My name is James Kanka and these are my posts, videos, and stills.

Category: Uncategorized


This past week I volunteered at the AFI FEST.  It was a great time with lots of friendly volunteers.  I only “worked” 10 hours but I got to see two movies in that time, Made In Dagenham and Black Swan.  Before each movie the director and principle actors came up to the front to introduce the movie. I’ve got to say… that’s a great way to watch a movie, especially one with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder.  I’m pretty impressed with the movies AFI lined up and the hard work they put into creating a free festival.  I definitely recommend volunteering next year if you get the chance.

Just Landed (Provided Things Went as Planed)

I’m thirtyfour thousand feet in the air as I write. My sister is in the promised land and I’m headed home after a wirlwind trip home–tell me that’s fair! I kid, I’ve been incredibly blessed and I’ve recieved far more than I have deserved in famliy and relationships. Not to mention experiences and posesions. “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”

If you’re reading this chances are no matter how insignificate you believe our relatioship to be, seriously, I love you, and more than you deserve. My God has made my heart full. Every person I meet I can’t help but love. Interestingly what gets in the way of my showing that love is my fear of how I might be precieved.

I’ve read that people have different ways of loving and even preferences of how they like to be shown love (“Five Love Languages”). Touch, Verbal Affermation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Quality Time. Naturally, I tend to show love via touch and verbal affermation.

Because I’ve had amazing family and friends that have expressed and allowed me to express that I love them I believe that I can more easily express love. One of the things that I often start on a set I’m working on is saying I love you to people I work closely with. It’s amazing how quickly it catches on and how people respond. It’s always a little scary to throw it out there the first time though. By the end of the shoot we’re all saying I love you.

There is a lot of power in the words “I love you” though. I don’t say it to female colleges unless I’m sure how it is understood. While dating Danielle we made the decision early on not to say “I love you” till we were engaged to be married. It could have made things move faster than we were ready for. When it came time to propose all I had to say was “I love you,” and she knew immediatly.

It intesting that the longer you wait to say it the harder it is and the more weight it seems to carry, even with friends and family. Go ahead and give a little love.

What a random string of thoughts you just followed. Next time you see me let me know if you have any love for me, I’ll return the favor and know you read the blog.

Sent from my iPhone

Since Then

A grip friend of mine got me on a Hallmark feature for a few days as a PA. A great experience because I got paid and met some great people, some I’ve been able to hangout with outside of work.

During that time my car died. I don’t want to get into it but… I was to blame and it cost us $1800. Had to get a new engine, but chose to get a new clutch and water pump while they had it opened up. Also, finally had them charge the AC! Awesome. Too bad it’s been cold here.
My friend Paul Parkinson came to visit for a few days. That was awesome! Bad part was I couldn’t take him for a ride in my car. Loved having him. We went hiking and saw lots of native wildlife in Malibu: Deer, ground squirrels, snakes, crayfish, lots and lots of sea anemonies and starfish… and Matthew McConaughey.
This past week I worked for Danielle’s company, shooting an interview and made some money. I was even able to pay a friend to help. Making money is always nice, but not always the case.
Soon I’ll be working on another feature, but this time I won’t be getting money. Should be a great opportunity however.

Me = Gaffer

This last Saturday I filled in for a friend who was gaffing a short for a director who flew in from Paris to shoot. We only used one light for one scene but still, I was the gaffer. A majority of the time we used screens and bounce boards. The short was shot on the RED camera and this was my first experience with it, beautiful! Check out these two stills from the day.

Update: Here is the short.

Jamin Round the World

Playing For Change | Song Around The World “Stand By Me” from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

And some others:
One Love
Don’t Worry

Insurance Commercial

I worked 5 full days Thursday(7am-4pm), Friday(6am-2pm), Monday(6am-4pm), Tuesday(10am-11pm), and Wednesday(2pm-12pm) on a commercial for an insurance company… didn’t get paid a cent and I’m glad.

Locations: Thursday(Abandoned Hotel), Friday(Sound Stage), Monday(Pool and Outside a Church), Tuesday(store fronts in eagle rock, Park and Gym), Wednesday(Dinner, Apt complex, and closed down two streets for car crash.)

The first day I showed up on set was a quick learning experience. I knew what time I was supposed to get there and where I was supposed to park… but after that I just had to guess and play it confident in order to walk on to set. Luckily, I saw a bunch of trucks and the Loader getting some gear ready in the back of one as I walked up. From that point on I stuck mostly with the Loader.

My contact, the 1st AC, was almost always with the DP, where all the action was, so I did my best to stay out of the way and decided that I’d learn how to be a loader. That turned out to be a great decision, the loader was supper helpful and had time to teach me things. He put me to work right away on preparing labels for the film.

For each film stock used during the production we used a different color of tape to label, first the unused canister, then the loaded mag, and finally the exposed film to be processed. The loader put me to work creating the labels that would travel with the film through the whole process. This is exactly what I wanted to know how to do.

