In this episode of the podcast we talk with cinematographer Evan Bourcier about his journey into the world of commercial filmmaking.
Ready to kick into this? Alright man. So, first question I ask everyone is, Who are you? What do you do and how did you get your start?
So, my name is Evan bossier. I am a commercial cinematographer I guess is generally how I identify myself at this point I’m currently based out of Northwestern Connecticut in the United States. I started out as just like a kid who got his hands on a video camera really I guess is the way that I would explain it where I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer and almost went to college for that changed my mind because I didn’t want the debt and so I ended up moving and sort of like just doing some other part time jobs and really just like fell into video like started doing it for fun with friends first thing or like sketch comedy and anything and I was on camera rather than behind the camera but I ended up editing now on like a trial of Final Cut and that guy put up on YouTube and so that led to me like getting a camera for Christmas and just sort of starting to wade into this world of photo and video and just sort of sort of followed that road from there to where I am now you know I guess I don’t know how much how deep you want me to get and all that but it really just started from I didn’t really have a dream to be a filmmaker anything I I never like I feel like I was always interested in filmmaking like I remember being younger and like watching all the behind the scenes on the extended editions of Lord of the Rings movies cuz I thought that was just really interesting but I was never like
you doubting yourself my my BTS experiences probably couple of decades before that
totally I mean and that’s I’m I’ll be really upfront I was actually it’s funny I don’t know how the timing of it worked out but I ended up on another podcast as we were talking about that where I was like, I feel like a lot of sort of the people who I’ve experienced is like peers they’re like first camera experiences always like oh I remember my like DB x or whatever else it was like mine was a Canon t three I which totally dates me it was that long. Which is crazy though because it was like I mean I’ve been doing this full time for eight years so it was a little while ago but it’s not like it’s not that long ago in the grand scheme of things.
Yeah, okay, so the so no film school
no film school went straight out of high school I was homeschooled my whole life and got out of high school ended up moving a few hours away to Cape Cod and that’s where I was sort of like simultaneously working just two part time like retail jobs and then had an internship at a church actually it was sort of doing like media stuff there and so that was that was really I guess like the the foundation of me starting to do more like photo and video stuff.
Okay and so the the churches where you cut your teeth in terms of of general media stuff What about cinematography were you so if you didn’t go to film school were you like a wedding shooter that kind of you come up through that Well
yeah, so I mean it’s funny like I wasn’t doing stuff for the church that long like the churches where I was when it started but I never did like a lot of volume there anything like we sort of did like a few pieces a year I guess. But I was sort of just like trying to find places to use this newfound skill set of like I admittedly didn’t really know what I was doing and so I was like but I very quickly decided that I wanted to figure it out and so I sort of quit those two part time jobs was like I’m just gonna figure out the freelance thing you know started doing like engagement photos and senior photos and just like anything people would pay me to do with a camera basically and so it’s like 50 bucks here and there 100 bucks here and there I had no clue how to like run a business or price anything you know, I was just like this is better than the minimum wage I was getting before so I can sort of do the ramen diet and make this work. But just started sort of like consuming as much content as I could and you know, this was sort of like I feel like I was right on the beginning of like the YouTube film education curve where it was like still sort of the Philip bloom and like early Film Riot like there was some information but most of the information was more in the world of like how to build a shoulder rig out of PVC pipes You know, it wasn’t like real like how to be a cinematographer. It was more like DIY filmmaking was really the content out there but still, I like learned a good amount from that was in the first year of me getting my camera. I ended up going to an event called masters in motion in Austin, Texas. That has a lot of cool filmmakers there that was really my first exposure
is that shine hobo or was that
put on by john Connor and Christina I can never pronounce. Yeah. But so they had some really cool people there were like the guys from variable in the commercial space for their Philip bloom was there Vincent Liferay was there you know, Kessler’s there. So it was sort of like, it felt very much like a who’s who of the like, Yeah, like of that crowd but I somehow like wiggled into that crowd pretty well and I think part of that was like being at the time I was like 19 and so like I couldn’t It was like a whole thing getting me into even like the after parties they’d have at the event because of like drinking laws in Texas and stuff and so like john and Christina I feel like sort of like had to chaperone me through the thing and ended up being like a behind the curtain peak a little bit so I mean, I
started growing your mustache so you just you didn’t look like a knight? Yeah.
