Visual Beauty is Where You Find It: Local Cinematographer Jared Hail
When many people think of creative film making, perhaps they visualize screen writers, directors, and production people coming together to create a dramatic feature film, documentary, or shorter independent art film. There is, however, a whole corner of the industry that deals with advertising and brief informational flicks. My conversation with Medford based cinematographer Jared Hail convinced me that just as much original creative thought and inspiration can go into films of this latter sort. Hail seems to have found a niche for himself that is artistically engaging, technically challenging, and, if all continues to go well, financially rewarding.
Hail heads Adsmash, a small but successful videography outfit based in the Rogue Valley that he founded along with two friends. They create high quality advertising films for clients up and down the west coast. He also does independent video and photography work when he has time; the common denominator being the dynamic and visually stunning quality of the imagery in his films along with the ethos of telling an engaging and personal story about his subject in brief time frames. “Primarily what we do is just tell really captivating stories.” says Hail of his work with Adsmash. “We all have that cinematic blood that runs through our bones.”
Case in point: Hail shot a profile piece about SOU student and mountain biker Trace Lapid that explores the relationship between his sport and the rather heady courses he is studying at the university, courses dealing with topics such as momentum, fluid dynamics, and computer modeling. Glorious slo-mo action shots of Lapid going over jumps on a forested hill are interspersed with his comments about how he applies the understanding gained from his academic work, and how these differing dimensions of the sport can integrate into a high level career vision. Though one may say that Trace Lapid: Mountain Biker is “merely” a promotional video for SOU, a sense of the Lapid’s story—his enthusiasm, insights, and goals—comes through strongly.
In his more personally motivated freelance work, Hail really likes to stretch out. In one short film, he chronicles his friend Lake North’s reclaimed-materials woodworking business. The film is called Lake North: The Craftsman, and the narrative, conversational feel of the piece, along with the multifaceted, exploratory visual approach, and the stimulating momentum of the musical backing, give it a sense of riveting documentary inspiration. Hail says he loves “the personal side of stuff, where I can build a story out of nothing. Kind of figuring out somebody. And yes he’s a friend, so that makes it a lot easier.”
Though the majority of Hail’s work and interest is video, he also loves still photography. In a recent trip to the Yukon sponsored by Travel Yukon and Parks Canada, Hail hiked extensively in the Kluane National Park, located in the southwestern Yukon. The area boasts breathtaking mountain views, unpredictable weather, and one of the largest Grizzly Bear populations on the American continent. In addition to experiencing and documenting these rugged realities, Hail was lucky enough to witness and photograph a spectacular display of the famous Northern Lights. “The very last day was the only opportunity because it was the clear sky,” Hail says. “It came out and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It looked like a giant green river and it slowly moved like a tree would.” The majestic photo essay that he took home from the expedition, along with a written account of his adventures, really brings the viewer/reader into intriguing contact with this remote and fascinating region.
Jared Hail got his start in photography and film at age 16, when his mother introduced him to director Gene Carlyle during a video shoot. An informal apprenticeship with Carlyle followed, and now Hail and Carlyle are involved as business partners in Adsmash. After attending Southern Oregon University and majoring in art, and later doing a teaching stint there, Jared struck out on his own as a freelance photographer/videographer. He has been working steadily in the field ever since, stalking magnificent shots and intriguing narratives for his clients.