Clint Milby, as they say, has a lot going on. An accomplished producer, Milby is also a regular contributor for magazines such as HDVideoPro and ProVideoCoalition.com. Additionally, he is the publisher of HDSLRShooter.com, and CorpseLoot.com. He has worked for Warner Bros Television, the Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is the founder and CEO of Milby Media.
In 2012, Milby wrote the chapter on DSLR filmmaking for our book, Lensbaby, Bending your Perspective by Corey Hilz. For more info on Milby, visit his site.
When & how did you first discover your passion for filmmaking?
My inspiration came from the same source as many people in my generation: Star Wars. Actually, the first time I saw it, I wanted to be an astronaut. However, after a tour of NASA, which looked more like the inside of an insurance company rather than a space agency, I realized quite quickly that traveling through hyperspace could only be achieved in Hollywood. From that moment on I became obsessed with all things production, which peaked when my Dad bought a video camera for me in high school. I went on to major in production in college, and I've never looked back.
How did you turn that passion into a viable career?
And that's the real trick of it, isn't it? I mean, everyone loves the entertainment industry. Our culture (and perhaps the entire planet) is obsessed with it. How we make a living doing it separates fans from content creators. For me, it was taking whatever means I had and bending those paying opportunities into production opportunities. No matter what jobs I've done, I've always attempted to infuse them with video production. While working in Hollywood, I started as a tour guide for Warner Bros. Studios. I used that job to move into production. When I found myself working in marketing, I made video content a key focus of our marketing efforts. Unless you're born into it, working in production may require transplanting one's self into a different environment to find opportunities. I've done some of that. I've moved cross country to be where the action is, but I've also taken paying opportunities I've had that were outside the industry and manipulated them into opportunities to do production. It's not easy, but it beats working for free!
How did you first discover Lensbaby?
I came from the video world. Even in college, we didn't shoot Super 8 Film, we shot Hi8 Video. My experience with film was limited to a photography class I needed for a fine arts credit. It was the Canon 5D Mark II, and its video capabilities that transported me out of the realm of fixed lens cameras. The first thing I noticed when I started shopping for different lenses was the price. A big point of shooting video with a still camera was the cost was far less than shooting with a RED or other digital cinema cameras. This sort of gets blown away when you start buying glass that can cost ten times more than the camera body. Then I started noticing these brightly colored boxes on display at the stores. Just from the packaging they didn't look like the other lenses, and they weren't priced like the other lenses. Once I saw what these little gems were capable of, I was hooked, and I've stayed hooked ever since.
What was your first Lensbaby lens, and what lens or optic is currently your favorite?
My very first Lensbaby was the Composer, and my favorite optic for it is still to this day the Double Glass. It gives you a kaleidoscope of colors around your subject. The Double Glass Optic captures light in such a way as to shatter it into shards that stretch and shrink depending on your angle. This can be highly accentuated by moving the Composer around to give a kinetic view to your shot. If your subject is brilliantly lit, then you'll get a light storm that mimics hyperspace. If you only get one optic for shooting film, I say go for the Double Glass. You won't be disappointed.
Any tips for filmmakers new to Lensbaby?
Lensbaby is more than just a single lens, it's a new visual vocabulary. What you're able to accomplish visually will be outside of your experience. There are subtleties such as the softness of the single glass or the razor sharpness of the double glass that require exploration to discover and implement into your visual vocabulary. With that in mind, take some time before your project to familiarize yourself with the Lensbaby system. Take some test shots. Shoot both stills and video so you know how each medium is affected by these lenses. The more time you take to get to know them, the more effectively you will be able to use them on your projects.
What types of scenes, themes, and storylines do you find best suited to being shot with a Lensbaby lens?
This is a tough question because I don't want to place a limit on what someone else with a different vision might see. With that in mind, the visual world through a Lensbaby is surreal. Light and shadow are distorted in such a way that is unfamiliar to the viewer. This provides the filmmaker with freedom to create an other worldly environment that looks striking and different. I've seen this executed quite well for flashbacks, dreams and POV shots where we are seeing through the eyes of a character who may be drunk, drugged or dazed. However, because they produce this other worldly effect, I can see them being used whenever the filmmaker is creating a strange world, such as space, heaven, other dimensions, other planets etc.
What inspires you visually?
I'm really nearsighted. I've always been nearsighted and like other people with this condition, my close up or macro vision is much more powerful than someone who sees 20/20. I didn't get glasses until I was 15, so I guess I became fascinated with little items close up. This is something that still motivates me. Some people will see a doorway as a grand arch, I'll look at the same door and see the tiny details of the hinges. The more intricate and contrasty, the more interesting it is to me visually.
What's some of the best video or film work you've seen done with a Lensbaby lens?
The best use of the Lensbaby system I've seen is probably the television series, Revenge. The show features a lot of flashbacks and altered states, and the Lensbaby system helps to create that sort of ethereal experience. Even when it's being used in the present day sequences, the Lensbaby system has been masterfully used to show the decadence of some of the more wealthy character's lives, most notably the Double Glass Optic. By contrast, when they aren't being used, you feel a definite grounding, establishing that this person is focused and clear. This resonates with the audience I think because it really does help differentiate between the different worlds of the social and financial elite, and the girl with a very clear and concise purpose to bring them down.
What do you foresee as the future for DLSR filmmaking?
After the release of the Canon 7D, there was about a 16 month period where we didn't see any new video enabled DSLRs from Canon or from anyone else. Instead, there was a number of large censored video cameras. As each one hit the market, the press was quick to dub them, The HDSLR Killer. The following year, Canon released the 60D, the C300, the 5D Mark III, the 1DX, the 6D and so on and there is no indication they will curtail production any time soon. I think camera manufacturers, as well as companies making support products for these cameras, realize what many of us have known from the start: the price and versatility of the video enabled DSLR make it easy for anyone from a rank amateur to the seasoned professional to capture feature film quality at a price that everyone can afford. Because of this, more people are shooting now and more content is being created than ever before, and this has empowered anyone with a vision and a little money to create without bounds. And that's something I don't think it will be going away anytime soon.