Yeah, it was just trying to try to pull off being a little older than I was. But yeah, so I mean that was really I feel like I started getting exposed to stuff there and go into nav and just trying to sort of get networked into the industry a little more because like at the time you know, I was living on Cape Cod mass like no film industry there you know and even like Boston there’s a whole lot of film industry there so I didn’t like know anyone else who did this I didn’t have any like people to look up to or work for anything else I was like I’m the only guy I know you know, aside from like a couple of their like wedding film companies. And so I just started trying to figure that out and I was I shot weddings for a while I never did a ton of weddings either though Honestly, I was always like I don’t know I didn’t really do a ton of volume of that I probably did like less than 20 weddings ever in my career over the span of like three years or something I pretty quickly learned that I didn’t really enjoy it that much. And so I was doing like event videos I was doing like recap stuff for summer camps for like high school kids and like that led to an opportunity to go to Haiti with a nonprofit there I ended up going to Haiti three times with them and like doing some documentary work for them and so I was sort of just like following the rabbit trail wherever the door would open you know and so like I went on tour with a band for three weeks and it was sort of just like who can I make stuff for and like if I can get paid great but for the most part I’m just gonna like think whatever money I get back into the thing because I’m like super low overhead You know, I’m 18 1920 whatever it is, don’t have a lot of costs and so I was less worried about making money but I also didn’t have like a lot of resources upfront to put into things so like when I started I had like my teeth dry my nifty 50 and some like crappy Sennheiser shotgun mic and I was like slowly piecing parts together and I remember the first time the first like, quote unquote commercial job I got hired to do was for college and I walked into there and basically like told the marketing lady straight up I was like I don’t really know what I’m doing I’ve been doing this for like six months I had done one wedding the wedding somehow like through the admissions department got me called by this marketing department and I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And she was like that’s okay you’re better than the last guy we hired so what are you charging I was like I don’t know what to charge like and she’s like we’ll just pay you what we paid him and you know, it was like a couple $1,000 check or something which was like again coming from six months ago being in a minimum wage job I was like I can do this a couple times a year and I’m all set you know, but the first thing I did was I went out and I bought a Canon l 35 millimeter lens and that was sort of my big initial investment but I slammed my teeth right so I was just sort of like piecing things together but I never really had the cash to like go in on anything big all at once and I didn’t really want to like take out loans or anything so I was just sort of like slowly building a kit and figuring out where I could get work and it was like weddings and events and music videos and just a little bit of everything all sort of crammed together
okay so do with a camera kind of work
yeah definitely a lot of like a lot of one man band production company type stuff like shooter editor producer had some like doors open early on to like bigger print production worlds and stuff but just had no experience with that and so like the only other real experience I had was like second shooting you know like doing weddings and second shooting for people or other event videos and stuff, college graduations and stuff but that was where like I remember the first time I went to masters motion meeting people I mean like hey, you know, and they were like, I’m from Miami and I’m a dp like what do you do and I was like I make videos I don’t know what a dp is like I you know I didn’t like any of the rest of that because I just had no exposure to it and so that’s sort of started to slowly shift over time where like, initially started with like, as I started getting bigger budgets for like my little one man band stuff. I started trying to hire people. And so as I like, brought in friends that started to develop my network. I like there was a there’s a friend of guy who’s still a good friend of mine. Chris Fenner has a dp from Atlanta. I brought him up for a few jobs. And we sort of did some like personal projects together and then he brought me down. We did some work for like ESPN together that was mostly through his contact, but that’s Sort of is how like, I feel like the doors start opening to me like shooting stuff for other people. And I think I I think I made enough stuff that like looked good more than maybe it was like conceptually super solid that people are like, hey, do you want to like shoot something for us? You know, like those little doors started to open, where I wasn’t really getting called to director produce, but like my reel looked good enough that people were like, oh would be like, I don’t know what they
were saying. He real though. Like, if you remember, before we started I said if you if you if you mentioned it’s all about the work, I’m going to push back. So I’m hearing that and because and here’s the thing, what will happen is someone who’s listening will go, Oh, it’s just about the work. And that’s rubbish. Because the worst got to be good. But to find you just posting screengrabs on Instagram and hashtagging it people don’t find you that way. So how are you? How are you basic? How are you stepping up? You said you? You It sounds like you’re really good at getting yourself in a room. That strategy. Yeah, now you’re doing that?
That’s a good question. My, my little Titan tube here just like freaked out on me. So hopefully it stays working. You know, I think I think I’m a good I think I’m a good like, I’m just good at like getting into a room and like playing a room decently well, I guess. And so like, I think some of those opportunities came from like, being at masters in motion and being like face to face with people and you know, just like hanging out and getting drinks. And you know, I it’s hard though for me. A lot of my like getting into a room and like how do you how do you get out there? How do you get your work seen and stuff?
Yeah. So yeah. Tell us about how you get in a room.
Yeah, I mean, so like those early times being a Masters motion stuff like i don’t think i don’t think a lot of work came out of that. Like I wasn’t getting hired by those guys at the end of the day. And so I think it’s it’s easy to see that like, I did well there and like connected well with a lot of important and influential people. But like those people weren’t hiring me. So I think it really came down to more just like, I don’t know, like when I think about those jobs, if I were to really like daisy chain them together, where it’s like, I was sort of like shadowing a photographer early on. And the photographer was like, Hey, you should do wedding videos. And so she like, got me in on this wedding video that they had like a I forget, it was something crazy. It was like a $250 budget, I came in and shot this first wedding video, first wedding video I’d ever done. And this is again, like three, four months after me getting my first camera like I still know nothing. And so that job, got me the meeting at this college, started to do the videos for that college, like led to meetings with other colleges and sports things. We did an athletic project for that college that somehow got out into the world honestly, like it’s crazy. I had a guy send me a board recently that he was sent. And it was for like an NFL spot being shot up in Canada. And they had like shots from my College Athletic spot on the board. And so it’s just weird, like, somehow that thing got out. But a lot of it was like, I think it was just like showing up at various places. And like really having my ears open for opportunities and then being good at like having conversations and capitalizing when those opportunities came up. So then, like one of the church things led to this, like we’d better
Hang on a minute, let me let me just kind of pause for a moment. So you’re flying through this, but let’s give us details as to how that looks like you said about leveraging opportunities. You’re good at that. What does that look like?
