McCormick’s Collectors Car Auction Event Film

McCormick’s Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.

Event films are always a challenge.  You are at the mercy of people, the weather and all kinds of variables.  In the end, you must come out of it with enough footage to tell the story and create an entertaining piece.  Different events are more challenging than others.  I’ve shot in rain, heat and billowing dust.  Cars have always been a great subject to shoot.  Whether they are moving or parked they tend to shine spectacularly in the right sun lite.

Lining up the shot.


The McCormick’s Collectors Car Auction in Palm Springs is a popular bi-annual event for out of town folks and locals.  Every auction is unique in what it has to offer.  The owner, Keith McCormick tasked me with creating a unique piece that showed how exciting his auction was.  From his point of view, there a lot of action going on under the tent, and past videographers just haven’t bene able to capture that in their videos.  Other than that challenge, he gave me the freedom to interpret it in any way I wanted!

Catching the action under the tent.


One unique technique I decided to incorporate into the video was time-lapse.  I hadn’t experimented with it much before with my AF100.  Exposure differences can be difficult with my manual lenses.  Not having clouds in the sky can also make it difficult to see the passage of time.  So I decided to use the desert’s blasting sunshine to my advantage,  I setup several static shots at key locations to capture the crowds passing by the camera.


Setting up a time-lapse.


The next challenge was selecting the right music.  Since this piece wasn’t going to involve any interviews, I needed a piece that told a story all on its own.  Music can end up being the most difficult part of making any film.  Lyrical pieces are difficult because the music selection must be spot on.  Normally, we never notice that most music doesn’t tell a complete story.  The vast majority of music for video are either compositions for films, (which are tiny slices of a larger piece) or are just musical loops.  A unique feature of my lyrical pieces are that they should make you feel like you’ve traveled to that location just by the images and music that I’ve chosen.  I had watched several other short car films and really wanted to stay away from any rock or pop music.  I wanted my piece to be more filmic and timeless.  After a long search, I had located the right piece.

In the end I felt that I had tackled several new subjects and techniques in this shoot.  From the time-lapse to shooting cars, I expanded my portfolio and experience by challenging myself in a different arena.


California Transportation Association Fall 2012 Conference


I was contracted to produce/shoot the opening and closing videos for the California Transportation Authority’s 2012 conference at the Palm Springs Convention Center.  The opening film involved collaborating with my editor, Marty James on creating a concept that was far and above previous opening videos.  We decided to incorporate the Coachella Valleys famous bus agency Sunline Transit, to welcome the conference attendee’s.


Shooting interviews with key Sunline Travel Agency administration staff.


The concept involved compositing statements shot on a green screen with key Sunline staff into shots of bus stop billboards throughout the valley.  Edited in between these brief statements were beauty shots of key locations across the region.


Finding bus stops with the right conditions for the video were challenging.


CTA had created a hashtag for the event, #InnovativeTransit.  Our job was to included it in the graphics of the final video seamlessly along with the contributors.  My editor Marty James did an amazing job going above and beyond the call of duty to create an awesome looking key and composite.  The final piece blew my clients away.



California Transportation Association 2012 Convention Opening Video from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.


The biggest challenge was yet to come.  Our goal was to cover the entire conference and edit a piece that showed the excitement of the event and explain to those who weren’t there what was covered overall.  A secondary goal was to have a piece that the CTA could put on their website to help draw more attendee’s for future events.  For two days I shot behind the scenes footage along with interviews with key conference staff.


Interviewing key conference staff.


At times, conferences aren’t the most dynamic locations to shoot at.  Typically they are in hotels or convention centers with bland lighting and blank walls.  It can test the best shooters and editors.  We were challenged to build a story while shooting and editing it in a very tight 48hr window.  It needed to be unique, but tie thematically into the previous opening piece we had produced.


Setting up a time-lapse shot.


We were able to deliver the final product with minutes to spare!  Once it went up on the big screens we were glad to see the happy looks on my clients faces.  I want to thank Marty for his hard work editing the piece under pressure.  In these time crunch situations, building a strong team is essential for success.


California Transportation Association 2012 Convention Closing Video from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.


Pioneertown from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.

In the high desert north of the small town of Yucca Valley lies a little village that time forgot.  Pioneertown started in the 1940′s as a motion picture set.  Many early western television shows and films were shot there including The Cisco Kid and Judge Roy Bean.  Western icons such as Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry were some of the original investors and developers of the site.


The O.K. corral.


Over the years, western’s became less popular and Pioneertown faded from the big and small screens.  However, it had always been a bit of a legend in Southern California.  After moving here in 2004, I had heard stories of an “old west ghost town” just north of the valley.  This sparked my imagination.  As a lover of western films and growing up on a ranch, I’d always been fascinated with ghost towns.  I put it high on my list of films to shoot when I had the opportunity.


