Leif was featured on a podcast about filmmaking. Listen to Picture's Up!

Film is a collaborative medium. Find people that give you energy instead of take energy from you.

If you can have a crew of people like that, you can go through a lot of adversity and still come out the other side liking each other and feeling good about what you did.

Listen to Leif’s episode on Picture’s Up!: https://player.fm/series/pictures-up-2475596/leif-ramsey-production-entrepreneur

Picture's Up! was started by my friend David George. He's interviewed Sound Mixers, Camera Assistants, Composers, Animators, Gaffers, Actors. I've learned a lot about my own industry from his guests.

Make Winter Summer Again

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"Hey there. Can we build a garden in a studio?"

January kicked off with a bang. When everyone else was cozied up enjoying the warmth of the Christmas holidays we were gearing up for a production with Cantu Beauty and Sasha Group. 

The project totaled 57 videos in three languages

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The production was for the global "My Curl. My Cantu." campaign, award-winning haircare for textured hair. Our scope included 57 video deliverables in three languages. Side-by-side with the video production, photographer Donald Page shot stills.    

Creative called for a color-pop studio environment for the instructional content, and a lush outdoor garden to film lifestyle sequences.


THE HITCH: It's the dead of winter in Atlanta. If you're looking for grey, rain, and wind-whipped brown twigs - we've got that in spades. Lush gardens? Not so much....

Enter Studio Midtown and Cinema Greens. We got two side-by-side studio spaces and built out a 24'x16' garden set complete with pergola and five different lighting looks.

Where did you guys find the garden?


Later that month in the edit suite: "Where did you guys find the garden?" Even our editor thought we had filmed outside.

Which proves that together we can: MAKE. WINTER. SUMMER. AGAIN!

The Trailer

The Making Of

"Life After" wins Gold & Judge's Choice at the ADDY Awards

We're super excited. Pathfinder's film Life After made for Adventist Health won regional awards in the American Advertising Federation’s District 7! 


  • 2019 Gold ADDY Award for Branded Content (District 7)

  • 2019 Judge's Choice ADDY Award (District 7)

  • 2018 Gold Telly Award

About the Film

Life After didn't start out as an animation. It was supposed to be an interview with b-roll documentary about a heart attack patient that survived after having CPR for 52 minutes. 

When we interviewed the patient and his wife they were dynamic, playful, upbeat. They even laughed as they told the story.

Their experience deserved to be share in a way that was authentic to who they are. Out of that interview came an animated documentary.

The voices in the film are the voices of the patient and his wife.

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Live on the Navy's YouTube

The first 18 videos from our production with the Navy are live on the Navy's YouTube

This is your official invitation to rabbit-hole (not in the psychedelic experience way, but in the "get lost on the internet" way) on some of the coolest jobs in the Navy. 

Here are some of my favorite:

MU - Navy Musician

Navy Musicians are one of the main PR arms of the military, traveling around the world to represent the United States. And it felt like every person we talked to had at least a Master's degree. They were an amazingly warm and friendly community of musicians. 

AO - Navy Aviation Ordnanceman

Probably the coolest interview location that I've ever been in. We were on the front of the flight deck on an aircraft carrier, wind whipping, ship underway at sea, and helos were snatching payloads of ordnance and ammo in the background. I could barely hear myself shouting the questions to the AO during the interview. 

CS - Navy Culinary Specialist

Everybody has to eat, and these sailors do a great job of making food both tasty and look good. This is probably the most important job in the Navy for maintaining good morale among the sailors when they are at sea.

Again, here's the link to all 18 videos. 

We won a Gold Telly Award!

Seeing this photo was one of the most rewarding parts of my week. It's proof that telling stories that have an impact isn't limited to big brands or national TV.  

In the photo is a heart attack survivor in his early 40s, with him are his wife, their youngest child, hospital leadership, and one of the nurses that cared for him.

The patient coded in the hallway outside of ER, and the hospital’s team did CPR for 52 minutes to keep him alive. Miraculously, he lived and had zero brain damage.

We helped the hospital tell the patient's story in an unusual way: The voices of patient and his wife recounted the details of the event, while the scenes and experiences they described were brought to life with animation.   

At the national Telly Awards the film beat out submissions by massive brands like Google, Amazon, FoxSports, Harvard, PepsiCo and others — winning a Gold Telly.

