“New York has never ceased to amaze and inspire me,” says Chuck Fishbein, director at Crazy Duck Productions in Weehawken, New Jersey. For 15 years, Crazy Duck has produced EPKs, documentaries (“duckumentaries”), music videos and industrials for a wide range of clients. More recently, Crazy Duck has started contributing content to stock footage libraries. No matter what the subject matter, Fishbein finds himself returning to his first love: New York City.
“I’ve been all over the globe, and New York has a life that doesn’t compare to anyplace else,” he says. “I just draw energy from it. It’s never quiet. It’s never still. It’s the kind of place where you can stand on one corner and get a hundred different shots without moving.”
Though Fishbein’s background is in photography, he says that a single still just isn’t enough to capture the life and lights of the city that never sleeps. “You have to think differently with stills,” he explains. “With photography, you’re trying to communicate a lot with only one image. With video, you have a thousand images and you’re able to say it so much better.”
The Sony PMW-EX3 and EX1 are Fishbein’s cameras of choice. He cites the EX3’s interchangeable lenses as a huge advantage over other camcorders. “I like to use long lenses. Wide shots of New York can look flat, and so I try to get the details, to pick apart the city based on its elements.” Maybe he’ll spend all day shooting feet, another day steam vents or neon signs. One of his favorite elements is the Empire State Building, which is visible in many of his stock footage clips. “At first, I didn’t create them to impress people,” Fishbein points out. “They’re the things about the city that turn me on.”
Fishbein’s style is classic New York: it’s steamy and gritty, blanketed with a romantic, ethereal sheen as golden sunlight breaks through and reflects off clouds rolling across the skyline. According to Fishbein, shooting stock footage involves more than just taking pretty pictures. When he scours stock libraries for his own projects, he’s looking for the very best footage he can find; this approach naturally informs the work he does as a stock footage contributor.
“We try to bring a high-end look to everything we do. When I’m shooting, I use neutral density [ND] and grad filters, and we also do a lot of color correction.”
Fishbein and the Crazy Duck team used to produce all their content in 1080i, but as they began submitting to the stock libraries, they found that most of the higher-end clients—including the producers of the television show 24, who purchased a Crazy Duck clip of the Chelsea Hotel—were requesting footage in 24p.
Even though he remains prolific in both photography and videography, Fishbein prefers to shoot video exclusively, licensing his work through Shutterstock and Getty Images. “Stock is still new to us, and having done commercial work, I’d love to turn more of my attention to shooting stock.”
Fishbein was recently featured on the Sony VideON network. The interview is available online.