Black on Black

If you've seen the 2011 movie Super 8, you have an idea of how I spent a fair portion of my formative years. The kids in Super 8 are determined to make their own zombie movie. Super 8 isn't dead-on to my own experiences, but it's set at about the same time—the late '70s—when I discovered my passion for filmmaking. For me, it began when I saw the first Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It wasn't just a movie. It was magic. It knocked my socks off. I was very fortunate that my parents and an uncle had 8-mm cameras and enjoyed making home movies. During the next three or four years, our family would get together to make short science fiction movies written by my cousins. We all had our roles, in front of and behind the camera, and we edited our films the old-fashioned way—with a razor blade and glue.

I lost my focus on filmmaking during high school, but found it again in college. It was during the early days of MTV, and as many of my classmates were making music videos for their film-class projects, I again turned to my favorite genre, sci-fi, for my projects. In 1986, I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Radio, Television, and Film from Purdue University.

After college, I began a 14-year career in the production department at a local TV station, making promos for the station and commercials for area advertisers. In 2001, despite the sagging post-9/11 economy, I decided to go my own way with Bokeh.

Of course, I knew that if I was going to be successful in my new endeavor, I had to stay abreast of the latest, greatest in the industry. I spent some time in Los Angeles, studying under Oscar-winning cinematographer Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam and other groundbreaking filmmaking equipment. The Steadicam eliminates shaking and jostling when you walk and use a handheld camera. Now a staple of filmmaking, the Steadicam was first used in such films as Return of the Jedi, Rocky, and The Shining. I've also studied advanced lighting techniques since my time in LA.

I think the two most important factors in achieving good outcomes in films, videos, or whatever, is the quality of the equipment you use and the quality of the people you work with. I've tried to surround myself with the best of both.

My first choice in cameras is the RED One, which has revolutionized the filmmaking industry. When digital video began to supplant film, everyone still wanted digital video to look like film. But digital video has a very sharp focus that lacks the subdued tone and subtlety of film. With the Red One, I'm able to shoot in multiple formats and recreate the softness of film. To boot, the RED One creates images with four times the resolution of high-definition.

While much of my work has been making commercials, I've had the pleasure of working on some feature-length films, including Homeless for the Holidays, a movie made in northeast Indiana that's received positive reviews. I also worked during the filming of Suspended Animation, which was directed by Oscar nominee John D. Hancock.

During the filming of Suspended Animation, I was strapped to the back of a snowmobile as I filmed another snowmobile racing alongside. That was exhilarating to say the least.

I've also found some adventure in foreign locales. In 2004, I shot a documentary about orphans in AIDS-ravaged Uganda. In 2010, I was in Haiti shortly after the earthquake. And I've been to Mexico to shoot films used to show surgeons new techniques.

I'm one of those lucky people who loves what he does for a living. And I’ve always been a one-man show on the business side of things. I figured that if I had to manage a staff, I wouldn't have the time to do the work I love so much. So I’ve been very fortunate to have a lineup of usual suspects—talented filmmaking professionals—I can call upon when I’ve needed help with projects.

If you want to put your message in motion, give me a call. I promise that your project will be sci-fi free. Unless sci-fi is what you want, of course.

Ty Black

—Ty