Friday, December 12, 2008

Homer Simpson's Favorite iPhone App

Homer Simpson's favorite iPhone App

I was playing around with the AroundMe iPhone app--a very nifty feature that lets you check for things like "restaurants," "gas stations," "hotels" or simply and importantly, "coffee," and the application uses your current location data to direct you to nearby establishments.

In this case, I was home and I used it to tell me something I already knew:

There are a million freakin' Dunkin' Donuts in Somerville! No less than six within a mile of my house!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Iron Man Project resumes in Arizona

Iron Nutz Florida Recap from Brad Kelly on Vimeo.

The Iron Nutz' quest to complete every Iron Man in the US in one year continues this weekend in Tempe, Arizona. It's my pleasure to get to document the journey. These three guys have heart and guts enough to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full marathon--all in one day! The remarkable thing is they're also regular guys with a generous spirit and a desire to help others less fortunate through their gruelling efforts.

I put together this little video with some of the footage from the Florida shoot three weeks ago. It's HD, shot to P2 cards on the Panasonic HVX200. A very handy and portable camera for situations like this, but still rendering a fantastic image and amazing color for its size.

On a side note, the camera that shot this is now "lost" somewhere within USAir's byzantine baggage handling system. Way to go USAir...

Monday, October 27, 2008

BOO!!: :60 sec Promo for the Witches Cottage in Salem

I recently shot this :60 sec spot for the Witches Cottage at the Griffen Theatre in Salem, MA. The footage was edited by Steven Stuart at Playomatic Media Group.

The multi-talented Erik Rodenhiser owns and runs the Griffen Theatre at 7 Lynde Street in Salem. The theater usually hosts a fun, frightful show called, "Eerie Legends of Salem," as well as a variety of theatrical readings, improv comedy showcases and plays.

During Halloween season, however, the theater ups the ante and transforms itself into "The Witches Cottage," featuring a live multi-media theatrical performance exploring the ghosts, legends, Native American tales and history of witchcraft in New England.

As of this posting, the links to the Griffen Theatre and Witches Cottage websites are showing a "Bandwidth Limit Exceeded" page. Hopefully, this means business is very good for Erik and the cast and crew this week. (I'm sure that's mostly due to the demand created by the fantastic trailer that we put together!;-)

In case the website is not back up shortly, The Witches Cottage/Griffen Theatre can be reached at:

7 Lynde Street
Salem, MA 01970

To quote one of the reviewers on Trip Advisor:

"The quality of the attractions in Salem vary widely. Amid a field of the mediocre, the Griffen Theatre shines!...Salem could sure use a few more places like this - a Must See !!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Orson Welles Meditates on Art and Mortality and Chartre

A scene from "F for Fake," from Orson Welles' later years.

PLEASE ignore the dweeby introduction (I think the spaceship will be along to pick that guy up with the next comet) and skip to 1:10 for the actual clip.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mad Men: Nostalgia Carousel

" takes us to a place where we ache to go again."

From Mad Men, Don Draper pitches Kodak on an ad campaign for their new circle shaped slide projector.

"It let's us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again, to a place we know we are loved."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Testing the Brevis35 MP.1 HD Imaging 35mm Adapter

With Canon 50mm f1.4

I spent some time yesterday with Cambridge filmmaker Adam Woodworth setting up the Cinevate Brevis35 Flip adapter to my HVX200 for some film work we'll be doing this Fall.

The adapter will allow us to use our range of Canon and Nikon prime lenses with my Panasonic HVX200 for beautiful depth-of-field and seriously cinematic HD images, with minimal loss of light to the sensor.

The Brevis35 HD Imaging 35mm adapter on my HVX 200

Cinevate claims approximately a half-stop loss depending on lens configuration. I can say that based on the limited test shooting we did with a chart, as well as some night shooting in Central Square with a Canon 50mm f1.4, the performance was impressive--certainly less than a full-stop of loss. There was some slight corner vignetting noticeable on the test chart but with a little re-tweaking, I think it can be mostly eliminated.

