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  • One Shot // Coney Island Circus

    As an editor, I don’t have a ton of self-shot frames to wax about, BUT back when I was a clumsy film student, I made a documentary that followed the course of a season at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. I like this shot mainly because I love this person. Ray was the first performer I met from the sideshow, and he was kind enough to show me around the place one wintery day in 2014 (and light a match off my tongue while I sat in an electric chair!) We hit it off and stayed in touch, and the following summer his endorsement led to an invite to document the full season, despite the show’s strict no-camera policy. That day in 2014 led to an electrifying epiphany: that I could artistically engage with all my niche curiosities without necessarily having to swallow swords or breathe fire with my own face. It was the first time I’d been given an academic assignment that I could put a personal spin on. I’d never been so excited to work on anything in my life. Like most burgeoning film kids, I spent those summer months cutting corners I didn’t even know existed – and made a documentary that now feels held together by glitter glue and gaff tape (I tell people I was going for a 90s “gritty” aesthetic by refusing to use a tripod to shoot the entire thing, but I think I was just lazy and didn’t want to drag gear to Coney Island every day!)  Technical flaws aside, the project made me fall in love with storytelling. And while I’ve since realized that hauling gear is not my bag, it was one of the first times I came to appreciate that my weird set of interests are their own asset, and that my membership in certain fringe communities could lead to some unique instances of honest storytelling. Really led me to consider what kind of art I wanted to be making, and I think as an artist you have to be constantly checking in with yourself on stuff like that: what kind of stories do you want to be telling? Who pushes your buttons, what sets your tongue alight!?

  • One Shots// Al Valle

    "One Shots" is a new series where members of the Cave famiglia and extended famiglia dive into the building blocks of the movies we make and the movies we love. Each installment features some behind-the-scenes insight or breakdown of a specific shot, scene, or other moment in a project we've worked on or one that's made an impact on the work we do. First up, our EP/Founder Gabe shares a bit about how a table-top came together at the 11th hour while shooting with good friends in Murcia, España for Al Valle. This was one of those “wouldn’t it be nice” type of shots that just sort of came together at the last minute with a trip to the grocery store, a lucky stumble into some fake plants in a foyer, and a tiny crew of ride-or-dies. We were in Murcia, Spain shooting what was supposed to be a pretty straightforward industrial capturing the manufacturing process for Al Valle Gazpacho. Over 3 days, we filmed fields and factories from every angle you can imagine and had covered everything on our shot list 6 ways til Sunday (side note: in researching the etymology of that little idiom, I came across THIS TRAILER, worth a gander, though I can’t vouch for the movie itself). We’d always planned on using existing commercial clips for the product shots the script called for. But towards the end of the shoot, it was brought to our attention that there was a new package and it was of the utmost importance that said package make it in THIS VIDEO. I think the query went something like “If we could get a couple of the new packages, what do you think we could make happen with what we have here?” The “what we have here” constituted 2 light panels, a gimbal, and no obvious place to film a tabletop other than some fairly stark factory or office walls. The team (Including ride-or-dies . . . Ed Marmen, Bryan Margaca, and Adrian Cores Del Rio…) put our heads together . . . "come to think of it, wasn’t there that ONE hallway that was sort of a stucco thing? . . . did we spot some fake plants in the lobby?” A quick trip to the grocery store and a lucky find of a red and white checkered tablecloth and boom, we had our tabletop setup (and felt sort of like THIS) Wrap party was a good one . . .

  • PRESS: C76 in LBB!

    Great piece from Little Black Book on Cave 76 and how Gabe keeps the company grounded in empathy, nurturing an ethos that places people first and puts value in doing the right thing by our clients, coworkers, and communities. Read the Article HERE