Yeah, I mean, I think, I think for me, like a big thing that was valuable, honestly, and it’s one of those things that like, in some ways, it’s hard for me to recommend but for the way it played out, for me it worked is like because I had so little experience. And because I had such little overhead, I could just sort of like figure stuff out. And so whether it was like that $250 wedding video that I just like, sent it all the lens rentals to get some stuff I needed and made it happen. Or, you know, it just some of these opportunities that were like people who did not have the resources or maybe they even had the resources but like the video didn’t serve a purpose for them that was worth a lot of value. And so but like they had something that I could use, whether that was like you’ve got a camp that is going to be like visually interesting. You’ve got high school kids on like snowmobiles, and playing dodgeball, or whatever. Like that’s a cool looking thing that I can film or you have this like medical trip to Haiti that goes to these like remote parts of Haiti. And so maybe you don’t have like a budget for that. But like that’s another thing that is just an experience and a compelling piece hopefully. And so like capitalizing on the various opportunities like an early project that me and my buddy Chris did was for this like watch consignment company and they were doing this like curated collection of watches that was a partnership with like the Lamborghini dealership in Atlanta and so we were just like fancy watches fancy car cars um you know they if I remember correctly and I might be misremembering this but I want to say that like they threw a budget out which was like okay, but not great. But then my buddy Chris was like will basically like give you a discount if you’ll just like keep your hands out of it and let us sort of do what we want to do with it and so that was one of those things where like, I was making stuff that was good for what it was like in hindsight it’s not like work I’m super proud of but it was good for what it was and for the resources and people and whatever else and part of that was just like leveraging a lot of creative control due to people like not having resources and so I was taking jobs that like if I were to try and do that now I like couldn’t pay my mortgage and do that but like for where I was at it was an opportunity to like yeah, I’ll go to Haiti for two weeks for the five D for no literally no money like I didn’t get paid to go to Haiti they just like covered my flights or whatever. Like
if it’s here’s the thing I think that strategy is great. And and when it works it’s fantastic. So the Charpentier when I interviewed him he dp the like 100 years like a spot Do you remember that spot? Yeah, so fantastics but they shot that that was hidden get paid for that they paid his expenses but there was no no money in that and that’s on the interview I did with him. He divulged that information so I’m not you know I’m not sharing anything I shouldn’t be sharing what that spot did was it allowed him to get more work so but people still have to know about the work like any in his case because he’s got an agent things are a little bit different but yeah, so I’m still interested to hear how you said you’re good at a room you’re good at leveraging opportunities but how do you even get opportunities there’s there’s guys and girls out there now who are thinking that Oh great, I can see how I can you know, half the budget in order to get to creative control there’s another way of doing it that’s back making them understand that if you have creative control, they’ll do better from a business perspective. But that’s right another story for another time that’s another story at another time
probably more of how I do it now but at the time you know having the confidence to do that. Yeah,
me too so but how do you even get the opportunities? Are you emailing people are you calling people what kind of conversations do you have? Yeah, that actually look
like I’m honestly probably a bad person ask that question because I don’t know that I’ve ever been like good at doing that intentionally like even so there was a period probably about two years ago now where I really tried to make another play at like being a production company again, sort of and focusing more on like local direct client work partnered with a friend of mine and honestly it didn’t go well and at the end of the day, it was part of where I was like I’m just gonna focus on being a dp like I’m better at that but a big part of that was that like you know, this producer buddy of mine basically was like so like how are you like getting clients I was like, just wait for them to show up basically like there’s never been a lot of like overly proactive networking on my end I guess on the like client side and that’s why it’s weird because like, the thing that would be easy to say but I think in hindsight like the more I think about it, it would be bad to conflate is like I did a really good job networking within the film industry of like I ended up building a really good social media presence you know, I ended up doing well I started this Facebook group that got really big for filmmakers. I had a podcast that had a pretty good listenership I had a YouTube channel, I had a lot of these things going but like that stuff really wasn’t turning into work like if I really tried to look at like the jobs I’ve done over the last three years and like connect any of them to that stuff. It’s really really limited because at the end of the day, like the college’s weren’t listening to my podcast or you know, whatever else like there might be a few directors who called me for dp work who may be like initially heard of me through something like that, but it’s pretty hard to trace back but I think most of like, especially if we’re talking about like, starting out more so than like now, I think a lot of it was just sort of like, it wasn’t systematic, so much as it was like, a real willingness to pivot and like try different things. I never let myself get comfortable anywhere like I never systemized anything and so that was where like, I never had like, here’s my like wedding video like onboarding process or anything. It was really just like, I just started like fish around for these things and see what showed up and then like if something came I’d like to sort of try to land that fish to the best of my ability and then if it worked great and if it didn’t work i’d just like try and find something else and so like It Wasn’t I I do sort of feel like I just sort of lucked out because there I’m sure there are a lot of people who like are very systematic about these things and have a really hard time with it but for whatever reason i think that you know some of its right place right time some of it is I don’t know you know, just like the way the pieces fell as far as like the people who are connected to other people and I think part of it too honestly is like I think the like interpersonal skills of it are a big thing. Just as far as like you I don’t think it’s just the work I don’t even think it’s predominantly the work I think that like referrals are like 20 to 30% of work and like 70 to 80% how the other person feels doing work with you. And like if the client really feels like we’re really getting value out of this this guy takes care of us he like communicates well with us he’s a good guy to work with and doesn’t he’s not like a diva I’ve never really been a diva on any level like that’s something that I probably sound of course I would say that but like when I work a lot of different gaffers and ACS and stuff there’s a you’re like awfully chill like a lot of people are really particular about stuff and I tend to not be overly particular and I think those things excuse me lead to a position where like opportunities arise just out of that like the works good you’re good excuse me good human being and then like as doors start to open stuff just comes in and that’s where it’s like it’s it is a little bit like I know it’s probably not the answer anyone wants to hear but for me that was sort of how it played out where even like I did a job for I was doing the jobs for this one college and then at one point I got an email from this other college that was like hey, we’re putting out a bid for work for like our next year whatever. We saw your athletic stuff and we’d really like you to quote on this and so I like senses like I didn’t really know what I was doing again like because I
have so sorry I want to stop you again he’s the reason why you’re telling us that it’s not about strategy yet the stories that I’m hearing you say yeah, to me says that there has to be like people aren’t just falling over your work a college doesn’t just ring you a separate College of the work that you’ve done they were hunting around to find who shot that because they wouldn’t even they wouldn’t know where to go right so at some point someone has they may have said who who was the someone is asked who shot that. So yeah, that person has recommended you and you’d but you did say that it’s a it’s effectively a business about relationships which I absolutely get and the more transactional that you are in life the worst off your life is going to be the more that you’re about building relationships the better your life is going to be. It seems to me that and you may not even be aware of the fact that this is what you’re doing like you said there’s no processes, there’s no strategies I reckon if we dug deep enough and I’m happy to do that, that you’ll actually start to see okay, that’s why I do this and I’m sure there’s also intentionality with what you do because you mentioned about building up podcast, Facebook group, YouTube channel etc there’s you’re being intentional with what you’re doing. Your website is curated your feeds are curated, there’s intentionality there as well. So while you might not be the strategies may not be you know internet marketing type of strategies this still have to be strategies there so I wonder I wonder how you go about building those relationships.
