Ric was asked to Direct a series of spots with a fast turn-around to highlight the creation of NBC The Voice’s top 4 talent’s music videos, sponsored by Chase’s Freedom Unlimited card: Adam Wakefield, Alison Porter,Hannah Huston, and Laithe Al-Saadi.
With extreme deference to the the other production team creating the music videos, Ric was able to create unique pieces that stand alone and share the personality and excitement of the different musical artists, while getting us excited about seeing the final product.
Check them all out here:
We’ve enjoyed many celebratory beers and tasty lunches at Tony’s Darts Away.
But one of the unexpected bonuses of setting up shop right next to your favorite bar (besides the obvious) is getting to know their amazing staff.
Their award-winning chef, Caroline, needed a professional portrait / headshot that she could use for publicity and personal work, so of course I was excited when she asked me to take them.
We wanted to keep it stylized but simple – to reflect her openly friendly, no-nonsense personality, and the tasty cuisine featuring simple elements that combine for an amazing meal.
The first setup (natural light with strobe fill) was shot in our back area and features the wood fence that separates our two properties. The second, brings in texture and depth. No hair and makeup, just fresh – like Caroline, and her food.
We had so much fun, I asked if I could follow her around the kitchen for an hour, so we could share some of her amazing food in photos as well. My first foray into food photography, my main job was to stay out of her way. (easier said than done in the tiny galley kitchen.) The results showcase some of her culinary skills in the unexpected environment of a local bar. And my mouth waters just looking at the food.
They do it right at Tony’s, as many of us can attest to… from craft California beers to vegan food options.. you’ll find lots to love there. Plus, they have the BEST CHEF OF BURBANK working hard for you.
(And don’t forget to give a shout of thanks to Caroline when that delicious meal is served! )
Read more about Caroline in this LA Times article.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND POST WORK BY JEN SERENA
The first business owner I approached for the HoMEGRoWN project project was Audrey. I had worked with her on a campaign celebrating all of the different body types that women can have, and knew I wanted to highlight her for this project.
Her store is full of beautiful things… to wear, to look at, to covet. Audrey is queen of customer service and wants everyone who enters to feel special and well cared for. (And a side note… her window decorations for the Magnolia Park holiday event always rock!)
Audrey felt a little self-conscious during the photo shoot (as she’s usually doting on someone else and not the center of attention,) but she handled it with grace and a winning smile. I count myself lucky to have worked with her, and wish only great things for her future.
For her conceptual image, I wanted to combine her retro fashions that have caught up with trends for today. The model is the same on the magazine cover as the one holding the magazine. My only regret is that you can’t see the beautiful neckline on the dress designed by Audrey in the image.
Photographer: Jen Serena
Portrait Subject: Audrey K, Audrey K Boutique
Model: Elle Jane Hounsell
HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm, Miss Cassanova, Ciara Pisa
WARDROBE: Audrey K Boutique & Drelyn, Beyond Imaging
That is the question.
I’ve been in love with visual storytelling for as long as I can remember. I love directing. I love editing. And I love shooting. As my career began shifting from editing to directing, I would often shoot my own projects mostly because I hated asking others to give their time and creative resources up for little to no pay. Kia Kiso, a friend and colleague, helped me get over that mindset, convincing me there were DP’s willing to give their time and resources because they believed in my prospect as a director.
And as my directing career progressed, I was given the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented directors of photography including Tyler Allison, Tim Angulo, Salvador Bolivar, Tom Camarda, Johnny Derango, Chuck Ozeas, Byron Shah, & Jake Zortman. There is nothing like creatively gelling with a DP on set, completely in sync with one another as to the final look of the piece.
I still shoot on my smaller, personal projects, not only for budgetary reasons, but because I like to stay knowledgeable of the photographic process, to better help me communicate with the camera department when I’m on larger jobs.
I recently put together a reel of my camera work to send out on the relatively rare occasions I’m called to shoot. I struggled with what to call the reel. In my opinion, my work and skill sets are nowhere near the DP’s I’ve worked with. My lighting skills are limited as I fancy myself more of a documentary style shooter. Initially, I settled on “Shooter’s Reel,” however, a few of my favorite DP’s responded with the note that it should be listed as my DP reel, even if I’m not necessarily pursuing that path.
I’ve gotta say… that felt nice.
I love shooting. But even more, I love collaborating. They both have their place in the future of my work. I’m certain of it.
On that note… here’s my DP reel:
A collection of footage Ric Serena has shot on a few projects over the years. Music by Matt Bowen http://mattbowenmusic.com
Passion projects are good for my soul. They challenge me. They keep me honest. They force me to be ultimately responsible for every decision that ends up on screen. And so it’s these projects that I’m most proud of and want to represent who I am as an artist and storyteller. Two of my short documentaries on artists Dave Lefner & Jeremy Thomas continue to surprise me with the new audiences they’re reaching.
Dave Lefner was chosen to have his work shown in the lobby of the Laemmle Royal Theater in Santa Monica as part of the Laemmle’s Art in the ArtHouse series. For the duration of his three-month exhibition, my trailer for his documentary played in the lobby as well as a preview before their film screenings. And during the opening night event, the full documentary screened in one of their theaters. Dave Lefner’s piece, with music by Quiet Lights, was also selected as one of the Vimeo Staff Picks.
And my piece on New Mexico sculptor, Jeremy Thomas, was invited to screen on the New Mexico PBS arts program, COLORES. In order to air the program, I had to have the film re-scored, so I reached out to friend and collaborator, Matt Bowen, to compose the new soundtrack. Together with percussionist, Jo Pusateri, and engineer, Will Hampton, they breathed new life into the documentary about inflating metal and polished what had been somewhat of an un-finished piece for three years prior.
And both pieces were responsible in my being chosen to direct a series of short documentaries for Esquire Networks. The short pieces, produced by Moving Parts, Inc., will hopefully be released this summer.
Someone once told me that instead of having the single that shoots to the top of the charts, he’d rather be the song that people continue to sing in shower years down the road. I like that thought.
And I like singing in the shower.
We began the John Muir Trail almost a year ago, and the journey continues…
Yesterday, we attended Artwalk at the Brewery and stopped by to visit our friend, DAVE LEFNER. It’s been a year since I shot a short documentary on Dave and three years since our friendship began when he made a piece for Jen (my thank you gift to her for our daughter).
Dave is one of the most inspiring people I’ve met. Hardworking. Talented. Compassionate. It brought me great joy to work on his documentary, to somehow be attached to his process if only by observing.
A few months after the documentary had been posted online, Dave received an amazing gift which he in turn shared with me. He’d relayed that he was having a particularly down day (something we’re all susceptible to) when a package arrived in the mail. It was a large manilla enveloped stuffed full. In it, a letter from a middle school teacher in Tennessee about teaching her students the process of reduction linocuts; and in her research, stumbled on the documentary I’d directed. She watched and decided to share it with her class. Afterward, her students came up with the idea to create their own pieces and send them to Dave along with their own personal messages. The envelope was filled with the classroom’s work.
I was done. The story had me welling up. It was an amazing feeling to hear Dave tell this story and to know I’d been a part of that. You never quite know how or when your work will reach people. Like Dave’s process, it sometimes requires a lot of patience. But the the payoff is worth the wait.