  • LEVELING UP // LIZZIE MINGES Named C76's head of Post

    Meet Cave 76’s Head of Post-Production, Lizzie Minges! After over half a decade at The Cave and a recent promotion, Lizzie finally comes clean about her past lives, her role as Head of Post, and what projects she’s got up her sleeves. (Hint: they involve life-size dinosaurs and an autobiographical montage of 10 years of daily clips!) Did you always want to pursue a career in film? Not in the least! Growing up, I actually had more of a passion for putting on live events as a musician and promoter. I sang in bands, worked as a performance artist, and was big into organizing small-scale concerts and tour stops in every city I lived in. Bangkok was home, but I moved around a ton growing up and found that putting together niche concerts was a quick and authentic way to find “my people” in a new spot. I guess organizing a seamless show for a live audience is a lot like being on set: you have your load-in schedules, your setlists, you have to keep your audience in mind – so the clues were there! But for a very long time, curating loud and ephemeral experiences for like-minded people was my art form of choice, both onstage and behind the scenes. Looking around and realizing that people were dancing – or singing along with strangers to lyrics in a language they didn’t know – was always the magic moment, and any artist is lucky if they get to experience that “OK, I’m here, I’m home” moment alongside their audience. When did you know filmmaking was for you? I graduated from SVA’s Social Documentary Filmmaking program, which was structured around students creating their own feature-length documentary as a one-person film crew. For my thesis film, I spent a summer filming a season with the cast of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. People had told me it was impossible to film there, that the performers carefully guarded their likenesses, and that I would probably be met with roadblock after roadblock as far as access went. Somehow – through either good timing, dumb luck, or because of my own oddball performance background – they let me into the family, and that summer at the beach was a really pivotal moment for me as a filmmaker and as a person. I loved feeling like we were all working together as artists to tell that story, and to this day the piece of that project I’m most proud of is how genuine my connection with the cast and crew at the sideshow became over time. I would often get requests from them to come by with a camera to chat and “play therapist” for a bit or just to drink some beers on the roof after a show. As with anyone’s own student film, mine is hard for me to watch without cringing over the ramshackle cinematography – but I really am so proud of how true those bonds between us were and how tangible they are when you watch the film. Becoming that safe space wherein people can be fully in their element, free to share and create, is where the magic happens. I don’t think a documentary (or a production company!) really stands a chance without that emotional security. Backstage at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow Have you worked on anything interesting lately? Definitely! This year I edited two episodes of American Anthems – a PBS show centered around a musician crafting a surprise song for a local community hero. The topics were heavy, and the stakeholders in the project were spread out all over the US. It was the first time I had been tasked with such a large-scale post-production project conducted almost entirely remotely. The experience really taught me the importance of considering every voice involved in the post process. With so many tiers of assessment, it would have been easy to feel overwhelmed. I found that watching through the episodes with the gaze of each stakeholder in mind kept me from creating more work for myself down the line – for each version I sent for review, I usually had an alternate version within my project ready, in case there was a sudden request to make the episode more or less heavy. I’ve also been chipping away at a project that’s been near and dear to my heart for the last decade: ten years ago I started a personal challenge of recording a video a day and creating year-in-review recaps with the footage. I started the project with the intent of documenting my repatriation – the very first clip was the view out of my plane window as I landed at JFK for the first time in 2012– and now that it’s been ten years, I’m determined to mold all those clips into a full piece! As annoying as it sometimes was to try to remember to film something daily, being able to watch it back and see life growing and changing over time is something really special. What can you tell us about your new role as Head of Post-production? This year I was thrilled to be promoted from editor to Head of Post at Cave 76 – and I really look forward to using experiences from my past lives to bring our team together even further and deliver great work. Moving around as a kid, performing for different audiences as a musician, and editing with all types of people have really made me appreciate the value in meeting people where they’re at and setting them up to succeed. Making people feel truly understood is so crucial for any gig, but especially so at a production company. When you’re tasked with generating creativity at the drop of a hat, finding a little common ground goes such a long way. The menacing entrance to Dinosaur Land, America Do you have any film ideas you’re just dying to make? I think my dream project would be to make one of those on-the-road style documentary series about offbeat Americana. Neither my husband nor I grew up in the States, so we’ve spent the last decade making up for lost time by planning elaborate road trips structured around visits to old wax museums, haunted hotels, and illustrious sites like “America’s largest skillet” and “the world’s biggest pothole.” My favorite so far has been Dinosaur Land – an overgrown “educational forest” with eroding plaster dinosaurs and an inexplicable King Kong whose decaying paw you could stand in for a risky photo opp. I’m totally captivated by kitsch, and the lack of attention these bizarre landmarks get always makes me feel like I’m stepping into a weird alternate universe when I visit them. (That or setting myself up to be the easiest mark in horror movie history!)

  • CASE STUDY: BACK 2 LOVE

    Jero Villar Directs Ana Elisa Mena & Roberto Rodriguez in Soul Claps "Back 2 Love" Music Video READ THE CASE STUDY

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