Mike Pecci loves telling stories, whether on film, in photographs, on the page, or just over beers at a bar: “Storytelling is what makes me feel alive.” With over 15 years of filmmaking and photography, he remains fascinated by character development and obsessed with capturing the essence of a small moments – which shows through in his work, whether it be on billboards, televisions, magazine covers, or the big screen.
Recently, Mike Pecci teamed up with Puget Systems and Intel to create a video showing how to configure a workstation capable of handling 4K workflows – a challenge many independent filmmakers and production companies can relate to. We spoke to him about his work, his career, and tools, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Creative Cloud apps.
Why did you become a filmmaker?
I love telling stories and I love people. The journey to filmmaking really started the day my mom came home with my first comic book. I was fascinated with the stories that could be told within a frame. I still am.
What was the career path like for you?
Honestly, experience changes everything. When you start it’s all about learning the craft. I locked myself in my studio for years just shooting and editing — learning the tricks that excited me and getting the audience reaction to them. Then you start to get hired and you start learning how to interact with clients, how to guide a crew. Eight years in people start calling you, they remember your name, the jobs get bigger and so do the challenges. At 15 years in, you don’t have to convince people that you are good anymore. You can redirect that energy into the creative task and play around in the playground that you have created
How have your tools changed?
When I was learning filmmaking, I was cutting my first 16mm films on a Steinbeck. Literally cutting and taping footage together. It taught me to really plan out an edit and respect how much effort was needed to do the simplest thing. The workflow with Premiere Pro has changed how I tell stories. I compare it to doing a collage. Sometimes I’ll just throw clips into a timeline, editing over 12 tracks of video, multiple takes stacked on top of each other, reversing clips and changing their speeds. What this gives me is the creative freedom to play with ideas, hunting for something new and special in how I put the pieces together. I hate it when my tools get in the way of the creative process. Premiere Pro keeps up with me and that is the most important thing.
When did you start using Adobe Premiere Pro?
I was disappointed with new version of Final Cut Pro (FCP X) so when I heard that Premiere Pro was making major changes – and was able to open up my old FCP projects right in Premiere Pro – I jumped right in. I’ve never looked back. I’d actually been using Adobe for years – Photoshop has long been critical in my photography work, and consistently surprises me with what I can do in it. It’s the same now with Premiere Pro.
What are some of your favorite features in the Adobe video tools?
Lumetri Color tools – hands down: Lumetri saves me hours and hours of work by allowing me to quickly create and apply the Looks I want. Being able to load LUTs right in the timeline is huge for me.
Can you talk about the hardware you use for video production?
Hardware helps, especially if you are cutting 4K. We recently made the shift to PC so that we can really get the most bang for our buck. The great thing is that Premiere Pro functions the exact same on both a PC and a MAC. No learning curve. So if you are looking for more horsepower for less money, might want to look into a company like Puget Systems. They built us two amazing 4K edit bays.
The horror film you’ve been working on looks pretty cool!
It’s called 12 Kilometers. It’s about a Russian drill team that drills the deepest hole known to man. The borehole into the center of the Earth unleashes something that will change the face of the planet. The project is a 30-minute proof-of-concept piece for a feature length film. Visually we’ve recreated 1980s Soviet Union here in Boston with a kind of John Carpenter horror film feel. I think it’s the best thing I have ever shot and I’m really proud of the amazing team who helped make it happen.
Any other interesting projects in the works?
At McFarland & Pecci we are working on a bunch of awesome stuff. My partner Ian McFarland is directing a feature documentary on the iconic band Agnostic Front and the birth of Hardcore music. We have been shooting the new music series called Better Sound sessions for BOSE, and are working on a few new music videos – all edited in Premiere Pro.
What’s your advice for people who are considering moving to the Adobe video tools?
Try them out. Seriously. If you’re moving from FCP, you will find the transition seamless, and you will find the tools in Premiere Pro are better. Premiere Pro is still made for professionals, not prosumers. That means there are dozens of ways to do things, so you can have many options to create something that no-one has ever done before. I guarantee you will end up like me: completely hooked!
Mike Pecci works as an independent filmmaker, and as one half of McFarland & Pecci, creators of award-winning music videos. Learn more at mcfarlandandpecci.com
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