Zacariah Dalton worked in the camera department on Guys Reading Poems. The film marked a significant “first” for him. The film’s director Hunter Lee Hughes sat down with Zacariah to talk about his experience working on the film and his goals for the future.

Hunter: Zachariah, how long have you been working in the movie business?

Zacariah: I’ve been doing video work since 2009 but only got serious about working in film and television about seven months ago.

Hunter: What is your goal in terms of where you’d like to be in our industry in five or ten years? How was “Guys Reading Poems” part of the trajectory you want to take?

Zacariah Dalton

Zacariah Dalton

Zacariah: The long-term goal is to work as a DP (director of photography). Specifically, I’m most interested in narrative work. When moving out to L.A. this past June, I decided to focus on lighting, to really learn that side of the craft before transitioning into the role of DP.

Hunter: I remember the moment Michael (Marius Pessah) called you up to camera operate on Alexander Dreymon’s close-up in the baby’s room. Was that a fun moment for you? How did it feel? Were you nervous? Happy with the shot? Was that the first time you operated camera on a set like that?

Zacariah: I was shocked, I’ve never heard of any DP just handing the camera over to someone on set who’s not an operator. So when Michael told me to take the camera, I thought he was joking. This was my first experience operating a RED camera, and the Cooke lens being used is truly something special. The take starts, Michael whispers into my headset “Yeah, that’s perfect. Now don’t F@$% it up!” Once we finished, I had to sit down for a minute and take it all in. Although it probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people, it was a very special moment for me indeed!

Hunter: Sounds like it. So glad you got to experience that on our set. A real first! For those people out there who haven’t been on movie sets, how would you describe the feeling of being on set? What does the hashtag #setlife mean to you?

Zacariah: Skill, focus and imagination, but above all, teamwork. I pretty much grew up in the theater and something about working on set reminds me very much of the energy you find onstage. The hustle and bustle of so many disparate elements and people working their way together towards a unified vision. #setlife can be the most incredible experience or the worst, it all comes down to the people you’re working with. In the case of GRP (our shorthand lingo for “Guys Reading Poems”), the crew was incredibly talented and friendly. It’s a fine balance between a fierce drive to make your piece of the puzzle the best it can be accommodating your fellow crew members and.

Still of Luke Judy as 'The Boy' in 'Guys Reading Poems.'

Still of Luke Judy as ‘The Boy’ in ‘Guys Reading Poems.’ Photo by Michael Marius Pessah

Hunter: What was your favorite memory from “Guys Reading Poems”?

Zacariah: Operating the shot of Alexander Dreymon. Still gives me chills.

Hunter: What advice do you have for folks who are newer to the movie business than you?

Zacariah: Find a production job you like and work to become the best at it. Whether you’re a P.A. (production assistant), boom operator, or a grip, nothing will give you more insight into the process of filmmaking than actually being on set with competent people. You can produce a dozen web series with your friends and still not know as much as if you work and learn alongside real pros.

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