Smoke Free

After more than 10 years of living life as a reformed smoker, I wanted to look into what made it such a draw for me. I wanted to explore what made me love it so that in the face of a true health risk I would continue to do it. Smoke Free is a double entendre shot entirely at 240 frames per second, and includes portraits of the people I interviewed.

I just love how relaxing and hypnotic it is…

Continue reading “Smoke Free”

No Ordinary Hero

I am thrilled to announce that NO ORDINARY HERO starring John Maucere with Oscar winner Marlee Matlin is having its world première at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis! I am the cinematographer for this feature film which was directed by Troy Kotsur who is also deaf. We  made the film under an extremely challenging budget, in a very short timeframe, and with cast and crew working through language barriers, but it all came together very smoothly and we created a very beautiful film that will première in Indianapolis Oct 19.

NOH-posterNO ORDINARY HERO: THE SUPERDEAFY MOVIE is a family drama about a deaf actor who plays a superhero on a TV show but must look beyond his own struggles to inspire a deaf boy to believe in himself. Based on the real internationally known SuperDeafy character created by John Maucere, NO ORDINARY HERO is a story about being different and finding the one thing that makes the ordinary, Super.

Crossing Language Barriers to Produce a Film

No Ordinary Hero was conceived by the film’s star John Maucere and Director Troy Kotsur who are both deaf. Executive Producers Liz Tannenbaum and Paul Maucere are deaf, as are about half of the cast. The relationship between DP and Director is normally a close one with a lot of collaboration, and going into this project, I have to admit I was a bit concerned about communicating with Troy. But as it turned out, my concern was unfounded. Continue reading “No Ordinary Hero”

Gatesman DP For New Comedy Short

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Jewtholic Teaser from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

Marie sees Saints. Not Jesus in a slice of toast or a cloud formation of the Three Wise men; no,in Marie’s case Moses brings his stone tablet to her dinner party, St. John blows leaves in her back yard, she even has a full conversation with the Virgin Mary and her newly born, yet fully grown, baby Jesus. This may all seem odd for some people, but Marie has been on a path of devoted Christian Faith since childhood, until one catastrophic moment, one devastating turn in her life, reveals her to not be the person she had thought herself to be.

Mazel Tov!  Continue reading “Gatesman DP For New Comedy Short”

Day For Night shooting

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Day For Night shooting from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

Day for night is a classic way of shooting a night scene without expensive and huge lighting setups. Instead you shoot during the day and use various techniques to create night in post. I made this image as a test for a short film I am planning to shoot soon. It is best viewed in full frame mode.

Still from original footage

Here is a still of what the original footage looked like before processing. The cool thing about using post techniques to create night is the virtually limitless palette you have to play with: you can create any kind of night look you want, from zombie apocalypse to warm and romantic.

Baby Shower – The Doritos Spot

Baby Shower from Jeff Gatesman on Vimeo.

This is the 30-second spot I made for Doritos’ Crash The Super Bowl competition. It did not make it into the top 5.

Now, I’m not going to say that whoever makes the choices over at Doritos has no sense of humor, or that they lack taste or vision, or that they are just down right terrible at making decisions. No, I’m not going to say any those things. I’m going to take the high road, and just say congratulations to the well-deserving filmmakers who produced the five spots chosen by those “decidors” over at Doritos.

I would also like to mention Jennifer Cobb and Laya Portillos who came up with the concept and wrote “Baby Shower”, and who are the two lovely stars of the spot. Without them I would probably have just done something with dogs.

Even if you’ve seen this on the Doritos site–it was highly compressed and the audio suffered from it. Here it is in High Def with a better sounding mix.

Director of Photography reel

I have recently updated my DP reel and made it available here.

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.

⎯ Ansel Adams

I have been working behind the lens for almost 20 years, as Director of Photography, Photographer, and as a Studio Chief Lighting Technician. I believe that the language of visual storytelling is a complex one that invollves composition, optics, light and movement. This is the first reel I’ve put together in awhile, but it won’t be the last. Consider it a work in progress and feel free to comment.

My experience includes working with 35mm and 16mm film cameras, broadcast video, High Definition, and all of the latest digital cameras.

View the reel in High Def here, and see more of my films on Vimeo.

5d Mark II – a sound camera

I got my new 5D Mark II a few days ago and I haven’t been as thrilled by new machinery as I have been about this in quite awhile. Without getting into all the really cool things that make this camera great (see any one of a million articles already published on the internet or in magazines), I have my own needs for this device and one of them is the ability to shoot 1080i HD video with my own compliment of Canon glass and get luscious, shallow DOF shots. Mostly I will be using the camera to shoot episodes of the firehouse cooking show Feeding The Fire, and the biggest concern for me has been sound, so I found a solution that works best for me.

The problems with sound on the 5D mark II is the tiny internal mic that picks up everything in a large radius around the camera, which is not good for recording dialogue, or anything else you want to use as a soundtrack for that matter, and the camera’s lack of control over audio recording, leaving the user with the less than desirable auto-gain only. The latter seems to be solved by a firmware update being offered by Magic Lantern. I say that is seems to be solved because the firmware is not quite ready for general release (see their wiki for more info), but it looks very hopeful as the option to give us audio control until Canon comes around to the idea, but if the history of the L1 sound issues are any indication, they will be in no hurry.

5D Mark II with Sound rig
5D Mark II with Sound rig

The solution for me seemed simple enough: I have a short shotgun mic that has been working great for me for years, and so I got a hot-shoe mounted shock mount to hold the mic above the lens, but needed a power supply for it. I wanted to stay away from the manufactured adapter boxes by Beachtek and Juiced because I think they are pretty pricey and relatively noisy. So I went with a clean sounding PSC 48V phantom power supply and a balanced to stereo mini plug adapter made by the good folks at Coffee Sound in Los Angeles. This gave me the ability to record clean audio, but the physical setup was to have the 48V PH on my belt with cables going from mic, to belt and back to the camera. I immediately thought of the high repair bills as I imagined all the ways this setup could cause the little mini plug to be ripped from the camera, not to mention the sheer inconvenience of it all, especially shooting documentary style when speed is all important.

So I opened the 48V PH box to get a look at where the electronics where and where I could punch some holes. A couple of minutes with some drill bits, a 2″ 1/4-20 screw and a locking ring to keep it from falling out, some flat cork, and I had a way to attach it nicely to the bottom of my camera. One more hole and a 1/2″ screw and I had the quickplate for my tripod attached to the bottom of the box and I was ready to go.

I just shot an episode of Feeding The Fire in River Grove, IL and this setup worked great. The images are incredible: the shallow depth of field give it a rich texture and the sound is just perfect.

See What I’m Saying wins best Feature Doc

See What I’m Saying, on which I was Director of Photography, won the best feature documentary prize at the Philadelphia Film Festival last week.

The film was directed and produced by Hilari Scarl and is a look into the lives of 4 entertainers who all happen to be deaf.