We can thank E.T. for luring cinematographer Brad Stuckel to filmmaking. After seeing it when he was 5, he was hooked. Brad founded Plainsight, which he runs with technical lead Kyle Sanborn, out of his passion for telling cinematic stories.
What gets you up in the morning?
Easy! My career … something I enjoy doing every single day.
What or who inspires you?
I find inspiration in so many things, visual or not. I’m a firm believer in humanistic learning, learning from the world around me rather than what is so-called “textbook.” It’s not about what you know but rather what you discover. True creativity comes from inspiration, and inspiration comes from better knowing and understanding the world around you.
When it comes to people, my greatest mentors are Philip Letourneau, my instructor at film school, and Craig Wrobleski, an outstanding cinematographer. They’ve helped me both technically and stylistically.
Some of my most inspiring directors are Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Ethan and Joel Coen, and Stanley Kubrick. For cinematographers, it’s Roger Deakins, Robert Richardson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Robert Elswit, and Janusz Kaminski.
What drew you to video?
I’ve always had a love for both cinema and story. I was five years old when E.T. was re-released. That was my first experience watching a movie on the big screen. I’ll never forget it — I was completely blown away. From that point on, I was obsessed with movies.
In junior high, I ran the stage lighting for our drama productions. (I wasn’t one to go on stage.) After high school, I studied multimedia and graphic design, which sparked my interest in motion picture acquisition. I soon discovered that sitting at a desk was not for me, so I took out my first loan for a prosumer video camera. The rest is history.
A Cowboy’s Boot won the 2014 Anvil Award for Videography.
How has shooting stock influenced your work?
Before collaborating with Dissolve, I didn’t understand what stock video was or how it could be used. I thought it was mostly cut and dry. Working with Dissolve has opened my eyes to the benefits of building a stock library.
The filmmaking lifestyle has its ups and downs in terms of working consistently. I’ve always been looking for ways to supplement my income while not getting distracted from what I love — shooting dramatic productions. Shooting stock lets me do this. It has shown me there is a way to be recognized and rewarded for everything I capture.
Now, whether on set or shooting for fun, I consider every moment behind a camera an opportunity to grab a shot. In many of my projects, it’s about getting as much content as possible or doing take after take, then telling the story in the cutting room. Much of what I shoot doesn’t make it through the edit.
However, since starting to sell stock, I keep nearly everything I shoot, and even look for more of those little moments. The shot may not work to tell my story, but it might work in someone else’s story.
For Our Tomorrow captured the city of Calgary in the aftermath of its catastrophic 2013 flood.
What’s your most memorable shoot?
The first feature film I shot. I’ve never been more overwhelmed — it was the most exciting and challenging time I’ve had. Exciting because I was discovering techniques and practicing a craft I knew would become a part of me. Challenging because every single thing I did was an experiment, and I wasn’t quite sure which techniques would work.
Overall, it turned out to be a very “independent” film, if you know what I mean. But what I learned blew my mind. After we wrapped on production, I was completely burned out. All I wanted was a break. But not more than three days later, I started to go through filmmaking withdrawal. I was ready to move on to the next project.
Plainsight’s first feature, a very “independent” film.
See Plainsight’s footage, a Dissolve Exclusive.