On November 23rd of this year, we lost filmmaker and No Film School writer Dave Kendricken after an accidental fall at his apartment. He would have turned 26 today. Dave wasn’t just a personal friend, he was someone I loved like a brother, and that’s why it’s taken so long for me to write this.
You might recognize his name from a post he wrote earlier this year on LED streetlights in Los Angeles that was picked up by dozens of other sites and culminated in him appearing on NPR — but I first met him in college. While it took some time for me to warm up to his personality, once he pulled me into his circle, I never wanted to leave. Dave possessed a nearly limitless amount of positive energy and enthusiasm, and it was contagious to anyone he came in contact with.
When we finally got to have some real one-on-one discussions, we bonded over technical topics like A to D conversion and Bayer patterns. Conversations that would normally make people’s eyes glaze over were right up his alley, and with both of us being night owls, they would often continue until well after the sun had come up.
Our love of 35mm adapters also brought us closer, and we utilized them on a number of our shoots:
We spent many late nights talking about the glorious VHS format, and devising ways that we could create something that we knew very few people would appreciate: a VHS monstrosity that combined enough cameras in one rig to equal a resolution of 4096 x 2160. Not being engineers, there were a lot of obstacles in the way of our dream, but we were hoping to someday have the knowledge, time, and dedication to create our 4K VHS camera rig.
Dave was the most creative person I’ve ever known, and while he had a fascination with very high-tech tools, he also loved all things lo-fi, and was constantly experimenting with low-quality cameras. Here’s just one of the many lo-fi videos he was creating on a daily basis:
He was always taking video of some kind on some device (often his cell phone), and he would frequently post his creations to Vine. It never seemed like there were enough hours in the day to do all of the creative projects that came to his mind. My time with him revolved mostly around filmmaking because that's what interests me the most, but he also had a deep love of music and many other topics that he would research on a daily basis. If there was a topic, Dave wanted to know absolutely everything he could about it.
No Film School
Dave loved this website long before he ever wrote for it, and we occasionally argued about who actually found the site first. Many conversations began with what Ryan was up to over at NFS, and it was a dream come true for him to start writing for this site over two years ago.
Back in 2013 we talked about New York and Los Angeles converting to LED streetlights, and after deciding it might make a good post, Dave set out researching different forms of streetlight technology and how they affect color reproduction on film and video. Eventually that turned into this post, and he represented No Film School on KCRW's Which Way, LA? where he was a guest along with Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister (skip to 13 minutes in to hear Dave's segment, or click here to go directly to it):
Video is no longer available: soundcloud.com/kcrw-which-way-la/should-we-end-los-angeles#t=13:07
Dave before the NPR call with lots of water just in case:
Dave also fell in love with the amazing things Magic Lantern was doing with Canon cameras, including RAW video, and when I got a Mark III, we set out to create something interesting that showed off how much better RAW was than the standard H.264.
I never finished my comparison, but it did turn into a fantastic tutorial that Dave posted on our YouTube channel:
He also shot quite a bit of the narrative footage for our Digital Bolex review. We were trying to make a short film but there were just too many factors working against us in the time we had with the camera, though Megan was a trooper through all of it:
Braving the elements with Dave and his wonderful girlfriend Stef who was our model for this beach shoot:
Dave had been fascinated with Las Vegas for a long time, and he'd never been to Los Angeles before, but because of this site, he was able to explore both of them last April. He helped with video coverage and editing during NAB 2014, and besides all of the incredible hard work, we got to hang out as friends in both of those places.
If you had an idea for a film or a music video, Dave was always the first person you'd want to talk to. No matter how crazy it was, Dave would give encouraging words and want to help figure it out, even if there was nothing in it for him.
There were countless hours spent talking about timecode and how we could utilize the AJA Ki Pro to create dailies, or use the Teradek Cube to send wireless video to anyone that wanted it. Dave was interested in the Grip and Electric side of filmmaking, but his DIT sensibilities helped him create an amazing cart for our friend Alec's film:
Not only was his cart a DIT/proxy station for the RED we were shooting on, it was also able to charge all kinds of batteries without needing to be tethered to a power source.
The two of us near the end of a very, very long day:
I was working on a short project in October that came together at the last minute, and Dave was the first person I called to come help me. He didn't even need to ask what it was about or how long he needed to be there — he just showed up and worked incredibly hard. We were lacking quite a bit of equipment for this project, and while we would have loved to have had a mirror board, Dave came through with the next best thing, and it worked perfectly:
He was always coming up with homebrew solutions when we didn't have the proper G&E tool, and over the last few months I was encouraging him to develop an inexpensive and soft daylight fixture that I wanted to use on a future project. We had many discussions about how we could make something versatile and cheap, but also flexible to take all sorts of different bulbs. He never got to finish it, but I know I would have put it to good use.
The last major project we worked on together was a monumental undertaking. Dave had started testing long before we actually shot, and his plan involved quite a bit of post-processing and CRT televisions (he's working and I'm playing video games):
Even though we laughed when he first suggested it, we shot two music videos over two days in a place that had no power. I had another shoot during the second day, and even though I know Dave really wanted me there, he told me without hesitation to go to the other shoot. Those kinds of selfless moments are what made Dave such an incredible person.
Here's Dave working out coverage with Tony and Sarah:
We spent many long days and nights shooting projects together, and while quite a few are in various states of completion, they were certainly more fun when Dave was working on them.
Thank You, Dave
I didn't tell him thank you enough when he was alive. I was especially hard on him in recent months, because I wanted to see him succeed so badly. He was finally starting to feel confident about his work, and we had so much more planned for the future. I was lucky enough to spend a few days with him just before he died, and he made time to talk about a movie idea I had that he was really excited about. I'll never forget him pacing in my room as we talked about the project.
There were a few more shots he needed for one of his music videos, so he asked me to borrow some equipment. The last time I saw him in person we were joking and loading my gear into his car, which seems fitting considering our relationship.
Dave did so much for so many people, and never asked for anything in return. He could always see the potential in every human being he came in contact with, even if no one else could see it. We took his kindness and positivity for granted, but it made our lives so much more fulfilling.
I'm going to miss our long conversations getting distracted by a million other topics. I'm going to miss the voices you made and laughing hysterically at Will Sasso Vines. I'm going to miss you every day for the rest of my life. You helped me in so many ways, and you were an amazing friend to so many people.
I may not have said it enough, but I'm saying it now: thank you for being yourself, for not caring what people thought, and for inspiring all of us every day.
Thank you for being my friend.