Welcome back to another pro status episode. I’m Drake Jesse, and today we have with us to-we Johnson, and he is a good friend. First off, he is a pro cinematographer, filmmaker, producer. Director. He does all of it, has worked on several projects with us, but he’s also done things like the bright ones movie and the unplanned movie, which are feature films. So he’s done a lot of pro video in the film industry, I guess you could say. So Toby, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So just so we can get to know you or the audience can get to know you a little bit. Maybe tell us a little bit about your background being raised up in video and in that kind of thing. Sure, absolutely. I think I got my start in the whole world of cinematography and photography in high school. Um, I did black and white photography and it was all in the dark room. So I think that kind of gave me a different perspective. Just a finding frames and how to actually do Photoshop in the dark room and what that looked like. So after building a foundation of actual, you know, dark room photography, uh, it just kinda hit a peak for me where I just lost interest. I just, it didn’t feel all of the things. I love music. I love character story, stuff like that. Photography had that, but it just, it maxed out there. And then video became kind of the next thing. So I thought about movies in high school, and I did a summer camp at New York film Academy, and that’s when everything changed for me. It was like photography, framing, all, all of the exposure, all the composition stuff that I love. And then it was character development, and then it was challenging the story side and the creative. And then, so that’s, that’s where it started. After I graduate high school, it kind of got changed for me because I went on more of like the Christian road. I went to a ministry school in Texas because they told me that if I did the ministry school for a year, I could go to their film school. So I won’t name names for the sake of this, but so the whole time, the whole year corporate exercise. I mean industry placement, the whole nine yards to get to this thing. And then when I graduated, um, after that year, I just changed. My mind was just like, Nope, I’m not doing this. So then Bethel church, long story short, went to Bethel church in Redding and met you guys at that point through what was one sound wisdom? And it was a, that was the media company and it was, I don’t even know, seven people. And at that point, what Xcel twos. GLTs Xcel once many DV. Yup. And I think, yeah, the camaraderie of playing with those cameras. It started early for us on more of like a team or musical because of a worship, you know, worship was kind of the backbone of Bethel anyways, and so immersed into how to capture live music and live speaking. So it was, it was a lot of that broadcast style and you know, stuff like that. But you know, 10 years of that now we’re here. You just didn’t have income. So you can see the progress of style and you know where that’s gone. Absolutely. Oh, little overview. Um, in case you guys haven’t looked like our, you don’t know, like recently we did the, to having come conferences this year, and we, and we’ve talked about wanting to do this for a long time, but we were able to capture them on red cameras, which is one is weird because we broadcast in 23, 98, that whole thing. Everyone laughs at us. Um, but it’s been like a, a dream for a long time, uh, to be able to do that. And so we actually did that this year, twice, twice, twice in the same year, which is really cool. And then Jesse did another event with Toby that was captured on red too. So it’s kind of become a little bit of our thing, I guess you could say. We’ve made it to the big time boys. Yeah. I don’t mean backstory on that too. Is that for man, how many years is the very beginning? It was, we. We were all in 29 or 30 friends and it just, it never got to where we wanted it to be. We were all like, how do we make Porsche more cinematic? How do we capture more of an authentic. You know, visceral like experience out of these cameras because I mean, they were broadcast cameras. What are you going to do at that point? You know that you just hit your limit where there’s no depth of field, there’s no nothing there. And it was like, well, why don’t we just try streaming into a member? The whole thing? Let’s dream in 24 Oh yeah. At that point, what, eight, nine years ago? Yup. Everyone was like, you’re retarded. Like that’s, no, nobody does that. That’s not a thing. Gosh. I remember we had, there was a time there, we had two sets of teams. Just because one team was capturing 24 while the other team was actually shooting in 29 and if I remember correctly, this is way back when I used to like volunteer video for sound wisdom. I remember Sal showing me for worship, put it in 24 or 20,008 and then speaking switched the switch on the side of the camp. I’d put it 30 something like that. But yeah, we always wanted to stream in 23 nine eight a GLT frame mode. That was, that was where it was at. Remember, call, maybe we’ll switch the login capture where you’d like be sitting there and it would drop a frame and you’d wake up in the morning and it’s like, Oh, cool. Start over. Yep, man. It’s like that. It’s like what you were talking about last night with the balls game. It takes like four hours to get to one point, and then you make one wrong move and you’re. You have to start all over again. Oh, okay. So you’ve obviously worked in the Christian industry, done a lot of broadcast film stuff. You also done some promos til we now have worked on a couple of cool promos like the Starlight album promo, which is so sick. We can link that down below. All done in one take CBRE. Cool. But you’ve also worked. Kind of in Hollywood with like the unplanned movie. Yeah. Yeah. Non union. Yeah. So like, how is that different than, I mean, it was a Christian initially, a Christian movie, right? Yeah. Christian film. Uh, both directors were Christian, I think produced by, so yeah, Christians. Um, well you definitely have a different, you probably have something cool to say. I mean, Drake’s, yeah. Production manager for touring and Bethel events and. Um, Mr. Love events. So you’re like the most film guy that we have. So like how is it different? Or what did you walk away with something come up like shooting a movie that was like your second movie in a row too. Yeah. Yeah. Well it’s, it’s interesting because I, I think working with the DP drew ma on both of those films, he understood my style and I think coming from a more of like a handheld background. And more of, I think when you film with bigger teams for so long year, you’re forcing yourself to think like an editor a lot more because of having a live director in your ear, in your ear all the time. You’re picturing the edit and you’re, and you’re knowing that, like, I’m. Creating scenes out of different shot compositions. So it makes you very intuitive, but it makes it second nature. And I think that was kind of a helpful thing to be on a film where I was free to be myself in that some of the things that were newer, you know, operating a Fisher Dolly and working on that and being a lot more on Dana dollies and stuff, but with the, with nicer heads, it was this, it was. Funny because I remember being on a 70 and on like a Ben road tripod for ever trying to make it