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Life & Work with David Kaufman of Fairway

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Kaufman.

Hi David, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi – I’m David (Dave) Kaufman, I’m 35 years old, and I’m a filmmaker. I’ve always loved stories. Growing up, I’d make my family have movie nights because I loved the shared experience of watching movies together. I’ve always been drawn to coming of age stories, adventure, exploration and sports. To this day, one of my all time favorite movies is The Sandlot.

I’ve been in the video production and post-production world for about 11 years. I still question my choices with my craft on a daily basis, but I think that might be a blessing. It keeps me on my toes and I’m doing my best to stay humble in the process.

I learned the basics of production and editing at Kansas State University. After that, I filmed and edited for Sporting Kansas City. A couple years later, I found myself in Denver, CO, doing corporate and nonprofit mini-documentaries. Now, I’m back in Kansas City working for Liquid 9 in the Crossroads as the director of photography and editor. Lately, I’ve been focused on sharpening my craft as a cinematographer and finding ways to make any project feel big. It all depends on creativity.

Oh, and best of all, as of 2020, I’m a new dad and proud father to my son Will.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My greatest struggle has been patience and trusting that I am doing the next right thing. This industry tends to vibe with the “hustle culture.” If you’re not working on a cool job and posting behind-the-scenes photos, clips, frames, and color side-by-sides, it can feel like you’re not progressing or going to be successful. There’s a lot of FOMO created from social media that can be very challenging to the psyche of young to mid-level filmmakers out there. I spent many years thinking that finding the right job would launch me to the next level of filmmaking I’m searching for.

It wasn’t until I began doing projects for myself, and even by myself, that I fell in love with filmmaking and began to see it very differently. I made friends with a muralist in Denver, CO, named Casey Kawaguchi. He was at a similar point in his art career to my filmmaking career, and we began working together on passion projects. The way he viewed his work and work ethic made a big impact in shifting my approach to my work. I became more focused on improving my craft and consistency in work and less concerned with the level of the project.

Another major influence on my career has come from another great friend, filmmaker, and director, James Rico, founder of the Reel Goats. James never lets anything stand in his way. He taught me the power in not being afraid to ask questions, and that even if the answer to the question is not what you want, you can always find another way and keep moving forward. His creativity and enthusiasm for filmmaking is infectious. Our conversation may only be 10 minutes long on the phone, but after that 10 minutes, I’m ready to get after it. I still look up to him, and I’m very excited for the day we work on a project together again.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a Director of Photography and editor for Liquid 9. Liquid 9 has been a name in the production and post industry of Kansas City for years, but I just recently joined the team in the summer of 2019. This is the strongest group of creative professionals I’ve ever worked with and I’m proud to be a part of this team.

As the director of photography, also known as the DP or cinematographer, I’m responsible for creating the look of a film, commercial, documentary, etc. I aim to elevate our director’s vision and introduce ideas and concepts the director may not have considered.

What sets me and everyone else at Liquid 9 apart is that we’re all multiskilled. One day I might be operating a camera, running sound, and lighting an interview. The next day I might be standing by a monitor with our director as we tweak the nuances of the lighting in the frame for a larger commercial shoot. Editing has had a major influence on how I pick up a camera. It’s become second nature to edit as I’m filming by selecting shots that I know will cut together nicely.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you, and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Throughout the Covid-19 Crisis, I’ve learned to become even more flexible with fewer resources.

Our industry has been very resilient throughout this time. We created new processes so that we could continue working because if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t survive. We’ve kept some processes that were born in the pandemic like remote meetings and live streaming productions. That’s all standard practice now. In some ways, I feel we’re more efficient than before. As crews became smaller as a safety precaution, I realized how much I appreciated the intimacy and experience of working with a smaller group. While that means I’m probably going to have to do more work, it’s a much more collaborative experience and I enjoy that.

On a personal level, I became a dad in the summer of 2020. Editing footage from home, taking care of a newborn and navigating sleep deprivation was not easy. During that time, I realized how grateful I was for my team at Liquid 9. We were all willing to help each other out when needed, and still are.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photo Credits – David Kaufman (Me)

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