CineD is always searching for a way to connect creators and manufacturers – and, of course, to help filmmakers show their work. This is why we teamed up with FUJIFILM to show our filming community work that has been done with FUJIFILM cameras. Please meet Rachael Porter, a Tennessee-based filmmaker. “In the Spotlight” is proudly sponsored by FUJIFILM.
Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Rachael Porter is a filmmaker by trade with a fledgling flower gardener by hobby.
In her six years as a professional filmmaker, she has worked as a director, as well as a director of photography on story-driven films of all kinds, some of which have won awards or aided in large fundraising goals. She has encountered many remarkable people and heard many stories that have touched and changed her for the better. Shaped by these stories, her curiosity has only grown bigger as she continues to learn from those around her, and harness the generative power of stories to positively impact, influence, and move others.
In the Spotlight With FUJIFILM – Rachael Porter
Name: Rachael Porter
Currently based in: Chattanooga, TN
Language(s) spoken: English
Occupation: Freelance Filmmaker
Q: How did you get started in our industry?
A: I found myself in the film industry sort of by accident. After graduating college with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in photography, I was just desperately searching for any sort of job to start making ends meet. A friend of a friend suggested I apply for a PA position at a local production company. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but soon found myself excitedly jumping in the deep end to learn all sorts of roles while helping produce, shoot and edit a documentary TV show. That’s when I started to fall in love with storytelling. Through the years I’ve fallen in love with how a film is a lovely meeting ground between image and narrative. About a year later I started my freelance journey, and I’ve been working in that space ever since!
Q: What are some of the projects you are currently working on?
A: I’m starting the new year with a couple of doc-style pieces, as well as a few commercial projects. The start of the year always feels like starting with a blank slate, and it’s always exciting to see what the year will bring!
Q: What types of productions do you mostly shoot?
A: I primarily shoot story-driven pieces for small businesses and nonprofits, and also shoot a lot of doc-styled short-form work for several agencies.
Q: What is your dream assignment/job in our industry and what are you passionate about?
A: After finding my place in narrative work this year, my dream would be to continue working in the short or long-form narrative space, telling stories that reflect the human experience in a way that helps people be seen and known. I’m most passionate about using film to help bridge the gaps that divide us as individuals and people groups. I’ve found through my work that the more you listen to a person’s experience and/or a set of ideologies, the more you are given the opportunity to either see yourself in it in some small way or gather information to form a bigger picture and there have more empathy and grace. You don’t have to agree with all of it, but building the muscles of extending empathy can only ever be helpful, in my opinion. There are far too many influences in life that push us apart through stereotyping and judging each other, and I want to use the lens to counter that.
Q: In regard to the work you’ve shared with us – looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
A: Hahaha well if I’d have a choice, I would have not shot outdoors in the peak of summer heat. July in the south is not a great time to shoot outside, but thankfully we made it through with only some mild sunburns. Okay, but In all seriousness though, this project was a learning experience on all accounts. As my first narrative piece, and first time directing such a large crew, I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish in the time we had. One thing I would’ve done differently is to have spent more time in pre-production with my DP going over my storyboard and more effectively transferring the vision I had in my head. My DP did a phenomenal job of translating my scattered thoughts, but (as a long-time camera operator) I was learning to direct rather than do it myself. There are ways I could have communicated more effectively and cut out some guessing work for her. Overall, I’m so grateful to not only her and what we were able to create together but each and every crew member that brought their expertise to the table and brought more life to my creative vision than I could have on my own.
Q: What current camera, lenses and sound equipment do you use?
A: My personal kit has consisted of the Blackmagic 6k Pro and some SIGMA art lenses for the past several years, and as I do a lot of work with a smaller budget, that’s usually the best option. Lately, I’ve loved getting to shoot on more cinema-level cameras, and I hope to do so more because they are always *chef’s kiss* so lovely. I’ve also enjoyed shooting on the FUJIFILM X-H2S and FUJINON MK lenses recently, they pack a nice little punch for such a small rig.
Q: You chose to shoot your project with the FUJIFILM X-H2 camera. Did you impose any limitations on yourself like not shooting with a tripod?
A: This is a great question. Because of the way I learned to shoot and the style I’ve developed, a tripod honestly feels like a limitation to me. I love being mobile, moving with my subject, and floating around the environment quickly, so tripods can quickly drive me crazy. So the FUJIFILM X-H2 paired with the Premista lenses was a great fit because it delivered a spectacular image while allowing my DP to be able to primarily shoot on an Easyrig and maintain mobility. We did opt to shoot a few sequences on the Ronin S, and again, it was a great fit being a little more lightweight than other cameras might have been so that my DP was able to still operate. So no, we didn’t really impose limitations and were pleasantly surprised how the camera rig was a good fit in several scenarios.
Q: What’s your favorite lighting equipment and why did you choose that kit over other solutions?
A: To be honest, my favorite lighting equipment is what we’ve had on set. I’ve spent much of my career in a more run-and-gun shooting environment, so I’m still learning my way around with all that is out there. I’ve loved various Aputure lights because of their quality and flexibility. I’ve also really enjoyed working with some very skilled gaffers this year that have brought their expertise to the table and been able to match my vision to the right lighting sources.
Q: Do you use drones/gimbals in your productions? If so, what is the most effective way you’ve found to deploy them?
A: We used the Ronin 2 in a few shots, but no drones. The Ronin 2 with the FUJIFILM X-H2 and Premista’s was a great fit for a couple of reasons: the Ronin 2 allowed us to still shoot on the hefty lenses weight-wise and not scale down lens quality, but it also was not too heavy where my DP (a smaller framed female like myself) could still operate. We had a tight budget and needed her to be able to operate, so that was a big plus.
Q: What editing systems do you use and are you satisfied working with them?
A: I typically edit in DaVinci Resolve. For “Greenhouse”, we edited in Premiere Pro for more collaborative reasons (before Resolve released their updates for cloud editing). I have loved DaVinci’s all-in-one platform and its simple and intuitive color grading tools. I would call myself a medium-skilled editor, so it has all the tools that I need. Anything more (motion graphics, better color grading) I’m outsourcing to someone with more expertise. I’m also looking to really limit the amount of editing I do moving forward, so all you editors out there hit me up!
Q: How much of your work do you shoot in “flat picture profile” and what is your preferred way of color correcting?
A: I shoot in RAW or LOG for everything I shoot. You just can’t beat how much control you have in post doing so. I would call myself a beginner compared to my skilled colorist colleagues, so I usually find a LUT that I like, then do tweaks per frame after that.
Q: How frequently do you travel and do you have any tips when it comes to packing your gear?
A: The past few years I’ve been traveling more and more, and I’m still figuring out what works best. Recently I acquired a Tenba bag for the gear that needs to be carried on, and that is such a great addition. I love the quality of the bag and how protected my gear is. The best tip I can give people is to really know your production in and out, and what you might need. Do a lot of prep beforehand so you know exactly what you need and aren’t packing too much extra.
Find out more about Rachael’s work by heading to her website.
Full disclosure: This “In The Spotlight” series of interviews is sponsored by FUJIFILM.