycle plaguing the other agricultural communities in this part of the country. The vibe here is nice.

Tomorrow: hitting the road...

October 13, 2011

New(ish) Work: "Forget Me Not"

This little movie premiered August 30th, 2010, at Chicago's Landmark Century Cinema with an hour-long program of shorts (hand selected from my friends and peers). This was also the day we started principal photography on Munger Road. So It's not really new, but after a year in the festival circuit it'll finally see the light of day.

You can watch it below, or find it posted in the film section. There are also behind-the-scenes photos over in the photography section, where you can see early sketches, Mitch the PA just after a bookcase fell on his head, and other fun things.

I started work on the film in 2007, and finished it in stages over the next 3 years while I finished my film degree at Columbia. It was built, staged, and shot entirely inside my first Chicago apartment (with the exception of the obvious exteriors and vignettes), much to the chagrin of the people I lived with. Through master sneakery, flim-flam, and elaborate ruses I got my hands on nearly every piece of equipment Columbia had available, despite not having permission to use any of it.

I hope you like it.


 Additional music by Andrew Bird, and poster by Matt Bors, both of whom you should know and love.

October 10, 2011

Found Object: "PressPausePlay"


I've been waiting for this movie for years. Not in the sense that I heard about it on a website, tracked it's release, and finally saw it for myself. More like, It expresses ideas I've been grappling with, and espousing, and sharing with my peers for years. You can watch it in its entirety for free here.

PressPausePlay is a documentary about new media. Music, Film, Visual Art, computing, technology, industry, and all that good stuff. It assembles a host of artists, professionals, and experts and discusses the elephant in the room:

Namely, things feel different now compared to when they used to, and not merely due to nostalgia.

While the above statement is probably accurate for any period in human history, something about this time is different. Maybe it's just that I was alive during the "used to" period, and am a struggling artist in the "now" period, and will hopefully be alive (and successful) for whatever is to come next. Maybe I'd be expressing the same idea if I were born in 1941 instead of 1981. But still. I played Nintendo when I was 6, and I used a personal computer with internet access at 13, and now that I'm just shy of 30 I can do more things on my phone than anyone would have imagined 10 years ago, much less 30 years ago. We still have war, and poverty, and all the problems we've had as a species since the day we were a species. But still, something now is different. Right?

I've been alive for, and cognizant of, some of the most sweeping changes in popular culture in several hundred years, and as a person (consumer, artist, whatever) it's incredibly invigorating and vexing at the same time. In contrast, my little brother is 9 years younger than me. He and his friends share a common language with me, they like many of the same bands, and have seen many of the same films, and lived through many of the same economic, political, and industrial hiccups. Yet, they awoke to this culture well after the institutions that grew up with had already died. All that, in 9 measly years. They never even had a chance to use Napster, for crying out loud, and yet they live in a culture that was changed by it. Things will always change, but PressPausePlay helped me put a finger on why this time around it seems different (even if it isn't (though I think it is)).

Change has been so rapid that nearly every institution created to support art and popular culture (or exploit/capitalize on it) has been dismantled or reborn from scratch several times over. Yet, there are still wealthy, working, privileged hacks and artists working side by side, just as there have been for centuries... So what's a guy like me to do?

It's difficult to understand the contradiction of a sophisticated digital age, and the child-like playfulness that these new tools give us the ability to run with. The idea of expressing an idea to "everyone" via the internet is incredible, but first, how can I afford the computer or camera or electricity or education I need to express that idea? Like I said, invigorating and vexing at the same time.

I don't think technology is the key to Utopia, nor is it the harbinger of doom. But it sure is something.

October 5, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

This isn't much of a prediction, but much ink will be spilled over the death of Steve Jobs. Knowing my friends, I'm sure there'll be a mixture of reverence and "what's the big deal?" and crass humor, as befits such an incredibly ubiquitous public figure.

