Below is a list of people who make CamNoir and it’s contents possible. Check out below to find out a bit about them.

Ben Rock

If you should ever meet Ben Rock, he will not tell you that he is perhaps one of the biggest cinematography fans on the planet. I learned this only through knowing the man for more than a decade. There is probably not a issue of American Cinematographer published in the last 20-years that Ben has not read cover to cover.

Ben started his career in the mid-90s, working primarily in indie films in the make-up department. A life-long horror and genre film fan, Ben has a passion for special make-up effects, and is quite adept at making a perfectly healthy actors look injured, disfigured or turned completely inside-out.

Ben has a varied background in other production crafts, particularly the Art department. He counts as 1/5 of the production team for The Blair Witch Project, where he served as Production Designer, crafted much of the backstory and invented the iconic “stickman” figure used in the movie and for the branding of the film.

In the late 1990s, Ben transitioned to directing. Many of Ben‘s directing projects were shot documentary style, and aired on primetime national broadcast television. You can get a list of most of his credits at ye olde IMDB.

In 2009, he directed the critically-acclaimed sci-fi/horror film Alien Raiders for Warner Brothers and indie genre label Raw Feed. You can watch the trailer >here< this movie is widely available on DVD, and is definitely worth a look especially if you are a fan of movies like John Carpender’s “The Thing”.

Ben‘s personal website is found at and includes links his blog, social media and more detail on everything listed above.

Illya Friedman

Illya is the Editor in Chief of The Cinematography Podcast and also 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 credit 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 primetime 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 chasing after his 2 young children, Illya is the founder and administrator of the largest Los Angeles based ramen fanclub, “Ramen L.A.

Dain Fuentes

It takes a photon more than 100,000 years to make its journey from the core of our sun, where it’s created, to the sun’s surface. It takes only another 8 and a half minutes to travel to the earth, bounce off of our subject, travel through our lens’s elements, and land on our camera’s imaging sensor, creating an image.

Lens enthusiast (not nerd)/ cinematographer Dain Fuentes is always eager to work with new filmmaking and photographic equipment, with a particular affinity for lenses of all shapes and sizes. His favorite moments at Hot Rod Cameras have been geeking out with Alex Funke, ASC, about Raoul Coutard’s camera movements and informing Zeiss about the folklore behind a certain 28mm f/2 lens of theirs. They have yet to confirm or deny the mythology in question.

Dain works on special projects and sales for Hot Rod Cameras. He has crewed on projects including live news broadcasts, indie features, infomercials, and more. He completed his M.F.A. at Chapman University, with a cinematography emphasis. His camera rental experience includes servicing Oscar-winning cinematographers and directors, as well as blockbuster features and highly-rated sporting events.

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  1. 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!

    Javier Alcina

  2. 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.



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