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Ric & Jen Serena – Hometown Talent

After our inaugural film festival last February we were delighted to receive an email from award-winning editor Ric Serena, congratulating us on bringing a short film festival to Sanford.  Even better was that Ric, currently working in L.A., is a Sanford native!  And on top of THAT his wife, Jen, a very talented photographer, is also from Sanford.  It was so good to make this connection and learn of their success in the film and photography industry.

Ric and Jen have worked with clients such as CBS, VH1 and Nickelodeon.  Their most recent project took them on a 219 mile trek on the John Muir Trail in California.  They recorded their adventures along the way and the result is JMT: The Muir Project.

Jen said, “The most difficult challenge wasn’t the high elevation with the extra heavy packs. It was making the miles and still allowing time to stop and capture our experience. We took nearly four weeks, but we could’ve easily spent months. Now, the exciting challenge is bringing it to life for others.”

I wanted to learn a little more about Ric and Jen, their thoughts on filmmaking in Central Florida, and what was next on their plate.

You’re out in LA now, but is there anything about Sanford or Florida that you miss?  

Jen: We still have most of our family and a lot of great friends in Sanford, so it will always hold a special place in our hearts. But there are certainly days when we miss the cobble-stoned streets and spanish moss.  Sanford has a unique ability to celebrate it’s past while pursuing a successful future – evident in all of the beautifully refurbished buildings.

Ric: I grew up on 2nd street, so downtown always brings back a rush of memories every time we return.  I’m determined to shoot something there.

Do you think Central Florida will ever be a huge film hub like LA is known for?

Jen: LA has such an infrastructure already connected to the industry, plus it’s terrain & climate allows for year-round filming in areas that can mimic numerous locations around the world, all within a few hours of each other. (Barring the infamous LA traffic of course.) I think a better comparison for Central Florida’s future would be more like Toronto.

Ric: I don’t think Central Florida will be as large a film hub as LA in the near future, but also don’t think it’s necessary. There’s a certain charm about filming in an area that isn’t ALL about production.

What has been the absolute highlight of your career so far?

Jen: We love what we do. Because of that, I will probably always say that what I’m doing RIGHT NOW and what I hope to do tomorrow are my highlights. Every time I’m on set and everyone gets that same high from making something creative – that’s the moment you want to recreate again & again.

Ric: Yeah, I agree.  I kept looking back to think if there was one defining moment in my career, but they’ve all been these amazing steps.  Actually, there’s one moment I keep coming back to.  I was in Hawaii shooting promos for the premiere of Hawaii Five-O.  We had just finished four very productive, but exhausting days of shooting on the island of Oahu.  After working with Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, we were on our way back to the hotel when we decided to pull over and get one last shot.  One our Production Assistants, Josh, disclosed to us that he played the ukulele and agreed to let us record him perform.  As our small crew of 8 hovered, Josh proceeded to play the dwarfed instrument.  The highs and lows of the week, the exhaustion from nearly sleepless nights, the bonds we’d formed had swelled to that single moment.  You get variations of that story on each shoot, but for some reason this one really defined that feeling.

What type(s) of camera(s) are you using?  We’ve been noticing A LOT of commercials and tv shows being filmed with DSLRs.

Jen:  I shoot with a Nikon D3s for my commercial & portrait photography.

Ric:  The cameras I use vary from job to job.  However, I do shoot with DSLR’s (Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D7000) for my personal projects as they present such an affordable option.

What’s next for the two of you?

This summer, we joined with some other filmmakers and hiked the John Muir Trail.   For 25 days and 219 miles we hiked, documenting the entire journey.  Right now, we’re in the process of culling through all the material in hopes of piecing together a gallery exhibit and documentary film.  We just went live with a website about the project and released our first glimpse in the form of a 2 1/2 minute music video/teaser set to Opus Orange’s Almost There.

Learn more about Ric and Jen and keep up with their latest news and projects!

Ric Serena

Jen Serena

Ric and Jen’s Blog

JMT: The Muir Project

Photos courtesy of Ric and Jen Serena