Yeah, and I mean, I guess maybe the clarify like i think i think i was very intentional on like a moment by moment basis, but I didn’t I never had like a projected strategy because I never really had a projected goal honestly like and that comes back to the whole like I never like wanted to be a filmmaker and didn’t know how it worked and so it’s just sort of like people will pay me to take senior photos people pay me more to take wedding videos of you will pay me more to make college videos and so I was just sort of like waiting like pulling on a string and waiting for it to run out i guess is the way I would describe it like I don’t know where this goes like I don’t I go to masters motion and I like see these DPS with like lighting rigs and Amir and Alexa and I’m like I have no context for that. So that’s probably like, way out there if it’s anywhere, but I’m just going to sort of keep chasing the thing here and I think there was a lot of intentionality in like, I’m going to make the best thing I can every time regardless Listen if the client cares if the budget justifies it or anything else, and so like that’s something where like, honestly, my understanding of that college interaction is I don’t think there was any actual referral I think like, it literally somehow ended up on someone’s Facebook feed and my logo was on the end of it. And so they like looked up my website and an emailed me. Like, it was just sort of like, and again, like I know this, so that’s marketing. Yeah, so that was I like that’s the thing I used to do. I honestly don’t do that anymore. Like, I don’t brand direct to clients stuff, because I think it’s sort of cheaper way. But I used to do that. So that was the thing that was happening. But like, there is a part of it, too, that’s like for what it was, that piece was ridiculous. Like looking back on it now. Like it wasn’t just like, Oh, it’s good for what it is, it was good enough to make an NFL commercial board as like a $2,000. And so like, there were a few projects like that, that were just, I think such big splashes and little ponds that they really did make a big mark that like, I totally agree with you that like you have to be good. And I don’t want to like pat myself on the back in any way because at the end of the day, like at the level I’m performing at now I think that like I’m in a world that I’m surrounded by tons of really talented people but for where I was then I was really just like smashing certain stuff that was like there there was no one outside of these sort of really big Boston production companies that were all six figure jobs that no one could touch who could do anything like what I was presenting for people and so that very quickly I think word just got around from these pieces sort of going out and hitting Facebook and YouTube whatever else that was like how the heck did you get that for that kind of money and it was also I mean and this is still I think something that is maybe hard to contextualize is I do think it’s very different now or like it’s much harder to stand out now than it was there like YouTube videos now look ridiculously good. But like eight years ago, like just the fact that like there was big sensor stuff was impressive to people. And so like if you could do big sensor stuff that looked and sounded good like that was really right on that edge. And so I think that was part of the timing of it that just really made it stand out. But I do think there’s a lot of intentionality to like, make really good pieces pursue opportunities whenever I saw them like I had a friend who was just this like college student I was staying over at his house before a job for some reason like that is a part of his dorm on campus. And he was really in the longboarding and he was showing me that like this longboard company did these really cool YouTube videos. And so, like longboard skateboarding, not surfing but um we ended up like just going outside and like taking some pictures of him with his equipment or whatever, and I emailed them to the longboard company so I was just like Okay,
there we go. There we go. We finally got there there is strategy there is strategy evolved.
Yeah, and so but I didn’t I honestly didn’t expect anything of it. But But
you’re emailing for a reason. It’s like I saw these guys shooting really cool videos. Here’s a business that needs really cool videos. I can this I’ve just met a guy with a longboard he probably looks really cool. Let’s go outside take some pics and I’m gonna send an email to these Dude, why? Because I want it I want business. I want to shoot these kinds of videos. Yeah, that’s fucking strategy man. That’s the right many beginning middle and end. It’s strategy. So yeah, so what happened next? Did you get the job?
So they emailed me back and they’re like, Hey, we really like this work. We actually have one of our writers who sort of like lives in that area would you be interested in doing photos with them? So I did some photos, but it wasn’t like, excuse me it was sort of one of those typical like, we have a really big audience and so we don’t spend a lot of money on things because we can just like talk people into doing it and so I forget I want to say that I probably got paid like 200 300 bucks to take some photos of this pro rider guy. But he was really cool and we hit it off and so I was like hey do you want to do like a video thing. And so we ended up getting together. I rented an Fs 700 just sort of like out of pocket because I really wanted to do some like slow mo stuff and we just shot this video with him in a day that was sort of like my my representation of like what this brand had been doing. sent it off to them. I get an email back from the guy who like owns the company he’s like this is really cool. We want to put it out whatever they put it up on YouTube, I want to say got like 50,000 hits the first day or something which was different seven years ago and it is now on YouTube but it was it was a good thing for them. But it never really went past that honestly where it was sort of like they were like we can give you like 800 bucks for this video or something. And I was like, that’s Cool like it, I’ll recoup my rental costs, but like, I’m not gonna do it again, because it’s not worth doing again. But I think that was another thing where like, then I had that sort of, I had that notch in my belt, where then going forward again, like, and I think that was part of the strategy, the strategy was not so much like, I’m going to cold call, or whatever else, but I’m gonna, like, have the most impressive like shrunken head collection I can possibly have. So that like, when I get in a room with someone, and I like pop out my website, or my Vimeo, I want that person to go like, oh, wow, like, this is legit, you know. And so I think that was, that was part of the strategy was because I didn’t really know much about how to actually market myself. But I knew that like, if I could get in a room with someone who had something that I wanted to make something about whether they’re a musician, or an athlete, or a company or whatever else, and I could sell them on, like, look at all the cool things I’ve done with other people that I can come up with something with them, and I could like make something happen out of it. And so that was sort of the like, I’m going to have the best pile of finished projects, not just reels. And then you know, I am going to just sort of like, always be a shark in the water. And when I see this