One of my favorite signs on main street.


Finally I had the opportunity last spring to head up to the high desert and capture it on video.  I found myself going back several times over the next few months feeling that I hadn’t quite captured it’s essence.  Since the days of filming westerns, people had moved into the area and have lived alongside the set pieces.  The result is a mix of rustic decay and an old west “ghost town.”  Most of the pictures and video pieces I’d seen online tended to ignore this.  They made the location seem larger than life and I found that vexing.  I kept trying to find the locations in their photo’s and shoot them when I finally decided to capture it in all it’s faded, dilapidated glory.


One of my favorite area’s of Pioneertown were these typewriters sitting out in the open.


I was torn in many ways on how to portray the town.  It wasn’t just an abandoned ghost town. People lived there.  It also wasn’t the epic set of a western film.  Those days had faded far into the past.  I had felt that I needed to portray it with an honesty but without skewing the story.


Sometimes it’s the oddest things that attract your attention.


And then life happend, and I had to shelve the video due to other concerns.  But it sat on my hard drive constantly in the back of my mind.  I found myself thinking about it often.  Finally in the fall, I decided to dust it off, spool up my drives and get to work on crafting it.  Halfway through the edit it struck me, I didn’t have an ending shot.  How could this have happened?!  How did I not shoot a shot to end cap the piece?  I suppose it was part of the reason why i kept coming back to Pioneertown multiple times when on previous films I had only shot one or two days.  So I packed up my gear and headed back up determined to shoot a final shot.


Prepping the shot.


I found that final shot and I also realized why I kept going back.  Part of it was my desire to portray the location accurately, but the larger part was that I just really enjoyed being there, (I don’t miss the dust though.)  But in discovering that I still feel there is a bigger mystery yet to uncover.

Micro Blog: Chroma key shooting

Green screen interview setup.


Often I get asked if I “have a green screen.”  Having one is only a small step in having the expertise to light it effectively and provide a clean key to the editor in post.  There are quite a few hurdles to be aware of when shooting against a green screen in order to obtain a quality image.

Chroma key, (green screen) interviews are an essential tool for producers to have choices in post.  It allows all manner of background images to be keyed behind the contributors after the shoot.  When shooting in the real world we are often in places where we would like a controlled looking background.  Chroma key allows this without making a permanent decision on set by picking a less desirable real world backdrop.

Overall, chroma keying is an amazing tool for the right kind of shoot.  It’s a service that I am glad to offer my clients when the need arises.

UPDATE: 12/15/12

Below you can see examples of the final keyed interviews that I shot at a conference.

Silbermond Music Video

In late September I was approached by a German Director named Daniel Siegler.  He was looking for a Cinematographer to collaborate with on an upcoming music video for the German pop rock band Silbermond and their new single “Ja.”  After exchanging a few emails we were off to a very productive relationship.  Daniel’s vision was to follow the lead singer Stefanie Kloss around an abandoned motel in the middle of the Desert.  The biggest challenge of the video was to shoot the entire piece in one shot using a Steadicam.  Would it work?

The first challenge was finding a location that fit all the criteria that Daniel was looking for.  My 1st AC David Desio suggested a location called the 4 Aces near Palmdale, CA.  After conferencing with Daniel and his producer Jacko in South Africa via Skype, they decided this would work for the video.  I then set about locating all of my key crew members and equipment.


Heading to the 4Aces at Dawn.


Finally the first day of the shoot came.  After scouting the location with Daniel I coordinated with my 1st AC David, Steadicam Operator Connor and my Gaffer Glendel to make sure that Daniel’s vision was achieved.


Making sure the light is JUST right.


Reflections, lighting instruments and unwanted gear in the shot were all challenges.  The shot went from interiors to exteriors and back again without cutting.  So, with David pulling focus, Connor operating and I me pulling iris we shot several one take shots.


Taking a breather after shooting a take.


In the end, my amazing crew were able to help me pull off Daniel’s vision.  There were some unexpected challenges on site including a RED camera with a technical malfunction.  Overall, we were able to deliver a wonderful video that has received over 2.1 million hits on youtube so far!

DJ Gina Star feat Laza Morgan Music Video

Recently I was hired to be the Director of Photography on a new music video by a director I know, Aaron Himelstein.  The video had an interesting story centered around the guest artist Laza Morgan who is rapping on the track.  The track was a remix of a Queen song entitled “I Want it All.”  We shot over three days on location across Los Angeles from the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in downtown Hollywood to the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu as well as an amazing mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

The video was shot on the Panasonic AF100 and Canon 7D.  I coupled my camera with my set of standard speed Zeiss T2.1 prime lenses.  We used a 1 ton grip package, my lighting kit, Kessler Cineslider, and a Steadicam Pilot.

