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Camera Work49 - Director Jordan Brady

Camera Work 49

Guest is Director Jordan Brady.  Instagram: @DirJordanBrady Website:


I find Twitter frustrating due to the 140 character limit.  Jordan says he feels creativity needs limitations.  He works in commercials where the spot is either 15 seconds or 30 seconds. These limitations can fuel creativity.

Jordan mentions a new camera that will shoot in 40k.  It will make it easy to make certain decisions in post, rather than on set.  Jordan asks, “What is wrong with making these decisions before you are on set.  Sooner or later you are going to have to make a decision.”  Jordan did a film called, “Waking up in Reno” (on Netflix). 

Jordan is hosting a “Commercial Directing Bootcamp” seminar at my studio.  It is an all day workshop given to other filmmakers.  The attendees are not learning lighting or cameras.  They already know that.  

Often you see people offering basic filmmaking workshops.  Sometimes, they aren’t qualified to present an advanced workshop.  It can also be frustrating to attend a basic workshop when the presenter spends too much time on basics that aren’t actually necessary to know. For Jordan’s workshop, attendees had to submit a reel to “prove” that they were on the level necessary to attend the workshop.

Jordan’s workshop will talk about how to run a set so that ad agencies will hire you again, and that the crew will hire you again.  How to live sanely as an artist.  It is also an overview of how the business works.  You have people who are dealing with low budget and Jordan will explain how to plot a career path that can help you get larger budgets.  Jordan sees film schools that will take anybody and they promise to teach, scripmaking, casting, directing, etc.  While Jordan feels it is good to know as much as you can about all aspects of filmmaking, the truth is that amalgam person does not exist in the real world.  Jordan is a director. That means he is not the cinematographer.

I recently bought a BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera.  The seller, Andreas sold it to me for only $500, saying he wanted me to have it.   The camera has a lot of limitations, including a battery life of only 7-15 minutes at times.   The camera also has a 3x crop, turning a 21mm lens into a 60mm.  But the file is gorgeous.


Jordan mentions a video camera that recorded on to cassette tape in the 80’s.  Jordan loved the look it created.  At one time there was an actual film festival of movies created on the device.

I photograph BJJ tournaments sometimes.  It is insanely boring to photograph the matches.  However, when I walk around with my Leica and I photograph the moments taking place off the mats -guys crying over loses, guys talking to their coaches, guys meditating before  match, etc, I am able to create photographs I love.  In fact, I wish all my photography were done on my Leica because the things that the camera is not good at shooting -action, fast moving events, far away people, are all things that I am not really interested in.

Jordan often uses a 40mm lens.  The limitation of one lens becomes a creative endeavor.  A 75mm lens is sexy and a 21 is wide and establishing.  But a 40mm is perfect for observational shots. It makes you feel that you are in the conversation with the people.

I asked Jordan how many people are on his sets.  He says his crew may be 55 people.  Jordan says the kid who shows up and is a team player, is noticed by Jordan. He notices if they are willing to chip in and they are not on their phone.  When he sees a PA who is attentive who is studying everything taking place on the set, he notices that.   Jordan will sometimes ask a PA, “Whose job on this set do you want?”  If the PA says, “I want you job,” he will say, “Come watch.”

But if the PA isn’t watching, he knows they aren’t serious.  If they are talking too much or rolling their eyes when someone says something, or if they just have a negative attitude, he doesn’t want them back on his set.  

Personally, I don’t like when someone acts like they don’t have to bring their A game because we are working a lower level job.  Jordan agrees that if you take the gig, you should do the job to you best ability.  

I asked Jordan how do you get the big, high end jobs?   Jordan says it is the Reel, the Relationships, and not caring about the Revenue.  The Reel is your portfolio.  The Relationships are your commodity.  You build these up over time.  You need to have relationships with Creative Directors at ad agencies and Producers.   You need to have a strong Relationship with your own crew as well, but this comes after you have nailed the job.  For Jordan to take a job, it has to fulfill at least one of the Rs.  And once you accept the job, you bring your A game.

When you start off, you are offered mediocre scripts to film.  If you are able to access scripts for commercials that were almost made, you may have a better script to work with.  Jordan recently worked with his wife on a personal project commercial like this, where they spent 20k of their own money to produce the spot.  This money has come back to them in the forms of jobs they got from showing this work.  The mistake people make is, to make a personal project commercial for say, Bud Light.  They use their girlfriend in the commercial because she’s “hot”.  The commercial needs to look real, but you wrote it yourself.   The problem is, you aren’t a writer.  And then you also art directed the spot yourself, but you aren’t an art director.  These are strikes against you.  If you were really casting this, is your girlfriend the person who would have been cast?  When you do your work for your reel, you have to do it to the same level that you would do if it were really doing this commercial as a paid job.

I mention that once you get the details right for the commercial, you would show it to Bud Light as a sample of what you could do on their next commercial.  Jordan says no, you don’t show that commercial to Bud Light.  Instead, you show it to other people who need to make their own commercial.  If I photographed a sample Dunkin Donuts commercial, the point isn’t to show it to Dunkin Donuts.  The point is to put it on your website so other people says, “That is an awesome DD commercial.  We should have him do our Juicy Juice commercial.”

Jordan says as a comedian it can be tempting for him to want to write his own scripts for commercials, but he has to admit to himself that Ad Agencies write them better.  



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Stephen Gomez joins John Ricard. Discussion includes Sue Bryce 28 Days, David DuChemin photographer's manifesto, Digilloyd "Death Knell for Leica" and Wedding Photography.


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Frank Hopson and Tamara join John Ricard.    Discussion includes: Doug Gordon, Susan Stripling, Book Yourself Solid, RSD, Real Social Dynamics, Everything is a Remix.