Getting the lens elements aligned was the most difficult part, but with patience, it all came together as the manual promised. More testing is needed in other lighting scenarios, but the first impression is very exciting!

On tripod and rails

This has the "Flip" option, so the image is changed to right side-up for viewing convenience--and as a bonus, reportedly improves image quality by correcting for chromatic aberration.

Still life with geek

The carbon rails system is strong and super-light. I was getting comfortable enough to where I believe that handheld shots could be a real possibility for certain circumstances.

I'm looking forward to putting this rig through it's paces on a real set soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bottle Shocking: Another of our Short Film Alums Makes Good in LA

Hal B. Klein, one of the actors from Squeeze Your Thumbs, our New York City 48Hr Film Fest entry from a few years ago, has had some success since moving to the West Coast (along with Thumbs co-star Victoria Englemayer).

Hal at the Sundance premier for Bottle Shock.

Hal landed a supporting role in the new film Bottle Shock, about the famous 1976 "Judgment of Paris" where American (California) wines shook the wine world to its twisted, viney roots, by defeating the Old World offerings in a blind tasting. The film stars the always watchable Alan Rickman.

The reviews are very good for this indie, with Slate calling it "eminently quaffable."

Hal has also landed a role in the upcoming, Jack and the Beanstalk, alongside the likes of Chevy Chase (Chevy Chase is alive?), Christopher Lloyd and Wallace "Inconceivable!" Shawn.

Hal is also attempting to see the San Jose Sharks in every arena in the NHL and he hosts a cooking show.

Hal is nothing if not eclectic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Above Michigan

Above Grand Rapids

I'm back in Boston after a couple weeks shooting for some projects in the Midwest. My brother grabbed this shot of me shooting HD video above the new Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Yes, it was windy. Yes, it was a long way down. Fortunately, I was working hard and didn't have time to get the willies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Johnny Cash: The Man, His Music, His World tonight on P.O.V. on PBS

Robert Elfstrom's 1969 documentary on Johnny Cash airs tonight at 10pm on PBS's P.O.V. series.

From the P.O.V. website:

In this classic 1969 documentary, the Man in Black is captured at his
peak, the first of many in a looming roller-coaster career. Fresh on the
heels of his Folsom Prison album, Cash reveals the dark intensity and
raw talent that made him a country music star and cultural icon. Director
Robert Elfstrom got closer than any other filmmaker to Cash, who is
seen performing with his new bride June Carter Cash, in a rare duet
with Bob Dylan, and behind the scenes with friends, family and aspiring
young musicians. Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music paints
an unforgettable portrait that endures beyond the singer’s 2003 death.

“Elfstrom’s film is a book of quiet revelations.”
— Matt Zoller Seitz, Time Out New York

“Robert Elfstrom’s magnificent 1969 documentary Johnny Cash: The Man,
His World, His Music ranks among the most comprehensive and effective
cinematic presentations of the late Cash’s persona and impact.”
—Ron Wynn, Nashville City Paper

The P.O.V. site has a great excerpt of Johnny and June Carter Cash singing a sweaty version of "Jackson," but since they don't seem to allow their videos to be embedded, here's Mark Romanek's masterful video of the Man in Black in his final year, covering NIN's "Hurt."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Beneath The Surface," our latest short film, premiers tonight in Providence

From beyond
Beneath The Surface, a New England ghost story

This past weekend, I shot a short film with team Playomatic for the Providence 48 Hour Film Project.

On Friday night, we initially drew "Road Movie" as our genre, but since we had secured a fantastic near-mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea as our location, we didn't want to have to leave that behind and hit the road. So we took our chances with the wild card draw. As you can imagine, we were psyched when we drew "Ghost Movie," as it played right into the strengths of our location.

The required elements we ended up with were:

Genre: Ghost movie
Character: M. Chaney, hairdresser
Prop: Pear
Line of Dialog: "If you see him again, tell me."

All competing teams (some 50 or so--about half the number that competed in Boston in April) had to include those same elements; Character, Prop and Line of Dialog, into their film, regardless of what genre they drew.

