Filmtools Filmmaker Friday featuring Filmmaker Brandon Yavas

Each week, Filmtools takes a look behind the scenes with filmmakers around the world

With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a Filmmaker. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a Filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Filmmaker Brandon Yavas about his work. This is what he said:

What is your name and where are you from?

Brandon Yavas: My name is Brandon Yavas and I am from Los Angeles, California!

What is your primary role on set?

Brandon Yavas: I usually take on the role of cinematographer or 2nd AC but I have also worked as a BTS videographer and photographer. 

Who is a person in the industry that is on top of his or her game in your role? 

Brandon Yavas: I work with this director and cinematographer named Jeff Blank and he is absolutely fantastic! I usually shoot BTS on his films and watching him shoot has made me a better filmmaker and even a better photographer. He looks for the moments and raw emotion in every shot and shows it in a way that is visually stunning. He also has a good hustle and is just a really cool guy! 

If you had to impress someone with your work, what would be the most “well-known” content that you’ve worked on? 

 Brandon Yavas: I recently licensed some of my footage to Samsung to use in their advertisement videos for the Samsung Galaxy S9. One day while surfing YouTube, I came across the commercial and was blown away because it was so unexpected! It was a real trip to see this footage from 2015 resurface on a real commercial! So when you see the S9 commercial with a bunch of emojis flying into the dude’s mouth, you can think of me shooting it on my GoPro! 

Best craft service food?

Brandon Yavas: At the end of a Panasonic commercial, they served everyone margaritas…except me because I was only 20 at the time! So that was pretty cool but that same morning, they had a chef come in and cook us breakfast burritos! Those were excellent! Before you leave a set, always hug your crafty people because they are keeping you alive!

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on before?

Brandon Yavas: I worked Camera PA on a piece for Sonic that took place on a racetrack! During golden hour, we shot the car running laps around the track! For a car guy like myself, it was hard to keep my mind on shooting when I have this awesome car running laps around me! It was so hot that day that they gave us cold towels to wear around our necks! We also had to hop on a golf cart and drive to another part of the track if we needed to use the restroom! 

What’s the first thing you do on set?

Brandon Yavas: Run for the crafty table!!!! Just kidding! Try to meet everyone and remember their names and roles. Then I browse the crafty table! 

How did you break into the industry?

Brandon Yavas: Throughout high school, I was making videos for YouTube and planning out my career as a filmmaker. But when the day came to make a decision, I took the “safe route”. I went through my first year of college as a Civil Engineering major because I was told that getting a film degree was a waste of time and money. The idea was, and this was not my idea, that I was going to spend four years in engineering, get a degree, and then start working in the film industry, falling back on my engineering background if film didn’t work out. Here’s the thing: if you can’t make your passion work for you and you have to fall back on something, then you didn’t work hard enough and if you fall back on something, then you are not in the right mindset! There I said it! You get one life and if you are not working on what your passion is, you are wasting it. We get told from a young age that we always need a backup to make money. Forget that! Whatever it is you want to do, you can find a way to make money doing it! Live your best life! So I went back into engineering after that year and my grades really started slipping. This wasn’t working for me. So I transferred schools, moved back home, and started studying film in a university that is close to my house. Since then, I’ve been putting my work all over social media, working with as many friends on projects as I can, saying yes at every opportunity, paid or unpaid, following up with everyone I worked with to work with them again and taking it one day at a time. They say it’s hard to break into the film industry but social media and being able to connect with a bunch of people has made it much easier. The only hard part is keeping a level head through it all. Some months there is nothing and some months are packed with work. Then occasionally a huge opportunity comes along and you take it and then other times, shooting dates get pushed back or canceled altogether! Just keep going and don’t forget to look back and remind yourself how far you’ve come! You got this! 

Current TV obsession?

Brandon Yavas: Not really a TV guy but I was obsessed with this online overland series called “Hasta Alaska” on YouTube. It ended a couple weeks back and I am waiting patiently to start watching their new series once they release it! 

Do you binge-watch shows or pace them out?

Brandon Yavas Binge!!! I mean it’s already there so I might as well! Right?

What piece of gear do you have your eye on?

Brandon Yavas: Nothing really in particular at the moment but an external flash would be nice. 

Camera – Should you own or rent?

Every cinematographer or DP should own a camera in my opinion. Even if it is a cheap one, even if you are just taking pictures, I think everyone looking to hold a camera for a living should own one so that they can understand what it is like to capture images and tell stories with it. Even shooting on your cell phone helps! If you shoot independently like I do, owning your own rig is a must so you are not always borrowing from your friends or local rental house. Now you don’t have to buy the most expensive RED with a super nice lens kit! That you can rent but definitely own a smaller rig for those days where you feel inspired and want to run outside and shoot something or those days where a small company hires you to make a short video for them!

Lenses – Should you own or rent?

Brandon Yavas:  Well you need a lens if you own a camera! Again, you can rent a tasty lens kit if you are working on a large project and have the budget but if not, then purchase the lenses that you need to create your work and save the big stuff when you are working on larger projects. 

What is your preferred camera system?

Brandon Yavas:  I use a Panasonic Lumix GH5 body with a Lumix G 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, a RODE VideoMic Go on the top for audio and an Opteka SteadyVid sv-hd Stabilizer to keep the shots smooth and tasty. 

Someone that is starting out in the industry, what advice would you give them? 

Brandon Yavas: Take advantage of social media! Post your creative work, post the jobs you have done, and post your availability. You will build a group of followers in the same industry and one day they will slide into your DMs with job opportunities. Also, there are tons of Facebook groups, especially LA-based, where people post the jobs they need and you can get easy work and experience that way. Don’t be afraid to work for just food because it always leads to something bigger. Don’t be afraid to be yourself because that’s how people remember you and call you for the next job. And don’t be afraid to text everyone after a hard day and thank them for having you! It’s so important to keep in contact with everyone you meet! Lastly, don’t be afraid to try new things. I work in camera department but I want to spend some time working on lighting as well and I occasionally run sound for friends! Keep an open mind so that you can learn more but definitely specialize in one thing.

Where can people see your work?

Brandon Yavas: The work I direct, shoot and edit is on my YouTube channel, SKA DAY Films and the work that I have done in collaboration with other people is floating in the interwebs waiting for you to click on it! I also post a lot on my Instagram.


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