Jobs was my favorite kind of genius. In a cultural, economic, and political landscape fettered with recycled bullshit, Steve Jobs invented things. Not just ideas, either, but actual, physical creations. He was a guy who moved currents.

In today's corporate world, which has such little regard for human welfare and dignity, I hesitate to put too much on the shoulders of a businessman. It's artists and thinkers and writers that typically earn the respect I think Jobs deserves. Still, despite whatever Apple's laundry list of questionable deeds will amount to over the years, I believe Jobs was much more than just a successful capitalist.

To borrow the closing quote from the above WIRED article:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs said. “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
R.I.P. Steve.

September 29, 2011

Munger Road: Tonight

I finally get to see Munger Road tonight at midnight, which is (I think) the public premiere. For all the hard work that goes into making a film, it's still not very easy to get one released in theatres (sometimes even famous actors or crew aren't enough). Seeing one's own work on the big screen with an eager crowd is therefore kinda rare, even for some industry veterans. The few times I've had the experience with my short films have been absolutely unforgettable.

Also, Roger Ebert gave Munger Road 3 out of 4 stars. That's a bit surreal.

September 21, 2011

Top Chef Season 9: Meet Heather Terhune

I directed, shot, and edited the above video in early 2011 for Heather. It was literally the first project shot on my 7D, and had to be finished in the span of a day or two. I also had a major memory card error, which caused a full day's worth of food prep and interview footage to be lost. That meant we had to re-shoot a different dish in the midst of her simultaneously running her own restaurant.

It was a tense week, for one big reason: the video was her audition for Top Chef.

Lo and behold, she made the cut! If you go to Bravo's website, you can even watch chunks of my footage edited into their "Meet Heather Terhune" video. How nuts is that?

Almost two years ago I started working for her at the Atwood Cafe (my first restaurant job ever, back when she was the Executive Chef, and prior to Sable opening). She's now a friend, a client, and someone I'll be watching every week on a hugely popular TV show. What a strange convergence! In the mean time, anyone in Chicago can stop by Sable to check out her food for themselves.

September 17, 2011

James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow 01
I woke up on Thursday with a plan for the day, and by the time the day was over almost none of it matched what actually happened. This was a good thing, because it meant meeting, taping a tiny solo performance, and eating burritos with James Vincent McMorrow.

My pal Nick, on assignment from Consequence of Sound, needed a hand with the afternoon, and I'm glad I pitched in. Based on what I saw and heard I think James deserves to be Ireland's Next Big Thing. It's like, Mumford and who?

After bonding over Canon's quality line of digital SLR cameras with Emma, his tour documentariain/Media guru extraordinaire, they hooked me up with a ticket to his (sold out!) show at The Hideout, which was a much more exciting way to spend the evening than another marathon session of editing. I also made sure to take a few photos during the show.

September 9, 2011

Found Object: "TUB"


This one is a bit...disturbing? Unusual? I don't quite know what adjective to apply here that works as both a warning and a compliment. In some ways it's not safe for work, but not in a way you would generally apply that phrase...?

This film (Written & Directed by Bobby Miller) premiered at Sundance, went on to play a number of prestigious festivals, and garnered awards and representation. Not bad for 12 minutes! It bears close resemblance to a film by my pal Jon Steinhort ("Leftovers,"), and since I love both movies I probably have some kind of unhealthy fascination with ego-centric workaholics undergoing an identity crisis.

So far none of my projects have much in common with "TUB" or "Leftovers," but I'm definitely drawn to this kind of material. Maybe that means I'm overdue to make something that is equal parts unpleasant and fascinating? Here's to the future!

Found Object: "Quintetto"


This installation uses video cameras and software to track the vertical movement of five goldfish. The result is a series of musical faders, each corresponding to a different portion of a musical track that is "written" by the random and natural movement of the fish. Besides being a really fascinating idea, it sounds great!

This was created in 2009 by the Italian art collective Quiet Ensemble.

