International Motion Art Awards: Eric Ogden Gets Creative with Anna Kendrick

By David Schonauer   Friday May 22, 2015

“In the past few years the revolution in digital-filmmaking platforms has made it effortless to move back into my first love of storytelling,” says New York City-based photograph Eric Ogden, who grew up in Flint, MI, making Super 8 films.

Last year, Ogden got a called from Sara Filippi, the photo director of Fast Company, who asked him to shoot actress Anna Kendrick for the cover of the magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” issue.

“Sarah also mentioned that the magazine liked the idea of a motion element or video, too, if that was something I was interested in working on,” says Ogden.

He definitely was. “I had a couple of days to think about a concept and get back to the magazine, so I first researched my subject,” he says. “I knew who Anna Kendrick was and had seen her in a movie or two, but it helped to go online and watch her in everything from talk-show interviews to musical numbers to SNL skits.”

The endless YouTubing gave Ogden a sense of Kendrick’s comic timing and what he calls her “slightly off-kilter girl-next-door character.” He came up with a number of ideas that tied in the idea of business and entrepreneurship—“but,” he adds, “tweaked to be weird, funny, and different.”

“I liked the idea of creating a sort of retro (but not any era specifically) environment, in which Anna would be a sort of ambiguous entrepreneur who seems to be aimlessly blowing off her work duties in increasingly loopy ways, but then effortlessly nails a big deal at the end,” Ogden says.

He then created mood boards, reference images, lists of props and shot ideas and sent it all to the magazine. “I also wrote a three-page script to shoot as a narrative short film,” he says. “Fast Company was really happy with the concept, and their creative team narrowed down the photo-shoot ideas and edited the script a bit. Then they sent it to Anna for approval, and she agreed to do it.”

Ogden continues the story:

I put together a small team (this was done on a low budget) including a great set designer (Eric Hollis), and a digital imaging technician, steadicam operator, sound guy, plus my two photo assistants. I broke the script down into a very specific shot list, as I knew our time was going to be tight and it was very ambitious to shoot all of this in a single day. We shot at Milk Studios in Los Angeles, and the studio and digital department really helped support us. The day of the shoot, I lit the set with strobes for the stills, then after wrapping the cover shoot, quickly re-lit with continuous lighting for the video. We shot on the RED Epic.

It helped that he was working with a very talented actress. “Anna was a true pro and rolled easily with any direction I gave, ad-libbed, offered suggestions and most importantly did everything fast,” he says. “We got through the scenes at a fast clip and got the last shot just before our time ran out.”

Ogden did a rough cut and took that to film editor Andrew Makadsi at Industrial Color in New York, who did a tighter cut. “I pulled sound FX and researched music tracks from various libraries and did the sound design and music myself,” says Ogden. The final color grading was done by Santiago Gonzalez at Industrial Color, and a final sound mix was done by Keith Reynaud at Heard City in New York.

The resulting film was later named a winner of the International Motion Art Awards 3 contest.

Ogden, who counts a number of cable television networks among his photography clients, was not entirely new to filmmaking when he took on the project. He says he learned a lot as a kid using a camcorder to make movies up to 45 minutes long with a group of friends. “I put in a lot of effort doing these sort of punk-spirited videos,” he says.

While studying art at the University of Michigan, Ogden made short films whenever possible, and when he moved to New York City he made a number of 16mm films that he entered into festivals.

“One short, called Paper Boy, starred a then-unknown actor named Chris Evans—now Captain America—and was picked up by IFC / Bravo,” Ogden says. “I was doing this all while working on other independent low-budget movies and as I began assisting photographers. Ultimately I moved into shooting as a photographer, but I continued to write on the side, hoping for the opportunity to return to filmmaking.”

Now has a few narrative film projects in the works. “It feels like an exciting time to be a creative person, with all of the tools at our disposal to realize one's vision,” he says.


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