Tore Knos is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, he worked on Toyota’s Gazoo Racing commercial campaign using the Phantom Flex camera in Argentina. His other commercial clients include Bloomingdale’s, Estée Lauder, Subway, and more. Tore’s narrative work includes cinematography on the short film, “2580,” which debuted at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival, and he works closely with filmmaker and artist Gregory Colbert. He produced “Abel’s Field” starring Kevin Sorbo and released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as well as co-producing two Steven Seagal films: “The Keeper” and “Against the Dark.”
In addition, Tore oversees the film department Flying Elephants Productions a New York City based film equipment rental company servicing the industry and film professionals. He’s also a member of Producer’s Guild of America and on the board of the cinema non-profit Mono No Aware.
KitSplit: Tell us a little about your work. How did you get started in film?
Tore: After graduating from the University of Southern California, I began my career as an associate producer on Universal Home Entertainment’s release of “Out for Blood” starring Kevin Dillon. Following production of the film, I was accepted into the agent trainee program at International Creative Management (ICM), one of the world’s leading talent agencies.
K: How would you describe your style?
T: I am a huge fan of filmmakers like the Coen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick. I often find that “less is more” when trying to convey emotion visually, and I have always been drawn to simple, disciplined filmmaking.
K: What is Flying Elephants and what kind of work do they focus on ? How did the company start?
T: Flying Elephants is a full-service boutique rental house located in the East Village, New York City. In addition to renting gear, Flying Elephants provides camera and production services for commercial, documentary, and feature projects.
K: What have you been working on lately?
T: I recently worked on a Toyota commercial filming a professional drift car racer in Argentina. We filmed on salt flats that went on for hundreds of miles. Because the horizon line disappeared into infinity, it felt as though you were standing in the middle of a 360-degree white seamless!
K: Describe one or two of your favorite projects.
T: I am lucky to work in a business that offers so much opportunity to travel. I work a lot with the well-known artist and filmmaker Gregory Colbert filming around the world. In addition to Mr. Colbert’s productions, I get to travel occasionally for commercial work. I did a job last year for a client and lived with a tribe in the Amazon jungle for two weeks. What an experience! We even got to eat piranha for dinner.
K: Can you tell us a little about your process?
T: As a cinematographer, my job is to identify the emotion that the director is trying to capture, and then translate that vision into light and framing.
K: Can you give us a general overview of the gear you typically use?
T: A majority of my work is shot on the RED Epic Dragon and the Phantom Flex 4K. Because I shoot with Flying Elephants equipment, and our rental business is so busy, I rarely get the chance to shoot on other cameras.
K: What is your most-used piece of gear?
T: Our giant zoom lens, the Fujinon 75-400mm. It is an amazing lens. Probably the sharpest zoom lens you will ever use. I recently worked on a job filming a fighter jet taking off from the runway. We put this Fuji lens on the RED Dragon with a 2x extender and were able to film the jet with an 800mm lens.
K: What’s your favorite piece of gear?
T: Our Phantom Flex 4K. Everyone knows that the Phantom is the gold standard for high-speed photography, but not as many people understand that the image quality of the Phantom 4K Flex is absolutely stunning. It really holds up against the best cameras on the marketplace (Alexa, RED, Sony, etc).
K: Can you talk a little about learning to film on the Phantom? How long did it take you to become comfortable with it?
T: I learned to operate the Phantom camera several years ago while working with Gregory Colbert. His work makes use of high-speed photography, so I had an amazing opportunity to work with the Phantom camera alongside some of the best operators in New York. The Phantom cameras can be tricky, so it took some time to learn. You can study a manual, or read an online forum, but nothing compares to operating a camera under the stress of a real shooting day. After three or four shoots with the Phantom, I felt confident with the camera.
K: The Phantom Flex 4k is one of the most expensive cameras out there. Is it all it’s chalked up to be?
T: The Phantom is the absolute gold standard in high-speed photography. The image quality is on par with the Arri Alexa, yet it can capture a subject at thousands of frames a second. The Phantom Flex 4K can capture almost 1,000 fps at 4K resolution. Because the RED and Alexa cameras top out at one or two hundred frames per second, the Phantom camera is your best option for capturing gorgeous images at high speeds.
K: Can you talk a little about what inspires you?
T: I love the idea that filmmakers can affect the emotional disposition of an audience member through the choices they make. What an awesome power!
K: What’s the best piece of advice you got when starting out?
T: Don’t run on set. It makes you look out of control.
K: Very wise. What advice would you offer to other folks just getting into the film production world?
T: Try to take every opportunity to learn. Learn the why, not just the how, behind each crew member’s position. Inspiration comes to the prepared mind.