Chris Sargent

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Chalk it up, perhaps, to youthful exuberance, but 29-year-old Toronto native Chris Sargent is determined to keep his eye behind the camera as a DP, as well as direct. And he's prepared for the consequences. "It's always a very fine line whenever there's a DP who's directing," he says. "Other directors don't really want to work with you if you're directing too and you're bidding against each other, and it's a whole political bullshit thing. But to me, I'm not gonna just succumb to the status quo because that's what everyone says I should do."

Fortunately, he also recently signed to Park Pictures, where many of the talents, like Lance Acord and Joaquin Baca-Asay, are well known for successfully toggling between both worlds. Unlike his new colleagues, however, Sargent started out as a VFX supervisor, and as of last September, he was still at Toronto post house AXYZ. But he always had an itch to DP, direct, or both, so he did the photography on a few spec spots and music videos on the side, and then moved on to directing spec work. After bringing his reel to James Davis, managing director of Untitled, he was soon onto his first official gig directing a World Wildlife Fund commercial, "Storms," out of FCB, Toronto, a global warming awareness spot that shows the world in tumult around people going about their day-to-day business.

Part of Sargent's strategy has been to keep working with close collaborators, most notably with VFX artist and director Steve Mottershead (represented out of Untitled). "We don't actually work as a team; we approach every job as a school project," Sargent says. When the two aren't co-directing, Mottershead does all the color grading and online for Sargent's projects. Sargent, in turn, DP's Mottershead's jobs. Most notably the duo co-directed a spot for Jaguar out of Euro RSCG, "CX-F," a stylistic, psychedelic romp in which dozens of prismatic, neon abstractions roll over a Jag. Sargent says they shot neon lights in New York, developed sequences in Flame before the shoot, then projected them onto the cars and did all the work in-camera—in the effort to keep things as natural—or "optical," as he describes it—as possible. "Our main thing, as much as I was a VFX supervisor and Steve still is a VFX artist, is we want to do as little in Flame as possible," he says.

Collaboration continues to be a constant theme in Sargent's approach. "One of the biggest things I always heard when I was learning to shoot was to be in contact with the art director, the production designer and wardrobe person," Sargent says. "You've got to be a part of everything." He also wants to keep doing everything. "I want to keep doing the two things that I love, and be in film and work on movies and shorts and commercials and music videos."To discuss this article, visit the Creativity Forums.
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