Lighting a shot at the mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

The shoot was jam packed with locations, but we were able to pull it all off.  My thanks to my awesome crew and the director Aaron.  They pulled off an amazing shoot.

Video Credits:
Directed By: Aaron Himelstein
Executive Producer: Owen Ingram
Produced By: Martin Spanjers, Aaron Himelstein, Nicolas Wright
Director of Photography: Jon Furtado
Edited by: Nicolas Wright
Stylist: Genevieve Genest

The Hollywood Condos 30 second commercials

In August I shot two commercial spots for the add agency “Ton of Hats.”  The condo complex being advertised was two blocks from the main drag in downtown Hollywood.  The challenge was to show all the amenities in this sheik, trendy new condo complex.  Two 30 second spots were produced from my footage that I shot entirely on my Panasonic AF100 with a small jib.

Spot A

The Hollywood Condos 30 Second Commercial Version A from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.


Spot B


The Hollywood Condos 30 Second Commercial Version B from Jon Furtado on Vimeo.


Schwarzenegger Institute Announcement Video at USC

Recently I produced and shot a film for the University of Southern California again.  The film was centered around the launch of a new public policy institute at the University headed up by none other than the former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The video was featured on the front page of the USC website recently.

It was a pleasure working with the former governor, USC President C.L. Max Nikias and everyone in the university communications department.  I would also like to thank all of my crew for their hard work.  As always, they delivered in spades.


Producer/Director/DoP:  Jonathan Furtado

Field Producer: Mike Hatton

Sound: David Lerner

Editor:  Marty James

PA: Andrew Cohen

Barbara Keller Tribute Video for the Broken Glass Awards

Last December I shot some interviews that were included in a video tribute for the philanthropist Barbara Keller in Palm Springs, CA at Palm Springs Women in Film’s “Broken Glass Awards”.  The award show honors unique women who have blazed trails in the film industry and have “broken through the glass ceiling.”  The Award Show was held on March 2 of this year.  I recently uploaded a copy of the video for those that were unable to attend.

I was the Director of Photography for the Barbara Keller, David Brinkman, Jim Casey, and Lisa Vossler Smith interviews.  Big thanks to my producer, Gina Leonard, and the editor of the video, Marty James.

L.A. Times Festival of Books Film at the University of Southern California

This past weekend I was contracted to produce a video for the LA Times Festival of Books by the University of Southern California communications department.  The goal was to shoot on the festival’s first day, do a quick 48 hour edit and post it on the USC YouTube page.

Shooting at the USC stage opening ceremony.

I put together a six person crew ,(including myself) consisting of another AF100 camera operator, a location sound mixer, a field producer, an editor and a production assistant.  It was a great challenge.  Balancing the needs of the crew while shooting was a fun change of pace.  We shot all the interviews with two cameras.  While my other cameraman, (Eric Talesnick) shot all of the close-ups, I shot the wide shots.  This made it simple for the editor to catalog all the footage in the editing room.

The President of USC giving his speech at the opening ceremony.

We began shooting the opening ceremony at the USC stage in the center of campus.  I covered the ceremony with a wide shot using my kessler cineslider.  While my other camera operator shot a close up of the speakers on stage.

Shooting the interview with Max Nikias and Eddy Hartenstein.

We interviewed the President of USC, C.L. Max Nikias and Eddy Hartenstein, Publisher and CEO of the L.A. Times.  Following this we shot interviews with a variety of university administration personnel and festival attendees.  In between, we shot B-Roll of the Target children’s stage, Field of Food at the stadium, and the various book vendors.  The variety of attendees was staggering!  As mentioned in the film, the festival is the largest book festival in the United States and draws over 150,000 people.

Taking a break between interviews.

One of the highlights of the shoot was the pleasure of shooting an interview with the boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard!  He really was a pleasure to work with and contributed a great interview for the film.  He was also a really cool guy with a pretty interesting watch!

Interviewing Sugar Ray Leonard.

Sugar Ray Leonard showing us his awesome watch.

After rushing the footage to my editor’s house, we began a marathon editing session to pull all the interviews and B-roll together.  My editor, Marty James, worked wonders!  His skill, speed, and attention to detail was second to none.  While there were some challenges, nothing was insurmountable.  We were able to deliver the film in time for the university administration and the public to view early in the day Monday.

Me with Sugar Ray Leonard!

I thank my amazing crew for all their hard work.  It was a pleasure working with them all. They were the model of professionalism and delivered great content.

Eric, Me, Mike reviewing clips in the field.


Producer/Director/DoP:  Jonathan Furtado

Field Producer:  Mike Hatton

Camera:  Jonathan Furtado, Eric Talesnick

Sound: David Lerner

Editor:  Marty James

PA:  Albert Andrade