longboard company, I’m going to drop an email, if I’m like, out at dinner, and someone knows someone, I’m going to sort of see what I can get out of it. And a lot of that stuff turned up dry. But some of it sort of slowly started turning into bigger opportunities. And you know, some of it I think, too, was a willingness to like work with other people. I think that’s another thing that I tell people a lot is like, I you know, I like second shot, basically like sort of be cam second unit shots and stuff from my buddy Chris for like ESPN and some of these other pieces. And like that led to me getting a certain amount of callbacks from those producers when like he wasn’t available or whatever else. But it was sort of a willingness to like, show up and shoot and not be in charge. And to learn from someone else. I think that was a big thing, just like watching someone else work. But then like I’ve seen that happen throughout my career where even like, probably a year and a half ago, I got called and got an opportunity to like be cam on an apple commercial, which was a really cool thing for me. But it was a really cool opportunity as well to just like, it was a really low stress day at the end of the day, like because I’m really comfortable operating. But to just like watch someone else work. And then just to sort of like, again, be there have the work, be good, be a good person be good to work with. So that now like I’m actually on set with a dp, a producer, a director, whoever else. And like, sometimes I’ve seen that those seeds get planted, and it takes like, four years for something to ever come out of it. But just to like, be in the room be good at what you do. Don’t be like, be humble, work hard. And you know, and yeah, and provide as much value as possible. And don’t try to steal the show and make it all about yourself either. Because I’ve seen people shoot themselves in the foot where like, you know, I very quickly I feel like learned the value of keep my mouth shut, you know. And that was something that sort of, I’ve tried to stick to pretty hard where like, if I’m hired by someone, I’m not going to tell you anything about anything else that I do you know, and I’ve been put in a few situations like that. They’re like, Hey, you know, do you what do you do? And like some people jump on the like, Oh, actually, I run my own production company. And I’m just here doing this right now. And it’s like, that’s never a good look. And that’s never a good way to get called back or to get referred
to get hold back. No way. If the project that producer he’s that old, the owner of the production company, he’s that you taught us like, no way.
Yeah. And so like I I’ve only had one situation where someone was like really pushing. And I was at a job and I was deeping. And it was me and my buddy who ended up producing sort of when we were doing the production company thing together. And the like, our client wasn’t there yet, like Director Producer from a production company we got there. I think he got second draft or something. And so they’re like client contact. First is like so do you guys, like do this on your own. And I was like, we’re just here working for so and so you know, and like just sort of kept trying to deflect it and I kept pushing. And the funny story was it ended up being the guy who had emailed me years ago about the request for a bid. And we had never connected but he recognized my name as like the guy who emailed way back. And so he knew that I did college, work on my own and whatever. And he was fishing around to see if I could still do it
for cheaper, cheaper production company.
Also he left and went to another college. He was in the process of switching to another school and they were looking for a new vendor. And so it was sort of one of these funny things where he was like we’re looking to pivot things and I told him straight up, I was like, I refuse to be hired by your current college because this other guy works for them. And I’m not gonna, like there’s just no way that’s a good look for me, you know, like, even if even given the circumstances and if I were to explain all of it, like to this other guy who brought me on to dp, if I’m like, doing something direct a client to you in three months, it’s never gonna end well. But if you’re going to another school, and they’re putting out a bid, and like, I’ll do that, I guess, because they’ve never, you know, but anyway, in general, I’m very firm on the like, if I’m hired by someone, I’m just gonna point all things back to that person at the end of the day. Because otherwise props to
you, man, because I think a lot of people would just fold and like sticking you sticking to your guns is, what that’s going to do is it’s really going to help with trust. So yeah, both the client is going to trust you more, because they cuz they’ll see that you’re a man of your word. You’re you’re currently production company will, it’s just it’s a win win win. Every year, all three of you win. But, and again, if we look at it, that’s strategy, because what you’re doing is that you’re playing the long game. And you’ve mentioned a couple of times with where, what part of what your strategy is, is looking for opportunities, being cognizant and aware of what’s going on around you, in order to leverage those opportunities when they arise. Then when you get those opportunities, whether it’s whether it’s icing working for someone else, or doing your own thing, you’ll really hit it out of the park. So that’s about giving value at the same time you’re you’re building relationships because you’re being trustworthy. So what that happens is is is momentum that kind of builds up over the years where you sit there and you go I don’t know you know, there’s no strategy and anything that I did and I’m like bullshit let’s let’s let’s dig let’s dig let’s see what was actually going on. And there’s actually there’s a lot of intentionality and there is a lot of strategy and what you’ve done it’s just I think as artists what we can sometimes do is we can conflate strategy with manipulation or strategy with with marketing and marketing in the in the kind of the evil sense in the in the horrible sense right? But it’s not strategy is is about it’s about being smart about being intentional that’s it that’s what strategy is so
yeah, I definitely agree like I think the long game thing is one thing that I would say like if if I ever had something it was always that like this is never about this thing right now you know and even like I remember very early on when I was sort of making a decision on like whether to go to masters motion he was like, again don’t have a ton of resources like could be putting money into gear whatever. And just the thought was like, if I get one job out of this, it’s gonna be worth it and like if I learn one thing that gets me one job it’s gonna be worth it and
so that thing was expensive too. It was like a grand four day wasn’t it? Yeah, I
mean by the time you like got your hotel and flew down It was like a 20 $500 trip really at the end of
it 20 $500 for one day
it’s a I think it’s a I want to say that it’s like
is it still going I don’t even know if it still go I think there’s still I think they’re still
doing it but I think it’s like a three day thing I want to say it’s like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or something. Okay, so
two and a half two and a half k for three days. Yeah, so it was he said he said it’s worth it even if it gets you one client.
