Featured Member: Kyle Stryker
He told me I could get onto the set as a PA if I could get to LA. I moved to LA with no plans for what was next, but I have been here ever since.
What's your earliest memory that sparked your interest in your respective trade?
I saw Saving Pvt. Ryan when I was 12, and I had never seen a movie that looked or felt anything like it before. The chaos wasn't just in the battle scenes, it was in the film grain, desaturated colors and every aspect of the movie. That was one of the first films that made me really realize the scope, power and impact that a movie can have on a viewer. I saw a special feature on Steven Spielberg around its release and saw some of his old war films he made as a teenager and that inspired me to go outside with the camera and start shooting.
Where did you train and/or study?
I graduated with my bachelors degree in film from Full Sail University in 2006.
What artists in your trade past or present do you admire the most?
There are just so many to name, but I am always inspired by the work of Lance Accord, Robert Elswit, Roger Deakins, Ellen Kuras, Janus Kaminski, Christopher Doyle, Harris Savides, Jeff Cronenweth and Matthew Libatique. What are some of your favorite artistic influences? (movies, bands, paintings, etc...) I mostly gain my influences from just trying to be observant when I'm out in the world. Sometimes when I'm in a store or at the park the light will catch my attention, so I'll just zone out and try and deconstruct why the light looks the way it does. I really love Sofia Coppola and Terrance Malik's films because they are packed in a way where it is less about getting to the next plot point and more about creating a mood or feeling. I really love just experiencing those worlds for the runtime. Cinematography is about getting into a viewer’s subconscious so helping bring out the way a scene "feels" through camera work, texture and lighting is paramount to me.
What's the best professional advice you've ever been given?
I saw an old video of Harold Ramis answering this question that I think sums it up perfectly for me: "You have to live your life with a certain blind confidence that if it's your destiny to succeed at these things, it will happen, if you just continue to follow a straight path, to do your work as conscientiously and as creatively as you can, and to just stay open to all opportunity and experience. There's a performing motto at Second City...to say yes instead of no. It's actually an improvisational rule…It's about supporting the other person. And the corollary to that is if you concentrate on making other people look good, then we all have the potential to look good. If you're just worried about yourself—How am I doing? How am I doing?—which is kind of a refrain in Hollywood, you know, people are desperately trying to make their careers in isolation, independent of everyone around them.
And I've always found that my career happened as a result of a tremendous synergy of all the talented people I've worked with, all helping each other, all connecting, and reconnecting in different combinations. So…identify talented people around you and then instead of going into competition with them, or trying to wipe them out, make alliances, make creative friendships that allow you and your friends to grow together, because someday your friend is going to be sitting across a desk from you running a movie studio."
How did you get your first break in the industry?
I got my first big break from Mark Koch, a family friend and producer. He asked me a lot of questions when I told him I wanted to attend film school and said "let me know when you graduate". I never really thought anything would come of it, but I called after graduating and he was beginning pre-pro on his next film in LA. He told me I could get onto the set as a PA if I could get to LA. I moved to LA with no plans for what was next, but I have been here ever since.
What has been your proudest moment in your line of work thus far?
When I finished production on my first feature film as the Director of Photography.
Film or Digital?
I have always been a film advocate, but the digital cameras now are matching 35mm in so many different ways that it isn't a battle of film vs. digital anymore. I love the look and feel of both, but it just think it comes down to which is better for your project.
What's your newest favorite piece of technology?
I really liked using the Movi, since it opens up a lot of creative possibilities that other camera gear just couldn't pull off before, like passing off the camera to different users and having a dedicated camera op with a remote controller, so those transitions are seamless. It was one of the first time the gear was challenging our creativity and not us trying to work within the gear's limitations.
What's the next "big thing" in the entertainment industry?
There are so many new ways in which we are going to experience stories in the near future. The past decade has mostly been about putting multimedia anywhere you want it, and making it as easy as possible to use and acquire content. New virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift are putting viewers/players into another world and with 3D goggles that take up 100 degrees of their field of view with head tracking. I think we are going to see totally new levels of immersion and storytelling in the next decade or so.
Any other interests or hobbies outside of what you do?
Whenever I'm not working I just like spend time with my wife and daughter. It has been such great experience to see the world through the eyes of a new person and watch her learn and grow, that most of my other hobbies have taken a back burner. I'm really looking forward to skateboarding and camping again though.
Why did you join ShareGrid?
I really like ShareGrid because it is taking the owner/operator market and putting them all in touch with each other. It is hard to be freelance and focus on renting gear simultaneously while being on set for 12 hours a day. ShareGrid looks to fix most of the headaches of renting out your personal gear to strangers, important things like insurance and feedback.