I started working as a freelance cameraman in the early 80’s in San Francisco, after completing a Master’s at S.F. State in Creative Arts and Film/Video. Looking back, I think it was a great time to get started in the production business. Film was still going strong-I was able to learn assistant camera skills by hanging out at Lee Utterbach Camera (thanks Lee!), and through working as an AC, was able to get onto high end commercial shoots and features and learn how the ‘big boys’ worked. At the same time, I began shooting video, where I was totally on my own, and thus was able to realize, IMHO, the perfect learning situation-of one, being able to observe how lighting issues and problems were addressed by very experienced guys, and two, being ‘out there’ and having to do all by myself, as I began to learn the craft of cinematography.
It’s also fun, nowadays, to recall using some of the old dinosaurs like the giant RCA camera I used once, that I swear was made out of iron, the infamous BVU-110 3/4″ portable deck-and then, on the film side, various Arri BL-3’s with their enormous Cooke 10-1 zooms, Panavisions, etc.
In 1985, I moved to Portland, and was able to experience an advantage to working in a smaller market, which is the larger variety of projects offered, due to the smaller pool of specialized D.P’s. Examples that come to mind are shooting 35mm food commercials with a hi-speed camera and strobes, shooting bull riding from inside the arena at the Pendleton Round-Up, using Tyler Mounts on helicopters high above Mt. Hood, serving as 2nd Unit D.P. on Network and Indy features, and shooting documentaries in places as diverse as Siberia, South Africa, China, and Cuba.
These past ten years or so have been fun in that I’ve gotten to travel even more about the world shooting a lot of films and videos for hi-tech companies such as HP, Intel, Cisco, as well as continuing my work on natural history, historical, and cultural documentaries for museums and interpretative centers.
What does the future hold? I’m thinking of finally buying my own camera, and being able to do more self-produced projects. And I’m always on the look-out for the opportunity to tell a great story, whether it be an indy feature, or documentary. Thanks for your interest! Be well- Carl