St. Louis’ Funniest

So I’m leaving St. Louis this morning and feel the trip was an all around success. I shot four interviews, three of which were shot in the St. Louis Funny Bone. The unique thing about this club, besides its killer layout, was they still allowed smoking! Not that I smoke, but I bet it’s pretty rad to see puffs of smoke as jokes are being slung. Maybe not, anyways I thought it was cool.

Everything went off without a hitch except for a slight hiccup in my last interview with Kenny Kinds where Tiny (our EOS M) stopped recording randomly. It flashed big words about it stopping on the LCD and I was able to press record immediately but still concerning.

With that said, I want to thank Matt Conty, Josh Arnold, Bobby Jaycox, and Kenny Kinds for helping us get started and sharing their intriguing thoughts on several subjects. A lot of this footage will also be used in an upcoming Comedic Views season and I can’t wait to share an episode based around the concept of a Comedy Nemesis because the answers I got here in St. Louis were outstanding.

Here are some low resolution, test grades I did on screen captures from the shoot. Also a bonus pic of the Funny Bone’s front entrance.






Funniest Idea

IMG_1595So a little under 18 months ago, I received an email from Margie at Cap City Comedy Club asking whether I would like to be the official videographer for the Funniest Person In Austin (FPIA) contest.  I was grateful and equally shocked for the opportunity- I had taped maybe five shows at that point and had little to no experience.  Yet, two weeks later there I was, taping the opening preliminary round of the 27th FPIA on April 2nd, 2012.  Since then, we’ve (my wife Jen and I) cut together over 300 FPIA clips, amassed an endless amount of standup footage, all the while making many friends along the way and learning just how grateful we are to this community of comedic artists.

Little did I know, that email would start us on a path leading to this post- we’re going to make a feature length documentary about the FPIA contest!  

I’m not going to reveal our entire plan, but I want this blog post to serve as the first of many, chronicling our journey.  This will not be a fly by night venture; our planned  completion date is late 2015, early 2016.  So why post now?  Several reasons-

  • I’m taking advantage of what’s in front of me.  I’m heading to St. Louis today for the weekend- attending my dearest friend Mike’s wedding- but while visiting I plan to shoot several interviews  related to our project.  Thus, principal photography (or however you want to categorize it) starts tomorrow, August 30th, 2013.
  • Somewhere, somehow, someone might find this and learn something from the process. Questionable, I know.  But I’ve stumbled across enough blogs to know that logging a filmmaking process can be educational for someone.  Don’t worry, there’s a list of gear I’m going into battle with to follow this post, NERD!

Ok so that’s it for now.  We’re at the beginning and I’m a crummy writer so I’m stopping short.  I appreciate your support (you’re reading this so I assume you are complicit) and hope that if anything, you learn a bit from the blabbering that will ensue.

Currently the movie is titled Funniest.



St. Louis Trip Gear:

  • Canon EOS M – if you need a DSLR right now, these things are a bargain
  • Tokina 11-16mm – I’ve only used this for one shoot (I’ll link when the video hits), but this lens rules.  Nuff said
  • Tamron 17-50mm – My standard
  • Canon 22mm – Good, all around lens.  We’ll see how much I use it
  • Zoom H2n – I performed some tests trying to connect my Rode NTG-2 and it wouldn’t register any audio.  Peculiar, but the mono mode on this mic was good enough in my tests to give it a shot (bracing for the, “you’re an idiot” comments if this blog ever becomes popular)
  • Zoom H1 with Azden EX-503 Lavaliere mic – my backup
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition – B-Camera extraordinaire
  • Kingston MobileLite – I’m shocked at how well this allows for easy backups  on the road
  • Various tripods, lights, and whatever else fits in my bag

So why not take our Blackmagic Cinema Camera?  It’s just too big.  I’m hoping to pick up one of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras in the Spring, but until then our EOS M, which we’ve named Tiny, will have to do.


