We had the good fortune of connecting with Merlin Showalter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Merlin, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
While working in the film industry certainly can be fun, it’s certainly a lot less glamorous than many people might imagine it to be. There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait”, you’ll be sweating and hustling one moment only to then find yourself sitting around waiting for another department to finish setting up their part of the shot, or for the sun to hit just the right angle, or for a plane to go by, etc etc etc.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
During the pandemic lockdown I decided to focus my energy on improving my skills as a steadicam operator and upgrade my equipment, so I could offer those services in addition to cinematography. I like to think I add a unique perspective when it comes to operating a camera due to my background in music and theatre, which allows me to move a frame to rhythm and phrasing in a way many others might not fully understand. While this has proven to be an advantage in many ways, my path coming from the music world and not directly from film school has also shown some challenges, but I’m constantly educating myself and using any and all downtime to further deepen my knowledge of the filmmaking craft. One lesson I’ve learned along the way was to make sure to choose a path that doesn’t feel like work (at least not all of the time). Finding a career or trade that is at least somewhat stimulating creatively is key to utilizing personal motivation and momentum into progressing and improving, which in turn would hopefully lead to greater expressive satisfaction and just maybe, greater commercial success as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Depending on how “touristy” a visiting friend would want their itinerary, I might include the classic Hollywood spots, but my personal favorite place to take friends is down Sawtelle Blvd. where all the restaurants are and share my favorite ramen, sushi, or curry joints are. I’m also a fan of taking friends down Abbot Kinney Blvd. and then to the beach, of course. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Big shout out to Jessica Lopez (@steadijess) and Matthew Borek (@camerasamurai) from SteadiSchool (@steadischool) for the encouragement and mentorship throughout the navigation of the complex film industry. They are some hard working filmmakers and educators, not only working on world-class film and television productions, but carving out time to help train and mentor the next generation of filmmakers as well.
Dijon Herron, Alejandro Echevarria, Ron P. Jaffe, Stephen Mallett