Thinking Out Loud – With Dave Esposito

Posted in Filmmaking on September 29th, 2014 by Dave

“Jerk me a hair out of old Jumper’s Tail!”

“Father Soldier” to air on WXXI-PBS

Posted in Filmmaking on September 23rd, 2014 by Dave

Subject of the film of "Father Soldier", a film by Dave Esposito

Subject of the film of “Father Soldier”, a film by Dave Esposito

I just got word that our local PBS Station, WXXI, would like to broadcast my Film “Father Soldier”. No additional details at this point but I’ll keep you posted when I have a date(s)!

The Tip of the Iceberg…

Posted in Documentary, Filmmaking, Video Blog on September 22nd, 2014 by Dave

From Talking Top Playing now available online for free!

Posted in Artist Profile, Documentary, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill on September 19th, 2014 by Dave

I’m pleased to be able to offer my film, “From Talking to Playing” online for free beginning today, September 19th.
The film, which was released in 2013, is a bio of the fabulous New York City pianist and teacher Mira Gill. Mira’s playing is truly electrifying, and she brings to this film, both in words and action, the passion and struggle of a life dedicated to music.

If you feel this film was worthwhile, and would like to support the continuation of similar worthwhile projects by Agricola Media, please donate by using the button below. Or you can purchase From Talking To Playingon DVD for 19.95








“From Talking to Playing” online for free on Friday!

Posted in Artist Profile, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill, Uncategorized on September 16th, 2014 by Dave

I’m pleased to be able to offer my film, “From Talking to Playing” online for free beginning this coming Friday, September 19th.
The film, which was released in 2013, is a bio of the fabulous New York City pianist and teacher Mira Gill. Mira’s playing is truly electrifying, and she brings to this film, both in words and action, the passion and struggle of a life dedicated to music.

Last Film, Next Film…

Posted in Documentary, Filmmaking, Video Blog on September 15th, 2014 by Dave

Please feel free to comment. I, (and I’m sure others), would appreciate hearing your thoughts about how you work on your own films – or other artwork for that matter!

Thanks, Dave Esposito

Announcing a new Video Blog by Dave Esposito

Posted in Documentary, Editing, Filmmaking, Video Blog on September 13th, 2014 by Dave

I’m happy to invite you to my new video blog that will be posted each Monday morning at 9am beginning Monday, September 15th. I’ll discuss a whole range of film making topics from methods and gear to my own thoughts about storytelling. I hope you’ll join me!

Ode to Vintage Lenses and a Gifted Microphone…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8th, 2014 by Dave

I continue to be stunned, amazed and overflowing with gratitude towards Black Magic Designs, the company that makes the diminutive Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera or BMPCC for short. The above two photos were frames I pulled from video I shot of two interviewees for my current production on the theme of Friendship.  If you double click on them and wait a second you’ll see full size ,  1920×1080 stills of remarkable quality. Remember, these are frames from a video clip, not standalone photographs. The quality from the original footage looks even better than what’s onscreen here.

 

ann for blog

 

dave finck for blog

 

Film making, even no-budget film making like I practice, is still an expensive proposition. I have around 5k in camera and computer equipment at this point, but I’ve spent more than that on stuff that I purchased, didn’t like, and re-sold. It’s an evolutionary process finding gear that fits both your needs and aesthetics. I’ve come to conclusion while going cheap can work for some gear, (I’m thinking of inexpensive or DIY lighting cobbled together at Home Depot), one shouldn’t skimp on production quality when it comes to items like audio.

Early on, I used a $30.00 lavaliere mike for my first couple of productions and I regret it. I should have known better having come from a professional background in field production. The mikes worked, but they had a thin sound, were unbalanced, (meaning that they were more susceptible to interference), and were flimsy. Nowadays I rely on a mike gifted to me from a friend Matthew Olshan, a published novelist living in Baltimore. It’s a Rode Video Shotgun Mike. It must have set him back about $200.00. The sound is full, rich, noiseless and delivers VERY high quality audio. This is now my “go-to” mike used in interviews filmed on the BMPCC. My interviews look and sound wonderful. I think they look better because they sound better and they sound better because they look better. I keep this baby in it’s original box and carefully protect it from the vicissitudes of life…I also think of my buddy when I use it.

When I film an interview, (by myself), I set the Rode mike on a boom-stand a couple of feet from my interview subject. I have the mike above and pointing down towards the person’s mouth, just out of the camera’s frame. The mike is placed so that it’s 12 – 15 inches at the most from my subject.  It feeds a Digital Audio Recorder, (I use a Zoom H1), which ran about $100.00. I set audio levels on the Zoom with my subject talking normally, and monitor with headphones for a few moments. Then I hit “record”. I don’t turn off the recorder until the end of the interview. This setup works wonderfully for me. I no longer have to worry about clothing rubbing on lavalieres. I get excellent audio each and every time. Later on in post production I use software to synchronize the Zoom’s audio with the audio recorded by the camera. Works beautifully.

