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Posts tagged "documentary"

Seattle Artist Documentary Shoot at Metal Studio in Ballard

Posted by Leonard on December, 15, 2015

I’ve been working on a short documentary promotional piece with Seattle based visual artist Jonathan Clarren. He approached me with an interest in showcasing his work, specifically his sculpture pieces. The idea was a documentary short for architects, designers and developers in the planning stages of designing buildings and both interior and exterior spaces to have an opportunity to learn about his work, his process, and the materials he creates with. His goal is to connect with the right people, to get commissioned to build large scale art installations.

At first, we did a series of shoots at his home studio, where he works with wood, glass, paints on large canvases and smaller metal projects. We also shot at a metal studio at the soon to be demolished Fenpro Building in Ballard where he’s piecing together a huge metal sphere that will hang on the side of a building. The building is part of a construction trend in Ballard, and will be replaced by a $50 million+ Nordic Heritage Museum. It was amazing being in a hive of studios that will soon cease to exist, erasing a piece of Ballard art history and an enclave of industrial creativity. Jon has been working with Denny in this metal studio over the years to produce a variety of large scale metal sculptures he’s created.

The studio was an incredibly visually rich environment, with metal pieces strewn about, sparks flying, gritty tools everywhere, and the freedom to climb around and get unique angles as they worked their craft. Denny was rocking the metal lathe, and Jon was standing on top of a table, assembling the half sphere comprised of strips of elaborately carved metal in his signature keyhole pattern (see video below).


This is a short video I made of Jon doddling in this signature style. Eventually these patterns get translated into materials that get sculpted into original pieces.

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Documentary Style Promo Videos with Keyboard Legend Peter levin in NYC

Posted by Leonard on November, 16, 2015

In November I made a trip to NYC to work on some new promo videos for my old friend Peter Levin. Pete is currently playing in the Greg Allman Band, after years touring the world with The Blind Boys of Alabama. Over the last 20+ years during my own journeys, we’ve connected in endless cities where I’ve been at the time and he’s passed through on tour with all kinds of bands. Pete’s a killer keyboard, piano and organ player who’s performed with if you can believe it Allen Toussaint, Crosby Stills & Nash, Aaron Neville, Levon Helm, The Doobie Brothers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Lou Reed, Joan Osbourne, Yo La Tengo, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Charlie Musselwhite, Christian McBride, Merl Saunders, Phil Lesh, Mike Gordon, Vasser Clements, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

We spent 5 days at his studio in Brooklyn filming daytime sessions with an assortment of players, and then he played each night as part of a weeklong run at The Winery in Manhattan with the Greg Allman Band which I also got to enjoy as his guest. The new materials will showcase some of his solo work with a variety of artists, featuring him playing on an incredible collection of keyboards, synthesizers and his grand piano that he keeps in his studio. Was a great time connecting with an old friend and will be exciting to put the content together over the coming weeks.

This is a similar style of piece we did 7 years back

and a clip of Pete playing Amazing Grace with The Allman Brothers Band and The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Beacon Theater in NYC

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• Pangeality Productions New Website Debut!

Posted by Leonard on March, 31, 2014

Excited to share the new Pangeality Productions website. With gratitude to my friends who helped to make it happen, including Peter Levin who wrote the demo music and William Washington who helped bring the freshness. And to Michelle Kilmer of KilmerHansen who built the site.

I’ve been working for a while to bring it out and am feeling good about releasing it into the world. Welcome and enjoy, and thanks for your continued support of Pangeality Productions. – Len Davis

Oh Yeah.

Oh Yeah.

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Sweet Grass Farm, The Best Beef For My Family

Posted by Leonard on March, 13, 2014


One of my favorite recent projects has been working with Scott Meyers of Sweet Grass Farm on Lopez Island here in NW Washington state. SGF is raising Kobe Wagyu beef, that is considered by local chefs and food writers to be some of the best beef in the world. I spent some time on the farm with Scott on 2 separate trips, both times shooting b-roll around the pasture, and speaking on such a wide variety of topics including water conservation, bovine terminology, grasslands management, seasonal care, birth and calving, slaughter, and so much more.
SGF mainly direct markets their beef, so the majority of their product goes to families in the region who they sell directly to with no middle man. They also sell to a few select markets and restaurants but the vast majority is straight to the consumer, where they don’t slaughter any animals who haven’t already been accounted for before hand. For me, this type of marketing video is the most clear expression of what Pangeality Productions is best at- giving you the ability to connect with your customers in an authentic voice, telling your story and sharing your values. Segments that came out of the project which SGF now uses in their marketing include The Best Steak Ever? Why I Call Myself a Farmer and Not a Rancher, What’s In a 30lb Box, and Ear Tagging and Selenium Injection. This is a short video that gives the best overview of the work I produced for Sweet Grass Farm, and here is a testimonial that Scott did for Pangeality Productions, discussing how this approach of creating a series of short videos that each stood as it’s own video worked to reach, educate and entertain their customers. We’ve still got another hand full of videos in the pipeline but these were the first set that Scott chose to roll out.

Why I Call Myself A Farmer Not A Rancher from Pangeality Productions on Vimeo.

