From Photography to Filmmaker (Rebranding to FigTree Cinemas)

     For a while, I wanted to do both photography and filmmaking. It was fun doing both! They each have their own set challenges and upsides. Photography being more conducive to freezing moments and filmmaking for telling a story within a certain timeframe. However, in the market where I am, it became pretty obvious which path to take.

     In Murrieta, the market I'm in, there are photographers everywhere. However, there aren't many filmmakers. This always puzzled me because it seemed so obvious. Why hasn't anyone jumped on this market? The only reason I could think of is that it's much MUCH harder to tell a story with video than it is with photographs. With that sentence, I can see all the angry facial expressions on your photographer faces. Let me explain.

Lights! Camera! Action!

     A photograph doesn't require much of a time investment for a viewer. One can see hundreds of images in an hour. Yes, while you are competing for everyone's attention on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and for those who still use it Flickr, at least they will look at your image. People who watch videos on the other hand have a different mentality. They want to feel that the previous 5 minutes they spent watching the film were worth it. That is where the skill of being a visual storyteller comes in. One has to know the psychology of each movement of the camera & what it means for the final image. That is why I decided to stick with filmmaking. It's more of a challenge and pushes my creativity to new heights. And besides, less people are willing to do it. I believe that is what's known as a Win-Win.

     As you may have noticed, the website & logo looks different. That is because I have rebranded Tem.Teen Studios to FigTree Cinemas! There were many reasons, but the biggest one was spelled out earlier. I want to specialize in video more than I do photos. To clarify, photography will always be a service I offer. However, given the choice, I'd prefer to take video jobs & refer people to photographers like Cy Rathbun & Greg Vogel, two of the best photographers in the valley.

     Wow! It's been a while since I've updated this blog! Now that work has subsided temporarily, I'll be sure to post more. Thanks for the patience!

Back to Video & My First Documentary

George here again!

   Lately I've been doing a lot of photo related things. Be it macro photography, wide angles, composites etc. And that's great! I love doing that stuff, but it felt like I was doing the same thing over & over. I thought of a short term sea change, and it hit me. VIDEO! Why not? I used to do a lot of it. Albeit I might not have a camera that shoots very good video, but why would I let that stop me?

This is my most recent piece that I shot, edited, and directed:

   My first documentary! Not only was it nerve wracking, but it was my real taste at making an actual piece of actual professional video content. Let me take you through the process I took to see this from beginning to end.


   This was tricky. I had never shot anything of this sort before. I may have done some "demo-reel" style videos for others, but never a story piece with a beginning, middle, and end. I had to plan this out completely different.

   What helped me get the story out was to physically write out the structure for the Hero's Journey. For those of you who don't know, the Hero's Journey is the basic structure for storytelling. For more information on it, watch this highly educational video:

And after that I saw this video:

   After watching these videos, I figured out what & how I was going to ask the questions. Below are the questions I asked:

 1)  What was your first exposure to Spanish?

 2)  Of the many Languages to learn, why Spanish?

 3)  What were some of the challenges you faced in learning Spanish?

 4)  How did you overcome those challenges?

 5)  Why did you want to become a Spanish teacher?

 6)  Any advice for those wanting to learn a foreign language?

And with that done, I rolled into Principal Photography.

Principal Photography:

   The easiest/hardest part of the interview; actually conducting it. We had to figure out when/where to meet. Once we got that settled, it was time to go to the location. What happened after that... funny story. I was driving to the location we were planning on shooting, then out of the corner of my eye I saw him driving past me. In an instant, I parked, got out, and chased him for a good block and a half (and keeping up with the car to boot). Realizing that I wasn't going to catch him, I stopped and gave him a call. His response, "Were you the guy chasing me?" Once we had that fiasco settled out, we met at a new location and proceeded with the interview. For video, I just used the Canon T1i in 720p. The lens was my Canon FD 50mm f/1.4. For audio I used my iPhone with the RØDE Rec app. And for sticks I used the my trusty Manfrotto 294 Aluminum Tripod with 804RC2 3-Way Head. The whole interview didn't take more than 20 minutes.


   Now comes the real work, Post-Production. As many of you know, I use FCPX and love it. Now with the new update to 10.1, things fly faster than Premiere CC. Editing took only four hours... from start to finish. It was really flying. The sound, color grade, everything! But after that came the hardest part of the entire process... Subtitling. It took me about 12 hours to get a basic subtitle out. THEN I had to go back and refine it. For more information about this process, check out Philip Bloom's post here. Here's a screenshot of the early subtitling phase:

   Once that was done... I was ready to upload it to Vimeo & YouTube. Personally I prefer Vimeo because of the compression, but everyone uses YouTube.


   I want to give a shoutout to my cousin Ernest Koury. He runs a media company out in El Paso Texas and he helped me with the editing process. Check out his website here:

That's it! From start to finish about this film. I hope you guys enjoy it and I hope to see you soon.

   George out!

Unfortunate News

**This is an update to the previous post, read it by Clicking Here**

   As murphy's law says, "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." This morning I saw clouds just over the horizon. Normally they just stay where they originate from. But, with the winds picking up lately, they started moving. Fast forward 14 hours to now... We have overcast thicker than pea soup.

   But that's how the ball bounces. The meteor shower will be going on for another week, so I'll try again.

In the immortal words of Ryan Connolly,
   Write, shoot, edit, repeat... and I'll see you next week.

How to Choose Your Best Shot & Competition Update

I'm here again!

   The reason I posted this today rather than next monday is because I wanted to go over my process of picking my best photo.

   First thing I did was look through my portfolio. Your portfolio should be made of your best images, nothing else. I have had people ask me how many images are in a portfolio. I tell them, "If you only have one good image, then your portfolio is one image. If you have two solid images, you have a slightly larger portfolio." So it just depends, you can click on my portfolio up in one of the tabs to see how many I have.

   After I looked at my portfolio, I narrowed it down to two pictures (Click here to see them). Then what I did was I printed out some 4"x 6" pictures at home and showed them to some people. Some strangers, some friends, and some family. I took a tally of what they all liked and then chose the best one. Now remember, your choosing your best image. They're not choosing it for you, they're just giving you something to think about. Keep that in mind, you make the final decision.

Update on the Competition:

   Unfortunately I didn't make it into the contest. Better try again next time! Take a look at the video below:

   That's all for now. Until next time, George out!

Photo of the Month "Your Best Shot"

Hey! George here!

   So I haven't been able to get the post about the 135mm w/ the adapter up. But to make up for it, I have something to show you:

   I entered into the FroPhotoContest. This months theme is, "Your Best Photo." After looking through my images, I was tempted to use this one:

Anything But a Person 2

   But I printed some 4"x 6" images to show around to people, and this was their favorite:

T1i Sample Shot 7

   You can check out the forum with the link below:

   Art is very subjective, so I guess that is why they liked this one. Anyways... once the results are in, and I (hopefully) get into the finals, please take a minute to vote for my image. I'll post whether I did/didn't get up onto the finals.

   That is all for now, George out!