Emmy Nominated DP Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

Kevin is a twice Emmy-nominated cinematographer, as well as a writer, director, and designer, whose work has appeared on ABC, NBC, National Geographic Television, Animal Planet, The History Channel, ESPN, SyFy, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, and in numerous feature films. His commercial clients include Johnson & Johnson and Verve Music Group.

He began his career over 20 years ago as an “art dog”, working as a scenic artist and props person on films such as Psycho 4, Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture, and thrill rides E.T’s Adventure at Universal Studios Florida. He spent the better part of a year in a hard-hat and respirator, and discovered a healthy respect for power tools when he almost lost his index finger to a hole saw.

Realizing that technical production was his primary interest (and probably safer), Kevin gained employment with Chapman Studio Equipment, and worked with camera dollies, cranes and remote arms. He also learned a lot about operating a camera, having a front row seat while pushing a dolly for various seasoned DP’s and directors. He worked as a dolly grip for several years on commercials for Ford, Minolta, Minute Maid, Major League Baseball, Buick, Reebok, etc… and day played on feature films like Cape Fear, China Moon, Problem Child 2, Dead Presidents, and television shows like Swamp Thing and Superboy.

Day jobs aside, Kevin also met up with other like-minded youngsters who wanted to produce their own films. The first film he photographed was an experimental film short about an existentially despondent vampire, called The Middle of a Two Tone Existence, which was also an experiment in getting the most out of a digital image, when the idea of digital cinematography was still gaining a foothold.

By 1998, Kevin had become a busy camera operator, working for Nickelodeon, Disney, and many other companies that blew into town with their various projects. He proved adept at operating Jimmy Jibs and large remote cameras, and was also in demand as a gaffer and DP on commercials, independent features, and industrials. He also realized that Florida had taken him as far as he could go, and a change of locale was needed.

As it happened, a New York producer with whom he had worked on several occasions recommended him for an ambitious update of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. The series, The Book of Pooh, was being developed as a special effects-laden puppet show, with animated, real time 3D virtual sets that were combined with live-action puppet characters. He flew to New York, was then taken by van to Massachusetts, where he spent the next ten days in FX guru Douglas Trumbull’s remote digital effects facility, operating something that looked like a giant backhoe with a camera attached to it. Two years and just as many seasons later he would receive his first Emmy nomination for his work on that show.

Soon after that, he began what would be a six year collaboration with Adam Matalon on Matalon’s film, Seasons In the Valley, a documentary that turned out to be the progenitor of Chatsby Films, the production company he and Matalon founded together. The film had its world premiere at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and enjoyed a successful festival run, winning ‘Best Feature Documentary’ at the Queens International Film Festival.

During Kevin’s tenure as a partner at Chatsby Films, the company’s projects garnered much recognition, including over 30 industry awards for both its creative and corporate clients. Kevin wrote, produced, and/or photographed several award-winning projects, including three home videos and several short films for Sesame Street.

In 2003, Kevin also worked as the DP on Animal Planet’s The Pet Psychic, where he was attacked by schizophrenic dogs, sat on the back of an alligator (for no good reason), visited a prison museum outside of Houston, witnessed an evening missile test in the Nevada desert, and got sneezed on by a camel named Omar.

In 2005, he co-wrote and produced Sex & Camping—which played at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in 2006. That same year, he served as the director of photography on the first season of It’s A Big, Big World. Produced for PBS, the show used an advanced version of the same real time compositing technology that brought The Book of Pooh to life.

From 2006-07, Kevin wrote four episodes of the Emmy-winning kids’ series, Seemore’s Playhouse, and served as its director of photography for the first six episodes.

In 2009, Kevin left Chatsby Films and set out on his own. He worked as director of photography on W.M.D., the second feature film by director Richard Halpern (Zzyzx), which recently had it’s premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Market. He is currently producing two documentaries, one about a 48-year-old grandmother/EMT/Strongwoman competitor named Billie Jean McGloughlin, and the other about a soldier’s journey home after the Civil War.

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