In the last post, I profiled our director of photography. For this one I'd like to introduce you to the guy who holds one of the most important jobs on a film set, our sound guy, Jacob Drew Varley.
Handsome devil right? Yeah, after mixing drinks or if you've lost your glasses.
Joking, I'm joking. You don't need to be drunk or blind. Still kidding!
I'm too lazy to write this bastard's bio, the following is from Jacob's résumé:
Extremely motivated, passionate for awesome results, and hypercritical over mundane details – three terms I use to describe my work in sound. As a sound mixer and boom operator I know what my job is, but I take it one step further by focusing on that extra step that will make the work of the post production team easier and better, and will allow the director to manipulate all aspects of audio that he wants the audience to hear. Sound goes beyond hearing; sound builds your environment and mood, creates feelings for situations either through music or design, sound is more than what you know you hear, and I love sound.
I have been doing location sound since exactly January 1st of 2012 and loved every second of it. The ability to travel on someone else's dollar, meet new people, and see amazing things makes this job much more than I could ever hoped for it to be. I have met some industry professionals that I keep in contact with who are more than happy to offer their knowledge, assistance, and guidance. I have a direct line with, and send my works to, Kirk Francis (Academy Award winning mixer who did the Bourne ID movies, and MUCH more). I never stop learning, I'm always looking to improve, I analyze my work and compare it to massive budgets and until it sounds the same I won't stop.
I'm not just a sound guy, I'm a professional dedicated to creating on the best I can.
Did you read all that? Yeah, me neither, but now I have to for the sake of this blog. One minute please...
Okay, done, and ooo watch out, we gotta a badass over here. "Look at me, I'm a sound guy, I work on movies," and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I guess I'll share a few questionable– I mean notable projects he has worked on:
"Moment of Clarity Tour" Zedd Documentary
Sound Mixer and Boom Operator
Temporary ADR/VO/Test scenes with actor Tobey Maguire and director Baz Luhrmann for "The Great Gatsby" (2012). Unfortunately, he was uncredited for this.
Originally I was going to post the entire list of projects he has worked on but it's quite extensive so I settled for the videos above. We all know he's lying about that last one though, right? He probably did his Tarantino impression and both Tobey and Baz didn't like it. By the way, did I mention he does a killer Quentin Tarantino impression? Sorry, I digress, back to the matter at hand: Jacob has worked on countless features, shorts, webisodes, promos, music videos and TV pilots. Simply put, he has thee experience. He also provides sound design and sound mixing services when he's not on Hollywood Boulevard impersonating Tarantino and taking selfies with tourists for five bucks.
Still not impressed? Well, hell, we should rename the film Super Jacob. I mean it. There's a reason I titled this The Legend of J.D. Varley. When he's not proclaiming he is a God and we should all bow down at his feet (true story, first day on set of Super Gabby) – okay, not in those words but close enough – this man is a lifesaver in addition to his awesome sound recording skills.
El hombre, el mito, la leyenda.
Ejido Erendira, Baja California, Mexico. 2013.
It all goes back to the summer of 2013 in Mexico – cue the harp music – where we met working on the indie feature "A Father's Journey." You might recall, if you've been keeping up with this blog, it's the same project I met our D.P. on.
A Father's Journey
Jacob instantly reminded me of Quentin Tarantino. I don't know if he gets that a lot but his impression of him was spot on, a nice little rant that ended with telling me to "f---- off."
This a-hole is HILARIOUS. I came to appreciate this man's humorous side on set and off. On the first day, the director asked us all to gather in a circle to introduce ourselves. Jacobo (ha-koh-boh), which I would call him later on, introduced himself as the sound guy and "token white guy" amongst our all-Latino cast and crew. Ah, he fit in immediately, why do you think I'm even (wasting my time) writing this? He's like my brother, although he'll probably say "Adrian who?" just to be a dick.
Here I am with the legend himself, he was so elated to take this picture, can you tell?
Anyway, on the first day of filming, the grip truck wouldn't start and this was right before we started filming the very FIRST scene! Already off to a bad start. No one could figure it out until Jacob stepped up, wearing a Mexican poncho instead of a cape, heh heh. Boom, day one and he saved the day.
The night of a major scene that involved many extras inside the town hall, our generator would not work. We needed it to power just about everything. Again, Super Jacob and others stepped up to get that sucker running. Whew!
Working with Jacob on AFJ I came to see how knowledgeable he was about many things and I learned so much from him. I had questions and he had the answers.
I took a Flip Cam to record the adventure but silly me never thought about where I was going to save the footage since it only held one hour worth and I didn't own a laptop. Jacob offered to save the footage at the end of each day on his laptop (by making room and deleting some of his XXX video collection) and upload it to an online drive for me to download later back home. What a pal, eh?
Again, I'm just messing around about his XXX collection. I would hope that by this point you've picked up the faux sarcastic tone of this post and had a few chuckles. It's all to give you an idea of how he and I get along. The only collection I'm aware of is the Mexican candy he loved and had to buy while we were there. He probably smuggled a piñata stuffed with candy back into the States.