perfect and fighting for it until I did enough weddings to buy the next tripod or steal a beg and borrow to get geared to make whatever we were doing. Yeah, absolutely. And I’m glad I wasn’t cheated in that process by like having money because it forced me to be good with the tools that I had. Yeah. So to be honest, like having the intuition to think like the edit editor and having the freedom to pick my shots in that way. And then having the gear that’s just industry standard, unbelievable O’Connor heads and stuff that I had never worked on before. So it, on bright ones we use are so many pros in the, um, Sigma Cyndi zooms and mostly Ronan. Yeah. Was it was an easy rig and that had a Serena arm on it. And so that, that was really nice and I use that pretty much. The whole show on my back is still feeling that one, but mostly Ronen. And then unplanned was a lot of, for me, wide shots and Dana Dolly in Fisher Dolly, I was pretty much on those the entire show. Would you say that part of your style is like the up-close wide, like the macro wide. Yeah, I’d say so. Yeah. I think I like interacting with the character, you know, whatever subject is so much in a physical way that I like to be handheld and I like to be wide and I like to be close, so yeah. Yeah. So 27 mil to like 45 is kind of where, this is kind of a sweet spot for me. Yeah, and I think we’ve actually talked about this before and you just mentioned it like having to be scrappy back in the day and like you don’t, there is no money, there’s no budget. You’re just, here’s my DSLR and my Amazon prime equipment and I’m just making it work. I think that’s helped all of us. No doubt. Like now we actually get to work with a budget. But the background of having to always make it work no matter what, I think has. That part of that is plays into the success that we have now. Cause we’re always going back to that. Absolutely. We, yeah, we always revert back to, Oh, we can make this happen. You know, there could be, we’re trying to rig up something on a camera and it’s like, we don’t have all the stuff to do it, but we’re gonna figure out. The most, Jay, Rick, the way to do it and we’ll always, yeah. And actually like, I think some guys actually, uh, just kind of shut down where we are. Like, Oh, it’s no big deal. We’ll just use this thing. Yeah. Like at work, always, always make it work. So maybe, maybe too much. Maybe we’re too good. Yeah. I mean, there’s a, there’s an aspect of like, you have to be, you have to have a lot of MacGyver blood to make it in the industry. Oh, for sure. Just have to, yup. All those bits and bops. If you have a smile on your face and you’re my driver, you’re going to win. It’s just you have a solution because you’re going to have problems, right? Like no matter what, the demons come out of every single wire and it’s going to be a thing. So I think it, it keeps you light and it keeps you on budget. Like your profit margins are better when you’re F you have been forced to work with nothing. Yeah. Cause like you gotta you know, you gotta feed your family and you have to rent gear. So you have to do both. At some point you get bigger. It’s an, I work with some of these companies that like, the waist is kind of insane, to be honest. Yeah. They rent, they’ll rent two of everything just to have it, you know, and not even know that you, you don’t, you’re not gonna use any of it. Yup. You know, we’ve sent back stuff on open boxes before, and that’s just, I’ve never seen that on any show that you or Jesse I’ve ever run. There’s never been waste. But that’s always been exactly what we needed, but only what we needed. And obviously you guys have a lot of years of doing build-outs, you know, custom build outs for people and building systems. Which is kind of rare for, I think, a lot of production companies to understand multiple different combinations of units. Like when it comes to like lighting consoles. Sound stage, all of that stuff. I don’t, I don’t, I only know camera, which you guys have been working in all of it for 10 years now. So that gives you kind of an advantage. Yeah, I’d say I’ll use that as a testimonial on my website. Perfect. You go for it. I made it up, but no, we don’t. So you would say that all of your, your knowledge, it’s just experience, like you didn’t go to school. Anything. It’s all just been learning as you go. One summer camp and then, well, so 2000 and. Eight I think is when I’m Anthony West, who has been a mentor to all of us in a good, good friend. Uh, he moved from, from London to Redding and started, started Bethel TV. And so he trained all of us on everything from just like composition to even buying a steady cam, like way to steady cam and then doing trainings on that as well. So. He was a, he was a great operator and he worked for ITV in London and I can’t remember what else. ITV. He definitely brought up pro level to Bethel when he came over where we were kind of limping along trying to figure out what the heck we were doing. And then he definitely brought up a pro level to the job he did. And I’ve only met two people like him. One guy here in Atlanta I met recently who reminded me so much of him. And it was just the, uh, the era of confidence and like years of experience, but a soft, like, fathering presence. You just felt safe. But he also challenged you to come out and be yourself, you know, in, in whatever you’re doing. And, uh, so under his mentorship for that long is where I learned all the camera operation stuff. And. Kinda gear management too, I think. Like taking care of things and how to manage stuff. Cause he was very tight with the ship. And I thought that was helpful for me in the beginning. Even when it comes to like shock composition, he was, he was very strict about things and then let us break them when it was necessary or when it meant something, like when it was motivated. Yeah. And so I think that’s been, honestly, that’s. The word of my career in my style and cinematography would have to be motivation. Like I’m very motivated emotionally in a motivated story-wise and all that little things. And I think I do that with the operating operating a camera physically. So he really liked formed that in us and yeah, that’s great. I think I’ve told people this before, that our firstly volunteers, like at churches and stuff where they like step into the director. Roll and sit in the director’s seat. And I’m like, have you ever run a camera before? And they’re like, ah, you know, once or twice. And I’m like, you actually need to know how to run a camera to be ultra direct. And I think that goes in like time trying to tie it into what you were talking about, like as a cinematographer, being an editor as well, like has helped. I know it’s helped me. I see. To help you. Even like on Sunday we were talking about look man, wearing where I was watching the shots and I was like, Oh, you can tell he edits. Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, reference, we have had a chronic problem of never having returned video, but actually it’s been a good thing because, you know, onstage camera, I can usually see on an led somewhere what the current shotting. So yeah, it’s fine, but. With the blindness of that, it’s actually been helpful because subconsciously, if I can’t see and have reference, I’m building on my own shots with the tempo and whatever’s happening, and then when I hear feedback from the director on what’s happening, or like I can tell where that person is in their shot or in their movement. It’s like it’s a challenge every time, but once you start to like only, um, rely on the director’s energy and what he’s trying to get at timing wise, it’s amazing how many times I’ll listen to only that and try to play off the director and the music that’s happening at the same time, matching both of their energies. And then the director freaks out and goes, I love that shot so much, and my God, this is amazing. And then, you know, from there you build this momentum to where that’s where I think our team gets. And I haven’t felt that on any other team I’ve been on. And that’s this really weird like high that we get into. Yup. Oh, I totally agree. I think it goes the other way too, like sometimes the director of my struggle or just like not be in the rhythm yet, you know, and on a camera like you, you know where the director should be oftentimes, and you can offer shots and like kind of push and like help direct from camera and kind of help steer things back on track too. Sure. Oh, I was just on a show where. The talent was, um, they’d be talking to camera one and he taught, he leaned to or like to camera too. And so he’s forcing the edit. Right. In a sense, like if you think of it that way, whatever actions, like whatever’s happening on stage, we have a good balance. We found a good, healthy balance, I think, or at least we’re, it will never be done, but we’re finding it. Yeah. Actively engaging, like being in the pocket. In that it’s like the build the guitar solo that’s coming up after the big, big build on the drums or whatever. If there’s solo calming, like the solo can motivate the cut, right? Yep. And so at somewhere between the big build on the drums and the guitar solo, there can be a cut. Yeah. We’ve, we found a way to where a cut before the drum build up. If it’s. A big CR, you know, crowd wide reverse shot or something, and it went pants. Right. Somehow in that weird high, I’m talking about if the WIP goes from that camera to the drum build and then walks to the electric solo that’s in the same frame. So it’s filled and that creates to the next cut. Well, it doesn’t jar you away from the build into this. So actually like brings you into that solo. Yeah. You know, that’s the, that’s the kind of stuff that we do where the director has to trust the operator. Like Jessie’s saying, there’s a lot of trust back and forth where the operator will lean into the, you know, the director’s energy and what he’s going for. But then when, you know, the director sees us going for something strange, like Chad Vegas, the director who, you know, haven’t He’s really good about that. He’ll know when to go, okay, you’re doing something weird. And then when you trust me, I get to do a reverse walk-up all the way. If you know 20 feet from the drum set to right behind the lead vocal and I’m ruining every other shot, I forced every other shot in the dirt, but because that whole thing happened, it was beautiful. It was an awesome moment. You know? It wouldn’t have happened any other way. It’s true. I’ve been on the receiving end of that where I’m like, dang, Toby’s in my shot. I’m sitting there going, I know Toby’s got it. Like he knows when to push it. Yeah. And I just back off. You know, it’s like, all right, well I think part of that is we’ve developed, like our team has, like we’ve kept the same team for a long time, and so we’ve been developing. Well, our team for sure, actually the last several interviews have been focused around, our conversations have been focused around the value of our community and team and trust and all that kind of stuff. So it’s really cool. It’s like a recurring thing you have to build trust with your team and on top of that, to not having the program, it forces you to also watch. The other people and listening and listening, listening to what’s happening in the room, obviously, but like if I’m on stage or Toby, I will constantly be watching what he’s doing too, and one try to stay out of his way, but shoot where he’s not shooting, it drives me nuts when they’re not watching. Like you got peripheral vision, use it, you know, like. You should always be aware. We have a great photo of Toby from the first having come where he’s shooting something, for sure he can tell, but he’s not even looking at his screen of his camera, like if he’s shooting either the drums or something for sure, but you can tell he’s looking. He’s already looking at something else. Yeah, he knows where he’s going to go, and that’s that extra level. That’s the. It takes you to the next level. That’s funny. I was just in Nashville yesterday on a show. This is a no cussing show, isn’t it? So it’s a poop show. It was a poop show. Anyways, do the operators there were like, they’re friends with Chad Vegas somehow who’s a director at Bethel. They were asking me about like Lenzing and camera placement for the venue that they were in, and then they were saying. They were trying to get at like how do we recreate your step, that style that you guys are doing? Yeah. Here, you know, with lenses and camera placement and what jib, Dubai, you know, or, or whatever. And it’s like all the gear I, I mean, so the last that like, by the end of it, I just was like, I don’t know dude. The only thing I’d tell you is there’s a team trust. It has to be built. There has to be a common style. There has to be a give and take in there. And then the biggest thing is tell your team, beat it into their skull every single day. You are always live. You don’t like, you are never not live. Because whether it’s a, you know, if it’s a post, if it’s post cut. I have been, you know, stuffed so many times because people are filming their feet, walk around the room for 12 minutes until they find just the right shot. You know? And, and in a lot of ways, they’re not understanding that as an editor, a lot of the most beautiful moments were not planned. Even from an operation standpoint. If I’m filming something and I do a whip pan and it doesn’t work, but it actually hits an led wall, that’s at that point showing something. From a weird, you know, perspective, but, but it fits so well that it’s like an inanimate object is now a character in some way. Not that you’re just flipping your camera around. I’ve been on those shows too, where it’s just like, Hey, I just want you to literally put the camera on an easy rig, don’t touch it, and then run around the room. Kind of thing. Yeah. It’s just like spinning a circle. No, not that circles. It just feels like I’m not, it’s not motivated at all. But when you, when they can capture that in their church, you know, if they can let their operators play and like guide them in one direction. I mean, how many, how many Sundays did we stray and where the pastors came up and were like, please stop doing that. Like I would never do that again. Yeah, it’s true. I did a barrel roll on one Sunday in like 2000 something. Yeah. Full three 60 barrel full shot. I mean, if you’re still doing that, it’s a little dated washy Dutch t-shirt right there. Or a hat. Go to the store after this and by the watch your dad. Oh yeah. I remember I had a director like my instruction was, I mean, you know who I’m talking about, but the instruction, I would always get whiz. You know, get the secret sauce that was literally in my, my shot list in