Monday, March 26, 2012


During his last few years in the Ballard High School Video Production Program, senior Louis Weissman has had aspirations of working behind the camera on a Hollywood feature film. His goal seemed nearer recently when he was accepted to the prestigious film production program at Emerson College in Boston. Then last week, he landed a job in the camera department for a feature film shooting in Los Angeles this spring.

Weissman was one of eighteen BHS video students to tour the Los Angeles film schools and industry on a field trip in 2010. Upon his return, he co-founded 243 Productions with four classmates. Their company has created productions for a variety of clients.

Weissman also excelled on productions in class. His first visual story, Mr. Clean, was an Official Selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in 2011. His follow-up effort, the digital film Safe at Last, was a Winner at the regional Young People’s Film Festival and will be featured at NFFTY next month. He’s had internships at NFFTY during the school year and in Los Angeles last summer.

The big break came as a result of his LA internship. “The Associate Producer, Colin Ebeling, was on set helping out, and I was camera assisting: changing lenses and things. He complimented me on my hustle and knowledge and said he’d like to work with me again in the future.” Weissman thought nothing more about the conversation until the end of January, when Ebeling tracked him down about a camera crew position. “It was unreal,” says Weissman. “I ran downstairs to tell my dad so quickly I lost a slipper on the way.”

The feature, titled Bounty Killer, is set in a future society after years of global corporate rule and collapse. It concerns a specially trained assassin on a mission to cleanse the post-apocalyptic world of corrupt CEOs – in short, just the kind of movie a teenage boy might enjoy working on. But what really got Weissman’s attention was the technology. “They asked ‘Are you familiar with the Arri Alexa?’ This is the digital camera that’s rivaling film – the same one used to shoot Drive and Game of Thrones. I’d give my right arm to work with that camera. Well, my left arm, because I’d need my right to operate it.”

Weissman has already earned sufficient credits to graduate from high school and plans to take his diploma early in order to join the crew in Los Angeles for shooting this April and May. He has no intention of putting film school on hold, however. “The job I’ll be working next month doesn’t require a college degree, but once I get on that career ladder, I’d like to move up and eventually become a cinematographer some day. Without a college degree, I’d hit a ceiling that I couldn’t move beyond. You can learn things on the set you might never learn in college, but the reverse is true, too. During the hustle and bustle of production, you don’t have time to familiarize yourself with art history or ponder what lighting strategy best complements the art design.”