Producing White Line Fever

Photo by Bill Manning Photo by Bill Manning

My friend Bill Manning had made me aware that Erin had recently put the word out that she was looking for some assistance in producing a video for her new single White Line Fever—highway lines, not cocaine. Bill and I hopped on a call with her and began brainstorming and planning. Her song concept involved guardian angels keeping her on the road literally and metaphorically on life’s path. Initially, Erin felt strongly about directing and editing the video once shot. This is not an unusual request, but I often find the motivation behind it is the artist maintaining control of the narrative—totally understandable. My role as director in this case isn’t necessarily to steer or change the idea, but to extend her vision for it. Yes, the visuals, camera angles, and on set direction would still fall under my purview as director, but only to service what is in her head based on meetings and conversations about the project. Erin felt very comfortable with this process and gave me her full trust to execute her idea. However, she did maintain editing control of the project, which we agreed to if my DP was allowed to grade the final edit.

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She already had the car and location for the main shoot available via family friends JC Picture Cars in Canton, GA. They are a local business providing quality picture cars from the 1910s-1970s for shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO Max’s Lovecraft Country. For this shoot, Erin had picked out a 1952 Plymouth convertible in a light yellow color. We began storyboarding and coming up with our lighting setups and G&E lists. And we settled on a very conservative but versatile setup with a single Skypanel S60, set of Titan’s (it is a music video after all), a 300dII as a backlight, and some 1k’s and Lightbridge reflector kit. This has to cover our neon cyber punk song breaks as well as our more realistic and grounded process setup for the verse’s and chorus’s.

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Our crew consisted of (Far Left) 1st AC Nick Hattings, (Left Middle) Director Kevin Keegan, (Right Middle) DP James Persinger, (Far Right) Key Grip Trevor Williams, and taking this photo, Grip, Bill Manning. We were also assisted by Erin herself, providing all costuming, her brother Ian Notarthomas H/MUA, and husband Sam Burchfield helping with playback.

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Our second setup was a more straight forward Titan tube setup with a DIY led cross made from IKEA strip lighting.

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Erin was initially opposed to this second setup, but once she saw the look of the lighting, the cross, she was sold and couldn’t believe she had ever pushed back.

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As with all setups, we ran through various parts of the song or the song in its entirety many times to get all the angles, moments, and narrative transitions covered. This took time but we were able to get it all in 1 day and a half of shooting.

Thank you to all the crew, angels, JC Picture Cars, PC&E, Cinder Atlanta, and of course Pip The Pansy for letting us making this amazing project with you!


Bent’s Woodworking

I was referred to Jason Bent by a mutual friend, also from the woodworking community. We exchanged messages over Instagram, complementing each others’ work. After a few months, Jason emailed me wanting to pursue the production of a trailer for his ever-growing YouTube channel, Bent’s Woodworking. At the time of this writing, he has just shy of 70k subscribers and is posting twice weekly.

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Studio C-41

When a niché is more than an niché. This is the progress I’ve seen within one of my friends and industry peers, Bill Manning, as he’s delved into the rebirth of film photography. Bill runs a podcast along side his colleague, Steven Wallace, called Studio C-41 that focuses on film still photography and industry news. With a wide range of topics encompassing film as well as interviews with some prominent figures and companies in the film industry, he’s making a name for himself. In that same light, Bill came to me to discuss the possibilities of adding video to Studio C-41’s swath in social media. Ideas have swirled, but the other day, Black Friday no less, instead of shopping we decided to #optoutside and go shoot something, anything! We met up in Ballground, Ga, and on the way, called me and discussed shooting some kind of intro for either the video version of the podcast or something for his recently launched VLOG.

His idea was simple, shoot a sequence highlighting the activity he usually takes part in when shooting a VLOG, i.e. driving to a location, load some of that sweet Kodak film into one of his fantastic and in some cases antique cameras and snap some photos. With that premise I then looked at ways to add some style either in what how it was shot, what I focused on in the composition, or what I would do with it in post in regard to editing and music. The first thing that popped into both of our head’s was his hat. Bill likes to wear a fedora when he’s on camera and it’s kind of become a signature of his. So I knew I wanted some action to happen around that, but I also wanted to keep his face relatively hidden. I kind of thought with the podcast you often only hear his voice, but I also wanted to add some mystery to make this simple sequence slightly more interesting. So I shot around that premise, over-the-shoulders, hands, details, motivated camera moves, all leading up to the big reveal of this amazing dilapidated house we had scouted at nearby Gold and Grass Farms.

I shot the sequence with my usual arsenal, C100mkii with Rokinon primes, SL1 on my Ronin-S, and a few key shots on my Phantom 4 Pro. We had limited time in what would have been golden hour from 4p-5:30p, but inclement weather was inbound. We talked through the shots and then started shooting. Drone shots first to get the hard stuff out of the way given the turn around time for the vehicle and also infrequent breaks in the strong wind that day. Then I moved to C100 for the opening shot in the car and the handheld shots while Bill loaded film. Then while it was sprinkling, the gimbal shot of Bill walking to the gate was the last shot. Here’s the final product, after editing and finding some music that matched the pace and also had a nice reprieve for the big reveal, it all came together nicely. I added in some light leaks as an homage to film, as well.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrtJrIggXLg