TWOS by Andrew Gura

I've been experimenting with two-image compositions on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter...

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These will be available as prints shortly. 

In the mean time, I hope you Angelenos are keeping cool and out of the way of all of the dust and soot in the air. 

In the mean time, I hope you Angelenos are keeping cool and out of the way of all of the dust and soot in the air. 

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10 YEARS AGO: WHAT'S THE ALTITUDE by Andrew Gura

Ten years ago, on July 12th, 2006, I descended on the El Rancho Market on Alvarado at about 8pm to direct a music video. I was newly signed to Partizan and the idea of shooting on HD video (instead of film) was still a new one to me. It would be my first night shoot.

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The song – Cut Chemist feat. Hymnal’s “What’s the Altitude’ – was incredible and I loved the concept that we’d collectively come up with: your basic rap video, set in a grocery store. Also there was a cow involved. But when the cow showed up, it had somehow become a bull. These things happen.

I was also blessed to have some amazing, creative people around me: Lucas Macfadden Terry Robinson Nikia Phoenix Moretti Mia Todd Somodevilla Ari Weiner Erwin Landau Elizabeth Ince Don Bondi Darren Beauchamp Kevin Beauchamp Lauren Tafuri Danielle Hinde Jeff Pantaleo Katie Tomiko Mitchell also I remember William Bensussen being on set. Original video graded by Patrick Marsiglia Boom boxes by Emil Nguyen but I seem to remember Cup and Javi dropping them off.

The video has about 111M views on YouTube, but you can catch it in HD here: 

Thanks to everyone who made this special project happen.
 

Photos: Sean Marc Lee 李子仁, who I met for the first time that night.

 

RECOMMENDED: GUARDIAN GUIDE TO RUNNING PODCAST by Andrew Gura

I love to run but I want to run more often and longer distances.

My good friend Justin mentioned the Guardian's running podcast, and I gave it a try all over Prospect Lefferts Gardens today. Great stuff. The first episode consisted of one-minute runs interspersed with 90 second walks. By the end of the series, you should be able to run for 30 minutes uninterrupted. 

I'm excited to keep going, and to try it at my usual track, the Silver Lake Reservoir

Find the series here.

Related: This Strava blog post on NY running clubs, with rad photos by the talented João Canziani.

 

INSPIRED TO DRIVE by Andrew Gura

The Nicolas Hamilton documentary I directed for Bandai Namco / Slightly Mad Studios has been doing really well on Facebook -- over 500k hits in the first 48 hours it was online.

CUSTOM! by Andrew Gura

My love treated me to a custom shirt for Christmas. It was a great experience. Here are some snaps from Venice Custom Shirts in Studio City.

Ardo and Margaret have been making custom shirts for movies, famous people and everyday people like you and me for many years. 

I found their working banter as inspiring as their workspace. And the shirt I had made is a perfect fit! Okay, there was more than one.

HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY DONUTS / HAPPY BIRTHDAY J DILLA! by Andrew Gura

in 2005, stones throw records asked me to make a video for the MED songs ‘push’ and ‘get back.

the goal was not to make indie hipster music bloggers happy or redefine music video – the goal was to make a video that got a relatively unknown MC airplay on BET. for about 1/25th of the budget normally required to pull something like this off.

i got an amazing producer, a 16mm camera, and a minimal lighting and grip package.

how minimal? when we were doing the dolly moves in the alley, i asked the DP to 'boom up’ as we came in close, but then laughed at myself because i realized that our 'dolly’ was in fact a piece of plywood with skate wheels on it.

i also challenged myself by not making a shot list. if i was going to have to do something this low budget, i was going to see how well i could do freestyling.

we shot in two locations, one in highland park and one on hollywood boulevard. as was expected, madlib didn’t show up to set, but we were happily surprised when the semi-reclusive j. dilla did.

it meant a lot to pb wolf and stones throw, it meant a lot to MED, and it definitely meant a lot to me to have my set blessed by jay dee. (i’d met him on a few occasions before but it was usually brief and he was a man of few words around people he didn’t know too well).

i even kept the camera rolling after the music stopped on a few takes because it was obvious that he and MED were having fun together.

the end result was accepted to BET programming but never saw airplay because, despite the huge producers attached to the project (j. dilla and just blaze), MED didn’t have much of a press story and no hot 97 spins. lesson learned.

one completely unexpected outcome of the project was as follows: months later when stones throw art director jeff jank was designing the cover for dilla’s 2006 'donuts,’ he realized that he had no unseen photos of dilla and that dilla’s failing health made taking a new photo impossible. so he asked me if there were any stills from the shoot that might work for a record cover.

i picked about three out and sent them to him, and the rest as they say, is history.

last week, as i was sorting through a box of papers in my library, i found the release dilla signed on the set that day.

having filmed such hip hop legends as biz markie, treach, roxanne shanté, nas, snoop, wyclef, jazzy jeff, and others, i must say that the fact that he actually signed the release (and signed it in his real name) says a lot about his humility. most artists won’t sign a thing without a big check and a lawyer involved.

i remember watching dilla leave that day. i looked to the front of star shoes and saw him leaving. as is the on-set tradition when an actor completes their last scene of a film, i called out 'that’s a set wrap for j. dilla!’ and started clapping. a few people around me joined in.

dilla threw up a peace sign and was out.

ps: i almost forgot. probably the coolest thing that came out of this whole situation was something that egon told me. apparently dilla’s mom said that she thought this photo perfectly captured her son’s spirit.

ARE YOU EVEN STILL LISTENING? by Andrew Gura

Hi everyone. I hope this finds you really well. I think I'm a bad blogger. At least on Squarespace. I blog on Tumblr a lot more these days. Also my Instagram is refreshed pretty regularly. 

As for me, things are pretty good. I just signed with an awesome new production company -- to be announced shortly -- and I'm looking forward to having a new team of amazing people around me.

Also I'm in love.

I have a Risography project underway with the talented Peter Rentz. Photo from that above.

I'm presently developing a few different digital experiences. Apps, you might call them. After brushing up on my UX skills at General Assembly with the incredible Arshad Wala, I got inspired to start creating in the digital space.

I'll keep you posted as to what I'm working on and don't forget to check out my Vimeo page.

Andrew

Cabin-Time 6 by Andrew Gura

I'm a big fan of Carson Davis Brown's Cabin-Time films, and #6 was my favorite yet. Highly visual, deeply creative, and totally experimental, CDB is a good reminder that the answers you seek are out in the wild.

JUNOT! by Andrew Gura

I first discovered Junot Díaz through his short stories for the New Yorker in the late 90s. I loved Drown but never really really connected with Oscar Wao.

This story, The Cheater's Guide to Love, is a great read. It originally appeared in the New Yorker and then made it into This is How You Lose Her.

Around 2000, I went to see him speak at the downtown library here in LA. And in my copy of Drown, he wrote: Andrew! Film. And love. Junot Díaz. See below.

And that's just what I've been doing.

He also wrote his address on a Post-It note so I could send him some films. I did, but I never heard back. Maybe someday.


HI. HAVE SOME COFFEE. by Andrew Gura

Hey there. Thanks for visiting my blog. It was high time to re-do my portfolio site and Squarespace rose to the occasion. Sleek, simple, elegant and easy to update.

I've been shooting a lot lately. I guest-directed an episode of the homie Katie Malia's Funny or Die webseries Almost Asian guest starring the homie Vivian Bang of Sullivan and Son and the director's cut of the BMW M-Performance Parts spot that I shot month ago is finally ready. Also my Cut Chemist What's The Altitude video will be available for the first time in HD. 107 Million hits later.

I'll be posting blog entries here whenever I can. And recipes and food reviews. And workout reflections. 

Until then, please follow me on IG and Twitter. And try this coffee too.