(The 48 Hour run on pears probably raised a few produce manager eyebrows, too, and it's an Onion headline waiting to happen: "Mysterious Spike in New England Pear Sales Baffles American Fruit Council," but I digress.)

I'm proud of what we accomplished in a short two days.

Shooting the Ghost emerging from the pool
"She swims at night. Only at night..."

Cinematographically (I don't think that's a word, actually) this one was a lot of fun! I used one of my still cameras to shoot some infrared portraits and timelapses, which we animated into the film. The infrared has a natively "otherworldly" look to it, and it was perfect for the ghostly feel we were after.

The old tree swing in the backyard
Ye Old Oak Tree and backyard swing

I even managed to shoot some ethereal underwater footage in the pool of Leigh in a vintage-looking gown for a drowning sequence.

We shot and edited in SD this time, in the interest of speed and simplicity, since we were editing on my laptop on the fly. But, we went tapeless, again, shooting to P2 cards.

It's great not to have to digitize tapes, especially under such time pressure. Shooting to tape just feels so ancient and creaky now, I really try to avoid it whenever possible. Of course, the hard drives I buy now are measured in terabytes not gigabytes, but that's progress for you.

A Visitation
Portrait of a ghost
Some see her. Others cannot.

"Beneath The Surface" premiers at 9pm tonight at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI.

Photos ©BradKelly 2008. Pool-side production photo courtesy Art Hennessey.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Once," and again.

I'd long had a little movie kicking around in my head and when I saw "Once" last year, I felt like they had stolen it right from my cerebellum (well, the shape of the film, anyway, I know very little about Dublin street life). Still, jealousy didn't keep me from enjoying this touching little gem of an indie film.

Reportedly shot for under $200K in and around Dublin, the movie casts its eye on Guy (Glenn Hansard of Irish rock group the Frames) as a struggling singer/songwriter/busker, and Girl (Marketa Irglova) as a lonely, struggling Czech immigrant. They meet when she is drawn to his songs as he plays for quid on a downtown street corner. Soon they are working together recording a demo and find themselves sharing the joyous magic of creative musical connection, as well as feelings, inchoate dreams and finally, an enigmatic bittersweet future.

Unlike traditional musicals, the characters don't abruptly stop their lives to belt out bombastic or treacly tunes like Dublin-ite Ethel Mermins. The songs are integrated organically and given room to breath and work their way under your skin. The movie doesn't really seem like a "musical," but in its way, I suppose it is.

I love the off-the-cuff style of the dialog, the cinematography and the story arc. It's absolutely un-Hollywood at it's best, but the biggest reason this diamond shines is Hansard's delicate, emotive songs--they're the perfect hook to hang this slice-of-contemporary-Irish-life's transcendent melange of music, melancholy and hope.

(Rated R for the copious use of F-bombs. What is it with the Irish and swearing?)

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Karma Generator" review

John Serba of the Grand Rapids Press had some nice things to say about our film "Karma Generator," recently, when it played the Waterfront Film Festival.

From the review:

"Karma" is a must-see for fans of Vander Ark - it offers insight into his songwriting process, and the unique creative relationship he developed with famed producer Bill Szymczyk."

"Karma Generator" is currently available as a bonus feature on the DVD Brian Vander Ark: Live at Aquinas College and a bargain at only $17 for a really well-produced concert film if I do say so myself! (Full disclosure: I was the Director, Co-Producer and DP.)

Up on the catwalk before the show

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Best of Playomatic" screening at the Griffen in Salem

A collection of Playomatic short films, most of which I was involved with in one way or another, usually as director of photography, will be screening this weekend at the Griffen Theatre in Salem, MA. Sadly, I'm out of town and unable to attend but maybe you can and help support my good buddy Steve Stuart and his family.

Here's the press release:

"The Griffen Theatre at 7 Lynde Street in Salem presents The Best of the Playomatic: A Hilarious Short Film Screening on Friday, June 27th and Saturday, June 28th at 8 p.m.