quotes. Yeah. Which basically meant like get this, get the moments and the stuff that isn’t necessarily the main capture, but it’s all the special things that you have to be perceptive and feel. Yeah. Right. The little stuff, the happy accidents, you know, and you just gotta be ready. And I literally was. Literally, that was my full position and it was so much fun, so much fun. I think it took me like, I mean it’s, I’m still not there, but it took me a long time to tune out all of the energy in the room on any live broadcast that had more than 10 people to tune out the energy of everyone there and the noise and the movement to just look at the screen and create. You know, to, to start to frame and think about it from, from a cinematography standpoint. Yeah. Yeah. And also things that normally you wouldn’t quite look at, but, but also highlight really awesome moments. One time we were, I can’t remember what haven’t come, it was, but it was backstage and Brian Johnson was like laying on the floor and then the band was behind him. And. His hands were in the air and then there was like a weird red light from an exit sign lighting him in the wings. It was so strange. And I saw him there like ran way too far behind the stage and like got the shot. And I remember then the photographer saw me and like I was like, Oh. And then he came over and sniped it is still the same exact shot at him and I think it made one of their posts or whatever. But it was, it was so funny cause like I don’t, you never would look for that stuff. But when you do get it and it becomes a movie, it’s like, Whoa, that’s, that’s a different thing. yeah. Looking at that plays into paying attention to actually what’s happening in the room, like and what, it could not be on the stage. Like I know we’re talking about like a live broadcast with music right now, but. It is really just paying attention to everything that’s going on. And it might not be the drum solo or the guitar solo that’s happening. It might be something off the stage, and that’s where I think it takes it to the next level is you’re capturing something that no one else is seen. And that’s, I mean, that’s our job, I think, and I think we’ve all experienced that moment where everybody’s just in that flow. Yup. And then it’s almost like you’re watching the program unfold. And this is like this outer body experience. Like I know I’ve had these moments where I’m running camera and I’m. No longer even consciously aware of what my body’s doing. I’m just literally taking it in a, it’s, it’s super wild. Well, you can, you can get into a rhythm for sure on camera. And, and also like you are in the experience while you’re filming the, it’s a collective, it’s like a synergy between everybody. Um, I, I want to know, like, what is like a favorite, do you have a favorite moment specifically for you, Toby? Running camera where it just, I dunno. Made you want to cry or something, you know? Oh man. Yeah. Yeah. I, uh, was talking to some of the other Dan and there were those. It’s like those are the little bumps that get you by pre-production and the pain and load in, load out. Yeah. All this stuff that you go through, you know, net 90 on payment, whatever it is. What made me want to cry is that we just rented. Camera’s for a shoot and lens rentals didn’t deliver that. And so at 9:45 PM we went to best buy and bought $10,000 worth of camera gear, and they didn’t have anything but Sony a 64 hundreds and we had that. Anyways, that’s why I forgot this question for hundreds. Yeah. Anyway. She bought them all and returned them. We rented them, which I call a restock fee. It’s the same thing. Okay. One moment, man, that I wanted to cry. Geez. Those are like, like I was saying, those are the bumps. They get me by all the pain and I think heaven come. The last one. There were a couple of moments where we were all just. So together in the shots that it was insane and you could just feel it. It was, it went on a roll. It was the almost the entire song. That was kind of crazy. Sometimes you get in those moments where you’re, you don’t know where you end and the shot is, for some reason, your brain is living through that shot. Something as you’re seeing a shot on a monitor. It’s that I don’t even, you can’t explain it. It’s a high, it’s like it’s crack. That’s why we got into film and I Yeah, sometimes. But they’re powerful. I’m, I’m trying to think of one that’s like specific, I mean, that one shot that you got of JP. I haven’t come. Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. I mean, that brought so much emotion to the entire room. Watching. Yeah. Backstage, like watching the program, like that was insight that made me want to cry. Yeah. Yeah. I get you get that choked up feeling out as an operator and it’s just, it’s crazy to, it’s almost like, man, if you, if something in history was happening that was pretty significant and you had a photography camera and you just happened to like. Take a picture of the exact thing happening and the framing is perfect, and you’re the only one who got that picture. Not that you’re like going to be famous for the picture, but you know, you got it somehow, like the stars aligned and it just, everything works. Yeah. That’s how it feels. But it’s 24 frames per second and it happens for 16 seconds in a row. And you’re just flying across some stage somewhere, like with the camera on a headset. It’s just such a weird thing, but yeah, man, that’s a feeling. It’s crazy how long that those 16 seconds even failed to you. Yeah. Oh yeah. Like it feels like that. Those are the moments I’m like, that’s what you trust you for 16 seconds, you’d better be a really good shot. Or, you know, like at the last conference of the switcher panel cutout and it’s stuck on a shot and it’s stuck on Luke. Oh look man, wearing, and it’s like, well, stay alive until we can fix it. Which I mean, no better person to land on because it was so steady, like, Oh yeah, sorry. The probably, it’s probably only 30 seconds. Which is a long time and a cus. He was in the pit with the 7,200 yeah. He was in the crowd with the 7,200 so he was just moving around between people’s hands and the back to the vocal. And I mean, yeah, we’ve made it look intentional cause that’s again pro, but try not to shoot it, try not to let people know when there’s issues happening. Like it’s true. And like I think one of the, like I, it’s amazing to me how much of our, like personality. I guess really our personality and our confidence, like our attitude, it translates on camera. Yeah. Like if you’re not confident, like if that situation arises, like you know you’re going to screw it up. You know, but it’s, it’s incredible how like being present, being mindful of like, obviously the cut in the directing and whatnot, but I don’t know. I just think it’s crazy how, how that affects your work and it does translate. It turns out it’s on screen and your ability to perform and the energy of the team. And it’s cultural too. You know? Like, I think we’ve been building that for a long time. It’s just the, it’s the language we use with each other and it’s also the trust we give each other. It’s also just our background at the church. We were all at, you know, I think that we learned a lot. We learned very specific things that, whether we’re in the church world now or not, I think we carry with us. Culture of honor is one of those things that I think