On Sunday, February 16, Borgata will celebrate Dark Fall Productions’ 10th Anniversary. Frequent Borgata collaborators, cinematographers Alex DePhillipo and Andrew Gesler, will be joined by the band Pepper as they celebrate ten years since their filmmaking journey began with the debut of the award-winning “Dark Fall” surf documentary. A night of cinema and music will feature the premiere of Dark Fall’s new short film, music by Nomad, and beer and drink specials. You can get tickets here.
We had a chance to chat with Alex and Andrew about their film making careers and what inspires them to capture the best moments on camera.
When did you first realize that you had passion and interest in making films and video?
Andrew – I grew up surfing and competing in Ocean City, NJ, as an amateur and eventually a professional. A big part of the sport is marketing via athlete endorsement and my career spanned the transition from a print and video (VHS) dominated platform to the content filled internet/social media world we live in today. As an athlete I spent a lot of time in-front of the lens, but I was always a part of the editing process. My involvement in post production, however, was mostly using video to analyze my skill, I basically became fluent in editing software accidentally. In 2008 Alex approached me to create a surf film that changed everything for me. He opened my eyes to the cinematic process and I see the world today much differently. While that project was very much his passion and vision, he included me in the creative and working with him on Dark Fall the movie changed my life forever.
Alex – My passion started early in high school. I grew up in Margate by the beach, which is usually a ghost town all year except for summer. My friends and I would film these Jackass-style surf/skate videos and that really sparked my interest to pursue professional filmmaking later on through the college arts.
Tell everyone a little bit about the documentary: what was your process in creating it?
Andrew – Dark Fall was a film about surfing in New Jersey and the adversity it takes to follow a dream in one of surfings more obscure locations. It was about our friends and it was a joy to create and share with the rest of the world. Alex and I spent endless days forecasting swell, getting the surfers to come together, interview to the zeitgeist of that time, and ultimately find that story and build a narration (which I gave), to bring the story together. Along the way we campaigned to raise budget and build press leading to a world premiere in Atlantic City that we’ll never forget.
Alex – Andrew said it best. Dark Fall is about the adversity of surfing here in NJ, and the people who dedicated their lives to it. The process was personally the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. We really had no script as things kept evolving so we kept filming until we agreed that is was time to release. I think it took us a few years to make the film, which I shot about 95% of and edited alongside with Andrew. Our friend Robbie Beach helped tremendously in helping us polish it through post production.
You are regular videographers at Borgata, capturing hundreds of events here. What have been some of your favorite to film?
Andrew – By far for me it is anything to do with Savor Borgata. My father attended culinary school and has worked in Food and Beverage in AC most of his life, so having the opportunity to film and work with the amazing Chef Partners on property has always been special for me as I get to appreciate an art I was raised to love as a boy. I’m a way better cook myself for it as well!
Alex – I love filming anything that has to do with food. Getting to work with celebrity chefs like Michael Symon and Bobby Flay has been unreal. It is really humbling we get to create branding content that showcases their restaurants. On the other side of the spectrum, filming a Steve Aoki nightlife show at Premier is a really good time too!
Tell us a bit about the new short film that you are premiering at Borgata on February 16.
Andrew – The new short film is an ode to the foundations we grew our business on, a thank you to the client/partners we work with today, and a thank you to the surfing communities that lifted us up when we released Dark Fall the movie 10 years ago.
Alex – The new film is some of our best surfing content shot in extreme cold conditions that we hope to turn into a series or a bigger project. It involves a bunch of the old crew from the original Dark Fall the film and a bunch of up and coming talent. We are excited to showcase it in Premier with that gigantic screen and amazing sound system. It should be quite a visual experience.
There’s a lot of people who are getting into film making, especially with all of the technology available on phones. What’s some advice that you would give them to get a great shot?
Andrew – See your vision and do everything you can to bring it to life. Just get started on it, write it down, shoot it, take in as much influence as you can everywhere, learn what you like and what you don’t like, re-write it, re-shoot it, Improve it. Never stop.
Alex – I would say to separate yourself from what everyone else is doing. Be different and never stop creating.
When you’re not filming at Borgata, what are some of your favorite things to do on property?
Andrew – I love to eat, so if there’s a live show, event, or something happening at the sports book, I’m quick to make the excuse to book a reservation at one of the restaurants and make a night of it!
Alex – From all the great restaurants to the spa and obviously a few adult beverages with some friends after a long week, there is really nothing Borgata doesn’t offer!