There is a $20 suggested donation at the door as the evening is a benefit for the filmmaker and his family, who plan to move to Western Australia next January to work for Create International, a cutting-edge ministry organization in Perth that provides culturally relevant Christian video and web materials to different nationalities throughout the world.

Beverly-based filmmaker Steve Stuart has won several awards at Boston's 48 Hour Film Project for his zany shorts, filmed mostly in Beverly and Salem. The shorts feature North Shore actors and one pesky yard gnome that pops up in each of them. Featured short films include: America's Next Top Superhero, Opening Night Jitters, Sneaker Double Feature and the most recently shot Deadly Deja Vu.

According to the filmmaker, these 'strange, little films' represent his alter ego. Stuart's 2007 film Hope for Uganda screened this year at the first Salem Film Fest."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brian Vander Ark: Live at Aquinas College


June has been a big month so far!

First, "Karma Generator" screens at The Waterfront Film Festival and now the Brian Vander Ark concert my brother and I produced and shot has been released on DVD!

I used five cameras to capture Brian Vander Ark in all his full-band glory premiering the material from his new self-titled album, plus some Verve Pipe chestnuts for good measure.

You can order the DVD for $17 (or autographed by BVA for $22) from Vander Ark's website and view some clips there in the "Videos" section.

The stage and lighting looked great, and included Brian's touring Airstream trailer as a backdrop, after Brian JUST managed to shoehorn it into the arena. You think Brian is a talented musician? Well, you should see him drive!

The band is really crankin' and the sweat is palpable as they deliver the goods to several hundred fans (and countless more via the magic of DVD) on a very special night.

Brian Vander Ark:  Live at Aquinas College

From Brian Vander Ark's press release about the DVD:

"It's also very exciting to be able to announce that the new DVD, Brian Vander Ark: Live at Aquinas College is now available for purchase. The concert was recorded by my friends Brian and Brad Kelly. It was a five camera shoot, and I consider it to be a companion to the new album. All of the songs from the new album were performed, along with songs from the other solo albums, as well as some Verve Pipe songs as well. You can watch a sample of it at the new web site in the "Video" section."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Karma Generator at the Waterfront Film Festival

This is a big weekend for "Karma Generator." The documentary my brother and I made about Brian Vander Ark recording his new solo album with legendary knob-twiddler Bill Szymczyk in North Carolina.


Our movie has been screening at the Waterfront Film Festival, held each year in the summer artists haven of Saugatuck, Michigan.

Screen Actor's Guild Magazine named the Waterfront Film Festival one of their Top Five Favorite Film Festivals and it's in mighty fine company: Cannes, Sundance, CineVegas, and SXSW being the other four (I'm sure it has something to do with plying visiting filmmakers with dune rides and jetski's on Michigan's sandy west coast, but hey, all's fair in the film-fest game)!


Film Threat has also named the fest one of the top "Ten Fantastic Film Festival Vacations." Unfortunately, work commitments kept me in Boston this weekend, but I'm sure my co-director brother has been soaking up enough glory and cocktail shrimp at the filmmaker buffet for the both of us (at least his gloating Blackberry messages text'd from ground zero in Saugatuck would lead one to think so).

Karma Generator is screening with another documentary, The Linguists, about the effort to preserve and document the world's rapidly disappearing indigenous languages.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hanna's Gift and Queenvick at BIFF

Victoria Englemayer, star of many a Playomatic 48 Hour Film Project is now an LA based actor. However, she's back in town for the screening of the movie Hanah's Gift at the Boston International Film Festival tonight at the AMC Loews, Boston Common. Victoria scored a lead role in what looks to be an intriguing horror film (appropriately premiering on Friday the 13th!).


In Hanah's Gift, she plays the childlike, "Toby." In 2005 she played Heike Koller, European pop star, in our NYC 48 Hour Film entry.

Portrait of the Artist as a Frightened Young Immigrant.

