No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
- Ingmar Bergman

November 4, 2014

What's New? -- Salt Flats Film Shoot, Widow, Part 2

The Bonneville Salt Flats is yet another breathtaking wonder of Mother Nature.  Located 90 minutes from Salt Lake City, the Salt Flats were created over ten thousand years ago when Lake Bonneville receded leaving behind mineral deposits consisting mostly of salt.   Today, the Salt Flats draw auto racing enthusiasts (The Annual Bonneville Speed Racing Event in August), and also lure tourists, photographers and filmmakers, who attempt to capture this magical gift Nature has given us with their cameras.

Cut to:  "Widow" - Part 2.

Jil Guyon decided the Salt Flats was the perfect background to film Part 2 of her "Widow" Trilogy.  If you aren't familiar with "Widow" Part 1, it is a 7 minute film created and performed as a solo by Jil.
We filmed it at Three Legged Dog Studios (NYC) in December 2012.  It has gone on to be included in numerous film festivals (USA + Canada), such as Lincoln Center's "Dance On Camera" 2014 and "Dance On Camera" Tour 2014.  It also won two awards from La Jolla's IndieFest Film Festival -- Best Short Experimental Film and Award for Excellence in Experimental Film.

Cut to:  Off we went! 

We filmed for 4 days.  Each moment spent on the Flats felt like I had crossed over into another dimension of space and time.  My aesthetic senses were overwhelmed by the ever-changing shifts of light, color and form, each new scene equalling the brilliance of the previous one.

I worked with my DSLR 5D Mark II, Mark III and GoPro cameras and I must confess that I was blown away by all of the footage.  I would love to take credit for creating all of the stunning imagery but I must give all the praise to Mother Nature for making my work very easy.

Below are images that tell a portion of the story.  Notice on Day 1, how the light dramatically shifted within a 4 hour block of time.

Where is she?  Day 1 after 4:30pm

Spreading her wings.  Day 1 after 5:30pm.

Hiding?  Day 1 after 6:00pm

Bending.  Day 1 after 7:30pm

Leaving?  Day 1 after 8:00pm

GoPro Image -- Day 3 after 5:30pm
After the night rain.  Day 4 -- water fills the flats
After the night rain.  Day 4 -- water fills the flats

September 25, 2014

Summer's end -- Taking it all in

It has been quite a busy summer -- I wondered why it went by in a flash!  I found myself traveling all around the Tri-state area and even bouncing down into Virginia and Pennsylvania, filming couples celebrating their wedding day.

It was also a rewarding time for "Widow", the experimental film created by Jil Guyon and filmed by moi.  "Widow" has been accepted it into numerous film festivals this year and most recently found itself being invited into Toronto's Urban Film Festival curated by well-known filmmaker Guy Maddin.  To top it off, it won La Jolla's Indie Fest Award for Best Experimental Film.  The "Widow" train continues as it will be in Columbus, Ohio's Music Festival and also showing at Musee de la Civilisation, Quebec, both in 2015.

I created an exciting project for S'MAC restaurant.  I worked with Sarita and Caesar Ekya, the owners of S'MAC , to create a promotional film for air on TaxiTV.  Not only was it fun drawing up the storyboard and filming, it was also delicious as Sarita and Caesar treated me to one of their many tasty Mac and Cheese dishes.  If you love Mac and Cheese, I highly recommend dropping into one of their two locations.  You will not be disappointed.

Finally, spent a few Wednesdays in August working with David Lackey, co-owner of Whirlwind Creative, Inc. filming and editing short pieces for Related Companies "Art in the Park" series.  Many food trucks, artists, and musicians participated in this outdoor event that was free to the public.  Everyone who dropped by the event had a blast eating and dancing in the beautiful summertime weather.

In case you haven't taken a peek at my work in awhile, I leave you and this Summer with a few glance-backs.

Welcome Fall!

Art Deco Glamour at Gotham Hall from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

All My Bright Tomorrows Belong to You from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

S'MAC Promotional Film from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

July 8, 2014

Celebrating Love in the Summertime

Summer weddings

Summer outdoor weddings always create interesting subject matter for cinematographers.  The natural light, the many colors and design choices, the environment plus the energy of people enjoying the outdoor space allows for stunning and lively imagery.

Angela and Mike presented us with all of the above!  Their ceremony was held in the grand St. Paul's Cathedral, and then they moved on to celebrate their reception at her parents' beautifully landscaped residence in Shadyside.

