Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I’m a partner in Rabbit Foot Studios based in Austin, Texas. I started directing in the music video era. It was a truly experimental and exciting time in film history. One time, we were shooting a promotional piece for an award show and we loaded the film magazine wrong, so it ripped a sprocket and the film came back shaking/smeared and slightly over exposed. This, in most cases would be a re-shoot, but after looking at it, the film had a crazy beautiful frenetic look. We went into edit and cut it hard and then brought in sound design of 40 alarm clocks going off and ending the spot with a primordial scream. The accident ended up being an award-winning spot. It is was one of the spots that jump-started my career.
I have been directing/producing commercials and documentaries for over 25 years. In that time, I have witnessed the evolution from film to the digital age. Equipment has become much more accessible giving us the opportunity and time to really tell a story. The one constant that remains the same is you have to be passionate about making a film and be willing to put in the work to create it. I’m always honored to tell someone’s story, and genuinely curious as to how and why people do what they do.
How did you get the TRY and LOVE project?
Try and Love came to us through YETI Films, which we have partnered with on two other films, The Wright Boys and Chasing Light. We collaborated closely with Scott Ballew/Head of Content at YETI Coolers and Cory Wiese/Rodeo & Ranch Marketing Manager at YETI Coolers to create the outline for the film.
There wasn’t a pitch. The timeline was super tight to produce the film and four: 60 second spots. With our collaborative history and combined passion for rodeo, it was the right fit.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
We shot multiple cameras with our main cameras being the Sony FS7’s. They have been true workhorses in the field for us. The FS7 gives a great image and has fantastic slow-motion capabilities. For lensing we used Zeiss Super Speeds. They have a great cinematic feel and are fantastic in low light. A lot of the film was shot at golden hour and/or first light so we needed the extra stop. Jimmy Chappie, our drone cinematographer, used the Inspire 2 to capture all the aerial imagery. It is essential on our shoots to be nimble so we can react quickly especially when you have a 2-ton bull coming for your head.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
When the job awarded we sat down with Scott and Cory from YETI and talked through what we thought would make the story great and who would should tell the story. We knew going in that HD (main character) is a cowboy who wasn’t going to blow his own horn, so we talked with people who knew how amazingly special HD and D&H cattle company are. Our other goal with the film was to show what true athletes these bulls are and how well they are taken care of. We found the title during the edit when Ty Murray said “It takes a lot of Try and Love.”
After we established a direction (a loose story arch), we created a shot-list and a line of questioning. We did pre-interviews with HD and people at the Ranch to get some background information and then created a schedule.
We hit the ground running on the shoot, covering anything and everything we felt might be part of the story. You never know when the magic is going to happen.
Then the emotion of the story unfolds in post. I have worked with my editor, Sai Selvarajan on many projects and he understands the way I shoot and brings his cinematic style to the edit. It was a great collaboration in the edit with Scott and Cory from YETI, Jesse Woods doing the sound track and Lucky Post doing the finish.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
I’m not sure, I’ve been on very few other sets. I’m obsessed with film-making and love people.
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
I was fortunate to have a crazy work ethic. I feel my hard work created my place in the business. Ten minutes give or take either way a different sliding door may have opened.
What’s the one secret tip, go-to trick that you use often that takes your work to the next level?
Always be present! Never be afraid to mix it up! Yell, scream, dance let everyone involved know it’s okay to be themselves. Listen.
What has been the hardest part of doing what you do?
The time away from home.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
Meeting people that are truly passionate about life and telling their story! I love the whole process!
What are some of your favorite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
All of Errol Morris’s Films/Especially Vernon Florida.