Hurlbut Visuals / Manhattan Cocktail Classic / Whirlwind of edits!

My life over the last few months has been, to say the least, an absolute whirlwind.  I had the opportunity to cover some killer artists, but also had some very unique opportunities presented to me.

My good friends in Diverse managed to reach their goal on Kickstarter of raising $3,000.00 to travel and tour in Europe.  I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with these gentlemen, and also had the chance to film their tribute performance (with Les Izmore) of Common’s breakthrough “Like water for chocolate”.  I’ve got several hours worth of footage to cut down into a few live tracks for these gents, but it’s exciting exciting stuff!

I also had the chance to sit down and chat with Barclay Martin, of the Barclay Martin Ensemble not only about his experiences living, working and producing a documentary in Zamboanga in the Philippines, but also had a very heartfelt talk regarding the inspiration for his music, and in particular his latest album (soon to be released).  I’ve got some great material here, as well as video of their only live show of this material before the album release…  I only have to find the time to edit it down… :) Watch for a trend… I suppose this post is not only becoming an archive of my last few months, but also a to-do list… ;)

Shortly before these two events, I also had the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and work under DP Shane Hurlbut, ASC and his “Elite Team” on their breakthrough popular short “The Last Three Minutes”.  This short was shot on behalf of Canon Cameras to showcase not only the versatility of DSLRs for video, but also to highlight Canon’s recent 24p Firmware upgrade.  The short has shown significant success, and the learning experience garnered from this was life changing.

This shoot took place over 4 1/2 days, and stretched all over California.  I often joked on set that it was by far the hardest I’d ever worked… which wound up being absolutely true.  The reward however was well worth it.  Several people have asked how I landed such an opportunity… and I have to give a big round of thanks to Lydia Hurlbut with Hurlbut Visuals.  I had been in contact with Lydia for a few months prior, and she was kind enough to offer me the chance to come out and P.A. as an intern for this shoot.  That said, I booked my flight / hotel / rental car the next day, and planned to figure the rest out as I went.

It was an amazing experience to watch a professional such as Shane work, and I had NO idea what kind of time / effort / energy would be required of such an endeavor.  This was my first gig as a P.A., and first time ever being on an on-location set.  The majority of my experience up to this point had been documentary / TV production related.  Needless to say, this experience was eye-opening, and life changing.

Since its release, Shane has produced (along with help from Tim Holterman & his Elite Team) some “behind the lens” setup pieces to help showcase his thought process and strategy for constructing each shot as he did.  Even having been there, these setups have proven a priceless resource.  In many instances I wasn’t able to get as close to the camera as I would’ve liked, so having an after shoot wrap up is amazing… not to mention it definitely helps to relive the experience.  You can currently see the Making of the Janitor Sequence, as well as the Making of the Vietnam Sequence on the Hurlbut Visuals website, and soon to be the Making of the Carnival Sequence.  I too will post some of my own behind the scenes footage, but have to make some headway on existing projects first… and no promises on the quality… Just thought it might be fun. (Oh… and I may have snuck into a shot or two of the existing BTS footage… ;) )

More than anything, working under Shane inspired a new passion in me to dive in with the camera, and to charge forth with DSLR as a new medium for production.  The versatility of these cameras for movement, image quality, low light sensitivity, sustainability, etc… is amazing, and when you get to see results, such as Shane’s, using this medium… it completely alters your perception.  This was such a phenomenal experience, and I can’t thank Lydia, Shane, Bandito Bros, and the Elite Team enough for helping bring this experience to fruition.

Aside from the projects listed above, I have also taken on a “digital short” project for 4 Olives Wine Bar (as well as redesigning their website, blog, social media presence, and shooting more photos) which will soon be released.  I have also jumped head first into the local filmmaking community, networking and meeting a slew of individuals involved with Narrative/Documentary Filmmaking here in the Kansas City area.  I volunteered at the 2010 Kansas City Film Fest, meeting some fantastic people, and now have an invigorated attitude for production here in KC.  I will also hopefully soon be pitching my own Full-length Documentary project, and have a narrative short to soon begin production.

The most recent development has to do with my involvement in the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.  I had the opportunity not only to attend the 5-day event, but was the Official Videographer.  It also granted me the opportunity to visit my good friend Dave Kelly in Brooklyn, who has recently launched an Anthology Horror Web Series “What Lurks Beyond”.

For those of you unaware… one of my other great passions lies within the spirits / cocktail community.  I was raised in my family’s restaurant/bar, and was a bar manager for 2.5 years at 4 Olives Wine Bar in Manhattan, KS where I first learned about classic cocktails, and proper bartending procedures.  Then upon visiting New York a few years ago, had what I like to refer to as my cocktail epiphany.  I visited Audrey Saunders’s “Pegu Club” and have never been the same.  Flavors I’d never tasted in a cocktail, much less blended to such precision.  Reverence to the cocktail akin to a chef creating an elaborate dish.  Upon moving to KC, I then had the opportunity to bartend at our own local gourmet cocktail lounge, Manifesto… All life altering experiences.

That said, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (this being its first year) was a “meeting of the minds” so to speak… structured into a 5-day off-the-charts event with some of the heaviest hitters in the industry.  Dale DeGroff, Dave Wondrich, Doug Frost, Gary Regan, Simon Ford, Audrey Saunders, and tons more were all in attendance (and on the board), and my being the official videographer gave me access to all the seminars / events… most of which had long before sold out.  From this opportunity I also managed to get a photo published in the Wall Street Journal, a SIGNIFICANT feather in my cap.

So how did I land THIS opportunity?  Fortune, timing, and a love for cocktails / cocktail culture.  I was originally going to cover the event on behalf of the Kansas City Bartender’s Alliance, and Ryan Maybee, with hopes of submitting some of the photos / video to KC Magazine for publishing…  In the process of requesting my media pass, I became aware that the event itself was in need of a front line videographer.  Fortunately because of my background, I’ve kept fairly up to date with the industry, and the happenings taking place at this event… So I jumped in head first.  I got to work directly under Founder / Director Lesley Townsend who was an absolute delight, and had the opportunity to work alongside many of the bartenders / educators that I have long admired, and look up to.  Overall it was a very humbling and cathartic experience.

I’ve now returned with over 300GB worth of footage / photos from the event… a HUGE pile of editing… along with completing the other projects already on my plate, but have to say, thus far… this year has been phenomenal… and can only anticipate greater things to come of the 2nd half!

Cheers and hopefully the next update won’t be so far removed!

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