In this premier episode
of RTF Chats, Michael discusses his work on a KVUE special report. He worked closely with Austin Police detectives to expose illicit trafficking and show the efforts of volunteers to help the victims.
- Cinematographer & ACC RTF Alumnus Alex Salahi returns 6/11/15 to give a lighting workshop:
- Alex Salahi is a cinematographer whose work spans a variety of genres including narrative films, TV documentaries, and national commercials. He specializes in making creative decisions quickly and is known for shooting fast. Alex has a
strong background in lighting as his prior experience as a gaffer provides him with the ability to make quick lighting plans that serve the story. His latest feature film is Roger Corman’s “Stealing Las Vegas”, a heist film shot on location
in Las Vegas in 18 days. His career spans more than a decade and includes work for clients such as MBC, Discovery Channel, TLC, CNN, Dodge, Porsche, Nissan, Gillette, Microsoft, UFC and Konami Gaming, to name a few. His work has been screened
across the globe including his film No Photography, which was selected for the Tokyo Short Shorts Festival.Alex grew up in a Persian family with a strong interest in poetry As a cinematographer, he considers himself an artist who “writes with
light” to support and complement the script and director’s vision, His primary hobby is taking still photographs and testing new lighting and camera gear. When not shooting, Alex teaches workshops at UNLV and UCR.
Tell us how your new series, High Profits, came about.
(High Profits) came about with one of our executive producers Steve Germer. He owned a vacation home in Breckenridge, and just saw this [marijuana dispensary] pop-up on Main Street. It was a
couple of months out from January 1st 2014 when recreational sales were gonna happen. So he just walked in and had a conversation with Bryan Rodgers, the guy who was the owner. And we developed a show from there internally.
How did CNN become interested in the project? Other: We made a teaser. We shot for about 8 weeks in Breckenridge prior to January 1st, 2014. So we were there watching this whole thing happen. Basically. we wanted to be there to
catch the history-in-the-making for January 1st. We swung for the fences as a company. Went big on that. Wanted to make sure we were really capturing the story. And then, we have an an agent that pitched the show to everybody. I think we had 5
offers. As a company we chose to go with CNN.
How did your education ACC prepare you for this? AAC for me, was fantastic. Right away, it was hands-on. Which was great. It was exactly what I needed. The first project I did there was a 9 minute short. Having the freedom to
checkout high quality gear and trial by fire basically. Learning as you go. And the first time we edited. All that was huge. I ended up transferring from ACC to North Texas and got my degree at North Texas. My experience at ACC was far superior.
Between the teachers the teachers involved at ACC, including Mike Scannell and just everything. It was just the freedom and it was a great environment. It was a great foundation. I had a foundation going into North Texas that I know a majority
of the other students did not have. So I felt like I was way ahead of the game once I got there. It was a tremendous experience.
What advice would you give current ACC students? Definitely take advantage (and) make the most of it. The same kind of cliche answer people give is go out and do it. But that’s the only way your really going to learn is by challenging
yourself to go out and make a project. And go big. I think you just get out of it what you put into it. There’s a whole lot of students that want to do film school to call themselves filmmakers prematurely. And ACC provides a perfect environment
to get the foundation that you need to go further. And, if you take it seriously and put a ton into it, you’re going to get a ton out of it. That would be my advice. Just to take it seriously. Don’t do it just to say you’re a filmmaker when you’re
not. Challenge yourself and try to get the most out of it you can. Take advantage of the great facilities, the great gear and the freedom. Cause hands-on is tough to come by when it comes to film schools.
Do you think they should transfer or just get out there and start shooting? That’s a really tough question. I had a great experience at North Texas as well. Including study-abroad I did there with the BBC in England and University
of London. And that was fantastic. But I have encouraged family members not to get a degree specifically because I think that if you’re going to go head-first into the industry, I don’t think that it’s necessary. It totally depends on the situation
and the person. It’s great, of course, to have that back-up and to have that degree. If you’re still in the industry in five years, that was the benchmark I set for myself, if I can hold on and do this full time for five years, then I’ve made
it. But I also had a degree to fall back on if it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Going back now, I probably wouldn’t transfer to a four year. I’d probably just stay at ACC.Do you have any new projects in the works:Bat Bridge (Entertainment)
is developing a ton of projects. So we are crazy busy with as many high quality things as we can get out. We swung for the fences and we landed CNN. A news network that allowed us to follow the story and make a documentary as opposed to a reality
show is huge for us. So that is kind of the jumping off point for Bat Bridge and we’re just looking to continue that and do high quality, accurate, truthful storytelling that’s highly cinematic. We’ve got a whole lot of stuff in the pipeline.
Which Discipline / Major did you persue at ACC:Other? I already have two degrees, so I came more for the education than anything else.What classes were your favorite:All of them! Non-linear editing was my first class in RTF,
so it will always hold a special place it my heart. It’s where I learned how to use Final Cut Pro.
How would you describe your experience as a student in R-T-F? The program is great. They let you jump right in. It’s definitely hands-on learning.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about studying R-T-F? If it’s your passion, you should do it!
What were your reasons for studying this discipline? I love filmmaking and storytelling.
What are your aspirations? Do how do you think the courses at ACC RTF will help you in your future? I hope to build my company and expand my service offerings over time. The courses I took definitely helped launch me into this
field. I plan to take additional RTF courses to help me build my skills further.
Any other thoughts? ACC’s RTF department is probably the best deal any aspiring filmmaker could find. The courses are amazing, the instructors and TA’s are great, and you meet and work with other passionate creatives. Best of
all, they don’t lock away the equipment. They let you use it to make films! And did I mention the price is a steal!