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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Easter Island – June 2011

It’s been a crazy busy summer and I have been neglecting my blog (among other things). This past June I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Easter Island to shoot a piece for Committee Films that will air as a co-production of Nova/National Geographic. The documentary will follow two archeologists, Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo and showcase some of the research they did for their book “The Statues That Walked“.

One of my goals while on Easter Island was to shoot as many timelapse shots as I could. Including night-time timelapses. I had never done these before. I shot them on my Nikon D700 as still-image sequences. Below are some stills from the trip and a sneak-peak at some of the timelapse shots. I really wish I could spend a month on that island just shooting timelapse material and stills. 


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NYC – Tribeca Film Festival with Stuck Between Stations


April was so much fun! I spent a week of it in New York City with some good friends for the premiere of Stuck Between Stations (SBS) at the Tribeca Film Festival. SBS was directed by Brady Kiernan, produced by Spencer Kiernan and Todd Cobery, starring Sam Rosen and Zoe Lister-Jones. Sam Rosen also was a producer and co-writter with screenwriter Nat Bennet. Sam Heyn edited. We partied.

I also got to catch up with my old High School friend Emily Bauer and her Beau, Eamon, and spent some time with my old friend Kelly Mahoney (now 7 months preggers! so stoked!).

This was by FAR the most fun I’ve had in NYC.

The image below is a link to a full gallery on Flickr:

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Earth and Sea, a compilation of shots from Who Really Discovered America…

I am getting ready to cut a new reel, my current reel is over a year old and getting dusty… One of the projects I was pulling shots from was Who Really Discovered America, a documentary I shot for Committee Films last winter/spring… it came out on The History Channel this past summer… My new reel will be (much like the current one) fast paced, so there was not a lot of room for long landscape shots… thus, I cut together this piece as a sort of visual lullaby… it’s nice to see these landscape shots all strung together, it gives a sense of the variety of places we visited and makes all the times we rushed at high speeds to get to a spot to shoot the sunset, worthwhile. Many thanks to Andy Awes, Ben Krueger and Phil Joncas for allowing me to be on this project and for sharing in these moments with me. 


Also, here’s a link to the video on Vimeo, the HD is much nicer here for full screen viewing:

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March 2011


This month, I had the great experience of getting out of the cold for 3 weeks while I bounced around between Florida and Texas.

First, I had a job with Committee Films, shooting Dairy Queen web content for Space 150. ( We were a very small crew, with a big monster truck version of a mini cooper and lots of ice cream to give out. We also gave away 3 Mini Cooper Countryman’s. The talent was really fun to work with and the crew did a great job of adapting to the often chaotic environments. 

Then I had a couple of days off in Tampa, so I got to see my friends Dave Cook and Brora MacFarland, as well as Cleave Frink. Dave was the gaffer on Souvenirs and Brora had done craft service, Cleave was the AD… It was nice to relax and catch up (and get a wicked sunburn).

Next I hopped a plane to Austin TX for SXSW where my good friend Todd Cobery had a short film premiering, “Good Morning Beautiful”, which I had acted as cinematographer on. We were joined by Todd’s wife Andrea, producer Brady Kiernan, actor David Tufford and Shannon Rusten, editor Joe Martin and his wife Nikki and my friend TJ Schwingle (who AC’d for me on the film and is also a cinematographer).

SXSW was a lot of fun. What I didn’t expect was running into as many friends as I did… I got to catch up with Meghan Newell, a friend from High School I had not seen in over 10 years, who as luck would have it was rooming in the San Francisco Embassy with my old Chicago friend and former roommate Ryan Marshall. I also got to see my friend Jose Rios who I was in the trenches with in film school in Chicago, as well as my buddy from my days at Minnesota Public Radio, Michael Wells. The biggest surprise was catching up with Amy Ecklund, a friend from my University of Iowa days… which was amazing! It seemed that someone from almost every period of my life was there. I got to watch some very unique films, see old friends and whoop it up in one of my favorite towns. 

Then I took off, back to Florida. This time to Fort Myers to shoot a pair of spots for the Minnesota Twins. Quan Hoang directed while Julie Kaupa produced. Periscope was the agency and everyone from client, agency to the crew (part MN, part FL) was AMAZING. Dave Cook gaffed, Crist Ballas did some zany things with hair and paint, Greg Wolf was our Key Grip, TJ AC’d, Mikel Cook provided the camera and 2nd AC’d, Brora kept us fat. 

We had very little time to shoot, but we could set up for a few hours each day, so the crew learned the dance moves between setups and when it came time to utilize the short window we had with these world-class athletes, we moved quickly and efficiently. The creative was really hilarious.. I can’t wait to see/post the spots! 

Now I’m back in the cold North, but it’s getting warmer… where there was a 4 foot high snow bank that I had to clamber over to get to my car, there is now earth… progress… always progress. 

Click on the photo below for the full gallery of photos from these adventures (via Flickr). 


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Good Morning Beautiful plays SXSW


Good friend Todd Cobery’s short film premieres at South By Southwest.

The website (with trailer):


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Scream Collector airs!

What a fun job to get to do. We did a trio of spots for Nickelodeon Universe featuring a character called “the Scream Collector”… a scientist who collects screams from people on the rides at the amusement park. Drive Thru produced these spots, directed by Mike Nelesen, produced by Todd Cobery. Ryan Tallant did an amazing job making a back kitchen and conference room at MOA look like a lab. My team consisted of AC and 2nd Operator TJ Schwingle, Gaffer Michael Winn, Key Grip Joe Gallup and swing Darin Spring. Hollar!

PS – The tech scout included riding roller coasters, best tech scout, ever.

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Rapala Trigger X Spot is done!

Here’s a spot I shot for Drive Thru back in the fall. Directed by Timothy Kendall for Rapala. Pocket Hercules was the agency.

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