Zooppa Featured Member: Alex Jones

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        Alex Jones doesn’t think twice about tangling with venomous snakes, spiders, sharks or rabid bats in distant caves. He’s survived scorpion and sting ray stings, snakebites and nasty parasites. Alex has hand caught sharks, wrestled with 8 foot alligators, tangled many rattlesnake species and explores the mountain ranges at night for tarantulas on his leisure. His quest for tracking dangerous creatures in primitive parts of the world is what thrills him most.
        Alex is a highly skilled wildlife cameraman / DP with a passion for cinematic wildlife shows. With his non-stop work ethic and skilled patience, he pushes the limits to his mind and body to get the best cinematic stories. Alex has worked on multiple TV shows, films, commercials and in addition, he produces his own blue-chip wildlife films. He’s spent months filming in Yellowstone, Australia, Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, The Amazon and much more. His passion to his work reveals his skill sets as one of the best cinematographers. His passion is to work with the BBC teams who brought you Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.


1. Who is your favorite director and what is one of your all time favorite movies?
Hands down, Steven Spielberg is my favorite director for movies. I know it sounds cliché but hey, it’s true! His films from the 70’s – 90’s still impress everyone today. It’s his camera movements, his reveals and awesome story telling is what I like most. I actually utilize some of his workflows in wildlife films (For example, He tends to shoot very wide and it makes you feel like you are watching a big grand MOVIE as opposed to other directors who like to shoot very tight and hand held which feels more like a small confined film in it’s own world.) Shooting wide for wildlife does the same trick! It keeps things interesting and epic. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting intimate close ups and work most of my time trying to film them but nice wides helps to reveal the story a lot. He also tends to make my favorite types of movies (Action/Adventure). Who doesn’t want to be Indiana Jones after watching those films!


2. If you had an unlimited budget, where would be your dream location to shoot? 
The first place I would film in if I had the ultimate budget would be in Burma. The doors have just recently opened again since Word War II. The wildlife there is so unique and interesting. They have a mix of Indian wildlife that’s very similar to North American wildlife. Then, they have a broad mix of African looking wildlife! Seeing pictures of deer in the same region as rhinos is really cool. On top of that, they have amazing temples and towers made of stone just sitting there for miles off in the forest. The people would be great to meet and I love learning about non-westernized cultures when I travel. Rainforest’s are just amazing and filming an epic show about Burma hasn’t been done before. I could live there just thinking about it! There’s nothing like filming in extreme locations with hot/humid weather, mosquitos biting you to the bone and exploring uncharted territory. Being out in the middle of no where just filming weird and interesting animals and their behavior is the best life anyone could ask for.


3. Also, who would you hire as an actor/actress in your video?
I’d shoot Burma all on the my RED camera (Used for feature films), I’d film epic scenes in extreme slow motion on the Phantom and I’d hire an air crew with a Cine-flex for areal footage. For Blue-chip wildlife films, I like the voice over approach. It gives a formal and epic feel. Burma would need a strong male voice to give this place a godly/big effect especially since it’s been in lock-down for so long, a strong male voice would open us up to this new world. I’d chose to hire Benedict Cumberbatch or the one and only David Attenborough for VO. Hosting is great! I myself host a nature show but in the host sense, It would be a little more gritty which is awesome!


4. Describe your film-making background. What got you started?
Since I was at least 4 years old, I have been obsessed and amazed by the wild world. When I finally got my scuba diving license at 16, the first thing I did was film my first wildlife film titled, “Under Catalina”. After that, I was completely hooked! I produced several films of my own after that. Out of passion and my own pocket, It brought me to places most people would never get to see in their life. I spent 6 months filming in the depths of Yellowstone’s forests, I’ve traveled to South Africa to film elephants and The Amazon was my ultimate favorite place to film! I’ve even shot films in my own backyard. Four hours from where I live is a huge elephant seal colony which I filmed for a week and made a great epic short about their breeding habits. Aside from this, I’ve been working on commercials, tv shows and films as a camera operator and DP for about 6 years. One job led to another but as time goes on, I’m still working to get involved with the BBC or National Geographic full-time.


5. What was the first film you ever created? 
I’ve been filming animals ever since I could remember but the first film I created was called “Under Catalina”. I got my scuba license at 16 and went on a trip with my dad to Catalina Island in Southern California where I live. I put my camera in a underwater camera case I bought just for this purpose and filmed anything I could for as long as I could. Looking back, It looks terrible and the shots where all shaky but I really feel like that film was the catalyst to get me jumping on board the wildlife film career. 


6. How would you describe your film style? 
My film style is cinematic/epic. There are many natural history filmmakers that use their shows for conservation, while this is a great way to send messages, I like to use wildlife films as a way to let people escape and show them places of the world and it’s wildlife that they could never otherwise see. Every film I make is a celebration of our amazing planet and it’s wildlife. That takes patience and grand shots. We are the last of the explorers. People need to be inspired and awed with our Earth.


7. Share with us your creative process. What have you found inspiring?
If there’s motion, I want to capture it. When I research animals, I find that the more beautiful it is, the more intense their life is and the weirder they can be, I want to get up and go film! I shoot whatever I think is really interesting to me. Elephant seals fighting until they bleed? That is intense imagery. Butterflies by the millions in Mexico? Amazing! These are the things people don’t see or really don’t know too much about. I also love capturing intense drama. There is a place where foxes go and steal bird eggs right out of the nest. Not only that, they’ll steal the chicks themselves! As they run for their lives, the full grown birds dive bomb the foxes. They’ll attack with full force! The chicks flop all over the floor Underneath the foxes legs while the fox’s pups are trying to keep cool in the situation. Mother and pups finally get the chicks. It’s sad news for the birds but this is natural behavior. Now, The reason rain forests captivate me is because there are so many dangerous situations any animal including humans can encounter. At the same time, it’s gorgeous. I love danger and if I can be thrown in to a crazy situation while capturing one-time moments, I AM IN! I find that if it looks amazing, it will be amazing on camera. It sounds simple but it’s not easy.


8. Which was your favorite contest to participate in? Why?
My Favorite contest I entered was the “Save Us From Extinction” campaign. I utilized my own footage from around the world to make something that looks like a trailer for a nature show. Of course I loved it and I’m happy to be apart of this strong campaign. 


9. How did you come up with the idea for (your winning contest) and what was the process in producing the video?
I knew I wanted to make something positive instead of negative. I thought showing off relatable animals and amazing behavior would be a great way to captivate people and make them feel good. This would hopefully keep people thinking that our planet’s animals are worth saving from extinction. I started looking through hundreds of hours of my own footage. I already knew I wanted to use some of my favorite shots and once I had everything in my project, I cut away. I edited for a solid week; taking time off of work to make it the best it could be. Then, I hired a voice over artist and finished the cut. Off to color correction and sound design! All sounds used in the video were built from the ground up. I record something called “scratch audio” in the field. Then, I record a lot of really nice sounds on nice mics later. I remove all audio from my edit and make it sound how I want with my new crisp/clear audio. Proper color correction and amazing sound is very important to me.


10. What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My ultimate plan is to be on a team with the best wildlife cameramen/women working with the BBC Natural History Unit and/or National Geographic. I plan to be living in dangerous, hot, dry, cold and sticky environments for months at a time and film amazing animal behavior. I have a few Blue-chip nature shows I plan on pitching and making this amazing career thrive until I’m gone. 


11. Link us to any work/a portfolio that you’d like mentioned.


Elephant Seals: California’s Coast – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai9V012SZro

Meme E


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