Yeah, because that was like the that was just always the goal is like, you know, because there were those jobs that were you know, early on, you know, the like big budgets were the like $5,000 budgets or whatever, but it was like okay, if I can get like one of those out of this like it’s gonna pay for itself and so it was always sort of like trying to get a snowball rolling I guess the way I would describe it and it was always just like, what are the little drops I can put in what are the little pieces of gear I can buy or rent or whatever else and so I guess that’s really to me, like the strategy where the strategy was just like, creating as much momentum as possible and as much trust as like goodwill and a network and just like because I didn’t know enough to have much more specific of a plan than that as far as like where I want to land or what my margins are anything so it was just sort of like I’m just going to try to get the snowball rolling I’m going to keep putting drops in I’m going to go you know, put some goodwill in the film industry bucket on the like getting hired as crew side. I’m going to go you know, make some good connections on my direct client side. I’m going to sort of work on all these skills and then like as the dust settled, and I started to figure out okay, now what do I really want to do and was like, Okay, I really like dp more. And that’s sort of where my strongest skill set is. And then I started to be a little more intentional about like, how do I figure like, get in front of Directors because directors are the people hiring me and staff. And so like that all started, I think my strategy got more specific over time. But those first few years, it really was just like, let’s make a snowball to play the long game and just sort of generate a general like work capacity that then can be specialized in generated in a specific direction. And so I think that’s another thing for me that like, is a differentiator is since my background is that like, I got called for a job earlier this year deeping a thing down in Mississippi for two or three days. And explicitly, the reason that the production company called me was we don’t have a budget to send a director on site with you. And you are the only dp we trust to like, basically direct the thing on his feet to that, like you have done enough of this that you like, edit in your head and you shot enough, like you’ve done enough of everything, and you’re good enough dp of like, you can just make it all look good, but like, you’re not just someone who’s gonna freak out if they don’t have a shot list and someone holding their hand. And so I think that’s another thing that just like that broad skill set of like, at the end of the day, my focus is being a good dp. But I’ve done all of it enough that like in situations where there are like scrappy travel jobs, I went to Chile earlier this year in Iceland last year to do some projects for this conference, and you know, was really just small crew, like three or four of us traveling around internationally for like seven to 10 days, and just that ability to like, survive without an AC and like, do all this stuff that I honestly take for granted, but not everyone can do. And that’s one of the things that I think separates me for some of the work I do sometimes I like, wish I was more like the guy who can only work with six figure budgets, because that’d be a fun world to live in. But at the end of the day, like I’m thankful for the work that I get, and if if I get a job over someone else, because they’re like, Look, it’s a handheld job, and Evans really good at pulling focus on his own, and this other guy is gonna require another 500 bucks a day for us to get an AC like, I’ll take that job, you know, I would love to, I love when I get bigger opportunities to but I think a big differentiator for me is like the ability to make good things in not optimal circumstances, you know,
yeah, cool. I really liked that answer that to me, that really shows it actually shows that there’s a hell of a lot of strategy in what you do. But it’s always because remember, when we first started, I said, it’s the kind of a nexus between the art and the commerce. Yeah, but it’s that point between the two. So what you’ve what you’ve been able to do is bring those two worlds together. And you may just, it may be just so natural to you that you just thought it was normal. But business people like the the producers, the the owners of the production company is saying, the client needs us to do this work, we don’t have the budget to be able to send a director as well. Let’s hire Evan, because he can do both. They may have had a director in mind who said, Look, I can’t do it, I need my GP. And they’ve gone well, okay, well, sorry, but you can’t get the job. So we’ll get to Evan. So what that means is, is that they trust, which is means that they understand that you understand the business imperative of what you’re doing. Yeah. So and you do that because you as you said, You said you you shoot with, like cutting in your head, old directors, and I would say cinematographers should edit, they should know how to edit so they can do exactly that. Although I don’t want too many guy, mainly direct. So I want to do any of you guys to do that. Because, you know, well,
I’d always rather have a director on set honestly, like if there’s, if there’s one thing that I was to tell everyone listening, it’s like, hey, if you want me to do both, like I’m open to it, but I would always rather have like, I think there’s a there’s a way that everything runs best. And for most jobs, it’s having all the necessary pieces, and there’s a really valuable collaboration there. But I think too, like even even when there is a director on set, like something that I have heard a lot from directors that I’ve worked with is just that like, I like that I don’t have to like hold your hand too much like we can convey the essence of what we’re trying to convey and like maybe what we’re thinking blocking wise and stuff. But like especially a lot of these commercials now that are like easy rig You know, I’m like operating while we’re going and we’re just sort of like flying through stuff with talent. Like we’ll just be banging stuff out and it’s not always like, okay, I want you to get me an insert over here like I sort of can fill the gaps of like, I hear what you’re saying I know what we need like and I’m gonna step into the middle of that and it just makes everything faster and more efficient to the point that like they’re the director is able to really focus on like, what are the really important things and maybe instead of spending time like spelling out every shot in the sequence to me they’re able to spend that time with talent doing something that’s going to like convey more in the final piece. And so like my goal is never to like take away the directors or the the editors job or anyone else it’s to like give them the bandwidth. Do what’s most important and what they’re really good at to the point that then like, I don’t want you waiting on me like that’s another big thing for me is like, don’t want to be waiting on camera don’t want to be waiting on lights any more than necessary. Like, I’m always gonna be a step and a half ahead of you. I had a director make fun of me earlier this year where he was like, You need to stop asking me about the schedule and what we’re doing next, we didn’t have an ad on set. So that’s why he was the guy to be asking, whereas like where we go next. But I was always like leapfrogging our crew on to the next thing. And he was like, I just want you to be right here in this thing. Which is, and again, like, I try to be super present, but it’s just, it’s such a way that I operate. It’s just like, let’s, let’s be on schedule ahead of schedule, let’s be communicating to everyone, let’s be just sort of like moving through everything efficiently. And then when we have something we really have to spend time on, or like a thing comes up that we want to like more like, we’ve bought ourselves bandwidth to do that, because we haven’t like fast about the whole rest of the day. Like, let’s just crush stuff and keep going and keep going. And like for me, like, it’s sort of an aside
for you do that? Why do what why you’re, like the schedule so important to you so that you’re a step ahead. I mean, that’s like, what’s the underlying motivation for that?
