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The Legendary A.J. Foyt

The Legendary A.J. Foyt

Today found the Zenfilm crew hanging with the pit crew at ABC Supply Co. Racing. We were there to film interviews with racing legend A.J. Foyt. Producer Merideth Melville, Cinematographer Richard Lacy and Sound Recordist John Lance captured the footage in Waller, TX. He is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (which he won four times), the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We are honored to add Mr. Foyt to the Zenfilm reel of fame. Thanks everyone for a great shoot!AJ Foyt

Symphony of A Thousand

The Zenfilm team was very fortunate to have collaborated once again on this project promoting the upcoming performance of Mahler 8.

Former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach returns to conduct two spectacular evenings of music by one of his favorite composers. Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is commonly referred to as the “Symphony of a Thousand” due to the huge number of performers required on stage. Watch in awe as more than 400 musicians, chorus members and vocal soloists join together – complete with a special stage extension – for a once-in-a-lifetime, powerful experience of music.

With the Houston Symphony team we created a short film that gives insight into this “once in a lifetime” performance. More info and tickets can be found HERE.

ECD: Glenn Taylor
Director: W. Ross Wells
Producer: Brittany Holland
Cinematographers: Scott Marett, Brittany Holland
Gaffer: Mike Haimoto
Sound: Paul Schneider
Editorial: Brittany Holland
Animation & Design: Bao-Uy Luu
PA: Tiye McKethen

The Houston Symphony, Jeff Walton and Zenfilm

Today was the premiere of a short film we created, literally, in concert with Houston Symphony and composer Jeff Walton. The project is titled “A Soundtrack for the City | Inspired by Houston”. The piece debuted at Wortham Center in Houston at the Greater Houston and Convention Bureau’s annual meeting.

The video is the combined work of over 150 individuals that contributed their considerable and diverse talents to making it happen. It is a time-lapse “portrait” of the city of Houston, set to an original score by Jeff Walton, performed by Houston Symphony and conducted by Brett Mitchell. The Zen team of director W. Ross Wells, Producer Brittany Holland, Cinematographer Scott Marett, Art Director Bao Luu, Production Coordinator Mike Haimoto and Jib Operator Billy Ralston created the visuals and handled the post production tasks. Orchestrations and arrangements by Paul English.

The orchestra was recorded by Brad Sayles. Other instruments were recorded by Andy Bradley. The music was mixed by Andy Bradley at SugarHill Recording Studios.

The video is a presentation of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, conceived by Holly Clapham-Rosenow.

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.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Yeah . . . these ladies could pretty much eat you for breakfast.

Need more proof? The Champion Sisters are performing live and in-person and releasing a new album this Friday evening at Cypress Saloon, located at 12710 Telge Rd. Even more proof? The lucky onlookers will be the first to witness their action packed new music video, License to Love (filmed by none other than Zenfilm).

Ross is especially proud of this one . . . it’s the first music video to take advantage of some of our new graphic suite’s range of applications. Check out some of the sequences built into our 1970’s spy thriller motif; I’d tell you what you could expect to see . . .but then . . . I’d have to kill you.

Let’s avoid the nastiness, shall we? Just show up to Cypress Saloon on Friday September 21st, at 12710 Telge Rd, Cypress, TX 77429. Of course you could always just call  (281) 373-1588 or visit their website for more information.

Look for the Champion Sisters new album Unfit to be Tied, as well as their video for the first single License to Love coming soon on Friday!

Pecos Hank Rambles On

Pecos Hank Rambles On

Some people just can sit still.

Hank Schyma of the Southern Backtones may take some time off of a grueling schedule of shows and guest appearances  during each summer, but he’s certainly not at home relaxing. Hank is instead marauding about the American West, in search of anything daring enough to reach down from the heavens and touch the earth. Apparently, there was quite a selection throughout the 2011 season.

Feast your eyes upon the wonders and horrors of Mother Nature’s wrath: Hank’s Best of 2011 Reel is alive and ready for mass digestion. This is seriously worth the watch . . . it’s a delightful compilation of singular talent, not to mention some of the most awe-inspiring moments of nature’s destructive, gorgeous methods. You can tangibly feel the discomfort coming through gorgeous shots . . . most especially when the cameraman realizes that the tornado is barreling directly toward him. Kudos for sticking it out to the bitter end.

There are plenty of jaw dropping moments in there . . . . electrical storms sweeping across the plains . . . isolated thunderstorms caressing the terrain as they pass. There’s plenty to be terrified of in there, and there’s even more that makes you stand back and marvel. With an original score created by the man himself, and a remarkable edit that pulls no punches, Hank Schyma has irrevocably given us a glimpse into the heart and soul of his creative process. It’s no wonder he’s got his second full length feature on the way (his first is already a classic around these parts). Oh yeah . . . and look for yet another cameo by the Rev. Craig Kinsey.

Whatever he does after that, here’s hoping he comes back in one piece.

