Cinepod- The Cinematography Podcast would not be possible without our team!
One half of our hosting duo, director Ben Rock is an accomplished interviewer and one of the biggest cinematography fans on the planet. Ben started his career in the mid-90s, working primarily in indie films in the make-up department. In 1997, Ben was asked to join the team to make The Blair Witch Project. As Production Designer, he worked to create the immersive atmosphere for the cast and created the iconic “stickman” symbol. Building much of the legend of The Blair Witch (which became the content of the website), he wrote Curse of the Blair Witch for SyFy; wrote and directed The Burkittsville 7 for Showtime; and Shadow of the Blair Witch for SyFy. He’s directed numerous film projects including sci-fi/horror feature Alien Raiders for WB and the sci-fi romcom Future Boyfriend, an official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the award-winning web series 20 Seconds to Live. His first foray into narrative audio was the acclaimed Video Palace for horror streamer Shudder. You can find out more about Ben Rock and see his reel on his website. You can get a list of most of his credits at ye olde IMDB.
Illya is the co-host and Editor in Chief of The Cinematography Podcast as well as the President of Hot Rod Cameras, the presenting sponsor of the podcast. For more than 25 years, Illya has worked in advanced forms of imaging for the motion picture industry, including holding positions in about every capacity one can in the camera department. A former Local 600 1st AC and operator, Illya has hundreds of credits, spanning feature films, television series, commercials and music videos. His DP credits include national commercials and TV series. After a brief stint as an assistant at CAA, Illya transitioned into a senior executive position in the professional camera rental industry, serving clients working in prime time television and major feature films. In 2006, Illya joined Dalsa Digital Cinema, manufacturer of the world’s first 4K digital cinema camera. A victim of the 2008 global financial crisis, Dalsa’s digital cinema division was closed suddenly in 2008, and a few months later, Illya invented the professional PL lens mount for HDSLR/Mirrorless cameras, the first professional PL mount modifications of Canon DSLR cameras and dozen of other original products. When not hanging out with his family, Illya is the founder and administrator of the largest Los Angeles based ramen fanclub, “Ramen L.A.”
Alana came on board as the showrunner for The Cinematography Podcast in 2017. As the show producer, Alana keeps all things Cinepod running smoothly. She brings her prodigious producing talent (or bossiness, depending on how you
look at it) to keeping our hosts on task, booking our guests, getting our episodes edited and posted, as well as handling all web and social media content. She started her career in television in the mid-1990’s shortly after graduating from San Francisco State University and moving to the sun- and star-soaked land of Los Angeles. Alana has been working in entertainment, news, and documentary television for the past few decades, which means she’s a “seasoned” producer. She recently launched Greentree Marketing, a social media marketing and podcast production service. Reach out if you’d like to become a client. If you’re nosy, you can find her on LinkedIn or find her incomplete information on IMDb. Besides movies and television, Alana’s interests include raising her kids to be good humans, politics, reading, listening to podcasts, cooking, and the great outdoors.
Ben Katz is the editor extraordinaire of The Cinematography Podcast. Every week, he masterfully makes our guests and hosts Illya and Ben sound their very best.
Composer Kays Al-Atrakchi created all of the music heard on The Cinematography Podcast. After graduating Cum Laude with a Film Scoring degree from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, Kays rapidly became one of the key creative forces in the emerging Florida film and music scene of the late-90’s. Along with a prolific songwriting partnership with Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty, Santana), Kays connected with visionary filmmaker Dan Myrick (Blair Witch Project) with whom he developed a lasting creative relationship. Kays’ unique creative approach has resulted in a number of critically acclaimed film scores for such studios as Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, Lions Gate; networks like ABC, NBC, Disney Channel, SyFy, Lifetime, MTV, Showtime and Discovery Channel and many advertising agencies. Kays’ uncompromising work ethic and dedication coupled with an innate curiosity for technology continues to yield wildly innovative, original music.
Illya, Ben… you guys are amazing! I’m currently on episode 49 of your podcast, having now surpassed my own age of 46, and I thank you for every single minute you’ve put into it.
The wealth of knowledge you bring to all of us through these interviews is truly priceless. And all your hard work work bears witness to your friendship, great sense of humor, passion for the medium and what great people you both are.
I no longer live in Los Angeles so I’ve missed my chance to walk into Hot Rod Cameras, ask for Illya and DEMAND my t-shirt just because “Ben said”. Damn! That would have been fun.
Anyhow, sending you and the rest of the team a big hug all the way from Spain.
Keep up the good work! It’s much appreciated!
Hi Ben and Illya, and Dan.
My name is Ben, and I’m currently working in-house at the BBC Natural History Unit as a Junior Camera Operator on a big wildlife series for BBC One and world wide. I’m currently writing to you during some down time whilst on location in Iraq.
I’ve long been a fan of the podcast, and cinematography in general, though this is the first time I’m writing in. Particular highlights of mine are hearing Greg Fraser talk about anything, the Bradford Young two parter and of course Bristol’s own John Downer and Richard Young.
I’m writing in for a little advice, and apologies for the waffly intro!
I first fell in love with film whilst repeatedly watching the special features of the Lord of the Rings extended editions as a young lad. So repeatedly, in fact, that I wore out two of the discs! That coupled with a great love of the outdoors has lead me to an exciting career in wildlife telly.
As excited and passionate as I am about the next few years/decade, I’m aware that the sheer physicality of being a wildlife camera person means I won’t be able to do it forever. This coupled with a sometimes overwhelming level of ambition means that I’m constantly looking to push and improve and follow my intuition. Finally, I had the opportunity to work as a wire cam assistant on the Tom Holland movie “Uncharted” towards the end of 2020 and very much enjoyed chatting to the Second Unit Director and DoP about their work in the evenings.
All this, along with the fact that we can be quite restricted in the way we use light (usually just one – the sun) and are able to show story through imagery due to our subjects being animals has lead me to wonder what an eventual transition into drama would look like, and I was hoping you could shed some light?
I know some of the big names in cinematography have come through documentary (the likes of Roger Deakins and Barry Ackroyd to name two of my favourites).
I also know the world of drama is quite different to that of wildlife. I’m not expecting to reach the level of “DoP” (or equivalent) in wildlife and then immediately transition to drama DoP, but would I have to completely retrain? Is there anything I can be doing right now that will help prepare me for an eventual switch?
I have no formal training in any sort of filmmaking, with a degree in zoology. Everything I’ve learned has been through YouTube or on the job. Would it be beneficial to take a course in cinematography for the connections and lighting know how?
I’m due to operate on a short film funded by kickstarter towards the end of the year (schedule depending) as a start – any further tips would be greatly greatly appreciated!
Apologies for the length of the email, please feel free to edit and abbreviate where you see fit!
I really, really enjoy the podcast and have learnt an immense amount from your astute conversations with your guests, so I’m forever in your debt. If I’m ever in LA I’d love to buy you a beer as a thank you.
Keep up the fantastic work.