Client Spotlight: Jesse Rudoy & Ezra Bassin-Hill

June 7, 2024

The maiden-voyage of Expressway Cinema Rentals’ Sony Burano aligned with a once in a lifetime experience: the Total Solar Eclipse. Director Jesse Rudoy and DP Ezra Bassin-Hill traveled to Rochester, NY to capture the community events leading up to the cultural phenomenon. While the short-film is currently in post-production, we caught up with the team to learn more about their time in Rochester and their experience using the new Sony Burano.

Expressway Burano Rochester

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in film?

Jesse Rudoy: I live in Brooklyn and am a documentary editor and director. I was most recently an editor on HBO’s Season 2 of The Jinx. I also directed a feature documentary called Dusty & Stones about two country music singers from Swaziland in southern Africa. It was on the festival circuit last year and will be released later this year by First Run Features.

Q: Your latest project is centered around the total solar eclipse in Rochester. Can you tell us about the decision to feature this topic here?

JR: Just a few weeks before the eclipse, I read that Rochester was expecting 300K – 500K people to come to experience totality. I had never seen an eclipse and frankly did not realize that being in the path of totality was such a big deal with civic implications of that scale.

I became fascinated by the eclipse as a cultural phenomenon rather than an astrological one. What’s it like to expect hundreds of thousands of people to come to your city for a three-minute event? What happens if it’s cloudy on the day?

I connected with Deb Ross, the chair of Rochester’s Eclipse Task Force, and was drawn in by her story. Deb spent 7 years organizing and encouraging the city of Rochester to make the most of the eclipse and pitched me on how special it would be. It was like Rochester was creating its own unique holiday that would only happen once.

Expressway Burano Eclipse

JR: A few weeks later, Ezra and I were in Rochester, following Deb around during her whirlwind week leading up to the eclipse. It was a uniquely eventful and fun shoot. We filmed a baseball game, a middle school musical, and a symphony performance, all related to the eclipse.

Even though it was cloudy on the day of the eclipse, we found it moving and beautiful. We wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for those three minutes. We had a blast, and we love Rochester.

Q: Although you were leaning towards shooting on Canon, this short film was shot on the new Sony Burano. What brought you to that decision?

Ezra Bassin-Hill: I leaned towards shooting Canon initially because of the fantastic color science as well as ability to shoot a 12-bit image. We were very lucky that in my initial discussions with Expressway, a Sony Burano was offered as an option, and there was no way I wasn’t going to jump on that. The Burano’s 16-bit image and dual ISO were important motivators for us as this was a verite-style documentary, and I knew I wouldn’t have the luxury to control the lighting very often.

Q: What benefits did you encounter when using the Sony Burano?

EBH: The Burano was a real joy to use, ultimately. I have been hesitant of using smaller Sony cameras in the past due to the limitations of 10-bit shooting but the image the Burano put out blew my mind! Amazing color and highlight rendition and most importantly the camera was oh-so flexible. I was able to leverage the dual-iso and variable ND together to shoot our subject experiencing a total solar eclipse without the need to do change any base settings. The resulting images were stunning. Additionally, the proxy files the Burano made were so useful for us because we could easily view dailies in the limited time we had between filming.

Sony Burano Rochester NY

Q: What is one thing you wished you knew before shooting on the Sony Burano?

JR: One important thing to note about the Burano is that it has an additional media slot for SD cards. This allows it to shoot proxies simultaneously with the full-resolution footage. I edit in Adobe Premiere and thought having these proxies already made would save me lots of transcoding time when I began organizing the footage. However, the Burano created the proxies with two-channel audio even though the raw full-resolution footage had four-channel audio.

Premiere is very finicky about this and demands that your proxy footage have the same number of audio channels as your online media. It refused to link Burano’s proxies to the full-resolution footage.

Ultimately, I had to make all new proxies, which was very time-consuming, and set my edit back by about a week. There is likely a workaround for this, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re shooting on the Burano and plan to edit in Premiere!

Sony Burano Rochester NY

Q: How was working with Expressway during your production?

JR: Working with Expressway was a dream. They have a robust gear selection and were super accommodating of our ever-changing schedule and camera needs. Expressway has an incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff, particularly Allegra Dziedzic [Expressway’s Lead Camera Technician]. We would recommend them to anyone shooting in upstate New York!

Q: What brought you to Expressway in the first place?

JR: Expressway came highly recommended to us by the very talented local Rochester DP Shlomo Godder. He was right!

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give a filmmaker about working with a rental house?

EBH: Working with a rental house is a really wise decision. We were relaxed with the knowledge that despite using a brand-new camera, we had the consistent support of a team of highly professional and knowledgeable technicians at Expressway. Additionally, the rental agents were on call to service any of our last-second needs.

Expressway Burano Eclipse

Q: This project took place over a week spent filming in Rochester. Could you tell us about your experience filming in this community?

JR: I live in New York City, and Ezra lives in Los Angeles, two cities with abundant film production happening at all times. Because of this, gaining access to locations and events can be challenging, even as a barebones independent documentary crew. People are just over film shoots and don’t want cameras around. I love living in New York City, but I hope I never have to film here!

Shooting in Rochester was the opposite. People seemed so happy to have us around documenting the events of the eclipse; the access and warm welcome we received everywhere we went made the shoot a dream. For example, when Deb, our protagonist, was invited to throw out the first pitch for the Rochester Red Wings’ opening game, the team allowed us to follow her out onto the mound with our camera. It ended up being one of the best scenes of the film.

Expressway Burano Eclipse

JR: When we filmed a middle school musical about the eclipse, the school had already taken it upon itself to get signed releases from the children’s parents and were so accommodating of our cameras. We couldn’t believe how easy Rochester made everything for us.

All this extraordinary access to unique events and environments made the shoot, and hopefully the resulting film, a cinematic and expansive feeling.

I want to film in Rochester again!

Sony Burano Rochester NY

Q: What are your plans for the film once it’s completed?

JR: Short films like this have relatively limited distribution opportunities. However, I plan to submit the project to film festivals in the fall and tour it around next year before putting the film online. We plan to have a rousing Rochester premiere with all our participants and supporters at some point in 2025. (Catered by Wegmans, naturally.)

Q: What other projects are you working on this year?

JR: I am editing this eclipse short film and doing additional freelance editing work as I develop a new documentary feature. Ezra continues to freelance in LA as a cinematographer.

Stay connected with Jesse Rudoy: and Ezra Bassin-Hill:

Written By:  Melissa Anderson – Communications Manager