we carry still. So like, I’m gonna, I’m going to honor you because I’m honorable, not because you deserve it. I mean, that’s unbelievable because you walk onto a set and you have. You know, a Dick director, it’s like, well, I, there’s nothing for me to prove here. I’m not going to like be mean back two years, yell back at you. I’m just going to smile and I’m going to do the best job I can. And then I’m also going to take as many liberties as I can with the camera. Like always steals many liberties with it and your operation as you can. That’s my only. Advice would be push, push it so far that you, did people tell you to dial it back all the time? Yeah, absolutely. Push. Yeah. Push it. I mean, you don’t want the director being the one that’s like telling you to push it constantly, or I need more from you. You know, I need more energy. Can you like not just stand there on the drum set? It’s like you want to definitely be. Pushing the boundaries, and that’s all of us. That’s our personality. It’s like, let’s explore what hasn’t been explored. Let’s, let’s do what hasn’t been done. I don’t have to Rob. Yes. Rob the robot. That’s the new tee shirt. Don’t be wrong. T-shirts that this plays into the Prostat is like a message of like, we want to be a pro isn’t just being good at your job. It’s, it’s like a person that you are right. You become pro before you show up pro and perform. Yeah. And so like one of the big things that we’re wanting to communicate to people. Listening to the show is you might be the most talented person in the room. But if you have a bad attitude, it doesn’t matter. You’re, you’re stealing, you’re stealing from the team, you’re stealing from other people’s contributions. Like, I mean, in this hat, it’s happened before. Actually, it happened to Toby once where, you know, the decision had to be made attitude versus talent. Oh, you have a story. Well, I think we all know what story this is, but we’ll let Toby tell it. Preface it. Cause there there’s so many stories. It was 2017 it was fall 2017 Oh, okay. I mean for me, like I will pick out a teared because you can teach talent. Absolutely. Absolutely. But you can’t always teach that attitude part. Yup. And that, you know, attitude and also smart isn’t always good. and smart doesn’t mean good in the, in the production world that I have to like stress that because I’ve been running into that lately. Everybody, you know, a lot of people here in this culture is a little bit different, but Oh, that person’s so smart. They know everything about everything, about, about the production. Um, and that’s fine. You know, like, you know, knowing your gear and all. That’s great. Yeah. But if you don’t have the character to show up on time and you don’t have the character to always be live in a sense of like, yeah, it’s, it’s actually really tiring to shoot an entire show where I’m trying to do a one or the entire, the entire time I’m not, I’m trying to tie every shot so that it’s, I’m always usable for post cut. Imagine it, you know, do this thing of you’re recorded yourself and then watched your entire shot for the whole set. If you do that and you want to punch yourself face so much that it’ll make you improve because you’ll see the, you wasted so much time with, because you’re not thinking ahead. You’re not planning the next shot. You’re not on, your brain’s not on. So yeah, I think that that character you can’t teach, you know? No. That’s actually a great tip. If you want to improve, record yourself. Oh yeah, for a whole set and then watch it back and you won’t let me go watch like 15 seconds. Be like, God, I hate myself. Or are you recording for an hour? And you realize I, there’s only 30 minutes of usable content in this one hour clip. That’s the whole career though. It is. It’s doing a job and getting home and realizing that you suck. That’s just cause they’re never happy. No. It always, you always have to take it to the next level. Every time I watch something and I’m like, that’s great, but my brain is instantly thinking about how it could be better and then retire. Good enough is an absolute enemy in and production. Oh yeah. Man, that is so true. Like I, you know, it’s funny though, cause like this year one of the biggest things I’ve had to confront in myself as a is perfectionism. And for me, perfectionism has like stopped me from taking action or taking risk in certain areas. And so it’s actually disabled me from, from accomplishing other goals. And so like, trying to apply myself to take more risks and not, you know, learning new ways to measure our success cause I don’t go home feeling super bummed out. You know, so I don’t hate myself, but I’m like, did the team work really well together? Do we communicate well? Where we prepared? Do we have things in order? Do we show up the way that we were supposed to show up? You know what I mean? Like start going down this different list and did I perform at an 80% or a 90% or did I give 110% you know? Yeah. And, uh, it, yeah, it’s just a different, different measurement for sure, because perfectionism can really hurt you, but I think in the same way, complacency and, you know, incorporate a lot of the corporate gigs. Me and the guys who do medical, like medical seminars and like just talking head stuff. Yeah. So hard to apply your full self and be fully present. I just check out, man. I like, I die and then I wake up at the end of the conference and I get a per diem check and I go to my hotel room and I just questioned why I chose this path. You know, that’s real. It’s so true. I mean, and then you did the next, the next shoot you do is like some live thing that’s insane and so fun and you love the people and then you’re freelance. You get three weeks off cause something got canceled and. It’s like, we’re, we’re carnies man. You gotta just partner with the life. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so let’s sit. We usually, towards the end, we kind of just do some like pop corny question, the popcorn ish questions. Like what flavor you like a little bit better than that, but yeah. So this question is no budget. What camera and lens combo, which you always shoot with or are most inspired by right now or most inspired by right now without a budget limit for what application? What’s it going to bring you joy. Oh, what’s going to bring me joy? Yeah. To me that’s the best filter, right, man. I would probably say I would. I do the Alexa mini LF. Lens combo. See, I mean, maybe anamorphics if I’m talking, having fun. Yeah. You know, and no budget. I mean, man. I know. There’s so many great options. Yeah. That’s a, that’s a great question. Well, okay. Some gear that’s exciting for me. Just dot. On like a unlimited budget thing, is that we’re, we’re at a time right now where there’s, you know, the, the pockets six K Hey. And the monitor’s great. And the image quality is insane, and it’s straight to SSD, which is like unbelievable. Yeah. I think I still pinch myself at what’s available now compared to what even five years ago was available and what we were fighting with. So you’re like, what’s your favorite thing right now? And my favorite thing right now is that. Everything’s moving so fast. I can’t even decide what I want or what school never have. But that’s yours. I mean, you still don’t own, I can’t remember if I said to you. Okay. Oh, okay. Um, I bought a food ZX T3 as a like, nice. Just play