Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action!

Ryan on the rigging crew

I recently finished up a 3 week project shooting production stills for one of the many movies that have been filming here in Ohio lately. I'd been looking for just such an opportunity to work on film sets for some time and my friend Brian Douglas was gracious enough to recommend me for this one, a horror/comedy shot up in Middletown. The pay was low, the hours were long (12-14 hr. nights with an hour drive on each end) and i have rarely worked harder in my life, but the experience i gained was priceless, a rich and rewarding one. 
There are, unfortunately, so many photographs that i just can't share with you at this moment. Images of actors, costuming, make-up or set design that might reveal plot devices or give away gags can't be shown at this time for obvious reasons. This is, as you might imagine, a bit frustration for me as there are quite a few fun shots that i will need to keep under wraps at least until the film is released (coming to theaters near you - October, 2015).
Production stills serve a number of purposes for a film. Photos are needed for promotional purposes and merchandising. They also document the moment, the production as a whole. So along with making images that look like a frame from the film i was also focussing of the behind the scene interactions, preparations and the crew at work. It is with this last aspect that i have the ability to share some of my work with these mostly candid portraits of our outstanding crew. Really, i believe i might have been a bit spoiled by this initial experience. This film set virgin couldn't have asked for a better first crew. They taught me so much is so short a time. And as a total noob to the industry i found myself immediately welcomed and appreciated, a part of the family, even if i was inevitably standing in the wrong place at the wrong time on more than one occasion. 
There is a lot i would like to share with you about the specifics of shooting productions stills. In many ways it is just and extension of a documentary approach, but it has its own nuances and specifications for sure. I think, however, that story would be better served when i am able to post more of the photos from this project. For now let me just introduce you to some of my temporary film family, with a great big thanks to them all for helping me cut my teeth on a new avenue for my photography. Hopefully this will lead to many more opportunities in this industry in the future.          

1st AD Eli and Director Andy

Lucas - Best Boy Electric 

Kyle - Lighting Gaffer 

ACs Bug and Woo

Kyle - Key Set PA 

Director Andy gets the Hitchcock treatment

Director Andy

Director Andy and DOP Filip

Michael - Boom Operator

Ryan - Rigging

Josh - Grip

Anthony - Sound Mixer

Filip, John and Woo


Brian - Crafty/Set PA

Joseph - Prop Master

Stephonika - Office PA

John - Dolly Grip

 Yan - Key Grip

Bas - 1st AC pulling focus

Bug - 2nd AC 

Ryan and Lucas greet the dawn

 Filip - DOP

David - SFX Makeup Artist 

Bug - 2nd AC 

Kurt - B Cam/Steady Cam Operator 

Katie - Script Supervisor 

 Filip assesses the light on the scene

Eli - 1st AD 

Woo - 1st AC 

 Filip - DOP

Rick - Stunt Coordinator 

Bug - 2nd AC 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Horse Play and Horror Shows

Clydesdale; Horse; Grooming; Opening Day; Cincinnati
©David Sorcher 2015

So i'm suffering a bit from self-imposed guilt and shame. It's not even the middle of April and i have already broken one of my New Year's resolutions. I fell off my promise to post at least one blog weekly. Yes, i do feel bad about this, but i will just have to forgive myself because i've had a very busy and interesting week. Unfortunately i can't show you any of the photographs at this time. Instead i hope you will accept the humble offering of the above image, a post-Opening Day Clydesdale at the end of the parade route...c'mon, it could be worse you know. 
Last week a good buddy gave me a foot-in-the-door to shoot production stills on a Hollywood horror film that is being shot locally. It's not a big budget affair, though it does have some recognizable talent (Robert Englund, Jere Burns, Clint Howard). More importantly it's a great opportunity for someone like me who has been looking to break into this business for some time. It is especially fortuitous timing given a sudden drop in my journalistic opportunities. My work from the local paper has been down by at least two thirds this year. Photojournalism may not be dead, but its transitional stages are just killing me. I am constantly trying to find other ways to make my living with my camera. Production stills seems a natural shift, much of it being essentially documentary in approach and style. Some of my favorite documentary photographers have also done this type of work. Mary Ellen Mark, for instance, has worked on hundreds of movie sets in her day. I figure those seem like reasonable footprints to follow in. 
Of course beyond some similar shooting approaches, production stills work is an entirely different animal. I find myself on a steep learning curve, figuring out what to shoot, when to shoot and how to stay out of the way on a crowded and fast-paced movie set. Watching the way films are made from the behind the scenes has been quite the education for me. I'd love to share more of this, but i would rather wait until i have the permission to use some of the images i have been making to illustrate my experience more clearly.
Anyway, i've been working 12 hour days, or rather, nights (7pm-7am). Switching my body clock to full-blown vampire mode has been challenging to say the least. Add an hour drive each way to the set and you can perhaps see why i have forgiven myself so easily for my lapse in blog posting, especially since i can't post any of the work i'm doing at the present time.  
Which, of course, brings us back to the Clydesdale. After all, i have to post some kind of photo in a photography blog, don't i? I got to play a small part on Monday as a stringer on the Enquirer's photographic team, though my role coving the bar scene near the stadium was certainly not the most exciting aspect of the day. But on my way back to process and upload images i passed by this scene of a freshly unharnessed Clydesdale at the end of the parade. Seemed like a good scene for a photograph though i had to wonder if these positions are assigned or if they actually take turns on butt detail. :-)