“I know when I’ve found a good film because I don’t have to sit and analyze it,” says Holly Mazur from across the table at a Whyte Avenue coffee shop. “I find as soon as I get bored I started picking out everything—especially lighting.”
Mazur graduated from the Digital Cinema / Video Production program at NAIT two months ago, and her expanding resume of work behind the camera within the local film community has shifted her focus from what’s playing out on screen to what it takes to make those shots happen.
“I’ve always found the behind the scenes a lot more interesting than actual movies themselves sometimes,” she says, adding the Planet Earth series sticks out as an early influence. “[It's] more documentary, which isn’t really what I’m doing, but they always had cool behind the scenes at the end and just the dedication and the passion these people had to make this happen. It seemed like it would be such a cool job, but then it got me to look into it more.”
Not that Mazur doesn’t get caught up in a film when it has a good story, though, which she describes as “something that gives you an emotional response.” While the actors are responsible for a good portion of this response, the crew are the ones who set the mood, and Mazur—who has filled roles ranging from camera trainee to first assistant camera—has her sights set on a director of photography position one day in order to create just that.
“It’s about creating the look of the film and that’s what I really love about film,” she says. “I just really like being able to create the look of the film, the feel of it and being able to put all the lights together … I’m much more drawn to the visual aspects of it. Camera’s basically the way to work your way up the ladder to director of photography.”
For now, Mazur is focusing on freelance work and getting involved with as many different types of projects as she can in order to expand her skill set. She recognizes film is not an easy industry to get into and started establishing her connections while attending NAIT, which led to a position as digital image technician on Tiny Plastic Men last summer.
“It was just a really good experience, crew-wise,” recalls Mazur, who hopes to work with the show again this summer. “It’s really nice to work with a really happy crew for the most part. It was a lot of fun and it’s just nice to have those positive experiences, because sometimes you’ll get on set and it’s really rushed and panicky and it’s long, hard days and it’s not the same.”
But Mazur takes those rushed days in stride, acknowledging that no shoot is ever going to be the same and it’s important to work with a variety of crews and situations. She plans to continue working in Edmonton for now, working with FAVA and building her portfolio, including shooting a pilot for a TV called Life Undercover alongside her classmates from NAIT.
“We’re hoping to pitch this and we’re hoping for it to go somewhere. I’m director of photography on that, so it’s a little bit nerve wracking,” she adds. “Sometimes it’s about going and shooting your own work to get your name out there. No one’s going to give you a director of photography position right off the bad so we kind of made one for ourselves.”
But Mazur does plan to extend her work beyond Edmonton in the future, wherever that might lead.
“What got me into film was the whole travel idea: [that] filmmaking’s a job where you can go and film somewhere crazy in the world, so I think at some point I do want to do that and try it out,” she says, although her choice of country may not be first on everyone’s list. “Crazily enough, I really like the Middle East … It’s just a place that no one gets to go and there’s so much culture there and it’s overlooked by what’s going on.”
Check out Mazur’s demo reel at http://vimeo.com/92787358
More information about Life Undercover: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/life-undercover