At the U.S./Mexico border, heading home. "Excuse me, sir, why is this piñata heavy?"
I knew it! Jacob was probably sh------ a brick in the backseat. Off to second inspection!
When we were assembling the crew for Super Gabby three years later, I knew I wanted Jacob on the team. I'd wanted to work with him again ever since Mexico. I reached out to him via Facebook and asked him what his schedule was looking like summer 2015? Everything worked out and he drove up from Los Angeles to Antioch (Northern California).
I have to credit Jacob for giving me the motivation to keep filming SG after we pulled the plug after the second day of filming due to some unforeseen technical issues that slowed down our flow and guaranteed that we were not going to be able to complete the short on time.
A few of us, including Jacob, sat together later that night and talked about what went wrong and what we should do next. I wanted to keep filming so we could at least put together a teaser trailer.
Jacob maintained a can do attitude and sparked our determination to shoot what we could for the trailer to get the project off the ground again in the future. The next morning, we rolled out the whiteboard and had a quick production meeting to outline the new shooting schedule. We chose to film scenes that would work for the trailer and that did not require sound thus freeing up Jacob to help our D.P. light the scenes, pull focus and do some grip work.
Prior to the entire shoot, he had asked me if he should bring his drone camera and I said sure. We used it to shoot some awesome aerial shots. He operated the drone while the D.P. operated the camera.
We had some fun with the drone after we wrapped.
We worked through these last two days with good vibes in the air and ended on a positive note. He and the owner of the house we were filming at even performed an improvised doo wop duet about Super Gabby and had everyone clapping along.
As soon as we wrapped on a Sunday afternoon, Jacob said his goodbyes and hit the road back to L.A. immediately because he had to be on a shoot the next day. What a boss. Hire this man for your next project, I can't recommend him enough. I'm truly enjoying the clean, crisp sound he recorded as I edit. Impeccable. It brings a tear to my eye :')
Somewhere out there, right now, he's holding up a boom over his head like Atlas, with the w⃥e⃥i⃥g⃥h⃥t⃥ fate of the w⃥o⃥r⃥l⃥d⃥ film on his shoulders. Yes, sound is that important, it can make or break a film.
This is the Legend of J.D. Varley.
Until next time,
P.S. He paid me to write all these lies! LOL ;)
Ready for another batch of Super Gabby screen shots?
The images below will introduce you to our fight choreographer and the antagonist characters in the film – these kids are the bullies that terrorize the neighborhood park and playground.
We found the boys, Jason Bradley II, William Lipton, Cruz Baltazar, Nic Garcia and Thomas Valencia along with the majority of the cast, through sfcasting.com and we saw the twins, Jazmine and Jocelyn Felipe, perform an awesome karate demo at an event. Producer Sandra Lopez approached the girls' parents and their father, John Felipe, turned out to be their instructor. We asked him if he would be interested in choreographing our fight scenes and he joined our team after reading the script. The cast trained under his instruction at his dojo, East Bay Karate-Do in Pittsburg, CA, and on location to learn their fight scenes.
Don't mess with Sensei John Felipe, our fight choreographer!
Jason Bradley II as "Monster"
Unfortunately we were not able to film scenes with Jason Bradley II. He portrays an important role in the film and we look forward to working with him and the rest of the cast to finish "Super Gabby" in the near future.
In the following sequence of images, Menace, Rascal, and the Dragon Twins Gina and Tina mess with Gabby's little sister, Camila.
As always, a reminder: the footage has not been color graded yet.
Cruz Baltazar as "Rascal" and William Lipton as "Menace."
Camille Werder as "Camila Espinoza"
Jazmine and Jocelyn Felipe as the "Dragon Twins," "Gina" and "Tina"
The jungle gym fortress is run by Monster, Menace and Rascal. The boys below guard it.
Thomas Valencia, as playground guard bully.
Nic Garcia, also as playground guard bully.
What a rambunctious, mean looking bunch, right? Enough to make me cross the street to avoid them! We had a good experience working with these professional and talented young kids. I want to thank the parents for their dedication to their kids and for their patience with us! The entire cast is committed and we definitely want to bring back everyone to finish the film.
Edgar has worked in the camera/lighting departments and as director of photography on various productions shot in Baja California and throughout Mexico, from commercials and music videos to feature films such as the upcoming 'Hands of Stone' (Robert De Niro), the upcoming 'Point Break' remake, 'Ruta Madre,' 'Buscando Esperanza,' the Netflix original series 'Sense 8' by The Wachowskis (creators of 'The Matrix Trilogy'), 'Little Boy,' 'A Father's Journey,' 'All Is Lost' (Robert Redford), James Cameron's 'Ghosts of the Abyss,' 'No Country for Old Men,' 'The Death and Life of Bobby Z' (Paul Walker), 'Babel' (Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett), 'Harsh Times' (Christian Bale), 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' and many more.
