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By Vaseline May30,2024

I was 21 years old and had just completed my thesis and my first film ever as a cameraman. I didn’t know much, but I knew one thing for sure: since I didn’t go to a traditional film school and received a more technical education, I had to learn by doing.

During this project I had the incredible pleasure of working under a female cinematographer, Elle Schneider. I studied every camera angle, lighting setup, and lens choice she made. I was charmed by her fluidity and how much care she took to capture every beat of the story.

It was so inspiring to watch her and be her helping hand. However, during this shoot I was very insecure due to my lack of knowledge. Although I wasn’t expected to know everything, I was very intimidated by the environment. Despite the pressure, I knew I had a chance, and ultimately it was up to me to make the most of it.

‘Dirty towel’

One night over dinner I asked Elle what her best advice is for me as someone who wants to study cinematography but isn’t going to film school. She responded by saying, “Honestly, sometimes I think it’s better if you didn’t go to film school because then you learn to be smarter.”

This was probably the most affirming thing I could have heard at that moment and I took the advice to heart.

A year later I found myself getting ready to shoot my first independent post-doctoral project in Los Angeles called Dirty towel.

With an extremely low budget and a dream, I knew the way to be successful in this project was to create something great without much financial help. The dirtiest feat was navigating rental houses to secure items for the project. It goes without saying that I had no experience or guidance with this step in the filmmaking process. I was used to checking out equipment in the basement of our journalism building and then calling it a day.

‘Dirty towel’

I spent hours researching and asking many experienced friends for help throughout the process. But given our budget, our dream camera package was just too far out of reach.

So, with the advice of a friend, I turned this search into a pitch to rental properties on why they should partner with us on this project. I leveraged the strengths and appeal of our project, including that we were an all-female key crew telling a story about women’s empowerment.

I started researching rental properties whose mission statements similarly aligned with these values ​​and found the perfect fit: Rare Breeds West.

I wrote a love letter to their team about how inspired I was by their mission and how it would be an honor if they could work with us in any capacity. Never underestimate the power of an email, as the Rare Breeds team were happy to support us in this endeavor by giving us a significant discount on our full equipment package.

‘Dirty towel’

We were able to shoot digitally on the Arri Alexa Mini with a selection of Zeiss B Speed ​​Primes, both of which I’ve never had the opportunity to work with before, but I’m more than happy with how it turned out.

Without this innate mentality of being sloppy, it’s hard to say if this project could have become what it is today. Thanks to this hard work and the generosity of Rare Breeds, I was able to put together my dream camera package for this passion project that is close to my heart.

I’m happy to say that Dirty towel premieres at the Tribeca Festival on June 7 in New York City.

I am now so grateful for everything I learned from Elle almost two years ago, and I don’t know exactly where I would be today if I didn’t have this sloppy mindset. It is important to always make the best of every situation you are given and never let the quality of your work diminish due to the nature of your resources.

There is always room to make something from nothing.

Stay sloppy.

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