Film and video have been passions of mine since childhood when I first started playing around with my dad’s miniDV camcorder. As a teenager I organized and taught my high school’s first ever film class which was tremendously popular. I went on to study Film and Television at The Savannah College of Art and Design.
Below are some videos I’ve worked on over the years.
The Housewife and the Beggar
This was a short film I did with Lamia Lazrak based on a painting by Zhang Yibo. The idea was to start with an image, recreate it and build a story around it.
We decided to tell a story about a housewife preparing for her husbands return from work.
Among other things, I was responsible for creating the meat. None of the meat at the grocery store looked anything like what’s in the painting, so I recreated it using styrofoam, silicone caulk and paint.
In 2013 I was asked to create a short film that the Music Technology students at Woods Charter School could score. I wanted something silent and odd, so I created The Picnic.
This was a project I did with my sister Elia Essen about our grandad, a well respected small town dentist who, in recent years, has come down with Alzheimer’s.
Here’s a blast from the past! This was my high school senior project. My sister Elia has been a dancer for many years and I talked her into doing something funky with me.
This was another collab I did with Lamia Lazrak, this time based on the paintings of Lee Price.
This one tells the story of a young woman (played by Lamia herself) who loses the ability to taste and begins to ignore all other senses as she obsesses about the one sense she lacks.
The beach scene at the end was shot on Tybee Island in Georgia which I later returned to as an extra in Dirty Grandpa (starring Robert De Niro and Zac Efron).
You: Short Documentary About Millennials
I was challenged to make a documentary in one week. This is what I came up with. As a millennial myself I’ve always been interested the what my generation will stand for in the sweep of history, so I was glad to get to do a hyper focused mini-study for this project.
A week? Hell, with this one we had only a couple of hours to film! Fortunately I was only acting this time. Seth Bowman asked me to play a Pineapple Express style stoner in his comedy short inspired by a recent iOS update.
Wright Square/Telfair Square Location Study
The goal with this was to really study a particular location, in this case a couple of historic squares in Savannah, GA. I shot a bunch of footage and then cut together a little montage trying to capture the feel of the place as I saw it.
Here’s one for fun. In the summer of 2015 I helped teach an Art and Technology Duke TIP program. We did a section on stop motion and I created this little video as a demo.
That time I was a producer on a Spanish language Chevy commercial….
Here’s one from the archives. This was one of the first serious short films I did back in high school. Some parts seem rough now, but making this short was a tremendous learning experience for me in so many ways.
Since I made Watching there have been a fair number of movies about drones, but I’m not aware of any that existed at the time. People were less aware of drone (er, UAVs) at the time and this project was intriguing to people.
It showed at a few international film festivals, including one in Pakistan, where the film is partially set.
This one’s even older than Watching. This was one of the last projects I did with miniDV, and stars my dad and sister. The VFXs are pretty primitive, but I still love the sounds design and other-worldly look of this one.
This is a silly one! It was a technical study on compositing I did with John Pagan and Elizabeth Mills.