Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Existential Question" Short Film

I just came off of the first two days of production on the short film called "The Existential Question". The first time director, Ernesto Diaz, did pretty good for being inexperienced. We had a lot of fun and the story is great from what I saw on set. More on that later. Actually the diner scenes took place in Clinton Diner where a scene from Goodfellas was shot as well as a car chase scene from The Sopranos, so it was a very cool location. I'm going to have to come back one day with Pia (my girlfriend).

I was assigned as a grip but shortly after arriving on set on the first day I was quickly promoted to gaffer. I guess the other guy didnt show up. The same thing happened to Emilie Jackson who was the other grip but ended up 1st ACing. Pretty interesting. She kicked ass by the way. We worked along side cinematographer, Marcin Kapron, who was great fun to work with. We shot on the Sony EX-1 with a letus 35 extreme and carl zeiss primes. The shots came out great and Marcin provided his awesome hand-held style to many of the shots. I ended up learning more on different types of diffusion for controlling light. I was also inspired to research more on different types of gels thanks to Marcin.

Other than those major details, shout outs to Jaime Ekkens (2nd AC), Spencer Moore (Boom Op), Emilie Jackson (1st AC), Marcin Kapron (Cinematographer), and all the wonderful crew and amazing actors that I didn't list. I hope to work with these guys again soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today was my second shoot using RED stock. Actually it was a 2 RED camera shoot this time. Cool stuff! I was brought on board by Brendon Cochrane (DIT/RED owner) as a camera intern primarily to gain hands-on experience with the RED camera. This production was perfect for me to learn because it was a talking head style shoot which consisted of only Interviews. The set wasn't so busy so Tony Segreto (Camera Operator) was able to give me the very basics of the RED hardware.

First he took me through how to swap out batteries (RED Brick) and mount them to the camera body as well as the battery charger. What I found interesting is that it doesn't slide onto the camera like a typical Li-Ion battery. Instead it connects to the body with a DC power cable. What I found convenient and safe was that all the RED cables use a hook system. When the cable is plugged into the body or accessory, there are hooks that lock it in. You hear a click and and you know it's secure. If you try to pull it out it wont come out. In order to disconnect the cable you have to pull down the metal sleeve on the connection head in order to disengage the hooks. Once that happens it's safe to pull out the cable.

Soon after I learned how to load and unload the RED hard drive (Digital Magazine) from the camera. It's the same process as ejecting a hard drive from a mac, very easy. Loading is easy as well. Once the Hard drive is connected to the camera, it automatically reads the drive and knows that it's loaded and ready to go. Most of the time the mag will have clips already saved on it so it's best to format the drive and give it a new reel number before the camera is ready to shoot.

I feel great about my new knowledge of the RED and hopefully I'll be able to learn more during the next week or two if Brenden hires me on his next project.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shot on the RED: Gamer

I went to see "Gamer" with Pia (my girlfriend) today.

"Gamer" is a high-concept action thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid. Humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online games: people play people...for keeps. Mind-control technology is widespread, and at the hear
t of the controversial games is its creator, reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). His latest brainchild, the first-person shooter game "Slayers," allows millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death.

Kable (300's Gerard Butler) is the superstar and cult hero of the ultra violent "Slayers." Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle's ruthless technology.

It was definitely a ride. Gamer opened right away with a great hand-held action sequence with awesome editing and motion graphics effects. Ekkehart Pollack (DP) definitely pushed the RED to it's limits during these intense hand-held fire fights. From what I hear, the RED tends to dump footage during high impact and intense hand-held operation. So it seems as if that issue didnt come up during this production. His color and lighting treatments worked so well for the in game sequences with "Slayers" as well as "Society". "Society" is this films version of "The Sims" or "Playstation Home". Unfortunately, I couldn't find too many stills from those scenes. The lighting is very soft and even and all the colors pop. Instead, I'm going to compare the film stills to stills of actual games. I really felt like I was playing a video game when I was watching, haha. Below is at trailer to the film. Be sure to watch it in full HD to get as much quality as possible.


Video Game Stills

So i guess my point is that Ekkehart kicked ass and really made this film feel like a next generation game. You should check out Ekkehart Pollack's website.

He's definitely an up and coming feature DP worth mentioning!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Starving Artist

It's so funny how this Industry works. Most of the time you have to work for free to get paid even if you're experienced. Then because you're working for free so much, you have to find a regular job. But then, when you get the regular job, either they don't hire you because they know how us "starving artist" types are. We're all just passing through to get the next paid job. Or you get the job but you can't get any flexibility to film anymore.

I've been looking for a regular job for a while in order to save up for gear. Mainly a Letus 35 adapter and some Nikons. But, I seem to have terrible luck with finding work. I wonder if it's me or them. I've even been scammed along the way but thank goodness I didn't lose anything but my time. I love to hear the promise of paid work after working a long shoot day but it's getting harder and harder to keep pushing for it.

There's this other world past the film school, free work ads on craigslist realm. There's a realm where everyone is getting paid great money to do what they are so good at and what they love. I feel like I'm breaking grounds but I hope it's not just an illusion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Cinematography Reel

Justin Hawkins Cinematography Reel from Justin Hawkins on Vimeo.

My cinematography reel. This work is mostly from film school and a few outside projects during that time. I'm working on adding some shots from films i've done in 2009. Time to update.

Photos and Stills

Those are some of the images I've shot in either a D-SLR or the films I've shot.

Things are looking up!

This is my very first Blog so this one is going to be long, haha. So the past week has been amazing for me. I was assigned to PA on a music video for J-Martin's "Intentalo". I ended up doing G&E work which was awesome. The music video was shot on the RED ONE.


This was actually my first time around the RED and I was more amazed with it in person than watching clips of it online. The quality blew my mind. More importantly, I met some amazing people on set. Shout outs to Sophia Leang (Producer), Bruce Cole (DP), Brenden Cochrane (1st AC), John Pyatt (Key Gaffer), and Jason Eberhardt (Key Grip). You guys were amazing to work with and I hope to be on your call sheet in the near future. Check out some of their websites:

I learned several new lighting techniques and some lighting equipment. This shoot allowed me to work with HMI's and ballasts which is great knowledge for future shoots. I also learned the in's and outs of being a Dolly Grip which is something that I never had to do before.

Right after the music video wrapped. I lensed and lit a short film on Monday called "Gift Of Life" written and directed by Arjae Franko. He actually DP'd the first half of the film but desperately needed more crew members, so I came in and relieved him so he could focus on directing. The film was shot on the Panasonic HVX200 with a Letus 35mm Extreme adapter and Nikon AI-s primes. We only used a 50mm and a 28mm lens the entire time.

The shoot went from around 3:30pm-3:00am so it was a long day but we all had fun and shared laughs so it wasnt that bad. Although Arjae getting us lost in Brooklyn at 4:00am wasn't as fun, haha.
On the way home we ended up being lost for almost 2 hours before finding our way to the city. I actually didn't get home until around 6:00am. Good Times.