I think for me, the real underlying motivation is, you know, I think I sort of started touching on it, but it’s that like, I always feel like in most pieces, there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t necessarily have to do that much for it to accomplish what it needs to accomplish. Like say it’s whatever it’s like a wide shot at some transitional thing and exterior. And so I’m like, let’s leave this as simple as it needs to be sort of like minimum effective dose. And because then there are going to be things that like, have a ton of potential.
Yeah, and performance by stuff. So what I’m hearing, which is fantastic. And not to use the the S word again, but strategy if you think about it, and I like to operate as a director, but I know that whenever possible, I need to hand it over. So I want to hand it over to someone like you because I want to be able to go if we can steal back 15 minutes that we can, we can really hone in on performance, it’s going to make the work so much better. If that 15 minute gets lost to a tiny little backlog or you know, a practical just like something that’s is important yesterday is the performance at the end of the day. And the story at the end of the day is far more important. So if I can, if I can, kind of if you guys can be ahead of me so that I can go off doing this thing. That’s, that’s really cool. So I can see why directors would would would love working with someone that does that. And there’s thinking that we have to move on because we’re almost at an hour and we’ve we haven’t even got to question two dude.
So, um, but I think question two I had to kind of dig to get it and I think I got it.
Yeah. And I think with with question two is really it’s a hard question to answer because it’s like, it’s easy to see a flea on another’s back. It’s hard to see the elephant on your own right? Like we don’t we don’t know what we don’t know. And sometimes we don’t know what we just take for granted we assume other people do it. And sometimes they don’t. We probably answered question two pretty well. So the last couple three, question three and Question four together and that’s just through time. So what are you doing to sustain your career? What do you do on like a daily basis for the future?
is a great question um, I think that’s something that I’ve honestly sort of been re considering right now I’ve been in a little bit of like this tends to be the beginning of slow season for me you know, we hit winter and everything slows down a little bit. And so I have personally like I feel like the last few years but especially this year, I’ve started to be intentional about like really embracing slow season and using it as a good time to like take a break like sort of refill my own personal like creative tank and just like rest tank and because when when things get going it can be really crazy over the busy season just with traveling whatever else. And so like I’m really sort of reassessing like what what should I be doing and so like the the funny thing is that like I took this month off, Instagram entirely, and part of that is part of that just like refueling and not being sucked into the giant like ego suck that is Instagram. And I think Instagram has a lot of like, potential value. I think Instagram is overrated. Personally, I think that there’s a lot I agree. I agree. And again for me like, I don’t want to pat myself on the back but like, I have whatever like 11,000 followers just something I have a podcast that like lots of people have listened to we had some really good guests. I had a YouTube channel I’ve like been recognized in other states that I was shooting in which is really weird to me. Like, I’m not famous, but I’m like, known in the film industry that doesn’t turn into that much work for me like it’s just like, in the same way that I think it’s a misunderstanding of how people actually make those decisions. Like I love Patrick O’Sullivan’s podcast wondering dp podcast is great I find it really has been really helpful for me I’ve never had the thought like I should hire Patrick it’s just not like the way people think about things you know and so like I think Instagram is like cool potentially and like I try to put you know frames out there whatever. But I think that like the more intentional stuff of like my friend Dennis who you know is working with me and we do the production Only thing is really good at this of like, hey, let’s go get coffee let’s go get lunch like I going and like literally like looking up people’s work in different places and like finding people who do good things and like going and physically getting together with them or hopping on a phone call with them. Like I think that’s something that I would like to do more of and I’ve never done enough of you know, going all the way back to my earlier starting out just sort of waiting for the pieces to fall cuz I didn’t know where to go like starting to do a better job of saying okay, like, how can I actually sustain that um, and so like part of that for me too, honestly is like I I generally don’t admit to it publicly but I do like a small amount of like direct to client work on the side still just because it you know, helps pay the bills when other stuff is drying whatever else but it can be extremely profitable to Yeah, you can make a ton of money doing right yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve I’ve done well on the DP thing but I’ve done like a few direct to client projects that are ridiculous, you know, it’s crazy. And so, but that’s like, I still do a little bit of that because it can definitely pad the stats. But so I’ve definitely been a little more aware of even like you know, what are these things I could do that are like recurring easy work, that maybe they’re not like up to the total capacity of my skill set or like the level I could be performing at? Okay, yeah, so I mean, in that director client world, just sort of like being willing to sort of humble myself a little bit I guess might even be the way of putting it of saying like, what are some good easy consistent streams of work I can pick up that aren’t going to get in the way of like the bigger dp projects that I want to do but are going to sort of level a cash flow out in a way that gives me a little more flexibility to like be picky about dp jobs and then I can like really take the ones that I really want and turn down the ones that aren’t going to be that helpful because I
can ask Have you solid those two worlds off so you’ve got your you’ve got your dp website Do you have like a like a kind of director brand agency type of model website
no I maybe I should I sort of
that’s what I tell my students to do that that’s that’s the best thing to do and that way if the agency will look look for your work, but they find the agency and if directors and what have you like it just it by separating those two worlds it makes it much much cleaner so I was just interested to know whether that’s what Yeah,
so I mean there’s they’re definitely separated I separated them back when I shut down sort of our old like production company stuff like two years ago or whatever and I took it all out of all my like social media and everything and so just change everything over to Director of Photography just killed it all and I’ve never really brought it back. I’ve just sort of like done it and so it’s funny because even sometimes people will be like, like I did a thing recently and they were like hey can we like have your logo because we want to like put your logo out to other people and I was I don’t even have like I don’t I don’t have a direct to client brand. You know, I just sort of like really sneakily do it. But it probably would be a good thing to again in this whole consideration of like plans for next year, maybe it’s worth sort of like re revitalizing that and having more of a touchstone for people on that side but I think that’s something that just helps level everything out and even through like the slow season now like the next few weeks I’ve got a few things that are honestly just like easy cut and dry, like show up shoot the thing get done, and they’re not glamorous and they’re not like sexy big agency dp work but like they’ll pay the rent so you know, I and again, in seasons like this too, it’s like I honestly value the opportunity to just like stay home. Enjoy the holiday. Nowadays like go to the gym every day hang out with my dog and my wife more than I care about like how anyone else feels about the projects I’m shooting in December you know so it’s like I’ll just take the easy stuff and July will be crazy and I’ll go you know, I might have a big international trip in the spring and stuff and that’s all well and good but I’ll just sort of ride the ride the quiet wave right now.
