About “Freakin’ Heroes” Filmmaker Ted Frank

Documentary filmmaking is a natural extension of what Ted Frank does. His company, Backstories Studio deals with market research and strategy firms, helping clients understand the needs of their consumers better. A long-time veteran of marketing and consumer insights, Frank says he enjoys conversations, the stories that unfold from them and putting them together in a meaningful audio-visual package. But he knows there are a lot more stories to be told, and he’s determined to collect and share them in the hopes of inspiring others as they continue to inspire him. Here’s part of his back story.

How did you get started producing videos and films?
I took some classes at the Film Society and got really excited about shooting last year when Canon put out their first video-enabled DSLR for under $1,000. Of course, now I’ve spent thousands on lenses and such (since then), but that was the spark.

What equipment did you use in shooting and editing your first Ripple story? How was the experience?
I used the Canon Rebel T2i and a Steadicam Merlin to get the flying shots. My videographer-teacher Jason Wolos [Take his class at the Film Society. You'll be glad you did.] brought in tungsten lights for Jason Tanko’s interview. It was definitely scary to get behind the camera at first, but then once I started planning the key shots and letting go for the rest, you couldn’t get the camera away from me.

The video was edited on Final Cut Pro. Editing was my favorite part because I had a totally different idea (for the story) when I started. I was going to open with Jason’s childhood story about how he thought streetlights powered cars, but once I started cutting the audio and came across those little snippets in the beginning that brought out his obsessive side, I decided to go in that directon. That’s what’s so fun about editng. You really do have so much influence on the story.

Did you work with a team? If so, can you describe any challenges/successes?
I did the majority of it on my own. My wife Vania edited the questions, my friend Ed (Cefalu) did the interview, and my teacher Jason (Wolos) set up the lighting. On the Cupertino and Clare shoots, my Backstories colleague Danica (Barnes) helped me with the lights, sound and second camera.

My friend Cody (Westheimer) lent me music off his stock site Green Button Music. That brought the whole thing together.

What is it about the video/film production process that you enjoy the most and why?
I absolutely love starting with nothing, then playing with all the pieces, and finally ending up with something whole. I find that so fulfilling. Even if no one ever saw it, it would still be so worth it to me because the process of crafting is what connects me to the real me.

Watch Ted Frank’s Ripple documentary short entitled “Freakin’ Heroes here.”

– Owen Santos

Posted on 28 June '11 by admin, under RIPPLE FILMMAKER PROFILE. No Comments.

About Filmmakers Michelle Ortega & Jason LaBatt

It’s a partnership that started 20 years ago and still going strong today. Producer-director Michelle Ortega and producer-editor Jason LaBatt have filmed hundreds of videos together and won a number of awards along the way. In 2009, they launched their own video production group, North Beach Digital, and produced their first documentary, Adult Beginner Ballet. This husband-and-wife team is a perfect match for Ripplemakers—as LaBatt once shared to the Heart of Gold International Film Festival, stories that are“clear, concise and inspirational” are what he prefers to work on. It’s a view that Ortega shares and promotes, along with diversity in media. Clearly, it’s a partnership that works.

How did you get started?

We both started learning video production at SF State and began by making independent educational videos. The director/friend who worked with us on those videos ended up hiring us down the road to work at Macy’s in video production. I also worked at LIVE 105 while in college and videotaped several of their concerts.

When did you start your work partnership with Jason LaBatt?

Jason and I have been producing videos together since our college days in ’92 at San Francisco State University, where we met in the Broadcast Electronic Arts and Communication Department. “How to Live with The Roommate From Hell” and “RA Training,” were the first independent productions that we created and then sold to colleges and universities nationwide. The videos did really well and Jason and I had a great time working together.

What is it like working together?

We share a similar sense of humor and we balance each other. I’m more of the motivator/creative producer and like to do rough cut edits and Jason (who also has a strong producing background) is technically proficient in everything from editing to operating a camera. Sometimes we have conflicts about ideas and challenge each other, but ultimately we come to a place where we agree on the choices.

Watch Michelle and Jason’s Ripple documentary short entitled “The DanceWright Project” here.

–Owen Santos

Posted on 19 June '11 by admin, under RIPPLE FILMMAKER PROFILE. No Comments.