Edgar and I met in Baja California, Mexico when we worked on the indie feature A Father's Journey in 2013. He was the director of photography and I was a green 1st assistant director. I was deemed too nice and not aggressive enough for the position (no one is supposed to like the 1st a.d.) but Edgar and the Mexican crew helped me learn quickly. They were more experienced than most of us having worked on multiple major feature productions and I knew they had much to teach us all. A word of advice to new filmmakers: shut up, listen, observe, question and learn.
I didn't show up on set thinking I knew it all after working on a few short films. This was my first feature film and I knew what I knew but understood that there was always something new to learn especially since it was my first time as a 1st a.d. Ego is not your amigo! When Edgar and the crew whispered tips in my ear on set or advised me during our private conversations, I listened and thanked them. Not once did I take it as they were telling me how to do my job because they did it respectfully and I recognized that they knew more than me. Because of this, our working relationship was completely free of friction the entire shoot and I've said the following countless times, it was the best damn film school!
I want to give a shout out to my AFJ crew brothers and sister in Mexico: Annis Duhart, Aleck Guzman, Heriberto Luzanilla (Edgar's brother), Jack Crivelli, Gerardo Vladimir Aguirre Zapien, and Javier Ismael Garcia Acevedo. Los más chingones y chingona! Mucho respeto y gracias por enseñarnos como se hace!
Originally, I wanted to be the d.p. on Super Gabby. Gasp! Writer, director, editor and director of photography!? Filmmakers are rolling their eyes right now. I actually addressed creative control from an independent standpoint in an interview – I won't get into it but check it out if you're interested in what I had to say. Anyway, I was willing to compromise and told one of our producers that I would delegate the position as long as I could choose the person. The only person I had in mind was Edgar due to his professionalism and my experience working with him in Mexico.
He requested the script, we discussed my vision and he committed to the project. And when I say committed I mean he took the first week off a feature film that overlapped with our short film production. He flew in from Mexico City and producer Sandra Lopez and I picked him up at the Oakland airport. The rest is history.
Working with my brother Edgar again was just as I had expected and I'm also glad that he's still onboard to finish Super Gabby. Until then, here's some new screenshots below, his work speaks for itself...
NOTE: Footage not yet color graded.
Teaser trailer coming soon!
I want to start off this Super Gabby blog update with one of our Indiegogo perks: a social media shout out to all our backers. Although we did not reach our goal and were unable to complete the film we still appreciate your support and thank you all for believing in us and our film. We still intend to honor the perks we can very soon and the rest once we complete the project. We're not giving up and you are all a part of this journey now. Thank you for your patience as we actively outline a new plan to fund the film.
OUR SUPER GABBY INDIEGOGO BACKERS
Armando Dubon Jr
Thank you all so much! You are AWESOME!!!
Where do we go from here? Well, we shot what we could for a teaser trailer which I am currently editing and the footage looks great! The production team and I have tossed around two ideas: to use the trailer for a new fundraising campaign to finish the short or a proof of concept to attract investors for a feature film version. We want to keep everyone in the loop as we move forward and this is where we stand at the moment. We can't wait to share the trailer with everyone! Until then, check out the screenshots below from the footage!
Cinematographer: Edgar Luzanilla.
NOTE: Footage not yet color graded.
TOP to BOTTOM: Jocelyn Pearl as Gabriela Espinoza / Camille Werder as Camila Espinoza / Karen Karatz Gonzalez as Mrs. Espinoza / Gabby's favorite comic book heroine, Scorpion Girl.
What do you think of the footage? Please leave a comment, we'd love to hear what you have to say! Look out for the next blog update with more new screenshots!
You're all super,
Take Five has been selected to screen tomorrow – Saturday, September 19th, 2015 – at the Shortz! Film Festival at the El Rey Theater at 230 W. 2nd Street in Chico, California. It is scheduled to screen during the 7 to 8pm fourth block.
FILM FEST SCHEDULE
September 18-20, 2015
Friday, Sept. 18th : Doors Open 6:30pm Film Time 7:00pm
Saturday, Sept. 19th : Doors Open 12:30pm Film Time 1:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 20th : Doors Open 1:30pm Film Time 2:00pm
Get your tickets at chicotix.com or at the door
$10/Day or $20 Weekend Pass
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On a quiet night, a peaceful stranger enters a restroom to find a violent situation unfolding.
SCREENINGS / AWARDS
• 8th Aspiring Minds Film Festival 2013 Pleasant Hill, CA
- World Premiere (out of competition)
• Pictoclik Film Festival 2013 San Francisco, CA
- Winner: Judge's Emerging Filmmaker Award
• Las Positas Film Festival 2014 Livermore, CA
• Block n' Roll Film Festival 2015 Oakland, CA
- Official Selection
Hella Local: Aztek Studio Films
September 10, 2015 reelydope
I’ve been trying to get this interview on the books for a while now. Adrian Nava is the spearhead of SF-based Aztek Studio Films. We sat down and chopped it up about film, The Bay, and what’s next for him and his crew. Enjoy!
What got you into filmmaking?
My love of movies and the escape from reality that they provide. Watching a movie is an experience and I wanted to create experiences too, telling my own stories. I started making short films on my parents’ camcorder and moved on to digital as I got older, and, as they became more available.
Read full interview at Reely Dope >