STAKES Chosen as an Official Selection of the 9th Annual Hollyshorts Film Festival

Last year Corduroy Media joined forces with director Brandon Mason and shot his short film “STAKES” in Birmingham, Alabama. Not only did Corduroy Media provide gear, but Carl Brown, Corduroy Media’s Executive Creative Director shot the film and assisted DP Joe Walker, a Birmingham Local. Last month “STAKES” premiered at the 2013 San Francisco Black Film Festival. Now, “STAKES” has been chosen as an Official Selection of the 9th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival (August 15-22), the largest short film festival in Los Angeles.



“STAKES” was written by Birmingham natives Brandon Mason and Lance Lyles, and was shot over the course of 5 days at various locations around Birmingham. Carl shot the film on Corduroy Media’s own C300 with Zeiss CP2 lenses. Achieving a big picture look on a small budget Carl kept the camera in motion utilizing the Indi Dolly, Dana Dolly, and Steadicam.


(Carl shooting STAKES with director Brandon Mason)

Mason cast a very talented crew for “STAKES”, led by Azur De as “London” and Tobie Windham as “Jeremy” including cameos by Ruben Studdard and Big Gen.


(Carl checking the production monitor while shooting Ruben Studdard for STAKES)


To get your tickets for “STAKES” and to get more information about the 9th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival go to:

Los Angeles Video Production Company Corduroy Media shoots for TIME

Corduroy Media produced a moving piece on the story of a hate crime for TIME Magazine.

Imagine being a skinny 13 year old kid and getting kicked out of your home for being gay. You don’t know where to turn, catch a one-way bus ticket to Los Angeles, and make your home between an iron fence and a bush inside a park. That is where Matthew Boger found himself in the 197o’s.

Now imagine a punk-rock racist who beats people up for fun and spent time in prison for assaulting an Iranian couple. That is where Timothy Zaal was in his life when he met Matthew one fateful night 35 years ago.

We documented their amazing story for TIME video, shooting in four locations across Los Angeles in two days to retrace their steps. TIME regularly works with Corduroy Media to produce moving narratives for their national audience. From prison inmates to surf contests, our team crafts unique stories using a powerful sense of narrative and dynamic photography.

Whether we are producing a piece of journalism for TIME, a corporate documentary for a national litigation firm, or a lifestyle photography project for Visa, we pride ourselves on producing a great end product for our clients across the country.

Los Angeles Video Production Company Corduroy Media Shoots Gold Medalist Swimmer Nathan Adrian

As a Los Angeles Video Production, Photography, and Animation Company, we here at Corduroy Media get opportunities to meet really cool people we might not meet if we were, say, bankers or car salesmen.

One of those opportunities came to us when U.S.A. Swimming asked us to shoot and edit a day-in-the-life profile of swimmer Nathan Adrian before he headed off to the Olympic trials.

USA Swimming: Nathan Adrian from Corduroy Media on Vimeo.

Apparently, U.S.A. Swimming, which is the organization that governs professional swimming in our fine country, saw some of our other short documentary style videos on the Cancer Hope Network and at Time Productions (most recently on Bionic Exoskeletons). Clearly, they liked our style (we say with just a touch of pride).

We consider ourselves lucky that on the day we met Nathan at his house to get some shots of his morning routine, he had a 7:00 a.m. call-time for practice, rather than the usual 6:00 a.m.

Actually, now that we think about it, we were lucky he let us in so early in the morning.  Not everyone wants to be caught on camera with bed-head, but the more personal access we can get of our subjects, the stronger a piece we can create.

Our experience shows us that people like seeing their heroes and champions with bed-head. It makes them seem more accessible, and therefore more relatable.

We got shots of Nathan rolling out of bed, driving his Prius to practice, in the water hanging over the rope floats and chatting with other swimmers, and of course, swimming. To get the shots, Carl broke out the Dana Dolly on ten-foot rails, and Sean got down in the water with his goggles and the Canon G12 and Ikelite housing. We really like our production tools.  They help us get great shots.

Nathan is one of those easy-going guys who’re up for anything, and we had fun getting to know him.

The experience made watching the Summer Olympics extra cool, too.  We were stoked to watch him snatch up two gold medals (in the 100 meter freestyle and the 4×100 meter relay). Go, Nathan!

Still Photography Shoot for O’Lover Hats

Still Photography Shoot for O’Lover Hats

We must confess that when our Los Angeles Video Production and Still Photography company, Corduroy Media, produced a commercial photography shoot for O’Lover Hats, we found ourselves obsessed with our ringflash.

But let’s go back a couple of steps.

It started with a call from O’Lover Hats founder, Elwyn Crawford whose Cali-based company was preparing a line for Goorin Brothers Hat Shop and needed some images. We chatted with her for a bit, and left the conversation with a concept in our pocket:

Urban. Bold. Graphic. Styled.

We chose an industrial setting for the location, and Yulia Zakomornya and Chaize McKenney as our models. We’d worked with Yulia on the Visa shoot last winter, so we knew she’d be amazing.  Turned out Chaize was, too.

So, yeah, as we were saying, we’re found ourselves obsessed with the ringflash as our key light up.  For the first set we used it up high and pointed down, along with the octabox at 1/4 ratio for fill, another octabox at 1/2 power for edge, and a hard light with a flag to get the sharp shadow on the wall.

We knew the hard light was a risk, but we wanted the grit and some of the shadows.  We made sure to fill in the shadows with a softer light source and to use powder to keep Yulia’s and Chaize’s skin looking perfect.

For the next set, we moved across the street and used a wall that displayed the shadows of power lines. It added a great graphic element for us to work with. We moved Yulia and Chaize into full sun, filling in the harsh shadows with. . .

. . .yup, our trusty ringflash.

All in all, it was a beautiful day, and while in the end, we did get a couple of shots without that ringflash, it really was the perfect tool for the job.












Alvin Garrett Music Video Shoot

Our Los Angeles Video Production Company, Corduroy Media, did in a single day what should have taken three days – when we hooked up with director Brandon Mason on the new Alvin Garrett music video “Never Gonna Find.”

Our day began at 5:00 a.m. when three of us (Carl, Sean, and Andrew) loaded our gear into Doug (our faithful grip/camera van) and hopped in for the two and a half hour ride up the shoot location – a sleek and sexy modern house way up on the Northern California coast – somewhere above Jenner, if you know where that is.

We didn’t waste any time once we’d arrived.  We started shooting immediately (despite our queasy stomachs from the winding road), and we shot straight through the next 16 hours, save for a short lunch break.

We’re talking interiors, exteriors, performance shots, narrative storylines, all the drama and romance of a good R&B music video.  And to get the job done, we used just about every single tool Doug had carried up for us.

Brandon has a ton of experience shooting music videos, and he wanted to master at 720p in order to take advantage of shooting all of the narrative scenes slow motion. Recording at 48 frames a second we got a smooth and silky picture that could be sped up in post to hit real time or left as is for actual slow motion. He also wanted a super crisp image with plenty of room in post to color, so we shot with our new Canon C300 on CLog using Carl Zeiss Compact Primes.

We finished shooting around 11:30 p.m., and only then did we realize how tired we were.  Brandon’s experience shooting and editing music videos kept us open and engaged. Alvin’s endless supply of energy was contagious, even late into the night, and Falizitas Cipolla performed on take after take after take.

Alvin Garrett music Video “Never Gonna Find” from Corduroy Media on Vimeo.

Shooting all over California can make for some late nights and long drives. After we wrapped we drove straight to the Oakland airport to catch a 6am flight to San Diego for our next gig…

And yeah, we were a little loopy by the time we got to San Diego, but did we mention that we’d just done in one day what should have taken three?

We wish Alvin luck as he moves forward in his career, and we’ll keep our eyes peeled for a chance to work with Brandon again soon.

Composite Portraits

The team at Corduroy Media specializes in producing powerful photography from concept to completion – for commercial, editorial, corporate, or non-profit projects.