Below is an example of what I wrote out (but spread out a little more):

400′ “State Farm” M# | R#
8573-316-116-005-12 |
3/31/09 BISCUIT LI |

Film length; Production Name; Mag #; Roll#
Stock# – specific # for each film roll
Date; Production Company; Loader’s Initials

We had several film mags and each one was numbered. Once film was loaded into a mag the loader would remove the label from the film canister and stick it on the the mag and write the mag# on the label under M#. This was so that if during processing something was found wrong with the film, like a scratch, we would know what mag may have caused it and could replace it.

The Roll # was written on the label right after or before being loaded on to the camera, the roll number keeps track of what number load is in use. A1, A2, A3, A4… these roll numbers continue til the end of the production. “A” is for camera A… if there were two cameras it might go A1, B2, A3, A4, B5…

It was a good day with incredible food!!!! Breakfast and Lunch were served out of a catering truck and it was really good! If it had been at a restaurant the entree would have probably cost $30. Good tasting.

I learned tons more details like the labeling above but instead of boring you… more, I’ll list some highlights.

  • Learned how and loaded a good number of dummy rolls in the dark room.
  • Worked with HydroFlex gear and tech, which allows the camera to go underwater.
  • Helped to create a Film Inventory spreadsheet which saves a lot of time
  • Prepped the camera and the camera carts one morning by myself
  • Closed down an intersection in front of the Clean House HQ to stage a night crash scene! Awesome
  • Made friends
  • Gave my contact info to the Production Manager to PA
  • Ate lots of really really good food.

Preping Film Equipment for a Commerical

Earlier this year Danielle’s boss and her husband invited us to dinner, at the dinner they introduced us to their friend who, among other things, AC’s on commercials. Their friend was very gracious and when he found out that I wanted to learn film production offered to help. After sometime and a few calls he invited me out to prep* for a production.

At that prep I met both his 2nd** and his Loader***, I also got more acquainted with the Arri LT film camera and was shown how to load a film mag. Awesome experience! Ten times better than going to school. At the prep he asked if I wanted to come on set one of the days that week… this is what I really wanted and hoped he would ask, but it didn’t work out.

Next time we talked he invited me to prep for another commercial the next week. “Of course,” I said. At that prep I became even more familiar with the gear and how to prep. Again he invited me to set, and this time I was not going to let anything stop me from going…

*Prep – going to the rental house where you are getting your equipment for the production and laying it all out and putting it all together to make sure everything works and that you have everything you need/ordered. (Later I found out that only the AC gets paid on prep day, and the 2nd and Loader show up only to help and keep up their relationship with the AC)

**2nd – the assistant to the AC

***Loader – in charge of film stock, from loading it into the magazines to sending it to be processed. Lowest on the totem pole.

Hackensaw Boys in Atlanta

Last night I went out with some of my Clean House crew to see the Hackensaw Boys.  Might have been the best concert I’ve ever been to…

After the first part of the show they came back out and played a song fully acoustic… then they walked right in to the audience with all their instruments and played another two to three songs acoustic… and they came right to us, we all had a spot on the rim of the circle surrounding them. I thought the can player, percussion, was going to whack me while playing. It was awesome! Later on that night Justin, the percussionist, came and chatted with us all. Turns out, though the band is from Virginia he lives in LA and like me needs to find some work when he gets back in town.


I just got off the flight from hawaii and I’m now in a cab on my way back to Burbank. It was quite an experience. We stayed in a nice hotel in Wikiki called Outriggers, it was in the middle of all things downtown and on the beach with the famous Dukes connected to it. This trip was my first ever work trip and I must say it’s quiet nice to get perdium… Especially when most of your food is served for you anyway. :)

Hawaii is beautiful and my job is a hundred times better than PAing, at least for now. Part of my job was to look after the gear and that meant keeping most of it in my room. I easily had a quarter million dollars worth of gear in my room everynight.

Besides getting to better know my crew mates and stayng up late signing kareoke one of my highlights was getting to hike one of the many ridges and see a waterfall. I’ve got lots of pictures from that. I’ll post some pictures and more stories once I get a chance to catch up on
some sleep.

Love, James

Sent from my iPod

Beautiful Video is Back Up

Watch it now if you couldn’t see it last time. It’s my favorite song on Phil Wickham’s “Singalong” album, which is amazing the whole way through… and free.

Bam! My new Video Setup

From Thousand Words

The 5D Mk II arrived and I’ve added some things to it. I’m very very impressed by the quality. The shot above was taken at 6400 ISO! Sweet looking grain.

Favorite song on "Singalong"

Update: I just watched three times in a row, you owe it to your self.

Update: I just watched it again and it reminded me that I got in trouble the first time I played it for Danielle. I had just picked her up from the airport, after she was gone for a week, and I wanted to share the album and particularly this song with her. However, she just wanted to talk, so it didn’t end well when I turned it up and said, “listen to this song.”

Update 3: Now this is probably deserves another post but the power of the song above made me think of another song with a totally different vibe, but still sung to God. Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.” Probably the best cover and music video ever. He’s so honest in delivery I dare you not to tear up.

Update 4: Looks like it was too good to be true… they took down the first video. I’m assuming they’ll post it again later because they’ve been releasing each song from the album slowly and this week they strangely released two songs. When it comes I’ll post it.