Director of photography, Brad Rushing, CSC, VES recently lent his keen eyes to lens A California Christmas: City Lights, Netflix’s romantic holiday drama released on streaming services on December16. We Spoke to him about his experience and his other exciting projects, check it out below!
Q. Hearing that A California Christmas was getting a sequel was a pleasant surprise. How does it feel to be back in this same premise again?
Brad Rushing: “A California Christmas: City Lights” is not the same premise. The setup is flipped so Callie goes to the city, San Francisco, instead of Joseph to the country. Apart from that this is a very different story with some surprises, and lovely new opportunities and directions for the characters. It’s my first time photographing a sequel to one of my own movies and such a pleasure working again in this world with these beloved characters. It was also a beautiful experience reuniting with Lauren and Josh Swickard, director Shaun Piccinino and all the rest of the team who are like a family. I fondly hope this film will enchant audiences as much as the first one did so we can return with a third one. I already have insights into what that story may be and I am so excited to bring it to life for Christmas 2022!! So watch City Lights, folks!!
Q. Speaking about vibe, you have also worked on some pretty terrifying movies in the past like “Nanny Killer”, so how different does it feel to work in a genre which is more or less the polar opposite of that?
Brad Rushing: Diversity in every sense of the word is one of my greatest joys as a filmmaker. You never get bored. One day you’re on a commercial in Bogotá, Colombia, then you’re on a music video in New York City, then a Christmas movie in Petaluma and San Francisco, followed by a horror film in Baton Rouge, all with different great casts and crew. It’s like having the privilege of living multiple lives. There are plenty of frustrating things about this business, but the variety thrills me and I would never trade it for anything.
Q. What was the process of getting back with Shaun Piccinino like?
Brad Rushing: Shaun is like a brother and there was no “getting back.” Ha ha. Honestly we’re good friends and we’re always in touch. We have worked on a variety of projects, including commercials and music videos. We share plenty of common interests and talk almost daily. He is such a talented, fascinating, warm and generous person. I remember standing on set the first day. So many of the same people on board, cast and crew, and it almost felt like we had never stopped and were simply picking up right where we had left off the last day of the first movie shoot.
Q. Is there something about the setting of California that excites you?
Brad Rushing: California has been my home since 1990. In many ways California is like my home state of Texas, extremely large for one!! I am proud of my homes and love to share them with audiences through films set in these places. Petaluma, the hometown of our EP (and Leo) Ali Afshar, is relatively new to me, but San Francisco feels like an old friend. I first visited in 1995 and have returned many times. I feel an almost spiritual connection to that city, and I love cold weather. Brisk summer days are definitely nice for me!! Some of the audience comments about the first film which surprised and delighted me were the folks who enjoyed the change away from ubiquitously snowy Christmas movies. I have enjoyed the Christmas season in several locales and cultures and filmmakers should absolutely stretch beyond the limitations of the cliché, snow-laden holiday card tableau. There are exciting and diverse Christmas stories waiting to be told.
Q. Finally, could you talk a bit about your upcoming projects?
Brad Rushing: I wish I could name more names, but it’s too early and nothing is set in stone. First up may be a psychological thriller with producer Elise Berggreen, a new and wonderful friend who I met on “A California Christmas: City Lights” and my old friend producer Noel Vega. Following that there are whispers of two or three movies with Shaun, none of which account for the possibility of – hopefully – “A California Christmas 3.” Simultaneously I have produced and shot 3 music videos for my BFF and fellow High School for the Performing and Visual Arts alum Randal Calcote which will be coming atcha very soon. “Miranda suite” will be the first. There is an Easter Egg for Randal in “A California Christmas: City Lights.” If you catch it, give me a shout on social media. Finally the pandemic pause was the catalyst for me to unearth some latent projects. I am collaborating with screenwriters on two feature film screenplays that I am very excited about, one is a biopic and the other sci-fi. And I am recording original music with a plan to unleash that in a variety of ways starting in 2022. Shaun was partly responsible for kickstarting that. He guests already on a number of tracks and I hope to add him on more!!! There are also some surprise celebrity players who are old and new friends of mine – fans of Star Trek, The Zombies, and George Harrison’s and John Lennon’s solo work may take special interest. Very excited to share.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Check out Brad’s amazing work in A California Christmas: City Lights on Netflix now.