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Filming on Stormwater Project for Regional Nonprofit @ Port of Port Townsend

Posted by Leonard on March, 7, 2014

Spent a day this week filming at the Port of Port Townsend on a storm water project with Seattle based nonprofit PPRC (Pollution Prevention Resource Center). The project is about sharing best management practice regarding removing heavy metals from surface water before it drains into Puget Sound, our regional body of water, and with this site specifically at maritime facilities. Specifically zinc, is present in tires, roofing and siding, gutters, paint, fencing, pressure treated lumber and so many other materials and products found in a typical setting like this. Ironic that the material used to protect against the elements, in this case rust in the marine environment, is the main polluter. So the pollution sources are both the marine vessel maintenance and the on site buildings themselves. It was quite fascinating to learn about the port of Port Townsend being the only remaining DIY port in the state of Washington and the battle to maintain that character and access, which means allowing boat operators to work on their own boats in the facility 24/7. To my surprise that is apparently unheard of in this day and age and the battle to do so is both an importantly held value there, and a top reason for the presence of a high volume of heavy metals in their stormwater that they’re responsible for before it returns to sea. We spent most of the day with the environmental compliance officer whose role it is to police the work being done in the port, and make sure the rules and regulations are being enforced, specifically around things like whether people who are sanding their boats before painting have the proper vacuum attached to their sander to limit the airborne dust, where the toxic chemicals removed from the hulls of ships are draining to, as well as the installation of proper downspouts on the gutters of the port’s warehouse and maintenance buildings.
One sound bite that stuck with me from the interview with our host were the challenges of bridging the two worlds- that he had the credibility of having worked in the maritime trade for many years himself, but enforcing the environmental rules with a lot of salty dogs not too happy to have him around looking over their shoulders and ‘seeing those same guys at community BBQs and events in ‘a county of only 37,000 people’…

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Returning to Nepal, A Place I Love

Posted by Leonard on January, 31, 2014

I recently returned to Nepal for the 6th time in 20 years. Nepal has a special place in my heart after having studied there and learning the language for the first time in 1995. I subsequently spent time as a volunteer, working in tourism, teaching English, making movies and generally exploring this wonderful country.

Back in 2009, I’d filmed 3 videos for the Seattle Channel connecting Seattle and Nepal; about a Bellevue based nonprofit working to end the stigma of disability in Nepal, about a young Tibetan Lama who was born and family lives in Seattle, and about Bhutanese refugees being resettled in Seattle’s Rainier Valley‘s. I also shot a series of random videos for my YouTube channel that have been enjoyed worldwide including among the Nepali diaspora.

This was my first time back in 5 years and though I was returning mostly as a tourist, I did manage to do some filming, with the goal of developing my DSLR skills. Typically for work I am shooting with my Panasonic HVX 200 camera that uses a very different approach, but in this case was working primarily with my Canon (though I did also shoot some video on my Flipcam and GoPro). I’d set a rather unrealistic goal of making a short documentary about Kathmandu. While the idea itself was very doable, I’d set out to take on a project that required more than the roughly 4 days of filming I’d given myself.

Traveling with an old friend, we’d spend most of the trip outside the capitol city in mountain villages, then a few back in the big city together. He left 5 days before I did and it was in that window that I’d planned to do the work. Needless to say, I made the mistake of scheduling a bunch of interview shoots, which all turned out to be great and well worth the time. But in doing do, I didn’t leave myself near enough time to shoot b-roll and wander, which ironically was so strange given it was that wandering unplanned shooting that really inspired me and brings me the greatest joy in the first place. That plus the emphasis I put on the DSLR side instead of the exploration and having fun which I should have kept as the focus.

With that goal guiding me, I’d connected with my friend Dan McComb, an excellent Seattle DSLR filmmaker about some gear to rent in support of my goal. I ended up renting a hot lens, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, a Zacuto viewfinder, a microphone and a few other things. In the long run, there was a real part of me which wished I’d just gone for it with my Flipcam and not wasted any time trying to learn new gear. The main difference with the DSLR approach is for me that I’m used to running and gunning as a one man band, with built in audio, and limited variations. I’ve already mastered the gear I work with and know how to make things happen alone and on the fly. Not with my Canon.

So I shot a handful of great interviews with an urban planner, a cinematographer, a political writer, a DJ, a human rights worker, and a handful of others- mostly friends and friends of friends who I had connections to and loved all of those interactions. Those will each no doubt stand on their own as great interviews that I’ll share via YouTube and Vimeo but the main thread to hold it all together with beautiful chaotic visuals just wasn’t there cause I failed to make it happen. Good but frustrating lesson to have learned. I did shoot some additional videos with my flip cam, some sweet timelapses with my new GoPro, and some really great stuff with my Canon as well. The main challenge with the DSLR system is the need for everything to be on a tripod, which was antithetical to my random street shooting flow.

Here are a few random photo selections from the trip

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Top 10 Capitol Hill Seattle Videos of 2009

Posted by Leonard on January, 9, 2010

I stumbled upon this great collection of 2009’s best Seattle videos, compiled by The Capitol Hill blog. It’s a great celebration of community and art and joy and transformation, from the election of Mike McGinn to leveling blocks of Broadway for the new light rail station, time lapse sequences to sledding parties on Denny Way. Each of the pieces is produced by a different filmmaker in a variety of styles and formats, all about life in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some true Seattle vibes shining through.
See the films here.

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