FootageHub Brand Spotlight Q & A

Interview with Mark O'Connell


Q: When did you begin shooting? Or how long have you been shooting stock footage?
A: I began shooting stock in 2007. Before that, starting around 1992, I was immersed in editing and motion collage. I was really excited by the creative possibilities resulting from the digitization of various media. This was back when QT was teensy, nobody had ever heard of a gigabyte, and After Effects 1.0 was just about to be released (I've still got the floppies). I was doing some commercial work, but was much more in it from a fine arts angle. That is: I was more interested in the creative possibilities than the pay check, for better or worse...

Q: You have a wide variety of footage in your library. What is your favorite subject to shoot?
A: I love shooting nature. But really, anything with a little drama in it is a good subject as far as I'm concerned. Anything with the power or the grace to demonstrate how much more there is to life than we usually consider: a bird in flight, thunder clouds rolling across the sky, an adorable puppy crushed beyond recognition by a screaming eighteen wheeler. A perfect shoot for me would include an appropriately compelling subject, lovely light, a conspicuous absence of pouring rain, hail, sleet, or extreme cold, perhaps a sofa, something nice to snack on, and some cocktails.

Q: Which camera(s) do you prefer for shooting stock footage?
A: I work alone, almost always in the field, and my subjects are often very quick. Consequently I need to be light and fast. I really think of myself more as an old school photographer in some ways then a filmmaker. I've always been inspired by the work of people like Robert Frank, or Weegee, or Henri Cartier-Bresson. The camera of choice for me at the moment is the Sony XDCAM EX1. I still find myself being amazed by the image it can deliver. I'll be adding a DSLR soon to gain resolution and low light sensitivity for the time lapse shots. I think that over the next year or two we'll be seeing some great developments in the gear available to independent film types.

Q: What's your favorite clip that you currently have represented in the Artbeats FootageHub?
A: One that I especially like is RAC-FH104-95. I love the way pelicans fly, they're often perfectly synchronized, as if they're all of one mind. I made a number of trips to the coast trying to get shots while the pelicans were migrating through, and there were always problems, either with the weather, or with the light, or with the birds just not being around. Finally, on I think the fifth trip, everything came together and I was able to get a series of shots that I was very pleased with. This is one of them.

Q: What advice can you give to shooters who are just getting started in the stock footage industry?
A: He who hesitates is lost. Even if you don't hesitate you'll probably still be lost, but you'll get there a lot sooner. Anyway, try not to hesitate, at least not too much, when you're shooting things that go really fast. And also, shoot a lot...

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About Mark O'Connell:

Mark O'Connell grew up in Seattle. He left home quite young and found himself at the tender age of fifteen hitching up and down the west coast, living his own version of "On the Road". At seventeen he spent a year at the University of Washington, the following year he studied music in Boston, and the next year he began playing in bands, first in Seattle and then in Los Angeles. Music remained his focus until 1989, when he returned to the Pacific Northwest. It was there he became involved with unpacking the creative possibilities inherent in the newly emerging forms of digital media: his primary interest being in motion collage. In the last few years he's shifted his emphasis to acquisition, i.e. shooting... In the course of all this, he somehow managed to obtain a BA in Philosophy from Occidental College, and an MFA in Photography from the University of Washington. His personal work has been shown in Film Festivals and galleries around the world.