How did a small-town hospital win a national advertising award?

The hospital led with their mission. They focused on the local, letting the people they served tell the story. And they took a risk on creative, embracing animation, an unusual approach for the video.

As the hospital’s community outreach leader said:

This award is a tribute to the story and the relationship of Shawn [the patient] and Angela [his wife]. With the film being seen and utilized by more people, the goal is to help others recognize early signs and seek help.

Watch the film and read an article that I wrote about the hospital’s approach. Their experience shows that even local brands and small-town hospitals can earn a national spotlight.

Watch "Life After"

Drone + Warship = Scary

Drones are cool. Flying a drone around a warship at sea is scary as what. 

  1. We may have been the first ever (!?) to legally flying a drone around a US Navy ship while underway at sea. (Definitely to fly one as close as we did.)
  2. The ship has to turn off the spy radar, otherwise it could "fry the drone's electronics" and it would fall into the sea.
  3. Drone's are programmed to fly from a fixed point on land.* If the controllers loose contact with the drone, and the ship is sailing forward at 16 knots, the drone thinks it's "home" is miles behind you, by default it will fly back to it's "home" point and splash down in the sea.
  4. Landing on the deck of a ship is tricky. You've got wind, pitch, roll and it's moving at 16 knots.

We're flying a pro drone, if we lose it we kiss about $8k in gear goodbye. Also, we flew in sport mode which means top speeds of 65mph, (awesome for big moves) but flight times last roughly 20 minutes.

So get out your hanky and wipe the sweat off your forehead, because this is a high stress filming environment. :-)

*Attention drone nerds: There's a GPS transmitter that you can buy that makes your controller the "home" point. We didn't have one.

Away at Sea: Sixteen-Foot Waves. Man Overboard! Combat. Canons. Eye-Rattling F-18s.


This is what 30 degrees of roll in 16-foot seas looks like from the pilot house of a missile destroyer.

Shortly after this picture was taken, the ship's XO commented on the sea state, "It'll be good for sleep tonight, but bad for doing anything else. We're running with the waves, and the ship makes a kinda snake-y motion. It rocks you right to sleep."

Over the last 3 months we've done 30 days of production with the Navy. We've been capturing digital assets that show what sailors' jobs are like in each of the 140 different rates in the Navy.

Our last embark was with the USS Momsen, a guided-missile destroyer. Normally, you hit rough seas off the coast of Oregon, but the seas had a mind of their own on this trip, and it was the coast of central California that gave us the roughest water.


Five minutes after calling "man overboard" they had rescued the dummy.

Boatswain's mates are the backbone of a Naval ship's operations. In the photo almost everyone you see, besides our camera op and the SARs swimmer, are Boatwain's mates.

While on board the USS Momsen we had the opportunity to film what's know as an "Oscar" drill. A dummy is sent off the side of the ship and the crew has 5 minutes to launch the rib, get a swimmer in the water and make the rescue.

To my surprise, there was no running. Everyone moved at a smooth, steady pace. After about 3 minutes, the rib wasn't in the water yet. I was sure that they were going to overshoot their target time, probably double it.  

I was wrong. With 120 seconds remaining — the rib was launched, it zoomed out to Oscar the Dummy, and the SAR swimmer had made the rescue.

As the Navy SEALs say, "slow is smooth...smooth is fast."

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Some sailors have never even seen the ocean before joining.

It's surprising how many sailors in the Navy come out of landlocked towns from the middle of America — like Witchita, Kansas and Sweetwater, Tennessee. Some have never even seen the ocean before joining.

Kaleb Brack is one of those guys from a landlocked town. He's a Damage Controlman (DC) on the USS Momsen that's from Kansas. As a DC his job is to fight fires and repair hull breaches. Basically, during the scariest times that you could ever have on a ship, fire and flooding, he's the guy that's trained to lead his shipmates in saving the ship.  

He's not the only one, in the engine room we interviewed two Gas turbine system technician (GSM) females. They're responsible for maintaining the ships engines. One was from rural Mississippi where there was "nothing but cows." For her the hardest part of joining the Navy was passing swimming. Despite her fear, she overcame, and had nothing but positive things to say about life at sea serving in the Navy.


Combat: "Engineering is the muscle, combat is the brains of the ship."

That's what one Operations Specialist (OS) told me about her job.

