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Quarantine Porchraits: The Faces of Utah Film

Social distancing due to COVID-19 has taken its toll on our local film industry. With productions having to shut down, it leaves a lot of uncertainties about what the industry will look like as we move towards a new normal. Thankfully, the Utah Film Industry is full of extremely talented and hard-working individuals that are passionate and exceptional at what they do. To celebrate their great work, the Utah Film Commission is highlighting a photo series by Trenton Michael Davis entitled ‘Quarantine Porchraits: The Faces of Utah Film’ that spotlights local film crew from their porches amid social distancing. We asked those crew about their start in the industry, what they love about Utah film, and what they are looking forward to the most when this is all over. Read more from them below.

Trenton Michael Davis
Gaffer

I began working on film and commercial sets in 2017 as a swing G&E. Now, I favor the electric side as a lighting technician. My long-term goal is to gaff more commercials, features, and shorts.

The film industry in Utah is full of some of the most talented, passionate, kind, and grateful individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve yet to come across a crew that wasn’t a pure joy to work for — I am very fortunate to be a part of the film industry here in Utah.

I can’t wait to get back out and travel to our country’s National Parks to photograph more landscapes with my film cameras. Professionally, I am hopeful that a couple of larger projects that I had grown quite attached to are greenlit to move forward again. And of course, seeing all of the wonderful faces on set again!

What inspired you to create the ‘Quarantine Porchraits’ series?
Like most of us in the film industry, things came to a sudden halt when the nation went on lockdown. After weeks upon weeks of playing video games, watching Netflix, overeating, staying up late, and sleeping in — I felt a wall of insanity begin to surround me…at that point my sense of purpose began to blur. A few days after this feeling set in I decided that a major change was needed. So, I paid a safe visit and photographed my good friend and local Steadicam operator, Ryan Hannah. I enjoyed the results of the photographs so much that I figured reaching out to others in the Utah film industry could be a neat idea during the quarantine. From there, it began to snowball and the project took shape. The whole thing certainly helped pull me out of the nasty funk I was in, and I’m very grateful for everyone’s willingness to participate and allow me to photograph them! I hope it offered a bit of purpose for anyone who needed it.

Big shoutout and major thanks to a wonderful DP and friend, Trevor Macdonald, for recommending I reach out to the Utah Film Commission about the project. I will still continue collecting portraits for this project, but just at a slower pace. If you are interested in having your quarantine portrait taken, feel free to email trenton@trentonmichael.com.

To learn more about Trenton, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here

 

Meg Cabell
Production Designer

I started working in the Utah Film Industry around September 2018 and have built up my portfolio to be a Production Designer. My background is in merchandising, art, and design.

My favorite part about working in the industry is that work is different every time I’m on a job and no two days are alike. Working with lots of different people and being able to see lots of different places keeps everything so interesting all the time. My favorite thing about being a Production Designer is seeing the final set come together after all the hard work and planning it took to get there. Seeing it lit and all pretty for the camera is so satisfying!

I am looking forward to collaborating with people again on a larger scale. Another one of the best parts about being in the industry: collaborating and problem solving with people. Personally, I am dying to travel!

To learn more about Meg, check out her crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

 

Corbin Dallin
2nd Assistant Camera Operator

I started working in the film industry while I was still a senior in high school. I had the opportunity through my teacher to get on set and work as a PA, it was the best thing possible and I consider myself very lucky. Before I was out of high school I was already 2nd AC on a Volvo spec ad and a few other music videos. Since then I’ve worked on a full-fledged production called ‘The Nameless Days’ as a second AC and multiple other music videos. I am currently doing 2nd AC work and have also worked as a 1st AC. 

What I love most about being on set are the locations. Being able to travel and see things I haven’t before and to shoot it is really cool. Also, just being on set with like-minded people is amazing. Everyone is your friend and it’s the best.

When this pandemic is over I’m excited to get back on set and continue the grind. Personally, just being able to travel and go out with people is what everyone needs and hopefully, it all opens up soon.

To learn more about Corbin, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here

 

 

 

 

Cameron Gade
Director/Writer

I first started working in the Utah Film Industry in 2013. Currently, I work primarily as a director and writer.

Utah feels like a very collaborative place. I’ve particularly enjoyed gaining friendships and learning from other talented creatives. In my experience, ego takes a backseat to support and encouragement.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing friends. I miss sitting in a restaurant and eating tacos rather than scarfing them down in my car while hunched over a styrofoam container. I miss going to the movies. Professionally, I’m excited to work with my friends and be able to meet in person rather than on Facetime or Zoom.

To learn more about Cameron, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here

 

 

Ryan Hannah
Steadicam Operator/Cinematographer

I started working in the Utah Film Industry just after I moved here in 2014 from Kansas City, Kansas. I currently work as a Steadicam Operator and Cinematographer.

I love working in Utah because of the people I get to work with. I’ve met so many great and hard-working people that have helped me to get where I’m at today. I consider many of them to be my friends and I hope they feel the same way about me. Also, the Utah mountains are really nice.

When the restriction is lifted I’m looking forward to being able to get back to work! I love being on set with my friends and being away from that has been hard. I can’t wait to get back behind the camera.

To learn more about Ryan, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

 

 

Abdiel Ibarra
Writer/Cinematographer/Editor

I’ve been freelancing as an independent filmmaker in Utah. I’m currently a jack of all trades, mostly focusing on writing, cinematography, and editing. I love how easily available many locations can be, and the diversity in weather patterns.

I’m looking forward to getting back to work with a big crew. 

To learn more about Abdiel, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here

 

Babetta Kelly
1st AD/Producer

I’ve been working in the Utah Film Industry since 2010 when I was a student at BYU. I’ve had a slew of different jobs, but I currently work freelance as a producer and sometimes as an assistant director. 

The crews! I love our Utah crews. I love being on a set with people who are kind and generous and want to make excellent things as a team. I also love our beautiful landscapes. 

I’m really looking forward to being able to hug and be near my family and to get back with our crews to make more wonderful content together. 

To learn more about Babetta, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

Tess Kelly
Producer

I started working during the Spring/Summer of 2010 when I was a student at Brigham Young University. I worked on indie projects, ‘Redemption: For Robbing the Dead’ and ‘Unicorn City’.

The community here is amazing. I’ve noticed that the folks I’ve worked with from out of town always say how wonderful, talented, and cheerful the crews in Utah are, and I agree 100%.

I’m looking forward to spending time with family and friends. I really miss going to movies but know that’s a little ways down the road. I’m excited to get back to work on the many exciting projects happening at BYUB. We are working with talented teams who are creating some great content right now.

To learn more about Tess, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

 

 

 

Jack Lott
Gaffer

I started working in the Utah Film Industry professionally in January of 2019. Although I’ve only been at it for just over a year; before the pandemic hit, I was landing regular gigs as a gaffer and first and second assistant camera. I was also getting opportunities as a B cam operator on some smaller productions. 

I love the small, tight-knit community. It’s easy to make friends and everyone is willing to share the secrets of their skill sets to help others improve. The competition feels more like its Utah against other states, not group against group and freelancer against freelancer, which is awesome. 

I’m really excited to be able to spend time with people again. I thought that I was an introvert but this pandemic has made me realize how much of an extrovert I actually am. I’m ready to get back on set and hustle to get lights in place and make more connections. I’m always happy to meet more people that are more advanced in their careers than I am to help guide me on my path. 

To learn more about Jack, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

Trevor Macdonald
Director of Photography

I started working in the industry around 2010. I dabbled in post-production for the first few years but quickly found out that I much preferred being on-set. I was lucky enough to start camera operating and assisting on smaller projects starting in 2011, and by 2013 I was all-in with the camera department. I am currently a DP, and I find myself mostly shooting commercial and branded doc content.

There are so many great things about Utah’s film industry. The quality and expertise of the crew members here is one of the things that I like most, though. We really do have some extremely talented and dedicated folks working here across all departments, and it makes collaborating on and off-set pretty amazing.

Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, I am really looking forward to getting back to work! I was about 1/3 of the way through DP/Field Directing a series for BYUTV with the fine folks at Monument in SLC, and I really can’t wait to finish out the season. I also am very excited to get a couple of short films in the can, as well as get back to shooting some commercials in the gorgeous Utah summer.

To learn more about Trevor, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

 

James Terry
Director of Photography

I’ve always had a passion for film since I was a kid but I’ve been in the industry professionally for about 10 years. I’m primarily a cinematographer but I have been involved in other aspects of production.

What I like about working in Utah is that it is very connected. I have a lot of friends all working on awesome projects and it’s fun when we are able to work on some of those projects together. There’s just a lot of exciting collaborations with a bright future for Utah. Since I got into the industry, it seems like the industry in Utah has been continually growing and has a very exciting vibe with a lot of people from other states coming here. I am very stoked and grateful to be in the middle of it.

For both, I am looking forward to collaborations. The in-person connection is something I miss. I look forward to getting back on set where we are focused on the project and not the pandemic. Since being in quarantine I’ve had the itch to get back out and create both personally and professionally. 

To learn more about James, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

Jonathan Tinsley
Set Lighting Technician

I started working in the film industry in 2016 as a camera operator for Dixie State University’s production company in St. George. I was lucky enough to get experience working a busy schedule full of commercials, branded docs, and even a feature-length documentary with them right out of school. I moved to Salt Lake City in August 2017 and immediately started finding work in grip and electric. I’m currently working as a Set Lighting Technician for commercials, features, and the TV show ‘Yellowstone’.

I love how tight-knit and supportive everyone in the Utah film industry is. The gaffers, grips, and cinematographers I’m fortunate enough to work under care about the future of Utah film.  They want the next generation of Utah filmmakers to be professional and passionate representatives of our industry!

I’m looking forward to enjoying food at my favorite vegan restaurants in Salt Lake and catching a movie at SLFS once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. As for work, I’m really looking forward to spending the summer days on set out in the beautiful mountains of Utah.

To learn more about Jonathan, check out his crew listing in the Utah Film Commission Film Directory here.

 

 

 

 

 

Val Hunter
Producer/Designer

I began working in the industry about 6 years ago. My current role is producer and designer for editorial, film, and events.

I love working in the industry for fresh ideas, constant new challenges, and the gratification I feel when I’ve put all of the puzzle pieces together and a project is complete! 

Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted I’m personally looking forward to the things that made me feel normal like; concerts, farmers markets, hugs, and petting all the dogs I see! And professionally, being more productive and working towards a goal! 

 

 

Benji Allred
Director/Cinematographer

I am a Director and Cinematographer and started working in the Utah Film Industry in 2015.

I love that it’s a tight-knit community. For the most part, everyone is looking to strengthen each other. There’s no room for ego. It creates a better environment for learning, growing, and creativity.

Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, I’m looking forward to handshakes. I’m going to shake everyone’s hand.

 

Mikkel Richardson
1st Assistant Camera

I have been taking jobs on productions since 2010. I am currently working predominantly as a 1st Assistant Camera. 

This industry employs such a broad range of characters, including some incredible coordinators, technicians, and artists. I love being able to stand beside them and compose exciting new content. The adrenaline of a well-executed production is unbeatable. 

Once the pandemic has passed, I’m most looking forward to being able to travel freely and see people released from their anxieties of the future.

 

Mandy Harmon
Director

I started working as a director 4 years ago, mostly in commercials, with some other narrative projects sprinkled in. For me, there isn’t anything else besides storytelling, and film is a beautifully collaborative medium for that. 

What I love best about working in Utah is the diversity of locations and the crews. We have so many lovely people in the film industry who share common passions and work ethic. It’s a dream.

Personally, I can’t wait to travel again safely. Professionally, I just can’t wait to get back on set.

 


These interviews have been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Allie Russell is the Marketing Coordinator for the Utah Film Commission. For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission atfilm@utah.gov.

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