Wow, what a great honor to be this week's Guest Blogger - thanks Scott!
Folks who know me personally know that I've never met a soapbox that I didn't love so I'll try to keep today's musing short and succinct. I'll have a chance to pontificate at length at this year's Photoshop World and encourage all attendees to try to catch both of my information packed seminars.
On Thursday, September 5th I'll be presenting The Ten Commandments of Cinematic Lighting. Although trying to distill thirty years of hard-won Hollywood and high fashion lighting experience down to an hour's worth of easily digestible tips is an almost impossible task, I've taken my best shot at it. This isn't a class for hardware fetishists but rather a philosophical primer on the emotional and practical application of any artificial light source, be it large, small, classic, current, or yet to be revealed. That said, please don't mistake this class's admittedly philosophical bent as code for "More Useless Mumbo-Jumbo" for that would be a huge mistake – attentive attendees will learn from many carefully created examples and take away ten concise and useful tips to consider when creating a dramatic lighting design for either cinema or stills.
And these tips are not a simple distillation of my own extensive experience but rather a finely crafted brew of knowledge gleaned from years of working with The Best of The Best in both the still and motion image-making arenas.
Yep, over the course of my career I have had the honor of not only producing wonderful imagery but also the great pleasure of assigning the creation of such work. As a young man, working as an Art Director for Conde Nast Publishing's Mademoiselle Magazine, I routinely assigned juicy editorial assignments to some of the worlds' best fashion photographers. Can you imagine how much I learned by offering creative challenges and then stepping back to quietly but intently observe each individual artist's approach? It was an amazing time and I gleaned a lot of fresh knowledge with each new experience.
Ditto on the Cinematic side of the street. As time passed, and my interests changed, I segued from the Rag Trade into the more creatively-broad arena of Advertising. I continued to do a bit of Graphic Design and Art Direction - and a lot of Still Photography - but ultimately found my True Love in The Art of Cinematography.
I must be the luckiest guy alive because one thing led to another and I soon found myself working in Hollywood! After induction into the Directors Guild of America, I became a Creative Director at the world's biggest motion picture special effects house (Robert Able & Associates) where I spent many years busily designing, producing, and directing major television advertising campaigns. Big budgets and lots of creative freedom added up to what could only be described as truly awesome times. And, as a Producer and Director, I was once again blessed with the great pleasure of assigning plum jobs to other creative souls - this time to the guys and gals who I think occupy the highest rungs of the lens-based visual arts, the Cinematographers or, as they are also known, the Directors of Photography. Sweet!
Which finally brings me to my second seminar offering at the upcoming Photoshop World conference, Introduction to HD Storytelling, on Friday September 6th from 1:00-2:00pm. This seminar will focus on the exploitation of contemporary hybrid tools for a personal exploration of motion picture storytelling.
Here's how I see it: I think every person has an interesting and compelling story in them – maybe more than one. These stories may big and far-reaching or small and private but at their heart every well-told story is based on effective structure and basic technique. If you own a hybrid camera - one that offers both Still and HD capture - and a computer with an editing program, well heck, you're halfway to your three-picture studio deal with Paramount! That's how it went for Writer/Director/Producer Robert Rodriguez when he created and shared his first short film "El Mariachi"!!
Okay, so you're not really halfway to Hollywood just because you own some gear but you do have a solid foundation on which to build your own personal exploration of motion picture storytelling. And I'm excited to help you along the way with an inspiring hour of entertaining examples and solid advice to get the ball rolling. My personal career with the motion picture camera has taken me to the most exciting places on the planet where I see and capture the most beautiful things. In this seminar I'll also share how that came to be and offer solid advice on how to start your own cinematic show reel.
My advice? Invest two hours hanging out with me, Brucie -The Second Most Interesting Man Alive! Fail to do so and you'll miss out on good solid advice, inspirational imagery, and a well-marked road map to Big Fun ;)
Wait a minute – just two hours?!? I could do days on these topics! Quick, someone tell Scott to get me on the video tutorial program around here!
You can see more of Bruce’s work at BruceDorn.com and iDCPhotoVideo.com, and follow him on Twitter.
Without wanting to take away from the main point: El Mariachi is actually “feature length” (79 minutes in the final release); the intention was “straight to video” but through considerable craft (and cash-short video distributors) it did end up being picked up for mainstream distribution. (Robert Rodriguez had made several short films before that. “Bedhead” is probably the best known, as it won awards at several film festivals.) By way of trivia El Mariachi was actually shot on a borrowed (16mm) camera. That couldn’t do synchronous sound. He made up for it with skillful editing.
Robert’s book about that period (“Rebel without a crew”) is very inspiring. A lot of it is much easier 20 years later with digital video and computer video editing software. For one thing you’re not spending most of your budget on film and developing…
Yep, Ewen, Robert’s story is fascinating. There’s no such thing as an overnight success but with Vimeo, YouTube and others, today’s Independent Filmmakers have so many great ways to get their work seen. Story trumps all but at last the technique of filmmaking has been democratized to the point that anyone willing to put in the work has a legitimate shot at success…
I have a question that may sound stupid (actually it is but I can’t stop myself) I love the glasses in Bruse Dorn (the first one) picture, anyone can help me to find brand/model?
My green spex are from LA Eyeworks a few years ago – Perkins 714 is the labeling inside the temple :)
Thank you Bruce for finding time to answer to my (kind of stupid) question :-D
your pictures are truly stunning, and you are a nice person, it has been a pleasure to know you and your work.
First seeing the link without my readers I thought it said Bruce DERN. I didn’t know he was a photographer? Now I know better and appreciate the work of BRUCE DORN. Thanks!
I was hoping to see the star of “Silent Running” as well.
One of my faves!! https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/silent-running/id331673287
Hey, Scott —
Could you please get Bruce on the video tutorial program around here? :-)
Wonderful images and great thoughts! Hope we can visit at Photoshop World! Thanks for sharing!