Director of Photography Jodi Savitz is Making Waves With Wooden Camera

Acclaimed director and cinematographer Jodi Savitz all the time knew she needed to be a storyteller. She began her profession as an actress earlier than pivoting to filmmaking in 2016. Her first characteristic documentary, “Girl On Girl”, acquired viral consideration for its distinctive protection of the LGBTQ neighborhood and female lesbian id. Since then, she’s shot narrative, documentary, and business work for shoppers starting from Condé Nast to NBC. Her newest undertaking, showcasing Uganda’s first and solely LGBTQ aquatics staff, introduced her to the middle of this yr’s NYC World Pleasure Parade to seize their momentous journey. We had been capable of ask Jodi a couple of questions on her story, her gear, and her function as Director of Images on the undertaking.

How did you get your begin in filmmaking? What steps did you are taking to get the place you’re at present?

Earlier than turning into a full-time filmmaker, I obtained my begin in appearing and theater at Northwestern College, the place I used to be additionally a gender research main. At one level in faculty, I studied in Buenos Aires, the place I enrolled in a documentary filmmaking class. Throughout my time there, I interned at a number of LGBTQ non-profits that basically centered on a push for homosexual marriage within the metropolis. I ultimately filmed a documentary showcasing the tales of a number of lesbian activists, together with two ladies who would grow to be the primary LGBTQ couple to legally marry there. This was undoubtedly one of many first moments the place I felt that, by means of filmmaking, I might actually make a distinction. [Watch “Yo So Así” here]

After graduating from Northwestern, I moved to New York to pursue appearing. I liked performing, however I quickly realized that I needed to do one thing extra – the place I had extra inventive authority. I pitched a documentary that centered on a distinct segment topic inside the LBGTQ neighborhood – after which I purchased my first digicam. By tons of analysis and carrying many hats through the filmmaking course of, I launched my first characteristic documentary, “Woman on Woman”, in 2016. Not solely did I shoot, direct, and edit the movie, however I additionally fostered a enormous advertising and marketing marketing campaign for the undertaking. The reception was wonderful! Right now, the documentary has almost 500,000 followers on Fb.

“Woman on Woman” grabbed the eye of the managing editor of NBC OUT [an LGBTQ news source of NBC News] and shortly I began working freelance for vertical content material teams, taking pictures a number of brief documentaries within the span of a yr. This got here at a time when social media and digital mini-docs gained steam (NowThis, Elite Day by day, and many others), and I used to be anticipated to work as a one-woman band. Over time, I noticed taking pictures is the place I shine and what I get pleasure from most. I made a decision to give attention to cinematography and shift from digital media into bigger documentary and narrative initiatives. To be the place I’m now, I spent a number of time doing my very own analysis, going to filmmaker meetups, and being lively within the New York movie neighborhood. The creation and teamwork course of is enjoyable – it makes my work not really feel like work. 

You’re presently engaged on a documentary in regards to the Ugandan LGBTQ aquatics staff. How did you discover out about them and what made you wish to inform their story?

At South by Southwest this yr, I gave a presentation at a Panasonic panel referred to as “Creating Movies With a Conscience”, about social justice filmmaking. This sparked curiosity in [filmmaker] Kristal Mosley, who contacted me within the spring to collaborate on a documentary she was directing. Kristal had related with the swim captain of UKAT [Ugandan Kuchu Aquatics Team], Uganda’s first and solely LGBTQ aquatics staff. Being homosexual or lesbian is against the law in Uganda, so there may be all the time a way of worry of hostility that members of the staff should stay with every day. A few of them have even been attacked on the way in which house from apply. Regardless of the danger, all however one on the staff have formally come out. 

Kristal came upon that the staff was coming to New York to compete within the annual IGLA (Worldwide Homosexual and Lesbian Aquatics) Competitors and rejoice New York World Pleasure and needed to doc their go to. I joined the undertaking because the DP and was capable of seize the staff’s first expertise within the states. The purpose of this documentary is to construct a dialog in regards to the rampant homophobia in Uganda and to assist educate the world in regards to the success of UKAT as a way to make their scenario higher. In addition they need extra Ugandans to know that they exist to allow them to create a extra supportive neighborhood for future generations of LGBTQ individuals there. Coming to New York, they had been capable of expertise the world may very well be for them.

What Picket Digicam merchandise did you utilize for this undertaking and the way was your expertise utilizing this gear within the area?

I used the brand new Shoulder Rig v3 (Base) with the Panasonic EVA-1, the Zip Focus, and the Unified DSLR Cage (Medium) on the Panasonic S1.

I really like the shoulder rig! It match nicely and was very snug. It’s undoubtedly constructed higher for my measurement and the way in which I deal with a shoulder rig – and that is actually uncommon. Girls’s and males’s shoulders are completely different. The curvature of the pad is admittedly accommodating and the width between the pad and crossbar felt completely different – however snug. The padding of many different fashionable shoulder rigs isn’t as snug, and sometimes I carry further padding to put on on a shoot. For this shoot, I used to be on my ft all day and carrying the Shoulder Rig v3 for 6-7 hours and on the finish of the day it was nonetheless very snug. I’d like to attempt it out with the extension arms subsequent!

The Unified DSLR Cage additionally match the S1 nicely. It’s good to have a easy, low-profile cage. We didn’t have any points getting playing cards or batteries out – which is admittedly refreshing for a DSLR cage.

From Left: Rachel Villegas, Manufacturing Sound; Jen Lou, 1st AC; Jodi Savitz, DP; Lauretta Prevost, B-Cam Op; Brittany Jeffery, B-Cam 1st AC

What have been some highlights of this manufacturing? What’s subsequent for the documentary?

The largest spotlight of the shoot was capturing the staff march within the New York World Pleasure Parade. We had been capturing them as they found what the world may very well be for them – that there’s assist outdoors their neighborhood they usually’re not alone. There have been so many great moments filled with pure pleasure and pleasure.

The undertaking remains to be within the early phases of manufacturing, and there are future plans to shoot in Uganda and observe the staff as their tales unfold. 

If you would like to observe Jodi’s progress with the documentary and keep up-to-date with any of her future initiatives, you could find her on Instagram and on her web site,

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