We don’t like to tell all our secrets, but we’ll loosen up a little bit to illustrate what we mean when we say we take projects “from concept to completion.”

For one recent project, we started with the idea of the power electricity. It’s a big idea, and an old one, too. Some of the standard images (of televisions, computers, appliances) could have worked if we weren’t so obsessed with providing new perspectives on old ideas.

We decided to focus on how electricity has the power to connect people everywhere and to bring newer technologies and educational tools to the far reaches of the world.

While on a shoot in San Francisco, we took a shot of Pier 5, exposing the lights for 13 seconds.  As the center focus of the shot, and bright from the exposure, we thought the pier lights would provide exactly the emphasis we needed for our concept.

But we knew that wouldn’t be enough.  We’d decided a woman with a lit bulb in her hands would provide the element of human connection that would pull the whole thing together.  On our casting search, we came across Kellie McLennan, a local model.  Her expressive face was just what we were looking for.

Curious about the technical aspects?  Here they are, represented as a mathematical equation (just for fun):

Octabox (high key light) + ringflash (fill) + octabox (edge light) + 1/8 second shutter speed (for bright bulb and soft orange glow on Kellie’s face) = Beautiful Image of Woman Holding Bulb.

And then it was time for compositing.

Magnetic lasso (to select Kellie’s image) + quickmask mode (to refine the selection) + cut and paste (to place Kellie on the pier) + blur tool and feather (to soften the edges) = Beautiful Image of Woman Holding Bulb on Pier.

Now you know one of our secrets…

It’s Called Story Arc

Before you read this post, take a second to think about a television commercial, or a “This American Life” podcast, or an HBO documentary film that’s stuck with you for weeks, months, or even years.

Even if it was just a commercial, a lot of thought went into telling that story.  Advertisers get paid a lot of money to grab and keep your attention. We can bet Ira Glass spends hours arranging his content in a way that will best grab and keep your attention.  Documentary filmmakers do the same.  And we’d consider it a fair guess to say you’ve cried and laughed and held on to those stories without thinking too much about how they were told.

At Corduroy Media, we’ve laughed and cried over stories, too, but it’s our job to understand how it’s done so we can provide our clients with the stories that best grab and keep the attention of their chosen audience.

Before we get into that further, we invite you to view the following video:

In the video, we used a handful of common and effective storytelling techniques that are used in both radio and film:


This is the sequence of events in its purest form. By beginning our story with an emotional sequence of events we attempt to draw in viewers instantly. The anecdote also brings momentum to a story, so the viewer feels they are on a moving train that has specific stops (or moments in time) and an ultimate destination.


Without moments of reflection, our anecdote means nothing. Throughout major turning points of the story, we ask our subjects how they felt, and what they thought at these moments in time. This technique essentially allows the viewer to connect emotionally with the subjects, which always helps to keep the him/her engaged and eager to see what happens next.


Throughout our piece we plant a series of questions and answers into the viewer’s mind. By withholding information thoughtfully, we create a story that has a journey.

If you have the time, we invite you to watch the video once more with these techniques in mind and see if you can get a sense of specifically how we used them to help Rusty Carter of Season 1 Racing tell his story.

- Sean Donnelly

Corduroy Media works with Producer Ocean Macadams on a Digg Dialogg’s Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger

For ten months last year I worked with MTV’s Choose or Lose Campaign covering social and political stories that affect the youth of California. Along with winning an Emmy, one of the great pleasures of this assignment was working with Ocean Macadams. Ocean, the former VP of News and Docs, was my editor. He reviewed, provided feedback, and approved my stories before they went to web or TV for broadcast. His feedback and support helped me grow as a producer and content creator.

Last week I received a call from Ocean who was just wrapping a CNN/Digg interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and asked if I would be available for a rush post-production job to create a teaser and wrap-up of the interview for Digg. After shuffling some work for another client, we spent 15 hours the following day at the Corduroy Media post-production studio creating the two pieces for Digg.

Ocean was great to work with and really created an atmosphere of collaboration. Here are the two spots that we created for Digg Dialogg.

Digg Dialogg Teaser with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger