New Work for The Cactus Blossoms

New Work for The Cactus Blossoms

The Cactus Blossom’s have spent the two+ years writing and recording their new album. It was an honor to be asked to work with them again for some press photos to accompany the new album. Taking an afternoon in the Westbank neighborhood of Minneapolis – legendary for the bars where Bob Dylan got his start. We had a very casual shoot in bouncing between Palmer’s Bar, The alley behind The Wienery, and eventually getting up onto the roof of iconic The Cedar Cultural center.

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JS Ondara - filmed live at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

This was a perfect project - J.S. Ondara contacted me with with a great initial idea, then let me run with everything creatively from there. He wanted to record and film a solo performance of a new song inside a gallery of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The idea for the video came from Jay playing a Third Thursday event at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), and was inspired by the long constantly moving camera work in my video of Lucius in the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda for The Current (link). With the suggestion of the location and a general idea of a series of long moving shots, I set to work to plan the production on a quick timeline just after the New Year. 

A huge thanks to Kim Huskinson at MIA for her interest in this project, and approving us to film in one of the most iconic rooms of the museum.

The project was fairly complex, with a constantly moving camera, limited budget, and the added detail that the museum would be open while we were filming. We needed a small, skilled crew to keep the shoot footprint to a minimum. 

Chris Savage joined the project to operate the camera and brought in Keith Moechnig to AC, pulling focus remotely while we were filming. I also collaborated with audio engineer, Nick Leisenheimer, to select a mic that would compliment and add to the visual of the project. We didn't need to hide the microphone, as I wanted to highlight that this was a live audio recording in the space. Nick’s audio mix of the ribbon mic in close, with a stereo mic in the room really captured the lovely long natural reverb of the gallery space. 

It only took two takes to capture a performance that Jay was happy with musically, then we did a few more takes, closeup and extremely wide angle to combine in the edit. The space and his performance were so beautiful in their simplicity, I didn't want to add anything else to the edit. 

Director: Nate Ryan
Camera: Chris Savage
AC: Keith Moechnig
Sound: Nick Leisenheimer

Thanks to: Kim Huskinson and Anthonia Eboreime at MIA.
Thanks to: Cinemechanics and Tasty Lighting

The video premiered on Brooklyn Vegan.
Read more about how JS Ondara fell in love with the MIA and wanted to film in the space on MIA's website.
Thanks to the Star Tribune for sharing the video too.

BTS Photos:

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The Cactus Blossoms - Album Cover

The Cactus Blossoms - Album Cover

Not many people are making music like the The Cactus Blossoms these days. Jack and Page are making the sort of country music not much heard since the 1950s and 60s. After having released two albums on their own, they signed to Red House Records this summer – a renowned folk and americana label based here in Saint Paul Minnesota. Their new album has been featured on as one of the 25 most anticipated country albums of the year, and Garden & Gun magazine featured the album with an exclusive preview.

Find the album and more promo images. 

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Video: Sleep Number Bed – a real life review

Beds are universal, but not something we discuss day to day. With this project I worked with Normal Life Productions from NYC to look at how your bed can effect your entire life, and the energy you have to tackle your day. The project for Sleep Number Beds focused on twelve real and very busy people across the country, and gave them the new high-tech Sleep Number x12 bed. After a month or two, each person was interviewed to see how their sleep habits and energy levels changed.

In Minneapolis, Ryan Libby, who both works in advertising and is also an owner of 612 Brew, was the lucky recipient of the new bed. We worked to capture how better sleep gives Ryan more time and energy.

Over the last few years, I've built a great relationship with Normal Life Productions. This was my third project working with them in Minneapolis, following projects for Pepsico and Sony Music. For this project we had a very small team so we could move quickly and shoot the whole project in roughly half a day. Since the video was released in June, it has seen almost 800,000 views.

Production: Normal Life Productions
Director: Sara Amos
Director of Photography: Nate Ryan
Location Sound: Patrick Schaffer