camera and I’m in love with it. I’ve been buying vintage lenses. I have a kind of a fetish for that. Sounds like a weird word. Like I put my feet on him or something. No, I collect them. I love in digital lenses and that camera has such a great filmic look to it. Even filming video and it’s tiny. I can, I can run around with it. That’s kind of one of my favorite things. Uh, no in term of no internal student stabilization, which is kind of like, it’s downfall. But I needed it for photography too, for my wife’s business. So that’s why I got that. And I’ve been even owning a camera spinning. Incredible. Cause I haven’t owned one in so long that like I’m doing funny projects for people. Like we’re going to do a horror film in the next couple of days for a coffee shop. That’s a brother Moto coffee shop in Atlanta and we’re just just screwing around. I haven’t done that in so long, so it’s fun. Awesome. But if I could do that with a Alexa of any kind, that’d be fun too. It’s funny, the only camera that I own right now is a Sony RX and 100 which is technically a point and shoot camera. Um, any other camera, which is weird. You went from a one DX Mark too, to a point and shoot red to a one. DX. I went from a red to a one DX to a point and shoot. Well, you didn’t want to carry a 14 pound. Yeah. Um, Hey, what about a film? Like what about something on television? A film. Somebody is inspiring you right now. It’d be cool if it was probably current, like what’s something current. It can be TV show. Yeah, just been watching the newest Peaky blinders. I really liked that show. I been watching. The office can never go wrong with that. Parks and rec. The office, and this isn’t like the most recent thing, but this is, this is something that kind of sparked like a journey. I’ve been going down and I saw first reformed with Ethan Hawke. It was in for three. And I’m pretty sure he supports me, and it was just insane. As you know, watching it as a cinematographer or someone’s who aspires to be as good as these people. And you see the like depth in the framing and composition, and you’ve been looking at 16 nine or two 25 for so long that I just. It wrecks you, you know? It just doesn’t make sense to me again. And so that made me start to think about composition in a different way. Not that I’m going to go to 69 and do some weird stuff, but it did start to open up kind of lens choices and focal lengths and how I want to shoot different scenes. It’s like, I like to do like French overs over, you know, in a conversation. I enjoy that look, you know? And so then I’m like, all right, that’s one thing that I like put in my style Bible. I guess. Like I’m, I like this look some of their composition when it comes to like visual weight and making. The shots equal weighted, and then when something would happen and motivated, they would change that visual weight to symbolize some kind of emotional thing. So the camera philosophy side of that challenged me to start thinking more about that. So I’ve been drawn more towards movies that do that as opposed to like action movies. You know, just kind of over over those. I think that also adds to the pro status. Mark is like, yeah, we have our style, we have the stuff that we like and that we constantly do, but also being open and inspired by other people too, where we’re open to get out of our own box. Yeah. That were, that were in, cause I think, I don’t know for me, and it might’ve been for you watching the Revenant. That really inspired the macro super wide angle lens thing that getting up close, but at 16 millimeter type of look, which is a look, it’s a style for sure, and that that really is one of those films that inspired me. Sure. What you’re saying is. It’s true, like being open to seeing what other people are doing and being like, actually, I don’t have to shoot everything at 60 millimeter. Right. I don’t have to do that. No. Yeah. Have you seen the Florida project? I don’t think so. No more article me. but like, I don’t wanna ruin it, but they ended up using like an iPhone or something in the movie. That one’s heart. It’s actually, it’s at the very end. The climax and I just, it, I hated it so much when I saw the last shot of that movie that it ruined. It ruined a perfect movie sort of thing. Like I just felt like they just stopped writing the movie and they’re like, or they lost funding and had to just finish it. So they’re like, Oh no, just get a shot of this thing. And then the movie ended and I was so angry. And then I sat with the movie for awhile and. I started to like understand why they chose that or why they would have wanted to choose that or what it would have done it, and maybe the react, the reaction that I had was, was something that they wanted. They intended for the near death. Yeah. And if you don’t challenge yourself, if you don’t watch things that are weird and awkward or not in your style of filming or whatever, if you don’t do that, then you will never progress because you can’t pick up. Even the littlest things. I don’t like Dutch, but when I see it done in a motivated way, it’s beautiful. You know, it’s like, Oh, was that was, that was the perfect use of that tool. Therefore, I can’t just say, I hate Dutch. I’ll never use Dutch. Never for whatever. You know? Yeah. So anyway, I rant. I do, I do want to ask one thing like, yeah, so we, our listeners are going to be, I mean, there’s going to be a mix of like church production and you know, not everybody’s going to be working in the church and for ministry. So I w a lot of them are. Doing their side hustle, right? Like a lot of production guys are volunteering at church on the weekends and their day job is a normal paying gig, doing some kind of media work. What’s a word of encouragement? Something to inspire them out or what? What’s something that you wish somebody had told you? I think I’m kind of struggling with that or like overcoming that now and that’s that you’re, if you’re pursuing a career in film or like. You dream to be something someday, whatever it is, directors, cinema. Yeah. Or do you want to be the proxy quality on a direct live stuff as you’re doing this craft, as you’re learning this craft, if you cheat your process in any level, like you don’t take a risk and buy a piece of gear. That you can afford to start, you know, getting your hands and feet wet and doing that thing, and you’re not finding a mentor, like somebody that does film and just ask if you can shadow them, you know, just watch them just to learn from somebody that has been doing this forever, to be an observer, because you’re gonna use that as an operator. If you’re an observer, you’re going to look for shots. So start practicing, picking up weird little tricks and tips because. The bigger tool belt gets as a MacGyver, the better you’re going to be on set. And if you have the weirdest little connectors in your toolbox, because we do that, like Jesse is the King of this, you’ll have a Pelican case full of. Everything, you know, a coat hanger, a pipe, I don’t know what, but it’s 10 years that you’ve been building this and you know that you’re going to need it and you’ll have that tool. I definitely plan for what everyone probably forgot. And you’ve also built custom. Stuff. You’ve also built custom tools, you know, custom rigging gear, stuff like that. I mean, but that had to be done because you saw problem and you fixed it. You didn’t just