Founded in 2007, DDG is a specialized collective of broadcast artists and filmmakers dedicated to provocative ideas, arresting visuals, and emotional subtext. DDG is Chris Krieger, Nick Thomas, Brock Mitchell, Chantelle Kolesnik, Braden Dereniwski, and James Heppner. Coming from a range of backgrounds, they banded together to explore the boundaries of filmmaking.
Where does your inspiration come from?
With the amount of content available now across so many platforms, inspiration strikes constantly. There are thousands of talented artists who are pushing what’s possible to greater heights. Professional gear is becoming more accessible. That’s upped the quality of content, but it’s also creating a lot more “competition.”
To stay relevant, strong storytelling and unique shot design are vital. Every word, every shot, every gesture should have meaning and propel the story forward. People like the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson are great examples of that. They merge cinematography and storytelling in a way that pushes cinema into a place that has real meaning.
We are also heavily inspired by one another. Each of us at DDG has a distinctive style — simply by working together, we are constantly learning and growing.
How do you keep things fresh?
Every project takes us back to square one. We always draw on what we’ve learned over the years, but we don’t allow that to stop us from learning something new. Steps backward lead to larger leaps forward. That can mean talking to other creators to see how they approach similar problems or allowing ourselves to look at things from an almost naive perspective.
There’s a lot of magic and wonder in what we do as artists, but that can easily be lost in the daily grind of professional responsibility. If we take ourselves back to when we were kids and first grabbed a camera and remember why we got into this in the first place, a lot of amazing things can happen.
What drew you to video?
Brock Mitchell — I come from a photography background. It was the process and the craftsmanship of film photography that drew me in. In high school, I spent hours upon hours in a darkroom. There was a certain amount of solitude — you could live behind the lens, and in the darkroom, and quietly create.
In film and video, this isn’t really possible. It’s trust and collaboration that give films life. There’s a different level of emotional investment that has to take place with your subject matter. With portrait photography, you can showcase a lot about that person, but when you flesh out their story on video, you realize there’s something you can’t capture in a single frame. It’s not until you’ve laughed, discussed, debated, or cried with that person on film that you learn more about what needed to be said rather than displayed.
How has shooting stock changed how you work?
We are constantly conjuring up new images and sequences we want to capture — even if there’s not a specific project to fit them into. The uncertainty of where the images would live sometimes meant the idea itself would die.
Now, with the option of creating stock footage, those wild ideas can be captured and put out there for anyone to incorporate into their own wild ideas. It’s changed DDG’s mindset from “What would we ever use a shot like that for?” to “Why has that never been done before?”
How do you aim to put your mark on stock footage?
DDG really connected with Dissolve’s commitment to tell better stories. So as we produce more and more content for Dissolve, we hope to develop this even further. We want every frame to matter and have real emotional strength.
What are your three must-haves on a shoot?
- Craft service : )
How has Dissolve’s RED Program* helped you?
The RED Epic cinema package is pushing us, forcing us to learn and question things, but also allowing us to capture our ideas in a new way. The RED has removed some limitations our ideas may have faced in the past. It’s brought life to some things we weren’t able to capture in the past.
* As part of our commitment to the filmmaking community, we loan out a RED Epic and other equipment to filmmakers shooting in Alberta. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.