Road Trip: Seattle

The most rememberable thing about a road trip are moments of insanity. When talking about nothing produces the most random jokes or replaying a George Michael song and making it in to a game. Five hours and a speeding ticket later we decided it was time to stop driving, Portland and Seattle could wait. We came across this beautiful little green town, stayed the night and tried not to think about how much the ticket would cost.

The next morning I tried to snap out of my bad mood, after all money is replenishable. Gus did what he does best, make me laugh. We discovered with his new hipster glasses he looked like Clark Kent.

At one of the rest stops we saw this large American monument in front of a Casino. It was a perfect photo op.

The moment we drove in to Portland we knew this place was different, after all everyone was letting us in their lane during rush hour.  We stayed in Portland for a day and fell in love with the city! (more on Portland later)

We arrived in Seattle in two hours. We met up with Briana and Mario who are also from California. Meeting up felt like we were a few cities away from home.

The cool thing about a city like Seattle, is that you can walk upon a concert at any given moment. As we were walking to dinner there was a show taking place in an All Saints store.

The next morning we woke up to rain. As California kids we all said, “Well there goes the day, shutting down…” But then we saw the city moving forward. I suggested we go see Batman… but then.. we went down stairs to eat breakfast and all over the news.. the horrible tragedy  . The Aurora massacre. I sat there numb. I’ve visited Aurora many years ago, my best friend from high school use to live there. Going to a theater was the last time we all wanted to do.

It soon stopped raining and the sun began to peck out. We made our way to one of Washington’s Parks.

For lunch I took my friends to Capital Hill, a place I discovered last time I was here. As we walked around I began to daydream about last year, walking these very streets, how much life has changed since then. A lot of questions that were running my head then were now answered.

Just before leaving, I met up with a couple who I did a Creativelive workshop with. I remember how easy they were to be around. They shared the story of how they met, about their new dog, having a missionary father in Africa and so many random adventures they had together. It was exciting to see them again, they made Seattle feel like home.

I looked at my watch and knew my time in Seattle was over. Time for Portland.

Cinematography with Gale Tattersall

I first discovered Creativelive when photographer Jeremy Cowart posted a link to an interview he did with Chase Jarvis. After I watched that interview I must have spent a few hours watching some of Creativelive’s workshops. I then became a devoted student.

I got an email announcing the news that Gale would be teaching a Cinematography workshop with the HD DSLR. The requirement was to send in a video. I for one hate bring on camera but I knew this was a chance in a life time.

My video was chosen and off  I was to Seattle to learn film making from House’s Director of Photography, Gale Tattersall.

Gale was one of the first people in Hollywood to use the HD DSLR for production filming. Word began to spread that these small cameras could produce high-end quality video.

Ending all excuses.

I enjoyed learning from Gale because he not only embraces new technology but has been working on films for years.

Here are some things I learned while in the workshop. You can buy the videos here if you like.

-“To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.” Alfred Hitchcock

-Use the right camera for the right situation

-The HD DSLR was first used on House to solve a problem: Great for filming in tight areas.

-Using more than one camera side by side to get the same performance but different framing.

-Use the depth to field & framing to better tell the story.

-Direct the eye. Control the depth to field, what you want the viewer to look at.

-Use lighting to tell the story, don’t over romanticize every shot. Sometimes things need to be ugly and uncomfortable. Good cinematography is invisible. Make it to follow the story.  It’s easy to take it in the wrong direction. Each scene can have a different “genera”.

-Do camera test. See which ISO works best with less grain. (160/320/1250). Camera test will save you time.

-Set white balance according to the lighting temperature.

-Separate your eye from your brain. See what is really there: color reflections, shadows, white balance degrees, lighting, background, etc.

-Know the rules before you break them.

-Talk with the director and writer so you have a clear vision of the project. The director is the captain. Get on his wave length.

-Play with the subconscious.

-Understand lighting, don’t make it noticeable. It’s all about what kinda film you are making. Use the particle lighting in the scene to light the scene: windows, lamps. Justify where the light is coming from. Direct the eye with lighting. Lighting gives attention. Darken the background and illuminate the subject.

-If film making is in your soul, don’t stop, keep on doing it.

-With the HD DLSR cameras you can “dream less and do more.”

photos by: Creativelive & Michael Kleven

Wow that was a lot.. and so much more. Here is a fun video we created in the workshop. When we were previewing the raw footage Gale complement my shot. 🙂 twice. (@:37/@:58)


The Door

An exit, an entrance.

One major reason I enjoy traveling so much is because my ears, eyes and heart are open. The first few days in Seattle, I felt like I couldn’t see what this city was trying to tell me.  Though my purpose for this trip was to be a student at a workshop, I knew I was in this city for deeper reason. As I walked downtown I was looking at the buildings, the strangers walking the streets but still it wasn’t saying anything to me.

A Door: Any gateway marking an entrance or exit from one place or state to another.

One of my random goals has been to enjoy a cup of coffee in Seattle. I thought I accomplished this on the first day but it wasnt until I shared one with others did I get the full experience.

The first cup was with Jenny. She lives in Vancouver but is from Ireland. She was the first person I met from the workshop.  After the class, we went to a corner cafe and talked about film making and life back at home. I told her she needs to make a film cause I know I would like her style. She joked and said she would make 200 days of Autumn for me. I laughed and told her how I really want her too.

The second was with Corey and his friends. We drove away from downtown and ended up at this cool place where the streets were full of fixie bikes and young people with laptops.  We enjoyed our drinks and talked about Seattle’s love for coffee.

The last was with an unexpected person. Just a few hours before he was a complete stranger. We sat and talked about family and shared our life stories.We walked around Capital Hill and ate burgers from Dickie.

As I was getting my stuff ready to go to the airport, I realized the city had spoken to me after all. I was looking for the door alone, but I needed others to be a part of opening it. The people I met brought the city to life and gave me confidence to exit the door of fear and enter with courage.

Now I see that Seattle was preparing me for Vancouver next year. If I could meet amazing new people in a few days imagine a year in a new city. I have nothing to fear and everything to hope for.

What I’m listening too..

Seattle Tourist

Today I marked off a dream.
“Drink a coffee in Seattle on a cloudy day.”

I’m not just here in Seattle on holiday but I was selected by Creativelive to attend a workshop with D.O.P Gale Tattersall. He’s one of the guys in Hollywood who started this whole HD DSLR revelation. The workshop starts tomorrow. You can watch live online if you like

As for today I walked around the city and enjoyed a cool cloudy day in the middle of Summer. More Seattle adventures to come. 🙂