September 3, 2011

The UPS Customer Service and Twitter Saga of 2011.

It all started last Wednesday (a far more innocent time for me), when I placed a routine order at B&H for a few items needed for an upcoming job.

Since then, I've been consumed by a bureaucratic nightmare that feels like a deleted scene from "Brazil." The only consolation is that UPS hasn't imprisoned or tortured me (yet), they've simply wasted a boatload of my time and money, and possibly driven me insane.

LONG STORY SHORT: Bad UPS driver fails to deliver where his forebears at UPS have never had an issue, I spend 24+ hours attempting to solve the problem (as the items are needed for a job today), and only manage to get told 12 different things by 12 different UPS employees, all ranging from Chicago to Bangladesh to who-knows-where. When I finally realize my only recourse is to show up at the UPS Will Call center this morning to retrieve the thing in person, I'm told the package is "pretty much lost" in the box line (whatever that is), and that there's no way for anyone to get it prior to it's newly scheduled Tuesday delivery. GREAT.

While I'm still empty handed, my ranting on twitter caught the attention of UPS's twitter admins, and with any luck they'll be able to step in and help.

Please?

September 2, 2011

Found Object: "Going To The Store"


Words are meaningless here.

All I can say is that I'm so very happy this video exists, and that I was alive to see it.

September 1, 2011

Low Rider Festival

Low Rider Festival 04Low Rider Festival 02Low Rider Festival 01Low Rider Festival 07Low Rider Festival 06Low Rider Festival 08
Low Rider Festival 09Low Rider Festival 05Low Rider Festival 10Low Rider Festival 03Low Rider Festival 11Low Rider Festival 12
Low Rider Festival 13Low Rider Festival 14Low Rider Festival 15

Low Rider Festival 2011, a set on Flickr.

I had no idea such a festival existed, but it apparently happens in Pilsen (of course). I've added a few of these to my 2011 photo set as well.

And of course, thanks to Nancy and Oona for the invite, otherwise I would have spent this afternoon staring at my computer.

August 30, 2011

Munger Road Trailer.



It's hard to tell exactly how the story breaks down from this first trailer, but I'm happy as hell that it looks as eerie as I had hoped.

Munger Road isn't nearly as "art heavy" as most thrillers tend to be, though there were definitely some tricky special effects and logistical nightmares to pull off. I could tell even during production that Wes (the Cinematographer) and Nick (the Director) were taking the film's visuals very, very seriously, and that helped my end of things quite a bit.

Our areas of inspiration were more the likes of "Halloween" than "Saw." The goal was to see how far we could push real-life locations and real-life characters (from a story based on real events, no less), rather than adopt the modern trend of gothic/stylistic nonsense. I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

August 29, 2011

2011

Almost But Not Quite by oneonetwothree
Almost But Not Quite, a photo by oneonetwothree on Flickr.

2011

Some Sunlight by oneonetwothree
Some Sunlight, a photo by oneonetwothree on Flickr.

Late October.

It looks like I'll be spending a chunk of October on the road, working for Iowa Public Television and the Fons and Porter quilting empire. More details to follow, but it seems I'll be starting in Fargo, North Dakota, journeying to San Antonio, Texas via bus, and then flying over to New York City on a lark.

I guess that means I should wrap up the seven thousand projects I have on my roster between now and then?

August 25, 2011

Very Pinteresting.

I can't think of a single other dude on earth that actually uses the service at Pinterest. Why? I don't know. It's been incredibly helpful as a way to find and organize visual ideas, but it seems most people use it to find cute clothes or pictures of hunky actors.

As a director and production designer, I'd love to see this site flourish. Now that I have a few hundred images collected, I could sit for hours just looking and dreaming up ideas. Below are a few random things that get my gears turning. For the whole set, feast yer eyes here. Or subscribe to the RSS feed: oneonetwothree

Source: ffffound.com via Matt on Pinterest
Source: ffffound.com via Matt on Pinterest