Over the past couple of months I’ve had the great honor of prepping to shoot a short film for director Eric D. Howell and producer Jillian Nodland, titled “Strangers”. This past week we completed principal photography north of Silver Bay, MN at a lovely home on the lake. We were extremely lucky with the weather as our exterior day had a high in the 30′s. Just days before that, the daytime high was 50 degrees cooler, at a soul crushing -20F.

I had a blast and have nothing but pride in the project we put together and the footage we walked away with. My departments had their work cut out for them but we came away victorious. Key Grip and Dolly Grip Peter Clemence did some amazing problem solving during prep and enabled us to shoot a particularly difficult scene in a frozen cove, hauling steel decks and a camera crane down a 3 story flight of snowy stairs (with the help of our 2nd Unit DP Craig Peterschmidt and G&E heavies Jeff Fischer and Chad Foehringer). Pete also aided in every camera move in the show and helped us achieve a natural “barley lit” daytime look. This look would not have been possible without the efforts of our Gaffer Matt Muegge and his best boy Michael Winn who kept things moving and always had solutions at arms reach. As the enormity of our task became more apparent, we added a few more sets of hands, Nick Hillyard, Brad Lokkesmoe and the indomitable Erik Thomsen. Matt led the troops through a number of complex lighting setups including a climactic night exterior (top lit by a pair of 6k Spacelights wrapped in a 12x Half Blue Gel-Fab Lite-Grid for a more “moonlit” look).

Camera department was amazing, fluctuating between a two camera show and a single camera show with a second unit off gathering what we could of the landscape. We shot on RED Epics outfitted with Kowa Anamorphic lenses and a couple of spherical lenses to round out our choices. 2nd Unit DP Craig Peterschmidt gathered many pieces and slices of the area both on the Epic and on a small mirrorless Sony NEX mounted to his CineCopter. Craig was also our B-Camera operator and Steadicam Operator. He was assisted by AC Chris Hadland. Steve Speers was the A-Camera First AC and did a seamless job of keeping the gear running, and everything in focus, his experience and expertise was immeasurable and no doubt a major factor in the success of the photography of Strangers… it was an honor to have him aboard. Ryan Johnson jumped in as a Second AC when he could, but mostly was chained to his cart keeping our 5k 3:1 Anamorphic data pipeline clear and backed up in triplicate.

I can’t go into too much detail but want to say how excited and proud I am of everyones work on this project. Eric (Howell) did such a great job of pre-visualizing and prepping the project it made it easy for departments to be in synch. The cast (Marta Milans and James Denton) did a great job and were so much fun to photograph. First AD Tony B. was the kind of gentle warrior you would follow onto any field of battle and know you were in good hands and was assisted by the always lovely slick Rick Hankes. Production Designer David Weiberg did a wonderful job of solving a few challenges at the location that the audience will never know about, wardrobe looked amazing thanks to Beez McKeever and every face looked perfect thanks to Mary Flaa. Stunt Coordinator Todd Warren kept us all safe and chipped in with G&E in a BIG way, he was a serious life saver in more ways than one. It was a joy to work with Beth Smith as Script Supervisor (our first narrative collaboration, and hopefully not the last). Tammy Hollingsworth kept our bellies full of warm food to keep us working all day and night. Jessica and Ryan at the location made it the easiest high end property I’ve ever shot in. Jeff and Lion in sound kept stride with our aggressive pace and the production department kept the wheels turning. Erin Acker UPMing up a storm in the office while PA’s Alyssa Yule, Alexa De La Cruz, Alex Leone and Shelby Dillon were led by Key Set PA TK Tom Kristjanson. It takes an army to make a film and we had an awesome one.

Shout outs to our vendors for arming us for battle: Cinequipt, Picture Factory, Cinemechanics and Tasty Lighting.

The most amazing location I’ve ever shot in was provided by two of the most amazing folks I’ve ever met, Mark and Jim and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Some snapshots from the set:

Craig Peterschmidt readies his system with aid of Jeff Fischer.

Craig Peterschmidt readies his system with aid of Jeff Fischer.

Eric (bottom left with red cap) looks up and wonders why I'm not ready to shoot.

Eric (bottom left with red cap) looks up and wonders why I’m not ready to shoot.

A cold day in hell. Marta gets ready to plunge into frozen Lake Superior.

A cold day in hell. Marta gets ready to plunge into frozen Lake Superior.

Key Grip Peter Clemence checks on the weather.

Key Grip Peter Clemence checks on the weather.

Observing the rehearsal. Gaffer Matt Muegee looks on.

Observing the rehearsal. Gaffer Matt Muegee looks on.

Rehearsing a scene. James Denton on the left and Marta Milans on the right.