Yeah cool cool cool All right, man. So final question is actually I really like how honest you are too so that’s that’s something that the as the conversation to be completely honest, I thought you were going to hide some stuff at the start and one of the reasons why I brought up the winnings was to was to actually say how how honest is this guy gonna be and and that’s what I brought it up because some filmmakers they hide it right and so and you didn’t and you’ve been honest all the way with me, which I’ve really enjoyed because for me I love transparency I love it as a human being I like being transparent I like people who are transparent with me and I think it’s in the business world it’s the it’s the really businesses is a game of relationships. And filmmaking is the same filmmaking is business in some sense. It’s just the business of art. So in that regard, so thank you for being honest. And then I’ll segue into the last question which is all about art what’s tell us something that you watch read or heard that inspired you recently?
Oh, man. We well. Okay, so I have like a quick multi part of that one last thing that I watched I’ve watched two things recently that were both really good last night I watched Toy Story four with my wife and it was actually like way better than I expected it to be it was a To me it was a compelling reminder of like storytelling over anything else and just Pixar does storytelling really good. And we also watched we binge jack Ryan Season Two recently and it’s just a really pretty show you know, it’s a little bit it’s a little bit silly in like the narrative of it all but it’s really beautiful and I just found it really inspiring some of the way that they handle window light and interiors especially it was something that I was like really pulling as like this is a good note because they pull some really like hard window light but it plays really well with just sort of like where they’re letting it fall and not falling stuff. But I actually read a quote today
Okay, can I ask a question about the window light so they’re pushing the pushing a lot of light harsh light through a window but they’re flagging off the talent so that they still have to say that’s easy to do, right? The problem is the balance between where the hard light and the soft like if it’s if there’s if it’s flagged off too much then you can see that that’s obviously not the right space like right that kind of thing What do you know what they’re doing to get that balance
so I think like part of what they’re doing is like they play a lot of shears really well and so they’re like blowing out the window so it’s like it’s hard light but it’s not like direct out of animate team or something like way bigger than that and some of these rooms like really big fixtures but they’re they’re just doing a good job of like they’re playing really sidey a lot of the time like it’s very split down the middle and it’s got a pretty hard edge to it but because you’ve got a fixture far enough away they’re sort of playing this big street through a room and the like inverse square of it is such that the wall behind the talent is unlike the Phil side of towns getting enough kickback that their ratios are just playing really well even in winds and stuff and I think that’s a that’s a big thing like coming back to the me not knowing what I was doing early on I would always get frustrated at is like feeling like ratios are always weird and realizing that like oh in reality the light is always way brighter and way farther away and so you get a lot more natural filled because the bright parts still hitting that wall whereas when you have a light three feet from someone who may be really soft but that wall is not getting anything and it’s not coming back so I don’t know exactly what they’re doing but I just I just really liked the aesthetic of it I guess of the just a sort of very sorry society like contrasts you but not to contrast II look but free on Amazon Prime you guys should go watch
I’m gonna go and have a look for sure because I often see that not often I’ve had jobs where I really like dark and moody and and whenever possible I can I like shooting dark and moody so I do all direct to client these days. Last television commercial I shot was like six years ago. Um, so but I love dark and moody. So trying to get that bell I’ve always found it difficult to get a bed that could just be a lack of talent, honestly. But finding that balance of getting something clean the dock and the good comes from that I’ve always found that difficult so I’m definitely To go and have a look at that, um, yeah,
I’m personally a big fan of like, the way that I look at it is, you can get away with a lot of darkness. If you have a few well placed highlights, and I think that’s a thing that people for me early on and back when I was like doing a lot more YouTube stuff like critiquing people’s work and they would send it in is like the difference between a lot of really high level stuff. And a lot of just really mushy stuff is whether or not you’re playing highlights well, because there’s a tendency to just like, avoid anything that’s exposed up at all. But there’s a lot of like little slivers of highlights you can play that may even be like close to clipping or clipping. But they give you enough definition in this otherwise very mushy world of like, maybe their fill side is really low, that then your eye still has something to differentiate in the frame, and it really pulls you through it. But I think that’s something that like for me, personally, I continue to play with a lot is like, okay, we can play like 90% of this frame purple on the small HD, you know, like false color, but like we need some like yellow and red in here somewhere. And so where are we going to hide those little things? Yeah, I don’t know, there’s sort of my quick rant on that. But I think that I think that’s a big thing. Like if you start looking at really well done, moody stuff on false color, there is a lot of darkness, but there’s some really bright pixels in there, you know, and so whether it’s just like a little rim or whether it’s a reflection or whatever else it is there. They’re finding ways to still create layers and depths and not everything is totally black.
Hmm, yeah. Pass that. Yeah. Cool. Awesome. All right. Well, thank you. Thank you for today, man. Appreciate it. Yeah.
Sorry. It was a little bit of a technical issue between the all that sound trail do a great job editing it
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