Sheila Weiner and her team ( converted the property into a tasteful outdoor modern space threading in colors of greens, pinks, red, and yellow flowers, flickering candles, and hanging beaded chandeliers. Numerous tents were put into place in order to shelter the over 300 guests from the elements.  Lastly, a white dance floor was added so that guests could show off their flashiest moves, and, indeed they did as they danced the night away.

All in all, it was a glorious summer day in Pittsburghh for Angela and Mike.

The couple reciting their vows.

July 3, 2014

26 Bridge Wedding Style Shoot -- Tropical Wedding Theme

What's New -- What I've been doing lately

The experience of participating in a wedding styled shoot is always an inspiring one.  Working with a variety of artists always keeps the creative juice flowing and it offers the chance to see what ideas are brewing in the minds of other talented people.

Which brings me to 26 Bridge, a newly opened event space in Dumbo.  The combo of bricks, mortar, wrought iron gives a very rustic yet industrial feel.  A great space for those who want to create their own design.  Jove Meyer ( and his creative band of merry men and women decided to showcase their work by using 26 Bridge as a backdrop for what turned out to be a fun-filled day of hard work and play.  I was invited to join in and film it.

Landon and Maddie, who graciously gave their time to model for us, are engaged to be married so even though it was a wedding styled shoot, it centered around two people who are in love.

All of our hard work paid off as we learned that Green Wedding Shoes (@greenweddingshoes) decided to publish the shoot.

The other artists who jumped in on the fun were:

Photographer // Amber Gress // @ambergressphotography
Accessories + Shoes // Hushed Commotion // @hushedcommotion
Ceremony Dress // Synderella Story // @synderelastory
Reception Dress // Shop Lovely // @lovelybride
Suit // A suit that fits // @asuitthatfits
Flowers // Blade // @bladenewyork
Paper Products // Katie Fischer Design // @katiefischercohen
Cake + Cupcakes // Lael Cakes // @laelcakes
Hair - Styles on B // @stylesonbnyc
Makeup // Morgan Gates // @mgmua
Videographer // Valerie Barnes
Catering // Pok Pok // @pokpokpdx
Jewelry // Anna Sheffield // @annasheffield
Bar Cart // Society Social // @societysocial
Vintage Palm Couch // Patina Vintage Rentals // @rentpatina 

June 3, 2014

Kara Walker -- "A Sublety" Exhibit

Filmmaker about Town --- what I film when out and about

Deteriorating factories have always fascinated me.  Perhaps it's because I grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the steel industry, once a strong factor in the economic incline of this country,  rot into ruin leaving behind dreams of economic stability and promising futures.

I've been looking at the Domino Sugar Factory sign from across the river for at least 15 years now, and during this time my curiosity about the space never died.  Domino Sugar was a staple in my family's household, but, as a child, it  never occurred to me how it arrived on a supermarket shelf.  I only watched my parents buy it and store it in our food closet.

Kara Walker's choice of sculpture material in her poignant exhibit "A Sublety" perfectly tells the story of how sugar was brought into this country -- through the sweat, toil, and blood of slave labor.

Sugar, resin and molasses were the materials she chose to create her sculptures.  Some were made with 100% sugar while others with resin and molasses.  Those made from 100% sugar are quickly deteriorating due to the climate inside of the factory.  As they deteriorate, pieces crash onto the floor. These pieces are then placed in the baskets being held by the sculptures that remain.

Towards the back of the space is the ultimate homage to the horrors of sugar production -- a sphinx sculpture made of 3-4 tons of white sugar.

The irony of sweet sugar being cultivated off of the backs of slaves who lost hands, arms, their lives, not to mention other heinous acts done in order to satisfy society's sweet tooth, resonates throughout the factory walls.  The walls are coated in dripping molasses and the floors are stained with molasses from some of the sculptures.   I managed to unstick my feet a few times after realizing I was stuck to the floor.

I highly recommend visiting the factory and taking in her exhibit.  It is up and running until July 6, but you may want to go as soon as possible because of the sculpture deterioration.

If you cannot visit, here's a taste of what hides behind the cold exterior of the Domino factory.  Shot with my trusty iPhone.