We got the rare opportunity to film extensively in Combat on a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Momsen. In the photo is the commanding officer, CDR Elaine Brunelle, readying for a live fire exercise with the 5-inch deck gun.

Unlike what I pictured in my civilian brain, the captain is not in the pilot house standing at the wheel of the ship during a combat situation. She is levels below surrounded by screens with every type of data and specialists that are helping her evaluate each aspect of a rapidly evolving battlefield.

This was one of the coolest moments for me during our 30 days of production with the Navy. To give an idea for the uniqueness of the opportunity, the Gunner's Mates said that they only get to fire the 5-inch about once per quarter.

We learned later that the graveyard shift had spent 8 hours scrubbing the space so that classified information was protected from our cameras.

I'm super grateful for the previous shift's hard work and that the CO made it possible for us to film some of these rare moments.


Mommy works on a warship shooting big guns.

If you like things that go BOOM you'd like being a Gunner's Mate (GM) or Fire Controlman (FC) in the Navy.

In the photo a GM is cleaning up after a live fire exercise with a 50-caliber gun on board a missile destroyer. One of our film crew (red jacket) is asking questions.

I interviewed an FC that enlisted in the Navy when she was 30-years-old, shortly after having her third child. She joined because she wanted to provide for her family, and was not the only mother on board.

The parents I talked to said it wasn't easy, there are months at sea where they are only able to connect with their families through email.

It's a small consolation, but at least a GM or FC's child can say, "Mommy works on a warship shooting big guns."  

GMs and FCs service and operate everything from the smallest weapons on board, 50-calibers, to the largest, the 5-inch canon and missile systems.

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"You shake my bones and your rattle my brain. Your kind of love makes a man insane."

When an F-18 takes off and you're standing on the edge of the runway, the force from the engines actually makes your eyes rattle inside their sockets.

The temperature on the tarmac was 100+ at Lemoore Naval Air Station (where the photo was taken). It's one of the training grounds for the Navy's F-18 and F-35 pilots. For filming, we had driven out to an outlying runway to capture F-18s practicing touch-and-goes.

We were saturated in The Top Gun references. For example, "Iceman" was the actual call sign of the instructor in the shack by the runway grading the pilots on their landings (he says he gets a lot of flack for his call sign). And, while we were filming in the control tower, the production designers for Top Gun II showed up to take reference photos of the tower so they knew how to set dress the new feature.

This photo was shot on iPhone, so it's a pretty wide angle. I'd say we weren't more than 40 feet from the fighter's wheels as they hit the tarmac.

Filming for America's Navy

The last three months of filming for America's Navy have been a wild ride. And for Pathfinder, the 4th of July marks the symbolic conclusion of production for #ForgedByTheSea. 

During production, we went underway with two warships, an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic and a missile destroyer in the Pacific, and filmed at over a half dozen different bases. 

Watch one of the videos: https://vimeo.com/273014235

Did you know that when a sailor goes on deployment with a ship that they could be at sea for up to 9 months, working 7 days a week? Or that America's 13 nuclear-powered carriers only have to refuel once every 25 years? 

At every turn we soaked new experiences that made us proud to be American, proud to be filmmakers, and honored to work with the Navy.

But nothing could beat getting to meet many of the dedicated sailors that serve our country each and every day. 

To celebrate the trip, we put together a photo blog from our first leg of production including filming aboard the aircraft carrier CVN 77 USS Bush in the Atlantic and on base in Norfolk, Virginia.  

See the photo story: https://pathfinder.exposure.co/americas-navy-norfolk

Our 2018 Showreel

We're excited to share our 2018 reel with you. In the last year we made new friends, pioneered new genres, and won some awards. 

  • Includes: Clips from our first musical, "Cha Cha Land," a city branding campaign produced for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. "Cha Cha Land" won Gold ADDY Awards both locally and regionally, and has now gone to nationals.
  • Award-winning work for Mueller Company that took us to 13 locations, 6 states, and 2 countries
  • Scenes from our first animated documentary short, "Life After," produced for Adventist Health Simi Valley. It's the miraculous story of a 40-year-old heart attack survivor. The film won a Gold in the national Telly Awards for branded content. 

[Since the writing of this post, "Life After" has won a Telly Award Gold for Branded Content: Fully Animated.]