Comedic Views Season 1 and 2 Thoughts / Wrap

Comedic Views ThumbAs I type this, the master file for our Comedic Views Velveeta Room episode, the Season 2 finale, is being exported. I’ve thought about writing up some kind of article to commemorate the occassion- something that catches my state of mind having now completed 24 episodes spanning interviews with 17 of our favorite comics and friends… so here we are.

Comedic Views is very special to me for a number of reasons. For one, it helps promote the amazing comedy scene we have here in Austin, Texas. My hope is that people stumble across these and learn something they didn’t or discover a comic they will grow to admire. Even seeing responses on Reddit like, “Hey, I know Danny Palumbo!” is awesome.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.19.41 PMOn a personal level, Comedic Views, or at least the concept of interviewing comics, is what transformed a hobby into a part-time career for my wife and me. A little over 2 years ago, I asked a comic if he would let us interview him on camera. Truthfully, I was desperate to work on some form of video production and figured an interview would be something to sink my teeth into for a month or so. After the 35 minute interview, I realized we needed B-Roll of him performing. As I was documenting that during a Punch show in the Summer of 2011, another comic asked if I could tape their set as they needed an audition set. And from that point forward, we continued to get requests for tapes, which eventually led to us taping a showcase, and then FPIA, etc. So although the first interview, will never see the light of day, it served as the blue print for the two seasons of material we’ve compiled thus far and resulted in the amazing experience we’ve had working with and befriending such talented folk.

Have you missed out on all the fun? Catch up here-

So some stats to throw at you-

  • There are 24 episodes averaging 3 minutes apiece. We’ve essentially made a feature length documentary on 24 different subjects.
  • Raw interview footage ranged anywhere from Chris Tellez’ scant 10 minutes to Andrew Tompkins’ epic 90 minute discussion.
  • No less than 6 different camera models were used throughout production. There’s even a Vine video used in the Season 2 intro. If I learned anything throughout making this series it’s that there is no one camera that can perform all your desired functions.

We have friends to thank-

Joe Hafkey
Jake Flores
Ralph Hardesty
Katie Pengra
Duncan Carson
Brendan K. O’Grady
Ashley Barnhill
Ramin Nazer
Maggie Maye
Chris Tellez
Kath Barbadoro
Luke McClory
Steven Farmer
Danny Palumbo
Mitch Mekulsia
Amber Bixby
Andrew Tompkins

Without you guys, we have nothing. Thank you for letting us into your lives and giving us such great answers.

I also owe an apology to the following comics-

Kat Ramzinski
Cody Hustak
Derek Phelps

We had scheduled your interviews for the second season in February of this year but the timing just didn’t work. I promise, when we start rolling for the third season, you guys are our first stops.

And yes, we do plan to make a third, and likely fourth, season.

Finally, I couldn’t have done any of this without the person I owe the most appreciation to- my wife Jen. As an interviewer, her process is lightyears ahead of what I can produce (thus two interviews I conducted that are locked away in a vault). Her input, insistence on quality, and positive encouragement allowed us to complete these two seasons. I wouldn’t know what to do without her in general but Comedic Views is a team effort, and she does more than her share of the heavy lifting.
Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.23.00 PM

Midnight Drive

It was particularly foggy last night so I took the GoPro for a spin. Shot using a GoPro Hero3 Black on a suction cup mount to my car. Nothing special, but I'm sure a few folks are curious how it works in low light driving conditions. I should mention too that this was shot in Cinema 2.7k with ProTune enabled (graded with FCPX)

Cast: Dustin

Tags: gopro, hero3, black, protune, suction cup mount, final cut pro x, night, fog and low light

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition Test Videos

Sunrise with GoPro

One of the frames from the time lapse.

I picked up a GoPro Hero3 Black yesterday with some Christmas Cheddar. Still figuring out odds and ends (battery life is laughable and the Cineform software crashes too often) but so far it’s really rad. Here’s a timelapse I put together-

These next two are a little longer and are literally the first things I should with camera but give you an idea of the mounting options as well as the slow motion capabilities.

This last one was a cool angle near the driver-side front tire.  It slows down when I first start going forward but speeds back up later on.