May 13, 2014

Pawel Althamer -- The Draftsmen's Congress

Filmmaker About Town -- what I film when out and about

A rain-soaked Saturday is always a good time to explore the museums in New York City, and so I did with a few friends by my side.  We stopped into the New Museum's exhibit showcasing Polish artist Pawel Althamer.  Though he is known for the figurative sculptures he creates of himself, his family and other people within his community, he also is an artist advocate who has gathered various groups of people to help push forward certain causes.  "Common Cause" initially began as a project to beautify a run-down park by turning it into a sculpture garden.  In New York, he initiated a coat drive for the Bowery Mission by offering free admission to "Draftsmen's Congress" to anyone that donated a free coat.

Althamer's The Draftsmen's Congress embodies his idea of community collaboration.  In this work, he invites visitors to express themselves by drawing or painting whatever inspires them on white sheets of supplied paper taped to the New Museum's walls.  The idea was met with much enthusiasm as people picked up their instrument of choice and began coloring the walls and floor with images and words in different sizes, colors and shapes.

Using my iPhone, I shot and created a short film showing the energy and excitement inside of the room with the white papered walls.

April 8, 2014

Howard Shore: Music & Images -- Filmmaker About Town

Filming Howard Shore speak about his work -- his thought process, score development, inspirations -- and tell stories about his collaborations with prominent directors such as Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg, and Peter Jackson, to name a few, was a moment that is forever etched in my mind. After all, it isn't often I have the chance to film and listen to a renowned composer share his experiences.

Howard has created countless scores for films including Lord of the Rings, Ed Wood, The Aviator, Hugo…the list is endless.  He has also won three Oscars, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and three Golden Globes plus been nominated for many other film scores.

The Tuxedo Park Library's Authors' Circle honored Howard on September 28th of last year.  He has been a long-time resident of the Park and has penned many of his compositions there.  Howard has said that the forest of Tuxedo Park allows him to "dream and think" which is why he draws much inspiration from it.

As part of the day long celebration, guests were treated to an afternoon talk given by Howard, held at St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo Episcopal Church.  He touched on many topics but one comment that resonated  with me is why he prefers pen and paper rather than the computer --  "Music is an ephemeral art.  What are you creating?  Sound waves. You're moving air. To do that with a machine doesn't feel right. You've heard of writing out of the box?  Writing in the computer is writing in the box."

The evening brought a few events including a cocktail party hosted by a resident of the park and concluded with a dinner held in the Library later that evening.  Barbara duPont spearheaded the event and Claudia Hanlin ( designed the evening's dinner space combining themes of Howard's music with his love of the forest.

Here are a few excerpts from the afternoon's talk:

March 10, 2014

Filmmaker About Town -- Laurie Simmons: Dollers video

Since this past week was "The Armory Show" in New York City, the city abounded with art openings.  One of the openings I checked out was Laurie Simmon's "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See" Exhibit held at Salon 94 on the Bowery.

Kigurumi is a Japanese name that refers to costumed performers who represent cartoon characters, mostly animals. They perform in malls, for children's events etc.  However, in other circles, costumed performers dress up in masks and bodysuits as dolls, known as "dollers".   Simmons explored this subject matter for her project. Though she dressed them, dyed their hair and posed them, she did allow them to create their own gestures while in their costume. Her hope was that by wearing these costumes they would feel comfortable enough to reveal themselves in some manner.

Though most attending the opening concentrated on the work hanging inside of the gallery and speaking to the artist, I found the most interesting part of the show on the outside where a video of the dollers was being shown. My trusty iPhone allowed me to capture some of the color of the video shown.  See below.

If you are curious about this form of expression, there was a British doc done called "Secrets of the Living Dolls". This documentary follows men who masquerade as dolls (female maskers) for fun -- these maskers are heterosexual men who derive pleasure from dressing as women.  Many of these men have wives or girlfriends who are well aware of what they do and support it.

March 7, 2014

What's New? --- SKIN moving forward

SKIN moves forward.  Many things have been happening in the past 6 months for SKIN. Larendee Roos, (Roos, is now onboard.  Her responsibilities are to help pinpoint SKIN's message, create a timeline for the project and connect SKIN with appropriate sponsors.  Julia and I are thrilled that Larendee took an interest in SKIN. She is a welcomed addition to our team.

In December, we finished filming a few more scenes for inclusion in the new teaser and then last week, Julia recorded the new script.  On the day of the recording session, I took my camera and filmed a bit of the session.  I thought it might be interesting to give a taste of what goes on behind the scene.  The excerpt is below.

Tim Cramer, SKIN's sound designer, will now combine Julia's read plus his sound design into a new SKIN audio mix.