Hal and Victoria during the "Squeeze Your Thumbs" shoot.
Young Artist transforms into Star.
Hal B. Klein and Victoria during the shoot in New York City.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Corporate Video As Art

Suppose you were given 10 minutes to explain a company's new product in a promotional film. Suppose it had to be surprisingly technical but also engaging to the non-technical viewer. Suppose you were also a great artist and designer...

Behold, an instructional film created for Polaroid by Charles and Ray Eames in 1972 to introduce the landmark SX-70 camera.

Charles and Ray Eames were not only famous industrial designers, they were also filmmakers, creating more than 100 short films over the course of their career for clients like IBM and Polaroid, most of them painstakingly artful, yet communicating complex ideas in profoundly clear terms.

Ray and Charles Eames at work.

Eames Lounge Chair debut in 1956 on NBC


As an addendum to the above post, you can watch Ray and Charles Eames unveil their soon-to-be iconic lounge chair live on the "Home" show with Arlene Francis on NBC, in 1956. Charles also discusses their famous modernist house and working with Billy Wilder on the Jimmy Stewart movie, "Spirit of St. Louis."

But the real star is the chair--and also remarkable is Charles' almost abashed sense of modesty.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Photo of the Day" at

John Hancock Tower at night

The Benefits of Multitasking...

After shooting HD video for a client at the opening of the new Apple Store in Boston Thursday, I dug out my still camera and tripod and did a walking tour, shooting some photos of the Back Bay at night.

One of those photos was picked up as the Photo of the Day on, a cool website about everything Boston (sister publication to NYC's Gothamist).

The photo is a black and white image of the John Hancock Tower (at 790 ft., the tallest building in New England--135th tallest in the world).

Here are a few other photos from my post-Apple nocturnal ramble:
The Lenox Hotel, BostonBackBay-1-6Old South Church, Copley Square, BostonThe Lenox Hotel, BostonBackBay-1-28Moon over the BPLBackBay-1-24Night flowers, Boylston StreetBackBay-1Newbury Street dress shop at night
photos ©2008 Brad Kelly

"America's Next Top Superhero" screening at "Sci-Fi Sundance."


"America's Next Top Super Hero," a short film that I shot for the 48 Hour Film Project (over four years ago!) has been picked-up to screen at The Wrath of Con: Science Fiction and Film Conference in Panama City Beach, FL at the end of this month.

The Wrath of Con convention is a geeky collection of workshops, autograph sessions, memorabilia and hobnobbing with authors, costumed fans and D-list Sci-Fi well as a slate of films they're calling the "Sci-Fi Sundance." I'll be waiting for the Weinstein's call...

The main reason I'm disappointed I can't attend is that my childhood hero (circa 1978), Capt. Apollo, Viper pilot of the Battlestar Galactica (Richard Hatch) will be there in person.

Mr. Hatch in later years.

As Commander Adama's (Lorne Greene) level-headed son, Apollo was charged with defending the "rag-tag fugitive fleet" of planet-less humans from Cylon attack. And he was a much better role model than that loose cannon, Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), who only seemed to have cigars and women on his mind (and probably not even in that order).

Starbuck and Apollo, defenders of the remnant.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Apple Opens Largest US Store in Boston


Talk about hoopla! It was like the opening of a Star Wars movie in 1976. Apple opened it's largest store in the US Thursday on Boylston Street in Boston's Back Bay. The crowd was lined up outside, stretching all the way around the building to Newbury Street, in a festival-like atmosphere.

I was there shooting interviews with iPhone owners in Hi-Def for a Boston-based third-party applications developer for the iPhone (who must remain secret for now, don't ask me to tell, I don't want to have to kill you).

The new building is a glass fronted cube that represents over two years of effort by Apple-- almost stymied from the get-go by the Back Bay Architectural Commission, who initially did not find Apple's plan to raze the existing building amusing.

Lucky insiders view the throngs below.

During construction, Apple hid the building behind a facade modeled after Fenway's Green Monster.