buy an expensive part. You had to learn the mechanics of why it does what it does, and then you could go on to use the tool properly and respect the tool properly. Like don’t cheat your process. If you want to be a director, you have to learn how to shoot. You have to learn how to edit. You have to learn how to talk to people. And work with teams, you know, so that, that’s the biggest thing is that you just chill out. Because I’m flipping burgers right now when it comes to what I’m doing. Like I, I hate a lot of what I do sometimes, and it’s like you do corporate stuff or whatever and it gets really boring and it’s all follow cam stuff and you dream of doing movies or writing or whatever, but you’re paying your bills and you’re on a camera and you’re moving forward. It’s what you do like on your off time. And I’m guilty of this, like on the worst, if you have four or five days off and you own a camera and you don’t shoot them and you don’t stay sharp or you’re not learning and researching and studying what you’re interested in, like even if it’s something weird within film that you’re interested in, it will come back to help you in that in the future. If you think that script writing first day is a cool thing and you and you just start researching script writing, but then you end up being becoming an off camera operator, like that will serve you at some point. Yeah. So I mean, they’re all stepping stones and not cheating your, your journey by wanting to get there faster or the biggest thing is not putting pressure on yourself to think that like you’re going to go conquer the mountain of media for God and like. If you don’t like stay up and work 18 hours at a time and push really hard and deny yourself and you know, it’s like so weird, but you get into that thing where that service. And not charging your proper day rate and not getting enough sleep and not making contracts that your clients sign that protect yourself. You know, like don’t fall under either of over-serving and over committed cause I’m the King of over committing and then staying way too long. And then when I become a turd and my job, you know, like quality drops. It’s a recipe for disaster to do that. That’s awesome. That’s actually really great. And it’s so true. I think, you know, one of my favorite off time things is taking pictures. Yeah. I love photography for my, just for my free time. It like simplifies it all. And there’s just like this simple satisfaction and relaxation in it, so it’s still the same work. It keeps me in love with what the work is. I love it. It’s my favorite pastime. But yeah, I love what you said about valuing yourself to such a big deal. Absolutely. Like no one, no one’s asking you to lay. No one’s asking you to lay on your sword. You know what I mean? Like that’s just not necessary. It’s just, it’s just not necessary. In the same way. It’s not necessary to. Like try to come under a bit like you get, you know, someone says, Hey, I want to do this thing, and you really like it and it’s cool, and like send me a bid, and then you, you go, okay, well I want to be competitive, right? That’s the, yeah. I want to make sure I’m not over that. But then you start whittling yourself down. Yup. In your conversations with your self talk as you’re writing the bid, and by the end of it you go, okay, I’m going to pay myself $2 and then you just about send it and you’re like, wait, what? Like I’m not upselling anything, I’m not making sure that he does. It’s like my dad always told me, he’s like, you always, he was a general contractor and it’s like he adds 15% to all of his workers. For himself. He has 15% to the entire, like he has all of these things that he goes, yeah, but I have to talk to Bob all day long. And you know, Bob, he wants to go to the bathroom 18 times. Like those things aren’t accounted for. But once you realize by the end of a trip, you get home and you’re toast. You’re not even there for your family. You’ve been up for 18 hours, you’re irritable, and then you have to leave on a trip the next week. I don’t really want to get divorced. Like I want my marriage to be healthy and happy and I want to see my kids. If you get this, if you get it nailed down in the early stages of this whole thing where you’re charging, you know what you are worth, what you actually fully believe you’re worth, and then you’re putting in these things in, in whatever bid or contract that protect your time and your food. Because you know, I mean, I’ve, how many times have we not eaten. Because they have an oversight. Yup. For a full day, you know. It affects you, it affects your, your operation. You’re not fully there. You can’t connect with it. You can’t be a team. It w you’re saying, which is true. Like, you know, we’re not, I get triggered sometimes because when I feel like a client’s treating me as a commodity, I’m like, well then just hire the local guys. You know, hire the local guys are cheaper. Like, I don’t really need to do this. You know, if you want me what I bring to the table, like pay what I pay, what I charge. And, and I’m gonna bring my experience, my insight, my knowledge, and I’m going bring so much little value bits and bops. Cause like I guarantee you I have experienced and I guarantee you that I care more than the other guy. Yeah. So just pay up because you can’t afford, I mean, yeah. Like what’s it going to cost you to screw it up? It’s going to cost so much more. I mean, I kind of dealt with that recently where it just kept. The budget kept getting widdle and down and down and down and down to the point where it’s like, do you really want me to be there? I don’t. I don’t think so. That’s the hardest thing for people, I think is like, you know, we whittle ourselves down and then, you know, like being willing to just say no and walk away and yeah, there’s going to be another opportunity. So, well that’s the hard thing being freelance too, is you don’t want to say no. Yeah. Cause you’re like, this is work, but that’s I page, I need money. Yeah, absolutely. But all their life isn’t as bad as the one thing I will say, and I live by this for my wife and I both do, is life is never short of opportunity. Like it will never be. You know, that law of attraction thing is so important and it’s really true. If you believe that the universe, God is out for your wellbeing in your best interest, and you’re going to pursue the day as though great things are going to happen and you treat people the same way. And also you, you don’t isolate. You’re always in the face of people. You’re always in some way connecting with the direction that you want to go. You’re trying to build momentum into whatever industry it will work like it just always does. I’ve never missed a payment. Well, I have missed a payment and I have had to have my dad bail me out at times. But like those were, those were really, really weird times. Other things were happening. You know, it’s like I have a trust in, in that you know, that whatever you are like pursuing, if you pursue it with like full honesty. And looking for it in every way. Being aware and being that could be right next to you at all, at all times. You know, those jobs always happen. Like they are always going to happen and they may not be the best jobs, but they’ll get you by until you do something great. You know? You know, before we actually started recording this podcast, I was at a us having a