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KHOU and Zen!

KHOU and Zen!

This year, KHOU and Zenfilm collaborated creating pieces visually telling Houston’s diverse narrative. KHOU Creative Director, Dale Lockett, and Zen’s Producer Rebecca Wells, and Director W. Ross Wells were at the helm of the creative team that composed two spots; “Conversation Starter”, a 60 second promotional spot for KHOU 11 Weather Image, and “We Stand”, a 30 second promotional spot for KHOU-11 News. Both of these spots won Emmys at the 2016 Lone Star Emmy Awards.

“We Stand”, the first spot of our poetry campaign, incorporated the artistic talents of Houston artists: Anat Ronen, muralist, and poet, Rain the Poet. The 30 second promotion won Rebecca Wells, Zenfilm’s amazing producer, her first Emmy. Aired during Super Bowl 50, it is the first of the Super Bowl Poetry Campaigns spot to be awarded. In our second iteration of our poetry campaign created with the promotions team at KHOU, “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” Houston poet Brother Said narrates visuals of the cities present while alluding to the grit of our past.

This campaign was an amazing opportunity for Zen to collaborate with artists of diverse mediums within our own city and express our pride.

Fear the Beard

This December, Zen got the opportunity to work with ad agency, Periscope and candy maker, Trolli in a shoot staring Rockets shooting guard, James Harden. Shot in the historic Houston Studios, W. Ross Wells was the Director of Photography for the playful shoot.

Greenpoint Pictures Finds Zen

Greenpoint Pictures Finds Zen

Left to right: Alex Levin, Rebecca Wells, W. Ross Wells, Tori Vallas-Cullen, Logan Roos, Willi Patton.

Congratulations to our client Greenpoint Pictures on the successful completion of their marathon (48 hour turnaround) Coca-Cola Commercial for the NCAA Final Four. Production took place during pre-game concerts on Saturday, post on Sunday and the spot aired Monday in the final game of the Final Four on CBS. Zenfilm provided production offices and post-production facilities for the Greenpoint team led by Producer Tori Vallas-Cullen and Director Logan Roos. Logan Roos, Alex Levin and Willi Patton rapidly reviewed and cut down 8 hours of footage from three Alexa cameras in our suites using an Adobe Premiere Pro workflow. Zenfilm’s W. Ross Wells colored the spot in our DaVinci Resolve suite. Super special thanks to our sister company SugarHill Studios for late night uplink support during the prolonged Comcast internet outage that befell us Sunday night.

Zen Around Town

Zen Around Town

The Zenfilm crew has been making waves with the lovely people and wonderful attractions that make Houston what it is. Several shooting days have wrapped and we’re counting down to the unveiling of our work with Houston First on new summer television spots that hope to attract fresh faces to the Bayou City. We’ve gone high and low to cover as much as we could of our nation’s fourth largest city . . . . we can’t wait to show you what we found!

Making White Lightnin’

Making White Lightnin’

in 1956 Johnny Bush and Mickey Gilley got together in “Studio A” at SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston. They recorded a few tunes together and sent them out into the world in hopes of scoring a top 40 hit. At that time, radio DJ and recording artist, J.P. Richardson, aka The Big Bopper was a regular at the studio.

58 years later Johnny and Mickey have lived a lifetime in the music industry and enjoyed successful careers. A few weeks ago the two reunited in Studio A and recorded The Big Bopper’s “White Lightnin'” with some of the top session players in the Lone Star State.

Promoting Houston, its attractions and its history are a big part of what we do at Zenfilm. We thought it important to document this moment of SugarHill history.

The video has been picked up by the major country music networks and Vevo. We hope you enjoy it.

Emmy Number Two!

Emmy Number Two!

UPS delivered a holiday package to Zenfilm on new year’s eve. Inside were very pleased an Emmy Award for the TV campaign we produced last year with KHOU TV.

The second installment in our “KHOU Stands for Houston” campaign features Lyle Lovett recording the theme song in his own inimitable style. The session was filmed during the final sessions for  Lyle’s 2012 album “Release Me” at Conway Recording Studios in West Hollywood, CA. The session was a who’s who of accomplished musicians and was a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.  As an added bonus, we may have a shot at being featured in Leland Sklar’s coffee table book of people flipping him the bird.

Special thanks to our fearless leader and head of promotions Dale Lockett for making it happen. Here is the cast:

Starring: Lyle Lovett, Jim Cox, Russ Kunkel, Dean Parks, Luke Bulla, Keith Sewell, Leland Sklar, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Sir Harry Bowens.

Concept by Dale Lockett. Directed by W. Ross Wells. Lyle Lovett and Jim Cox arranged the music. Nate Kunkel was the producer.

Thanks everyone and congratulations!

Download the KHOU Mobile App for iOS or Android.

More Than a Feeling

More Than a Feeling

That ol’ Reverend Craig Kinsey is at it again, and this time . . . . he means business.

Good thing he’s got friends. You see, when the Sideshow Tramps aren’t prowling the Houston nights in search of Mistress Music, Craig Kinsey is toiling away behind the scenes. He’s been ceaselessly tinkering with not just a few things here and there, but rather crafting a world that shall serve as a doorway into his very imagination.

That’s where you come in . . . turns out you have the keys in your pocket. Visit Craig Kinsey’s Kickstarter page for more information on his upcoming album and sister novel, how the two will come together, and your place in all of this. You’ll hear it straight from his lips in a short piece courtesy of our own Brittany Holland. She has a knack for coaxing delivery of an inspired performance, believe me.

Want to get to know Craig Kinsey a little better? Check out his debut solo record The Burdener, out on ZenHill Records. Need a little more? Sideshow Tramps have a new one out, and they’ve never been better. Still not enough? . . . . . . . Have I mentioned his Kickstarter?

 

Children’s Museum Houston Stands Out

Children’s Museum Houston Stands Out

Summer time is finally here! School is out, the ice cream trucks are making their neighborhood patrols, and parents everywhere are trying to figure out how to keep the little ones occupied and engaged throughout their newfound stretch of abundant free time. We’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the Children’s Museum Houston is ready and waiting with open arms.

Work has just wrapped up on a brand new look for Children’s Museum Houston’s summer promotions, and we’re all a little giddy at the outcome. It’s a pretty special occasion for us; you’ll be seeing the very first appearance of motion graphics rendered in our newly installed editing suite. Gravity and particle manipulation has never been so sweet! There’s a myriad of motion tracking elements going on, frame-by-frame pieced together by our resident visual magician W. Ross wells. He lets on that it’s pretty tough work, but step in to the new digs while he’s building a comet and charting its course through the halls of  Kidtropolis, USA and you’d swear you were watching a little boy excitedly tinker with his new chemistry set.

This was a wonderfully collaborative effort. Not only was the crew spot on, it features some of the littlest, hardest working actors in the city. Top that off with music written, produced and performed by  Dan Workman of SugarHill Recording Studios, and you’ve got a fine piece that’s every bit as much of Houston is it is for Houston. We’re beaming like a parent at an elementary school graduation.

We’d like to know what you think! If it’s any indication, Only in Houston has given it front-page approval . . . . thanks, guys! Head over We’ll keep it coming, as long as we still have such amazing people to work with!

Keep your eyes peeled for Children’s Museum Houston’s spot running now, and the bountiful deals they’re offering to make your summer visit as affordable as it is engaging, stimulating, and just plane fun!

Head on over to onlyinhouston.org and watch the video here!

Parents, this summer save $2 when you skip the line and buy online! Visit them at http://cmhouston.org and save today!

Leah White’s Roots

Leah White’s Roots

It’s been a few weeks in the making, but today finally marks the unveiling of Leah White’s music video for Live Oak Trees!

One sunny day early in May, the Zenfilm team gathered about a 24 foot flatbed truck in Rice Village for a day long drive around Houston. Leah, the Magic Mirrors, and the whole crew clamored atop the truck to spread the love as we rolled around the village, midtown, stopping by the Breakfast Klub, even all the way down to Houston Zoo and the Museum District. Lots of familiar Houston faces came out to enjoy a beautiful day, dance along the sidewalk, and generally enjoy the sight of Leah White and the Magic mirrors getting down on top of a slow moving vehicle.

Leah White’s video for Live Oak Trees premieres tonight at 14 Pews in the Heights. If you can’t make that, just keep your eyes peeled. You can count on seeing more of Leah in the not too distant future.

Studio Archaeology

Studio Archaeology

The Zenfilm space is undergoing a transformation.

A bit of a shuffle is taking place . . . a recalibration of sorts. Our two editing suites will soon get some much needed relief as our third suite is erected in our studios. Dedicated digital compositing, color correction, ridiculously impressive processing muscle . . . the new room will add a lot of depth and speed to our post production pipeline. A network reconfiguration will result in the entire Zen office acting as a collaborative hub, working together even more seamlessly than before, more powerful than ever. If the machines one day rise against us, we sheepishly admit that it may have started here.

We are very proud of the Zenfilm space; the downplayed decor creates an artistically comforting atmosphere that seems to coax creativity out of you. Hi-tech gadgetry lives alongside antique relics, the walls adorned with the work of local artists and gifts from clients and acquaintances. You’re rarely out of reach of a musical instrument, and it’s never long before another friend from extended family over at SugarHill Studios or ZenHill Records comes rambling through. This is the space in which we live, work, play and imagine.

One pleasant side effect of all of this moving and rearranging is the consistency with which you stumble across forgotten treasures. This place is full of them . . . there are more stories to be told throughout the office than there is even time to inquire after. While you may be fairly familiar with the kinds of things that leave the Zenfilm office, we think it’s time to share some of the things that never leave the office.

Like this old magneto phone.

Ross recalls the story. In the early ’60’s when his father was working in the General Office of GTE (now Verizon) in San Angelo, Texas. He had a few customers in the service area that still had crank-style magneto telephones and needed everyone to upgrade to rotary dial phone, which was the current technology (Ross too has a habit of keeping us all up to date on current tech). Not everyone was buying it.

One old farmer in particular refused to go along with the newfangled contraption. To him, it was an unnecessary cost to replace something that was working just fine. He liked spinning the crank to ring a bell in the Central Office, which would be answered by a friendly operator that knew his name.  To GTE, it literally resulted in a specific rack of equipment left running to serve this one last phone. There was even an lone operator in front of a wooden patch board, waiting to manually connect the farmer to the feed store or his cousin Sally. Mr. Wells Sr. even offered to cover the costs of upgrading out of his own pocket, but the farmer would have none of it.

Time passed, as it often does, and eventually a position at GTE HQ in Manhattan opened up for Mr. Wells. The trip north was planned, and just as the Wells began to migrate, a parting gift was presented. Someone at GTE had finally done it . . . the farmer’s old magneto phone was bequeathed as a trophy from the long battle to upgrade West Texas.

Here that phone sits among many other objects.. with their own stories to tell… all which contribute to who we are, where we came from.  A wise man once sang (for union scale)  “their house is a museum when people come to see ‘um”….

As construction continues….we will report as other artifacts are uncovered on the Zen dig.