Photos ©2008 Brad Kelly
Green Monster Photo ©Chad Barraford

Friday, April 25, 2008

Transsiberian and Sir Ben Kingsley in Somerville

Transsiberian opened the IFFBoston this year.

Director Brad Anderson and co-writer Will Conroy serve up a tension filled train trip through Siberia, with more than a little Hitchcock along for the ride, rubbing up against the post-Soviet Russian underbelly.

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer play husband and wife, taking a once-in-a-lifetime side-trip through Russia after a short-term missions trip to China with their church.

Fine performances throughout, especially Moritmer as Jessie, the not-quite redeemed missionary wife struggling to move beyond her past. And Eduardo Noriega as their magnetic and dangerous fellow traveler.

And of course, the aforementioned Sir Ben playing Grinko, the Russian narcotics inspector--and as one would expect, much more Sexy Beast than Gandhi in this one. And effective he is, wearing his sable hat, slovic accent and attitude of resigned post-Soviet opportunism as if he was born to them.

If there's a weak link at all it's Harrelson as Roy, the naive optimist. I just didn't buy the vodka-swilling evangelical bit. The way he plays him, Roy is maybe one-part missionary, two-parts frat boy and three-parts corn-fed Midwestern rube. But it's not entirely the actor's fault. As scripted, he's about as credible as a Nancy Pelosi Bible verse.

The cinematography is solid, contrasting the vast desaturated snowy wastes outside the train, with the threadbare hothouse of the lounge car and sleeper cabins inside, featuring stopped up toilets and menacingly indifferent customer service where eventually it seems the only true freedom left is the freedom to smoke pretty much anywhere.

Despite one sickeningly graphic interrogation scene where I feared we were heading into Eli Roth territory, director Anderson pulls back quickly, before the mood veers irredeemably into torture porn, getting back on the rails again to deliver a satisfying final twist or two.


An audience Q&A followed the screening.

Director Brad Anderson

Sir Ben Kingsley and scriptwriter Will Conroy


Our friends at our local film collaborative New Film Nation (formerly Beanywood) have posted an interview with director Brad Anderson, filmed on a balmy Somerville sidewalk outside Orleans restaurant right after the premier:

(photos and text ©2008 Brad Kelly)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

IFFB 2008 Kicks Off Tonight in Someville

80 degrees and sunny! Spring has definitely sprung in Boston and that means....

The 2008 Independent Film Festival Boston officially launches tonight with a screening of director Brad Anderson's new Hitchcock-ian thriller Transsiberian. Anderson and Oscar-winning star Sir Ben Kingsley are going to be in attendance for a Q&A after tonight's screening.

My first on-set experience for a "real" movie shoot was when I was a PA (production assistant) for another Brad Anderson film, Session 9, when it filmed in the Boston area at the long abandoned Danvers State Lunatic Asylum (made up of very, very creepy, crumbling Victorian gothic is currently mostly demolished and being redeveloped into apartments and condos).

The Festival closes next Tuesday with great German provocateur Werner Herzog's new film, Encounters at the End of the World.

Herzog is back in documentary mode after his last Hollywood action film, Rescue Dawn (itself, actually a dramatic take on his inspiring 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly).

Far from the steaming jungle (or "june-glee" as Herzog has it in his German accented narrations) of Laos, the director finds himself closer to Grizzly Man territory in climate, if not location, visiting with the oddball collection of characters who make their home at the very bottom of the world, Anartica's McMurdo research station.

Between tonight and next Tuesday the IFFB will showcase a lucky 96 hand-picked films (of 2000 submissions screened and considered!) as well as a host of industry panels, parties and special musical guests (check out local media sensations, Harry and the Potters on Saturday, playing after a screening of We Are Wizards, a fan-umentary exploring various aspects of Pottermania).

On a side note, the jester hatted folks in the photo parading in front of the theater were chanting, "L. Ron Hubbard died to save your soul! L. Ron Hubbard died to save your soul!"

I'm not sure what that was all about but it was probably a Scientology protest or local college students with a little too much time on their hands.

It's sort of like that around here.