Shadowing and Meeting

Back in LA now, shadowing Mike Listo on “Harry’s Law.” It’s really great – I met Mike when I was in the ABC Directing Fellowship and he was producing/directing “Boston Legal.” It’s awesome being back on the lot, at Warner Bros in Burbank, and especially watching Mike in action. He really has mastered television directing.

I’m here reconnecting with the crew, but also having a chance to meet NBC and Warner Bros. executives. Met three WB Execs today and will meet another one tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the team back at Yale is holding down the fort at Visual Law Project with intense production and prep for a weekend of interviews with former inmates, current prison officials, and experts. We have such a great group of people keeping it going while I’m gone, I haven’t really had to worry about a thing.

Okay, back to more meetings tomorrow and on set for Day 3 of this episode of “Harry’s Law,” which will air in January.

Later, I’ll write about the legendary sets that I walk past on the WB lot during my days here. It’s so cool.

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Two Camera Roundtable Shoot

For our Visual Law Project film, we shot a roundtable discussion with a psychiatrist who works in the Connecticut prison system and is part of the “best practices” committee in charge of improving how the system operates. It was pretty challenging and perhaps not the most artistic of stuff I’ve ever shot, but the content was great. One of our previous interviewees, who has a son in prison right now, was there so it might be a good tie in when we go to edit.

We had two cameras – one behemoth Panasonic HPX370 that I operated and the other our own HVX200. It’s a massive camera that’s one full step up from our HVX and has a very good lens, so it was pretty fun to use. But it was too heavy for our monopod so it kept sinking imperceptibly until I steadied it with my arms, thereby defeating the purpose of a monopod. It became a tad grueling. Also we had to mic about four people between two cameras and no dedicated sound person among us.

Anyway, it’s all about content so we have some great footage with questionable camerawork by yours truly. The idea was to make it feel “live” so hopefully we accomplished that.

So that wraps up all the stuff I have to shoot here before I leave for my two weeks back in Los Angeles, shadowing the great Michael Listo on NBC’s “Harry’s Law” – it’s going to be a lot of fun!

B Prep 2011

Here’s the short promotional documentary I made for a public charter school in Boston. I don’t think the school wants it to be publicly searchable yet, because students or parents might start posting it around. So I’m not going to put the full name of the school here, although I have mentioned it before.

This was the school’s first ever graduating class and it was amazing to film.  They’re using the piece in their fundraising mailer going out this week.

Shot by the always always awesome Matthew Blute and ably assisted and additionally shot by Don Presley. Music and sound work by soon-to-be brother-in-law Sanjeev Brar. Directed and edited by yours truly.

Enjoy!

Final week of Sharat in New Haven (until December)

We wrapped up our weekend Visual Law Project shoot with some great stuff, but there was a very strange episode along the way.

Our Friday shoot in New Haven was great with one of our interviewees having to reschedule for Saturday morning because he had a job interview. Cool, no problem, right? We cancelled (unfortunately, it turns out) our morning interview to accommodate him – a 7:30am start at his place. Which would’ve been great because we would be in his house as opposed to his friend’s house the day before.

Well, for some reason, the man did not answer his phone or his door when we arrived at his place. We waited for nearly two hours before we decide to give up on it. We sent our esteemed cameraman Joe Friedman to film b-roll and wound up with a great, heart-wrenching afternoon interview with someone who might be the main subject of the film.

So yeah, a usual day of documentary film production.

This week, lots to do* – dailies tomorrow, a shoot on Wednesday, building an editing system, figuring out how to record an incoming phone call and preparing to go back to LA for meetings and shadowing on an NBC show – details to come!

*Not to mention perhaps my last easy chance to go to the Yale-Harvard game this Saturday. Might as well make use of my time in the Ivy League, right?

Prepping Weekend 2

So, we’re getting ready to shoot some more interviews this weekend for the Yale Visual Law Project film.

I guess I haven’t really been describing the film at all, but I think I can talk about some of it now. The topic can be sensitive for our subjects so we’re making a big deal about what we’re filming. So, briefly, we’re making a project that follows the lives of people in the prison system, specifically so-called “supermax” prisons. To that end, we’ve been interviewing family members of inmates, former inmates, department of corrections officials, and various experts. Again, more details as the production moves along!

Hopefully our camera will be fixed by the weekend, but we’re also enlisting the work of the incredibly experienced and talented Joe Friedman – NewYork-based cinematographer.

 

Dailies

We watched dailies several days after our shoot when we had our Visual Law weekly meeting. It was refreshing to see that it was completely in focus and actually lit quite well, if I do say so myself.

That’s what was preoccupying me in preparing to shoot and on the day itself: Will I light this sucker correctly. Stuff looked fine, had some good contrast, nothing egregious even when I was unable to prevent the backlight from from being softer on a bald interviewee’s head. All things considered, despite the camera malfunction, things went pretty well.

Now it’s full steam ahead. Today we had a meeting with the Connecticut Dept. of Corrections – oh we’re making a film related to the prison system, more details to come – and it was positive. Anyway, the story is still taking shape so when we have it more clearly figured out I’ll be less coy about sharing it with you, two or three readers.

Tomorrow, we buy an editing system. Let the slaughter begin!