Rehearsing a scene. James Denton on the left and Marta Milans on the right.

Steve Speers showing me how it's done.

Steve Speers showing me how it’s done.


Some frame grabs from the raw footage:

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What an experience.

I can’t wait to see what comes of the project and look forward to the next stages at Splice Here in Minneapolis.


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Lake Superior – June 2013

I took a small 1,500 Mile (round trip) road trip up to the northern shore of Lake Superior in Ontario with my buddy Brady. Here are some pictures.

The Park where we camped for two nights is pinned on this map.
Neys Provincial Park

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Plants vs. Zombies 2

ImageThis past March I was lucky enough to be asked to shoot the background plates of the official trailer for Plants vs Zombies 2.

PvZ is a popular mobile game (for those who don’t know about it) where you play as a gardener of sorts who has the ability to fight off the zombie hordes with various plants you’ve cultivated (each with their own special skill or power). 

Wolf and Crow acted as production company, and their in house animation team Matt Berenty & David Bokser were the directors of the spot. (and are total creative geniuses as you will see in the trailer). 

The level of pre-vis on this project was amazing. The spot had already been timed out and rough animated before I even arrived in LA. This meant we could figure out the exact camera moves to do on set, and how long the meat of each shot needed to cover, down to the frame. 

We shot on Alexa with Marc Wircioch as 1st AC and Andrew Cho as 2nd. This job presented some challenges for camera dept. and Marc handled them with ease… For example, we needed to be able to always know where our nodal point was at various focal lengths of our Cabrio zoom as well as our 14mm Ultra Prime. We also needed to take copious notes to better help the post team when they were trying to discern how the camera was moving in space relative to where we knew hero animated elements would end up. 

ImageEnjoying some righteous iced coffee, post lunch, with Andrew (left) and Marc (right) 

Wolf and Crow utilized a robotic wide angle camera to photograph 360 degrees of HDR lighting information in every lighting setup so that the animators would have a very detailed road map of the lighting that was created on set. 

Michael Handley (who road tripped out to LA for the shoot with Joe Gallup) gaffed and Cynthia Bystrak was our Key Grip. 


It was an honor to be a part of such a fun project and I really enjoyed the collaboration!

Here is a nice link to the final trailer (good quality version of the clip and credits):

And here is the YouTube link:





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This past holiday season I had the great pleasure of going to celebrate Christmas with my parents and my sister on Oahu. My sister, Siri, moved back to Oahu this past year and so it made sense. I spent New Years on Kauai with my good friend Aaron. Then flew to the Big Island for a few days with my parents and sister at a vacation rental there. It was a blast. Here is a gallery of photos from that trip and a video I threw together for giggles. Cheers!

Flickr Gallery Here!

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Summer 2012

Forgive me for I have sinned… It has been 4 months since my last blog post… 


That’s because I’ve been busy as heck! In June I began shooting a TV series for Committee Films titled America Unearthed. The program will premiere sometime in Decemeber (I believe…) on H2, History Channel’s second service. It stars Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist as he uncovers clues and artifacts that point to pre-columbian contact with the new world. We will wrap photography on this program sometime in December or January. 


Here are three highlights for me from the past few months. 

I had the pleasure of collaborating with my friend Kerry Riley of Needle and Black, shooting some photos for her new designs:


Thanks on the photos to Crist Ballast and Deanna Johnson for their makeup artistry and Saumer Kinsey and Dean Brewington of Mezzanine Salon for their hair engineering. Ben Hipley assisted me and Phil and Dave at the Schmidt Brewery in Saint Paul provided the location. 

I photographed a spot for Park Nicollet with director Josh Thacker and producer Jodi Nelson:

We shot on Cinemechanic’s RED EPIC, at 5k. Assisted by Steve Speers himself. Gaffed by Chris Hultgren and Key Gripped by the indominable Peter Clemence. 

And a music video I shot and directed (and edited, guh!) for Doomtree was released on MTV. 

This video was made possible by donations of time, labor and equipment by too many people to name. Produced by Sergio Rapu and Carrie Bush, Production Design by Mark Wojahn, Wardrobe by Cerah Tymoshuk and Makeup by Crist… there are really WAY too many folks to list here… a full credit list will be published at some point. 

Along the way I shot a short film for my dear friend Todd Cobery, titled Eden. An apolapyptic prequil to a post apolcalyptic feature he is developing… And most recently I just wrapped a feature for director Shelli Ainsworth and producer Christine Walker titled Stay Then Go. Stay tuned for more on that! 