conversation with somebody over coffee and he, you know, he was just like, Hey, so what do you do? And I’m like, well, I mean by trade, I mean, I am a video guy at heart. And I’m like, but what I really do, like if you observe me with clients and stuff, I am creating an experience. I am extracting things from them, right? Like I’m connecting their hearts and their passions. I’m connecting what they do with passion and purpose, right? And like, and that which is such a different mindset, you know? And if I’m worried about, if I’m thinking about money all the time and I’m thinking about like, Oh my gosh, am I going to have enough? I can’t even show up relationally with these clients and bring this whole other mindset because I’m so distracted by money. Right? Yeah. And like, so it’s just a such a different thing. And like, you know, if, if, if it, if something falls through, like I can’t tell you how many times, you know, someone says, ah, man, I can’t do it. I’m back now. And I’m thinking, shoot, like, I needed that like, three grand because I got this thing I’ve got to pay. And then the next day, you know, something better comes along. I’m like, you can’t, you, I mean, I’ve said it on this podcast before, you can’t operate in scarcity. Because you can’t, you can’t do your job. No, you just can’t show up to pretty much anything. If that’s, that’s your, where your mindset is, and if that is where your mindset is, then that’s fine. But you know, we’re traveling production guys and we’re bringing our a game, you know? And so that, that happens in not just our performance and on the job, but. You know, we’re, we’re trying to bring it in our personal life and it’s, it’s crazy. It’s like I’ve been on a rampage of trying to bring the art back to film because I lost it so much in production and having just gone like kinda numb to it. It’s like I lost the art in why I did what it, what I do. If you can maintain the art of it, then you know that some projects are for you. Like some projects are actually, they, you’d be doing it a disservice if you joined, even though the pay is okay and you think you need the money. And I’ve said, notice some jobs that would have killed me, literally kill me, you know, and financially killed me. And I’ll, you know, if you operate out of a, of the lack and, and just fear. You’re going to take jobs that a lot of times hurt you worse than they help you because you just weren’t aware, like you’re just not a good fit for that. So it takes us a bit of humility to say no to jobs. You know that, you know, you probably could do well, but you, it’s just like, no, I am sorry. The things that I bring to the set and on camera are very specific and I don’t if I do what I’m doing on this show or whatever. I’m just not that I’m it. It won’t look the way you want it to look because my heart’s not in it. That’s my thing is like, I can do it for you and it’ll look fine. You’ll be happy. I don’t know. I just kind of, sometimes I want to say no just because I know that. It’ll, it’ll hurt me worse. It’s going to help me in Alara. Yeah. You know, a lot of people think that if they can just get their financial needs met, then they can do something. Like, once I get this Mark, then I can introduce rest and all these healthy habits in your life, right? Yeah. Like we’ve all done the, I still do it, you know? And you know, but the reality is like. Yeah. Energy, like protecting your energy and your creativity and that culture within, right? Like we’re stewarding something here and you know, if, if I didn’t do that and I was chasing the money, we wouldn’t be able to do things like this. You know, like have the energy or the inspiration or creativity to even have this conversation, which hopefully is gonna bring value to people, you know? But protecting that should be number one because out of that is where we produce our best work. Absolutely. You know? And so if you don’t have work, then think, create something, you know, like, do inspired work. Yeah. Don’t just go find a credit job. So true. Just just, yeah. I think that’s worth mentioning. So yeah, that’s a balance for sure. I mean, you’re always going to fight the fear of failure, you know? And I do anyway. I fear a lot of things that never happened. Probably 90% of my fears will never happen, but they can be all I can. I see for the whole week that I have $10 in my account is the week that all the fears come out of the woods, you know? And then a job comes or something happens and it’s like, once again. There’s never a lack of opportunity, but the T, you know that honestly, the times I think where I’ve been absolutely broke or the times I isolated myself in my house because of feeling discouraged or whatever and not going out and just being present. Because if I would’ve walked into a couple buildings I know of, I would’ve gotten a job like I would’ve gotten a gig to do something somewhere. Had I called my friends had I like just reached out to people that are local, that hang out and talk about film or do something. There are so many things on it on Facebook and Instagram now that are crazy. Like you’re there. Everyone’s filming a short film right now on Facebook. In some of the groups locally, whatever city you’re in. Yeah. You just type it in there filming short films, you can go on set and learn and experience stuff. I just turned that high school. I lived in a town of 800 people, so I, wow. 800 people. There was one paved road, you know, it was like we had nothing to do. Uh, no internet, no nothing. We had a bag phone. We had a little cell phone in a bag, like a leather bag. I just said 14 and first girlfriend. So yes, that’s me on a bag phone and it cuts out the whole time. You just can’t really hear her in here. So I want to know you hang up now. Oh wait, did your to hang up now? Okay. That’s great. And then your dad gets mad at you because that was like 39 cents a minute or something. Yeah. You’re into how much that just cost me. Exactly. Awesome. Well that’s a long, that was a good episode. I think that was great. Cause a lot of content on there. I’m toast. Sorry if I blanked a lot there. I know you’re good. Last two trips have been crazy, but like I said, they’re all worth it because once you get. To work with people that you love and you get to create real art. You know that you’re actually making a painting that’s commissioned and you have the Liberty to be yourself in that. And then when you see the recognition of that happening and people see what you’re doing, and they’re actually in the moment with you while you’re soaked, I mean, there’s no greater feeling in the world to me. So yeah, it’s all worth it. Absolutely. I always tell people, if you’re not having fun, this is how I live, this how I make decisions. Just like if I’m not having fun, I’m not doing it right and I’m going to address, you know, like there’s times to suck it up and if it’s enabling you to go have fun, do it. But overall, having fun, you’re just not doing it right. And life’s an adventure and production is a big freaking adventure. Yeah. Anyway. Well, thanks Toby. Yeah. On the show, if you guys want to hear more content like this, subscribe to wherever you listen to podcasts because we’re gonna keep posting. And again, if you have questions, make sure you post them in the comments. Tell people personally reply to all of them, so sure. Absolutely. All right guys, that’s a wrap.