One area where I have been able to economize has been in lenses for my BMPCC. I buy what are called “vintage” lenses. These are lenses made for 35mm single lens reflex cameras from the 1970’s. I have a 50mm Canon FD and a 70-200mm Vivitar Series 1 zoom purchased on Ebay. I have a hundred dollars total tied up in these two amazing lenses. A couple of 10.00 adapters and they mount up nicely to the BMPCC.

It would be easy to spend between $500.00 and a $1000,00 per modern lens but they are not affordable to me. And frankly, I like the old school feel these lenses have – I have a connection to them from my early days as a photographer. The lenses have to be focused manually, and the lens opening, (f-stops), are also manually adjusted. But since I don’t trust auto-focus, and I like setting the exposure myself, I have no need for automation in these two areas.

 

P1020553

P1020554

 

My vivitar zoom. Weighs about the same as a brick. Gives me excellent, (and extreme telephoto results), on my BMPCC. I used a pipe adapter, (2nd picture), from Home Depot, to create a lens holder that screws to my tripod head, (the lens is so heavy it would damage the camera’s mount if I attached it directly to the camera!)

 

P1020550

My Canon FD 50mm 1.8. Fast, cheap, and definitely in control….When placed on my BMPCC, it gives me about a 140mm equivalent focal length that a  35mm SLR camera would have. If I have plenty of room in an interview setting and can back up 12 feet or so, I use this lens. It produces a gorgeous picture.

P1020547

 Finally, the little 25mm lens above, which new cost 24.00 plus a couple of bucks to ship, is the lens I used to film the two interview subjects at the beginning of this article. It’s a lens originally used in security cameras! Can you beat that?

 

Approaching my next project…

Posted in Documentary, Editing, Filmmaking on September 1st, 2014 by Dave

 

Friendship Film

Evolving “Mind Map” for my next film on the theme of Friendship.

As I’ve progressed as a film maker though half a dozen film  projects, I’ve gradually changed how I conceive, work on, and execute my films. More and more I find myself moving  towards a completely organic way of doing things. For me, this means having lots of things going on at once…and being ready to follow a whim at a moment’s notice. To me, a whim, a glimpse, a half-formed image in my head, are all-important because they provide clues to what my story is about. Where it’s heading, what it is and what it might be.

In previous films, I’d find a subject; a clothing designer, a pianist, a Vietnam veteran. I’d ask them to tell their story,  then add the trimmings of  music and visuals to amplify their tales. Of course, I had a lot of selecting and editing to do in order to arrive at a narrative that presented a distilled summary of my subject. And on the whole,  I think these films  turned out to be fair to middling. But I wasn’t all that aware of my own drives, needs, and yearnings as an added character that I unconsciously brought to each film. In retrospect, I believe I approached these subjects from the outside looking in…

Father Soldier” changed all that for me. I think, at first glance, the film might seem to be a repetition of my previous working methods…Interviews edited then illustrated with sound and visuals. I guess, loosely speaking, that working method could be said of almost any documentary.

In order to give myself a reason to make a film about Father Leo, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was drawn to his character. His personal story was on the interesting side, no denying that.  But I became more and more aware as I struggled for a reason to commit to this project that what I found most interesting about my subject was the perfection of his life. That given a fine constitution, a good mind, and the nurturing environment of a golden childhood, he not only was able to take on World War II, withstand the loss of many buddies including his best friend, but additionally, weather the  associated trauma of actually witnessing their deaths.

I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. How does a person go on after experiencing that kind of devastation? Maybe you “survive”, but can you ever really live, flourish and be there for others? How does your best friend actually dying in your arms not be the defining moment of your life? Which is exactly the answer I expected when I asked Father Leo what his defining moment was. His answer, delivered with no hesitation, was that becoming a priest was that moment, that experience of a lifetime. That really hit me! So I spent a lot of time trying to come up with imagery and sound that expressed loss, grief, solace, and redemption. I filmed a lot in bad weather so that I could use nature to amplify my character’s thoughts and emotions.  Portraits of trees strong and bending, the rustle of the wind, the soft blanketing comfort of snow falling , rain and moving water. So many different emotions can be projected on these natural forces…

It seems to me that whether it’s choosing to be a priest, a teacher, a toll booth operator or an artist, there is a moment of decision that defines each life.  For some it might be a terrible ordeal, like a war,  and then a decision point as to whether to seek life and meaning – or to live in or re-experience the past. For others it might be a long search, with no real external trauma influencing anything.  A long search…and finally an answer to the direction of one’s life.

Stanley Kubrick once said that existence was entirely meaningless , and that given that fact,  it then becomes the job of each human being to create that meaning.  I like what Kubrick says because essentially  choosing one’s life path becomes a creative decision.  And  it’s a job.