Hopefully it won’t be as long between posts next time :)

Cheers for now

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Unless You Speak From the Heart

I had the great pleasure of concepting, directing and photographing a hybrid live performance/music video for producer Dan Huiting (City of Music). The video was for Porcelain Raft’s song “Unless You Speak From the Heart”. The video premiered yesterday on…

We used roughly 30 channels on a dimmer board to light the main close-up which gave us a nearly infinite variety of lighting styles and colors to play with… I wish I could have take the concept even further… some day. I had a blast making this and the crew was amazing. 

Extra shout out to Crist Ballas and his amazing makeup team for helping create the wonderful faces we see, Gaffer Dave Underhill and his team of awesome guys, editor Jason Ho and colorist Josh Allard at Pixel Farm. 


 Some behind the scenes stuff:

Mauro entertains the crew with a rendition of Eye of the Tiger. 





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New York Times selects Stuck Between Stations as a “Critic’s Pick”

This is old news, but I wanted to post something. I wish I had blogged this earlier. Back at the beginning of this month, Stuck Between Stations, a feature that I shot, opened its theatrical run in New York. The New York Times ran a piece about the film. Here it is.…

and the trailer, for those who have not seen it.

The movie will play in Minneapolis starting on December 16th at Saint Anthony Main.

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Ben Krueger from Committee Films steps up with Shock from The Electric Company. Featuring Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street!

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Best Buy Spots – Summer/Fall 2011

Over the last year or so, I have had the great fortune of working with Andy Awes (director) on a number of projects for Best Buy. These are the two most recent spots we shot.

The first commercial was for the X-Box release of Gears of War 3. It was interesting because the entire spot consists of two shots. This was nice as we were allowed to spend a good amount of time lighting the shots and making sure things were just right. I think the spot plays well and am very pleased with how it looks. The lighting crew did a great job (Gaffed by Michael Handley and Key Gripped by Joe Gallup). Terri Gold made art department magic and first AC TJ Schwingle made my life super easy. We shot on Alexa with Ultra Primes. Michael Sandness at Slice Here was our colorist. 

The second spot (“Blue Monster”) also was shot on Alexa (provided again by Cinemechanics). This spot was a 3 day shoot, which is the longest I’ve ever had to put together a 30 second spot. This was necessitated by the number of practical locations and the sheer number of shots. Gaffer Michael Handley did a great job managing a large crew and Key Grip Peter Clemence built a number of impressive rigs with the help of his crew. One of these rigs involved suspending a pipe frame over the audience at the end of the spot that held two 6′ 2 bank Kino-Flos. This was done by attaching lines to 4 points and dodging a power line that ran over our location. He picked points off of the main house, a chimney next door, and two trees.The thing that blows my mind is how hard everyone worked for these shots and we only see them for a moment… if I did my job right, they should stick in your mind. (fingers crossed). 

I wish I had done a better job of documenting the lighting setups on “Blue Monster”, but I am including a sun-path I took to determine what time of day and from what angle to shoot our wide “farm house” exterior.


Here, you can see a couple of shots from behind the scenes of “Gears of War” that show how we lit our subjects.




Exterior of the Best Buy in Eden Prairie. We used the Extreme Crane from Picture Factory and a 12k and a pair of 4k’s in an arial lift to give the impression of sunshine, our cloudy day was later replaced with blue skies by Splice Here.



The exterior of the abandoned farm house that the “film crew” uses as the backdrop for their zombie movie. We lucked out and got an amazing sky. We lit the side of the house with a 12k bouncing into a 12×20 Ultrabounce and a 2ft single kino faking the light of the laptop on the parents and brother looking on in the right part of the frame. 



Master of the makeup arts Crist Ballas poses with his zombie. Crist expressed that this is his interpretation of what a young makeup artist would do to create a zombie, not his own interpretation of what a zombie could look like. Either way, I think it looks fantastic. 



Producer Dan Orozco and Director Andy Awes in front of the makeup trailer and 20k. Except for the grey skies, jackets and interstate 494 sign, this could almost pass for a Culver City backlot. 



Andy leans on the dolly to watch a monitor while shooting the in-store portion of “Gears of War”



Andy sits with Chris Barry, Creative Director of Best Buy, at a monitor during the office portion of the shoot for Gears of War. The offices were at Best Buy HQ in Richfield MN, where Andy was born and raised. 



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Art Brut


Last year I shot a documentary with director Juan Antonio del Rosario. The subject was boxing. Going into the project, I didn’t have much appreciation for the sport… but through the process of making it, I came to appreciate and respect it. I think this film is great and I am fortunate to have been asked to work on it. The fights were photographed by multiple cameras and all the operators did a great job. Thanks to Eli Ljung, Bill Prouty, Matt Joyer and Andre Durand. Also thanks to Darin Spring for hooking some lighting gear for us to use to shoot our boxers in the Gym. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I do. 

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