February 4, 2014

What's New? -- Jil Guyon "Widow"

As part of my continuing interest in collaborating with many artists, I worked with Jil Guyon, director and performing artist, on adapting her performance piece "Widow" into a film. We worked tirelessly, filming it in one 12 hour day, and Jil worked even longer editing it. As a reward for our work, the film was selected to be a part of Lincoln Center's Dance On Camera Festival 2014 beginning in early February.

Jil had a great review written of the film.  You can read about it out at:

January 27, 2014

The Talent Pool Corner presents Francesco Mastalia, Fine Art Photographer

"Organic", an exhibit of photographs by Francesco Mastalia is a must see if you are visiting Beacon anytime between January 27th and February 2nd.  

The subject matter of Francesco's work is the farmers and chefs of the Hudson Valley, farmers who are determined to continue to grow food using sustainable methods, and the chefs who support these beliefs by cooking using food grown by these farmers.

Francesco logged over 17,000 miles driving throughout the Hudson Valley photographing and interviewing over 136 of its farmers and chefs.  For his photographs, he used a technique called wet-plate collodion (originally termed "The Black Art"), a process that requires a few steps in order to create an image and also, a bit of patience because the subject needs to remain still for at least 15 seconds.

Francesco was kind in sharing with me the story of "ORGANIC" and his love for wet-plate collodion. 

Why use wet-plate collodion as your form of artistic expression? 

"I started working with the wet-plate collodion process a number of years ago when digital photography started taking over. There was a real disconnect for me working in a digital format. I always loved working in the darkroom, and felt the magic of photography took place there. Now I get to bring a portable darkroom whenever I am photographing.

The collodion process is a photographic process dating back to 1851.  It was a time when all our food was organic. It is a beautiful, mysterious process to work with; and it too is an organic process. The Civil War was documented using the wet collodion process, and the photo of Lincoln on the five-dollar bill is also a wet plate photograph. The process dominated photography for a thirty-year period into the 1880’s."

A large format wooden camera -- used for wet-plate collodion.

Why did the stories of farmers and chefs resonate with you?

Early on in the project, I was interviewing a farmer, and I asked him, “What comes to mind when you hear the word organic?” He replied, “I am not use to saying that word, because the government owns it.” I asked, “What do you mean?” and he went on to tell his story.  Driving back that day, I realized, there is a much larger story to be told.

The word organic doesn’t always means what you might thing it does; it really depends on whom you are speaking with.  

I am amazed that, as adults, we know so little about how our food is produced, or manufactured. The reason being is that our food system is designed that way. The companies that manufacture and produce this food do not want us to know.

If people are willing to spend more money on food because they think they are getting healthier, more nutritious, clean food, shouldn't we know exactly what we are getting?  As one farmer says, "There's organic, and there's organic."

When we think of organic, we think of clean food, food grown without the use of chemicals.  

Unfortunately, that is not always the case."

Lynn Faurie ©Francesco Mastalia

What has impressed you most about these men and women who are passionate about farming?

"The passion of the farmers and chefs was truly inspiring. These are a group of people who share a deep commitment and respect towards the plants, the animals, and the earth.

They share what it means to grow and live organically and sustainably. ORGANIC is not just about growing and producing food, it is about the life of the planet."

Willie Denner ©Francesco Mastalia
What's next for "ORGANIC"?

"“ORGANIC” Farmers & Chefs of the Hudson Valley is being published by powerHouse Books, and is set for release in September of this year. The 224 page book will include 100 of the photographs with accompanying text from each of the farmers and chefs." 

Francesco Mastalia
Francesco Mastalia has traveled the world photographing tribal, religious, spiritual, and indigenous people. His book DREADS published by Workman Artisan is a photo documentary on the history of dreadlocks. With travels to Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola, Namibia, Senegal, India, Japan, New Zealand, Jamaica and throughout the United States. DREADS is now in its eighth printing, sold worldwide in four languages, and includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker. Mastalia’s book, ORGANIC, is slated for release by powerHouse publishing in the FALL of 2014.

January 22, 2014

Filmmaker About Town -- Will Champlin -- finalist, The Voice -- performs in Soho

If you've ever wondered where the career path goes for some of the finalists of The Voice, I can share a bit of info about one.  Will Champlin, one of last season's finalists, gave a performance in Soho this past Monday as part of Elan Artists showcase of bands.  With iPhone in hand, I filmed a bit of one of Will's songs.

For your listening and viewing enjoyment….