Director -- cinematographer, concentrates on telling stories. It's been twelve years since Max had changed this bio page in any significant way. He had stayed busy and enjoyed developing over a dozen projects during that time. To him, the need to say more was not necessary. Now, as he transitions into his third phase of a nice career it seems time to put some prospective on his 30 years in this crazy "BIZ". You learn, you do, you evolve and if you're lucky you earn a living. With degrees from both Purdue University's Management program and Columbia College film school he embarked on a journey to blend digital cinema with modest budgets to explore compelling stories.
He's best known for his transitional work in the 1990's when Sony recruited the Sarasota, Florida Director/film maker to join it's once legendary video think tank – The Sony Video Institute , Los Angeles. The Sony Video Institute was located on the campus of the American Film Institute (The AFI). And over it's 20-year existence; it provided both Sony and the production industry the path from low-resolution analog video to HD digital Cinema.
It was CiVon's experimental film and Television production techniques which attracted Sony's attention. While in Sarasota, Florida (during the late 80's) Max pushed the envelope of analog video with his creative productions. He wrote, shot and created (with the writing and producing support of Ms. J.C.) some of the most creative TV shows and commercial spots found anywhere at the time.
But it was his Film, Saturday Night Sarasota, (A micro budget film in an age before the term had been invented) which got Sony's attention. (SNS was produced by Ms. J.C. with Music by TechMasterPEB). Shot on Sony's first CCD camera the movie was a head of it's time (1989). And it directly lead to CiVon's change of address to Los Angeles (January 1, 1990). CiVon spent his first year in L.A. learning about all things Sony. In his second year he joined the Sony Video Institute as a fellow instructor and began developing camera and production techniques. As part of the Sony team CiVon contributed substantially to what is known today as DIGITAL CINEMA. Max wrote books and taught on the subject, as well as courses on writing and producing. He often spoke to industry groups about Digital Cinema and various production techniques through the 1990's -- representing Sony. And with Sony's successful dominance of the digital cinema industry assured (1999) The Sony Video Institute became less important (code for budget cuts). Today SVI is just a fond memory. But CiVon was there at it's peak.
In 2000, Max CiVon Teamed up with Writer/Director Del Shores and Max shot, produced and post produced the Indie SMASH hit film - "Sordid Lives", (Olivia Newton-John, Beau Bridges and a dozen other well known actors). Sordid Lives was one of the first films which originated on High Definition Video and was then transferred at Sony Studio to film for theatrical distribution as a film print. It's theatrical release was in the year 2000.
When Sordid Lives was shot, most of the digital cinema tools used today were not available or even invented. Considering available technology, the resulting film print was exceptionally good. FOX transferred and distributed the Sordid Lives DVD from film back to video in 2001, without seeking the Director of Photography's notes (CiVon).
For Max CiVon, Sordid Lives represented the successful end of a technology journey he never expected to make. In film school he began shooting his own projects to save time and money. Once he started writing and directing for pay, he continued to direct from behind the camera. A hundred TV shows and commercials later, He had developed his own style. People started calling Max an expert at digital cinema and the rest was history.
But Max went to film school to tell stories. One summer, between film school semesters he worked as a production assistant on the original BLUES BROTHERS movie (1981, Chicago). And Max, on several occasions sat with the film's director, John Landis who often ate at the crew tables. Landis was all about making movies fun (he had just finished Animal House). He inspired a desire in CiVon to entertain.
And telling entertaining stories became CiVon's focus. He with writing partner/wife Luisa Leschin found a nice balance between raising their children and writing Family TV. Leschin became the face of their Company, TORTUGA PRODUCTIONS while Max ran the back end. Their TV development Company, Tortuga Productions has just finished it's 15th successful year of creating and selling TV episodes and pilot scripts. Tortuga has delivered to ABC, NBC, CBS & FOX prime time as well as TNT, DISNEY, CW, Paramount, Universal, Showtime, NetFlix and Nickelodeon. Leschin has been on the staff of five TV series which have gone into syndication. Together Max & Luisa have enjoyed a nice writing career.
Over the years, Max CiVon has had the opportunity to work with, meet and get to know a number of celebrities as well as a variety of talented writers, directors, actors and producers. He's enjoyed their company as they journey along the "You Do" portion of their careers.
And now the evolution... For Max, his personal evolution had taken him full
circle. From story teller to production expert back to pure story telling.
He's written a wide variety of satisfying stories over the years and he's
working on others; many with a musical element. He now writes exclusively
for his favorite client. In the beginning you want to please others
with your work, as time passes writing for your own pleasure is
the greatest joy.
Max recently sold TNT a One Hour Original Dramatic Series, "The Black Veil" which is currently in development, Max CiVon Co-Creator.