Hank Schyma fronts the Southern Backtones, on Zenhill Records. Catch them playing constantly, all over the south. For more storm chasing madness, check out his material over on the Pecos Hank site.

Lynch Mob Takes a Slow Drag

Lynch Mob Takes a Slow Drag

I love when things just come together.

Just less than two months ago, your fine friends at Zenfilm played host to metal guitar royalty as George Lynch and company made the trip down south to Houston. It’s not very often we find ourselves in the presence of such a long standing guitar slinging pedigree, and the experience did not disappoint.

First the gang was loaded in for a rousing round of Live From SugarHill Studios. The episode has not yet graced the internets, though it is in queue and on the way. It was a rarity, the normally raucous metal-loving rockers choosing to strip down as far as possible and do an intimate acoustic set. It was a side not often seen, and we’ll be sharing with the masses as soon as possible.

A different kind of magic began to sprout as the gang moved on to shoot the video for ‘Slow Drag,’ the first single form their new EP titled Sound Mountain Sessions (available on iTunes). The set we had chosen perfectly mirrored the aesthetic that would later adorn the cover of the EP; crumbling cement, burnt ruins of former fortifications, rubble lining the walls . . . . perfect. One of the more delightful surprises of the day came from the selection of vintage amps that made a guest appearance. We were able to get the boys rocking live on set with the help of a vintage Magnatone shipped in from Dallas, and a vintage Ampeg on loan from the gang at SugarHill Studios. Some of the best moments were in between shots, when the attention of the idle musicians would drift, and the waiting crew would be treated to an impromptu jam that would bounce maniacally between the stone walls of the vacant compound. The unwavering skill of a group of men that have been in the game for decades can be awe inspiring. Truly a humbling experience.

They were troopers . . . . it takes resolve to stick it out through Houston’s heat and humidity for any amount of time when you’re not used to it. Lynch Mob handled it like the pros they are. Gallons of sweat and several cup-fulls of gasoline later, and the video for Slow Drag was born. That’s that it’s reached full maturity, Rat Pak Records has released it for all of metal fandom to see. And see they have. . . just under a week since posting, the video had garnered nearly 25,000 views on the official YouTube page. Slow drag, indeed.

Check Lynch Mob’s new EP out now on Rat Pak Records, if you know what’s good for you.

The Long and Winding Road

The Long and Winding Road

You may or may not have noticed the Zen crew all over town, spending the last few weeks everywhere from Sugarland to the Heights. The cameras are rolling on car mounts, there are orchestrated traffic jams, near misses, and startled pedestrians. Not to be alarmed . . . we’re trained professionals.

Zenfilm has been trucking right along on a new Driver’s Training safety course that will see many local performers gracing screens all over Texas. We somehow managed to hold off on this shoot until the Houston heat reached an annual high, lending a familiar sense of urgency to many of the outdoor shots. Nothing comes comes easy, right?

It’s been a while since most of us a taken a driver’s safety course . . . I seem to remember flashy colors and polyester as the mainstay in the films I watched. Identifying the up to date needs of more modern driving circumstances has proved to be an enlightening process. Apparently cell phones are a pretty big deal now. And bicycles.

As the count on automobiles guest starring in this production climbs, we are happy to report an accident-free shoot thus far. The crew is actually out on the streets filming even more as I type, so maybe I shouldn’t be tempting fate.

Either way, should you see the Zenfilm gang out and about, drive friendly would you? They’d appreciate the consideration. And maybe some chocolate.

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.

Zenfilm Dig

Zenfilm Dig

The Zenfilm dig continues as we somehow figure out how to make room for the plethora of new equipment coming in. Raising an entire additional editing suite and making way for a new network is forcing us to play some pretty serious Tetris around here.

With the Tribe so diligently digging in, the treasures are being unearthed daily . . . some of them proving to contain mysterious powers. For example, the power to completely derail one’s train of thought. The power to bring a productive stretch to a nostalgic halt. Perhaps in Merideth’s case, the power to break into an iron stride and leave in its wake the ability to fight corruption with truth and justice and use deadly force when necessary.

Which brings us to Exhibit A: Merideth’s totem character . . . Wonder Woman.

Merideth is the fourth of five daughters (yep, all girls…no brothers).  Her younger sister, Melissa, surprised her with the gift on a very important birthday . . . the sort of birthday that sets the stage for the next act of one’s life. I don’t have any younger siblings myself, though I do have an older brother that looks up to me (quite literally . . . he’s about five inches shorter than me), but I can well imagine what a comfort it is to be reminded of the very special place you hold in that younger sibling’s life.

So Merideth was given the likeness of Wonder Woman…Amazon…Adventuress...Goddess of Truth…Justice League Member…Protector — was her sister trying to tell her something?  Perhaps only Superman really knows…

But, be forewarned — please don’t ask her where she hides her super hero costume, lest you feel the wrath of this Warrior Princess.