SOUL OF A SCRAP YARD - THE NEW YORK TIMES OPT DOC

See more @ The New York Times

Directed By: Mike Plunkett & Andrew David Watson
Cinematography by: Andrew David Watson
Steadicam by: Gabriel Pimenta
Edit by: Mike Plunkett & Winnie Cheung
Assistant Editor: Matt Egan
Sound Design by: Julienne Guffain
Colorist: Eric Schwalbe
Music: Lives are threads by Salomon Ligthelm
Midnight by Salomon Ligthelm
National Anthem performed by Patricia Ortega
Production and post services: Crew Cuts & Picture Farm Productions

BTS of SOUL OF A SCRAPYARD: It's funny how long personal projects take sometimes.  I've been riding my bike (and motorcycle) through the neighborhood Willets Point for the last 4 years.  Late Fall of 2016 I noticed the city had begun tearing down some of the shops, and I knew it was time to revisit the story.  I linked up with my buddy Mike Plunkett (who directed Salero and also happens to live in Queens) and we hit the pavement (and gravel) looking for a subject.  After some poking around we were introduced to Sam Sambucci III.  Sam provided a great subject and ambassador to the neighborhood.  

To film the project (and to finish it), we called in a bunch of favors.  We enlisted the help of Gabriel Pimenta for some steadicam shots.  We shot on my Amira package and Xenons lenses. Andy Whitlatch provide an extra hand and the below BTS photos.  We used a Canon c300 for a few car mounted shots and a DJI inspire for the 2 drone shoots.  Picture Farm productions and Crew Cuts helped with post and finishing, and we licenses tracks from The Music Bed. 

When we started out, we didn't have an outlet locked in, but after previewing a rough cut for The New York Times opt-docs, they signed on and helped us finish up the piece.  

Although it took me 4 years to pick up a camera to capture this unique corner of NYC, and another 8 months (on and off of course) to finish the project, the final film is one of my most favorite projects to date.  Thanks to Vimeo for the Staff pick and the extra views!

082A0009.jpg
082A0020.jpg
IMG_0642.jpg
082A0036.jpg

Here are a few of my favorite screen grabs.  My favorite part of this project was meeting a ton of people from the neigborhood.  And after hanging around for a week, the weary looks turned into friendly hellos.  

 

WINTER ADVENTURES IN ICELAND

This year has been fun, so fun, I haven't posted anything in nearly 10 months. This past winter I got a chance to shoot in Iceland in the middle of the winter.  I had been to Iceland twice prior, but only in the summer.  I was a little weary of the 6 hours of daylight we would have, and didn't think Iceland could be as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer.  Oh man, was I wrong.  The long dawn, straight into magic hour provides some of the best light I have ever seen.  Short in length, but beautiful in quality.  The weather temps (at least close to the coast) were not much colder then NYC in the winter.   It was a brief shoot (including this below photo of a cold water survival suite at the iceberg lagoon), but man was it awesome!!!  It chaged my how prespective on Iceland in the winter.  

942A4603_1x1_small.jpg
942A4176_1x1_small.jpg
942A4185_1x1_small.jpg
 

CUBA! HAVANA! & MORE CUBA!

I love when the stars align!  This past December the feature documentary Salero (which I DP'ed) was invited to screen at the Havana Film Festival.  At the same time the US eased up the travel restriction to Cuba AND Delta and other major airlines have started flying direct flights from JFK to Havana!  On pretty short notice I snagged an extremely cheap ticket, cleared my scheduled, and headed to Havana for the 34th Annual Havana Film Festival!  

In short, the festival was amazing!  Havana provided plenty of excitement and adventures!  Outside of Old Havana, the city didn't disappoint (Old Havana was pretty, but clearly geared towards tourism).  A few quick and random tips (current as of Jan 2017):

- If your adventure and don't like to be with the crowds, its worth looking into air BnBs in neighborhoods outside of Old Havana.  I stayed in Malecon, near Hotel Presidente, which was also convenient for festival events, but also provided a dose of what middle class daily life is like in Havana. 

- Taxis will charge you an arm and leg, so rent a bike or bring a skateboard!  Havana is pretty small and quick to get around once you're on wheels.   I found a guy on Ave G, and got a bike for a 24 hour period. I also spent a morning skating around Havana, and it was a total blast. 

- Delta makes it really really easy to go!  Yes, you have to have a legit reason, but you can buy a visa at check in.  I had zero hassle going, arriving, leaving and returning.  If you work in the creative world, you could easily go to research projects, shoot projects, or keep the film festival in mind, its worth a visit! Independent travel to Cuba is easy. 

- The food in Cuba isn't all that bad, but it will be expensive if you eat at the fancier places (but still cheaper then NYC).  If you are staying in an Air BnB and are looking to keep cost down, I'd suggest bringing breakfest foods, as I had a hard time finding milk and eggs.  

- The last few photos are from an art space called Fabrica.  Its not exactly under-the-radar, but it is far form Old Havana.  If you're into the arts, its 100% worth the visit.  The restaurant and bar connected with the art space are also great, and probably one of the best meals I had while there. http://www.fac.cu/

And now some photos from my 5 days, 3 nights in Havana! 

havana_soccer
 

FAROE ISLANDS

This past summer a good buddy of mine was getting married in Iceland.  Having spent 2 weeks in Iceland just a few years ago (and at almost exactly the same time of year), I wanted to check out somewhere new en route.  My girlfriend and I had become obsessed with The Faroe Islands after following the country's official Instagram feed.

The Faroe Islands are a island nation halfway between Iceland and Norway, with a total population is less then 50,000.  Needless to say, the Faroes are not easy to get too (Unless you are already in Iceland, Scotland or Denmark).  After realizing it would be cheaper to book flights from Reykjavík to The Faroes, then spend a week in Iceland (Iceland because very very expensive during peak season), my girlfriend and I jumped at the opportunity to visit such a unique and remote place.

I'll let the photos (and above video) speak for themselves.  But one last note; the Faroe Islands really had a "not-yet-spoiled" feel to them.  Its what I imagined Iceland was like 20 years ago.  The Faroe Islands (18 in total) is fairly compacted.  You can drive nearly half the county in a day although you'll need a lot more time for all the amazing hiking.

The Faroe Islands are one of the most unique places I have ever visited and definitely in the top 5 trips I have ever taken.   Don't miss them if you ever have the opportunity! 

OFF TO ICELAND: After the Faroe Islands we stopped in Iceland for 4 days for our friends wedding.  What a blur, and what a blast!  After the Faroe Islands, Iceland seemed congested and one giant tourist scam... Iceland is definitely worth visiting, I'd just suggest going during the low season or shoulder season.  

942A6978.jpg
942A6927.jpg