How did you feel when you found out you won the HV ManCam contest?
I was very surprised to see that I won the HV ManCam! I have never won anything in my entire life. I think it’s great to see other filmmakers like Shane Hurlbut himself, acknowledging and reaching out to other independent filmmakers like myself. You don’t find that very often in this business. It’s people like Shane that open up the film community and make you feel more welcomed and we need more of that!
How are you going to use the rig?
I will use the rig for up and coming productions! I have a couple feature and short screenplays I would like to see get made. I really like to go out and test everything before I use it on an actual production. I will put the ManCam through a series of situations. It’s always nice to have many tools to choose from out of your filmmakers toolbox!
What made you choose a DSLR camera?
The reason I chose a DSLR camera is because image quality means everything to me. I have always worked with film-style and ENG cameras because of the ergonomics. I was skeptical about the DSLR camera due to its size, but with a few pieces of gear you can achieve that ENG-feel.
This past summer, I tested the Canon 7D for several months, and it exceeded all my expectations. In the fall of 2010, I had the opportunity to direct two music videos with artists Dave Sills and Carla Kosak. Both music videos were on a tight budget and time frame. The videos were shot back-to-back in six days. The DSLR format made it possible to stay on schedule and within our budget and gave both videos a big budget feel.
What do you like about being a DP? Director?
Being a DP allows me to be visually creative in the way I can tell a story. There are so many unique ways to capture a scene, and I like to present a shot or scene from a point of view that people may never have seen before. For the most part, when I agree to direct a project, I also end up being the director of photography. I simply love it! It’s a lot of work, but I love the challenge.
What made you choose the Independent filmmaking route?
Working as an independent filmmaker gives me the freedom to shoot and direct stories I want to tell. I also get the opportunity to work with and meet other talented filmmakers.
While directing is my passion, I love every aspect of filmmaking – directing, shooting, editing, lighting, etc. I believe that to be a smart, successful director, you need to know it all. I wanted to learn and understand how everything works so that one day I could knowledgeably direct my crew and be a great director. I also love the fact that filmmaking allows me to tell a story. As an independent filmmaker, I can tell a story exactly the way I envision it to be – the one I would go and see in the theater. And if others
like it, then I will have done my job.
Who is your inspiration?
My parents will always be my inspiration. Their support and encouragement of me to go after my goals in life have always inspired me. When I think about other filmmakers, the first person that comes mind is George Lucas. He had a vision, a story he wanted to tell with Star Wars, and despite the challenges he faced in getting Episode IV to the big screen – including the fact that the studios and not many others believed in him – he persevered, and has become one of the world’s most successful filmmakers of all time. Other filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Tony Scott, James Cameron, Michael Bay also inspire me. They each have a unique skill for bringing their vision to life on the big screen and making movies that people love to watch, not only for the story, but for the cinematography as well. That’s what inspires me to go out there and capture stunning images that tell an amazing story. I get inspiration from music as well – particularly movie scores. Many of my ideas for films come from listening to a movie score. When I listen to a movie score, I visualize scenes in my head and have them shot and edited the entire film before the first take is even called out.
This is a very exciting time to be a filmmaker! Things are changing at a high rate of speed. The technology and the way films are being made and distributed. As a independent filmmaker I’m very excited to be alive at this moment in time to witness it all!
Other background and history:
In December 2010 Kevin Otterness released his music video directorial debut, “Life Without Love,” performed by Dave Sills and produced by Brian Tedeschi. One week later the behind the scenes of “Life Without Love” was released.
Otterness also got to work with one of his inspiring directors this year, Michael Bay. Otterness was cast as an FBI agent in the upcoming film TRANSFORMERS 3 “Dark of the Moon,” part of which was filmed in Chicago. He also was cast in Steven Soderbergh’s new film “Contagion” also shot in Chicago.
Though he’s never seen himself as an actor, Otterness believes it helps him as a director understand where his actors are coming from when on set.
In 2011, Otterness will release his second music video, “Don’t Want Your Man” performed by Carla Kosak. You can also expect to see a behind-the-scenes vignette to follow that video as well. This time the Making of : will focus on pre- and post-production.
Otterness also plans on involving other Chicago area filmmakers in some other projects he has coming up this year.