Ten of My Favorite Moments from Max Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is out in theaters this weekend, and if you haven't yet, you should go see it. Walking out of Mad Max, I felt like I did when I'd first seen movies like Jurassic Park or Star Wars - a feeling like what I'd just seen was genre defining, and that all future films would be compared to this one.

This movie was satisfying in ways that the vast majority of summer blockbusters are not. While most films are happy to create entire worlds in shiny CG, George Miller apparently filmed hundreds of hours of vehicular action in Namibia, and did a lot of it practically. We feel the danger that these characters are in, and that's probably because the actors and stunt doubles portraying them were also in danger too.

When it comes to visceral thrills, gorgeous composition, and spectacular action choreography, nothing will beat Mad Max: Fury Road this summer. Maybe for the next few summers. Probably also for the past 10-20 summers.

Anyway, here are a bunch of random moments from the film I really enjoyed. This is FAR from an exhaustive list - there were many dozens of moments that I thought were incredible. Spoilers ahead.

Opening chase scene, which ends with a spectacular car flip

Mad Max is led away in chains as Immortan Joe's thugs drive towards the Citadel - the ultimate reduction of the titular character to rock bottom

 Dust storm juxtaposed with chase scene creates surreal beauty

Tornado absolutely rips apart many bad guys driving through it


Imperator Furiosa creates the most memorable tableau from the film as she recognizes the futility of her journey

Monster truck does spectacular jump in front of the War Rig, with people HANGING OFF THE SIDE

This quiet moment, representing the transition from the past to the future

This guy gets absolutely owned

My favorite shot from the film - the ultimate confluence of all elements in an action scene 

The Primary Instinct will World Premiere at the 2015 International Film Festival


Big news: My Kickstarter film, The Primary Instinct, will world premiere at the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival! I couldn't be more excited about sharing this film with the world and with all our backers in a few weeks. If you backed our project, more details will come soon.

Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger" - Cello Version


Here's a simple cello version of Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger." I didn't plan on it but the sun basically sets into the edge of my window as the video continues. I love the beauty of the Puget Sound - I hope it comes out in my photos and videos.

Sigh No More - Looping Cello Version


I put together a simple arrangement of Mumford and Sons' "Sigh No More." For this video, I used a condenser microphone, which delivers a far richer sound than a typical pickup. Hope you enjoy it!

Crazy In Love - Looping Cello Version


About a month ago, I got this nutty idea to perform a looping cello version of "Crazy In Love" with a pole dancer. Why was I moved to try this?

Firstly, I loved the new "Crazy In Love" rendition that was done for the Fifty Shades of Grey film. It was dark, brooding, and its tone really got to what the implications of the original song were. Plus, beyond the fact that I already had connections with an incredibly talented pole dancer that I knew could deliver on an amazing interpretive dance (Danae Montreuil), I also knew that looping cello, pole dancing, and Fifty Shades of Grey had never been combined in this way before. I'd be creating something that would be wholly unique, even though it was based off of a song that had been remade.

After weeks of planning, we shot the entire video in about 5-6 takes at Divine Movement in Seattle using pre-recorded audio. This video was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III (primary camera), as well as a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and a Canon 60D. After we'd got all the material with me in it, I repositioned the Canon 5D Mark III and shot Danae at a more close-up angle, which I spliced in to the rest of the video. I think the result is fairly seamless.

This video was picked up by my colleagues at MTV and Refinery29, along with many other pole dancing-affiliated sites and Facebook pages. It dramatically expanded the audience for my cello playing. I'm grateful to all the people that made it possible.

How My 'John Wick' Video Essay Went from 0 to 30K Views


In late October 2014, I published the above video essay on the action of John Wick. I had a great time watching that film and I wanted to put together a brief video that demonstrated my utter disbelief at the audacity the film's set pieces.

To create this video essay, I used film clips from John Wick's Electronic Press Kit. These kits typically include a few videos that broadcasters and videomakers can use as b-roll while putting together packages. They are intended to be shared broadly to generate interest in the film.

Originally, I wanted to run this video essay on /Film but ultimately decided against it because it was a bit too thin. So, I simply published it on my YouTube channel (which has around 4.5K subscribers) and just let it sit there with pretty much no promotion.

I was stunned when I checked the video in recent months, only to find that it had reached 30K views, surpassing the vast majority of video reviews I'd done for /Film. I know that 30K is not a high number, but typically, when I publish a video review at /Film (go here for an example), that review will bring in anywhere from 1K to 15K views.

Curious as to what had caused this traffic, I checked the YouTube stats. By far, the greatest number of people had come from YouTube searches. And what were those searches? Check'em out:

Tons of traffic comes from people just looking for specific scenes in movies. The other top traffic sources were YouTube Suggested videos, and from social sharing sites.

I know this information may be obvious to a lot of people, but when a film becomes prominently and well known for a specific attribute (e.g. John Wick and its fight scenes), then the more you can deliver on that with a video (legitimately), the higher the likelihood that it will be viewed thousands of times. Sometimes, the more specific you are, the better.

The Perfect Response

Adam Sternbergh from New York magazine takes on the concept of "The Perfect Response":

[T]he Perfect Response you cheer for and re-post frantically also tends to be one that (a) confirms whatever you already believe and (b) sticks it to someone you already despise. The Perfect Response is, in essence, not a radical new perspective, but simply a person saying a thing you agree with to a person you disagree with. It’s a kind of linguistic record-scratch, a perfectly crafted gotcha that ostensibly stops trolls in their troll-tracks and forces them to deeply reconsider the sad wreckage of their wasted lives. Which means the Perfect Response is also largely a figment of the internet’s imagination.

I agree with most of what Sternbergh writes here - that an actual  "Perfect Response" is essentially so rare as to make its sharing more like an act of wishful thinking.

But I think this headline format has really taken form primarily because of sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter, something that Sternbergh acknowledges. A "Perfect Response" is simply more interesting and attention grabbing than "A Really Good Response" or "An Adequate Response." Publishers often need to exaggerate to get attention on your News Feed these days.

My question is: What is next in the Internet arms war for attention? What happens when Upworthy-style headlines are so common that all they receive in response is an indifferent shrug?

The Rise of the Sh*tpic

Brian Feldman at The Awl charts the rise of low-resolution internet images that continue to degrade in quality as time goes on:

The Shitpic aesthetic has arisen from two separate though equally influential factors, both of which necessitate screencapping instead of direct downloading. The first is that Instagram, which has no built-in reposting function, doesn’t let users save images directly. This means that the quickest way to save an image on a phone is to screencap it, technically creating a new image. The second, more important shift is the new macro format that divorces text from image.

As a photographer it's sad to me that, in a world where we can replicate digital objects with 100% accuracy, our most popular memes are those that have degraded to almost being unrecognizable due to unintentional compression.

Titanium and Young and Beautiful - Looping Cello version

My latest looping cello video is some improvisation I did featuring themes from "Titanium" and "Young and Beautiful." Check it out!

'A Most Violent Year' Video Review


I really enjoyed J.C. Chandor's latest film, A Most Violent Year. I hated Margin Call but loved All Is Lost. It's been really amazing to witness Chandor's growth as a filmmaker and discover how each one of his movies is so different from the others.