I’ve always maintained that Mike Grippi is one of the coolest dudes I know. Photographer, musician, filmmaker, and long-time friend and colleague, he made a perfect subject for a (very) quick film we shot recently in NYC.
Atomos came to me and asked if I could shoot with the Nikon Z6 Filmmaker’s Kit, which comes complete with Z6 camera, 24-70 f4 S lens, Rode VideoMic, Moza stabilizer, and the Atomos Ninja V5 4K Recording Monitor, amongst other bits and pieces. The whole thing is geared towards simple, light and fast filmmaking. They wanted it on deadline, and they insisted it be shot in one day. The first thought that popped into my head was to shoot something about Grippi’s life and times.
I wrote a quick treatment of it, and titled it “Young Creative in the City,” or, perhaps catchier, “Where Creativity Meets Concrete.” Let’s face it, NYC is a magnet for young, talented, internet savvy, visual people who hope to take their skills and make a dent. I’m sympathetic. It’s what I came to the city to do in 1976. I lived in a flophouse hotel, had my place broken into, lost all my gear, and took home a paycheck that read $109 after taxes. I found out that calzones are cheap and filling, and McDonald’s was saved for a real treat. I wrote the below, and sketched out some possible shots.
Seeing this as a visual tone poem to the city of New York and the reasons people come here, to seek an audience, to offer their voice in the chorus, and their hopes to rise beyond the mundane, the day-to-day drill of living and breathing. To be heard. To make difference. To rabble rouse, to offend, to be noticed. And of course, the sheer, unblinking monolith of the city becomes the crushing reality. Indifference, lack of traction, overwhelming odds and numbers, the insufferable attitudes, the constant BS of everyone chattering like magpies in Brooklyn watering holes about how they’re “doing this video and it’s gonna be so cool ‘cause there’s these people who are really cool and interested are going to fund it and show it….somewhere.” Versus the sincerity of expression, the honesty of thought, feeling and creation. The moth to flame aspects of what the city capriciously, enticingly, holds in her hands, like a Cheerio in its fingers, trying to get the baby to reach, only to pull it away. A place where hopes and dreams seek nourishment, like an irrepressible weed, flourishing in a crack in the sidewalk. Depending on the day, you can feel vibrant, alive and in the mix. Or, you can feel like a windup toy someone jut placed in front of a brick wall.
It’s even harder now, just by dint of sheer numbers and the incessant noise of the internet. How to break through all the me-me-me based shouting and get somebody to notice that fillip of difference that separates you from the pack? Grippi is engaged in such a mission. I called him up and he was down, so we grabbed the gear and went to work.
I was blessed with two terrific young shooters, Mike Cali and Andrew Tomasino. And Dan Chung of Atomos, a fine photog out of the UK, shot a BTS. Dan and I have known each other since his newspaper and wire service days, when he was winning all sorts of press awards in Great Britain. He shot a BTS film of our adventure, and I grabbed a slice of it for the visual you see below.
The grab and go aspects of the kit worked well. We had to balance the Moza, of course. And we opted for a pro to run our audio, with his own pro level gear. What we have found as we plunge ahead into video is that one of the hardest parts of video is….audio. So we now leave that to the professionals. In this case, our professional audio supervisor was Stephen Micallef.
Another thing we left to the professionals was the post-production and editing. Many thanks to Levi Arnold of Open Fire Media who did a great job.
But the Z6 hung in there well, and recording to the Atomos made a huge difference in our potential quality, delivering ProRes RAW files through the HDMI connect. It gives you access to maximum dynamic range and detail, and opens up a world of possibilities in post-production. Cali devised a cool feeling LUT prior to shooting, so we were able to store that in the Atomos and actually look at the color and feel of what we were producing on location.
It’s a great learning curve to be on right now, as we shoot more and more video. Thanks to the wonderful crew, and Atomos, and most of all, to Grippi, one of the coolest guys out there.