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NEWS Fall 2017
 

Love Gasoline!
AUGUST 2017 Jonathon Stearns created the video design for dance-theater piece Love Gasoline! in collaboration with his wife Stacy Dawson Stearns. In July 2017 Love Gasoline! premiered at the NOW Festival at the REDCAT in downtown LA, with three performances to full houses, then traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the massive Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 4-28, 2017), where it ran over 20 performances and received a 4-Star review.

The video design was created over a period of several months, often featuring the actual performers who would be on stage. For the three studio shoots (and multiple 2nd unit shoots) Stearns functioned as DP, working with lighting designer Jesse Freyery to develop a range of looks and color palettes that defined the different characters and setups. Stearns later created animated and motion graphic elements designed to blend and intercut with the live video footage. In addition, an FX shoot was set up to capture slow motion shots of glass bottles being smashed. Stearns- "I had to dig into my art directing background to build a "smash box" that would be a safe and clean way to shoot these smashing bottles. As it turned out, the bottles were a lot harder to smash than we predicted, and had to be forcefully thrown into the box before they would break. We have a lot of slow motion footage of bottles bouncing around and not breaking."

 

"The REDCAT is an amazing place to work with video, the image is massive and it was really a thrill to see my designs up there... we knew it would be smaller at Venue 13 (the theater in Scotland) but when got there and started teching we realized it was even smaller than the specs we had been given, and wasn't even the full width of the stage. Luckily the on-stage choreography was contained in essentially the same playing area for both theaters, so the video design ended up working for out.. Video design for live performance is one of my favorite formats to work in as a film maker and animator, but you really have to be ready to roll with unpredictable circumstances. I'm really looking forward to the next time we can stage something with this level of video... If you can find the balance where the projection isn't overwhelming what's happening on stage, but actually enhances it, you can make very compelling work."

 

Mobile Takeover
JUNE 2017 Stearns re-mounted a short film project after a 5 year hiatus, as content for the web site he founded eddicted.org and to enter into the Film Festival circuit. Catherine Ventura Ahmanson reprises her role as a girl who's cell phone becomes self aware and starts talking to her. The phone tells her a frightening tale of a cell-phone revolt, in which the phones attack the city with massive robots. The film features live action, composite, and animated sequences of the robot attack, all created by Stearns. It is currently in post production. Stearns has another short film in the works once this one is completed.

 

CalArts
AUGUST 2017 Stearns passed the one-year mark as the staff videographer/editor/multimedia designer for CalArts, and in that time was able to produce a considerable body of work. After having CalArts as a regular free-lance client since the early 2000s, Stearns decided to devote a larger share time to CalArts. So far the experiment has worked, while allowing him to maintain other clients and work on outside creative projects.

Working directly with the Deans of the 6 schools, Admissions and Advancement teams, the office of the Provost and President, as well as side projects, Stearns broke new ground by producing professional quality work for CalArts. "I researched a lot of other colleges and saw what they were doing with video, and it was really all over the map. Some had big budget productions with aerial shots lighting and stylists, while others were relying on cell-phone video with bad sound. To reflect the high level of work that Cal Arts is generating, we needed to have content that stands out, that people will actually watch. I wanted to create content that would appeal to the whole Cal Arts community, the current students, their parents, alumni, and the staff and faculty as well." (click image to see a Vimeo gallery of Stearns' work at Cal Arts)

 

We're All Happy
Stearns continues an ongoing collaboration with NYC-based writer Jean Railla on a feature-length documentary about the early 90s/pre-internet era, specifically focusing on the Los Angeles music scene that Beck emerged from. Railla and Stearns had previously collaborated on an indie documentary 5 Nights Out in the early 90s, which We're All Happy is a follow up to. Stearns is co-directing with Railla, which features interviews, archival footage, and animated elements. Stearns - "There's a really strong interest in this era among the millennials, whether they were born yet or not...seeing footage of clubs where people in the audience aren't holding phones, a time when they communicated and interacted without any kind of social media or devices. We wanted to explore how the creative process worked back then, how people made art and music." (click image for teaser trailer).