We were so sad to see Odessa go, and just as choked up when she sent in this blog post. Wishing her HUGE success in whatever she tackles in life.
A few words to remember her by…
Over the past four months I’ve been interning with Jen at Ric at Serena Creative. During this time I’ve learned a lot about different aspects of film and photography. During my first few weeks here I was able to go on set for a Survivor Promo shoot with Ric. I also spent a great deal of time working on a documentary. This was where I learned the most of filming and production on a smaller scale. I was able to spend a lot of time with Ric watching him work and learning from how he went about executing this project. It was great to be able to work so closely with someone who’s very talented and knowledgeable.
Ric and I also worked on a short animation. I had never done anything like that before and it was cool to see the process. It was also fun to figure out how to make it fit into the film. Problem solving is something that I enjoy and being able to partner on this and work to create something that turned out really well was awesome. I also find that a lot of film and photography requires creative problem solving and this challenge is really fun.
I was also able to assist Jen on a ton of photo shoots. We shot out on the trails of Griffith Park, in more urban locations around LA, in studio, and on location at a corporation. I got to see how Jen worked in all these different situations and how to think outside of the box. We were able to get shots that were unique even on location without any props. Jen’s eye picks up on all the cool things around her and knows how to translate it into an awesome photo. The time I was able to spend with her taught me a lot about how to look at things but also how to be practical and efficient.
I spent a lot of time on the production side of things, but I also got to do a lot of work in pre-production. One of my big tasks was working on researching things from potential sponsors for projects to other companies in the industry. This was a really important skill to learn because it taught me how to be organized and build a project from the ground up.
To round things out, I also did some post-production work and assisted Ric with editing. I learned some of the basics of using avid and feel more comfortable approaching a picture editing project now.
Overall, my experience interning at Serena Creative was AWESOME! I learned a lot and had a ton of fun. Jen and Ric taught me a lot and made sure I got what I wanted out of the experience. They are by far the best people to work with and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
For nearly a decade, we’ve lived in our home in Burbank, and I did the bare minimum in the front yard – concentrating my gardening in the back. Now that we’ve landscaped to create a water-wise garden, I’m in the front all of the time.
It flows with the Spanish-style of the home, it’s the right choice for the environment, AND it attracts the most welcome visitors.
Here are just a few few photos of our new friends we took last weekend. Just in time for an Earth Day celebration
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
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
- George Bernard Shaw
It’s often said that there are two kinds of directors: The actor’s director and the technical director. Because I started as an editor, I come by the latter description honestly. I feel most comfortable on set in a technical capacity, knowing what I need in order to construct the story in the edit room. And while I’ve come a long way in the past 2-3 years of directing, the early years were fraught with uncertainty as to how to talk to the actors.
That’s why it’s always fun for me to edit for other directors even as I’m pursuing a directing career of my own. Not only do I love editing and fully intend to hone the craft in the years to come, it allows me the opportunity to see and hear his or her directing styles… what works, what doesn’t work.
I recently edited some commercial spots for the directing team, The Clyde Brothers. The spots were incredibly easy to cut because A) they’re talented and B) they made sure to get plenty of coverage. Editing the spots ultimately came down to having fun with the variety of performances by the main actor from one take to another. Our time together in the edit room was mostly spent finessing the edits to what we all thought the agency would want to see, while still holding firm on their creative decisions.
And what’s the beauty of working with an editor who also directs? Since I’ve been directing more frequently, I’m certainly more understanding of the challenges of production and why we may not have “that shot.”
In her honor, we begin sharing the individual small business stories, environmental portraits and conceptual commercial photos there.
When we first moved to Burbank, Romancing the Bean was a small shop on Magnolia. Kerry’s loyal clientele, fueled by great coffee, atmosphere and customer service, prompted her to open a larger shop in the media district. When the rent became too high, we were afraid we’d lost this Burbank staple. Lucky for old and new comers, Kerry has revived the place on Magnolia in an airy and welcoming space sure to keep the lines long.
I was honored when she agreed to be a part of the project, even if she didn’t exactly know what she was getting into.
This conceptual image was one of the fastest to come to me… how else to describe Romancing the Bean, than with a couple spooning in a bed of coffee beans?
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jen Serena, Serena Creative
HAIR & MAKEUP: Alexandria Storm & Miss Cassanova
WARDROBE STYLING: Drelyn, Beyond Image
CONCEPT & SET STYLING: Jen Serena
Learn more about the HoMEGRoWN project here.
HoMEGRoWN: Juxtaposing intimate portraits of 11 small business owners and conceptual, commercial images of their product or service, local photographer Jen Serena shares her view of Burbank with a nod to its creative role in the big picture.
Happy Halloween from our Lawn Zombie to you.
A few nights ago it was movie night at the Serena house. Izzy has been prone to requesting documentaries as of late, so we headed to itunes on Apple TV for a search. Low and behold, MILE… MILE AND A HALF was featured in the top ten docs that day. We joked with her, asking if she wanted to watch #9 on the list. Her response? “NOOOOO. I’ve seen that movie sooo many times.”
Who can blame her? It was enough to be away from us for the month we were on the trail, but we didn’t anticipate the countless hours that would be spent once we decided to pursue making a feature film out of the footage we gathered from the trail. The film was essentially a sibling during her last year of pre-school and first year of Kindergarten. Between the meetings, traveling for screenings, or just discussions between Jen and me around the house, Izzy was impacted by the film.
This film has had a huge impact on our family, and we’re grateful for it.
I met Gabriel in 2013 when my creative partner, Jen Serena, was shooting some promotional stills in the lead up to his Roll Across America. A month later, he would leave Burbank, California and roll his standard wheelchair across the United States. It was his intention to arrive to his hometown in time for his 25th High School Reunion. We had just announced the premiere of our feature-length documentary, Mile… Mile & A Half, so Gabriel was picking my brain about the process of DIY Film Distribution. Accompanying him on his journey would be a small video crew, documenting his journey, so he was keen to learn what challenges might lay ahead after the roll. I enjoyed keeping up with Gabriel during his trek across the US via Facebook. Always inspired, I couldn’t imagine walking, much less rolling across 13 states. Even had he not completed the journey, it would’ve been admirable to make the attempt.
He did make it.
Fast-forward one year later. I’d been directing a few shoots for Esquire Network with the extremely talented Chuck Ozeas as my Director of Photography. I watched as he and his camera department created some beautiful imagery on the Red EPIC, but the camera intimated me. Yes, I love shooting, but the leap from DSLR’s to a camera like the Epic made me a little nervous.
Jen convinced me to rent an Epic for the weekend to get familiar not only with shooting, but shepherding the footage through the post-production workflow. I needed to allow myself the opportunity to say that this was only a test. If I finished the weekend with only one or two great images, I needed to be okay with it. This was only a test.
I reached out to Gabriel to ask if he’d be interested in being an on-camera subject for my test. As it turned out, he was preparing for his next roll and could use some updated imagery. I rented a basic package from ShadowCast Pictures that included a set of Zeiss CP2 primes. Jay and his team were incredibly helpful, and the gear was in wonderful shape. Another friend & filmmaker, Gaston Carrizo, offered his time and equipment for one jib shot. Friend and collaborator, Sheldon Neill of Project Yosemite lent his time and expertise on the Epic, and Durand Trench volunteered his time and talent for the interview portion of the weekend.
I spent plenty of time familiarizing myself with the camera as I built it (reading manuals and forums, calling camera operator friends with any questions I had), and then it was just a matter of following Gabriel through his normal workout regiments. Throughout the day of shooting, I couldn’t help but be blown away by his energy. We were all tired, but there was Gabriel, working twice as hard to accomplish tasks as simple for us as getting out of the car. During our time at the Burbank YMCA, I found myself tiring while in the pool with Gabriel (operating the GoPro underwater which we never used in the final piece), but there he was staying afloat with only his arms. It was a humble reminder of how much I take my health for granted. The Burbank YMCA has been a big supporter of Gabriel and they were very kind to allow us the opportunity to document his workout at the gym.
The piece practically cut itself. Because we didn’t shoot too much material, there weren’t difficult decisions that needed to be made. It was just important to me that Gabriel’s reasons for doing what he does was clearly conveyed and in his voice. I did challenge myself during the edit in that I did not cut to a piece of temp music. I cut the piece entirely without music and asked the insanely talented Paul Bessenbacher of Emoto Music to see what he could come up with. His beautiful score, accompanied with a sound edit and mix by David Barnaby, color timing by Bruce Goodman and graphic design by Chris Kneller, completed a piece that beautifully communicates Gabriel’s passion.
And thanks to Jen Serena… without her confidence in me and strong belief in the power of investing in oneself, this test might never have happened.