Contributor Spotlight: Gavin Heffernan

Featured in Creativity
Contributor Spotlight: Gavin Heffernan

By trade, Gavin Heffernan is a filmmaker and screenwriter who spends his days working on Hollywood blockbusters. But this Adobe Stock Contributor has a soft spot for time-lapses. His breathtaking clips have been featured on numerous media outlets including BBC Earth, Bravo, Time, National Geographic, CBS News, and more. In 2014, Borrego Springs even named their annual town festival after one of Gavin’s time-lapses, and he had a day named after him in San Diego County.

We caught up with Gavin to find out more about his inclination towards time-lapses and how he balances his day job and his stocky hobby.

Adobe Stock: Can you tell us about yourself and your background and how you got started in film?

Gavin: I loved movies since I was a little kid. I wrote and directed two low budget indie features while attending McGill University in Montreal, then I moved to Los Angeles to study directing at the American Film Institute. Most of my recent work has been as a horror screenwriter on films like “The Taking OF Deborah Logan” and “Paranormal Activity : The Ghost Dimension,” but I’m working on a number of bigger projects at different stages now. Stay tuned!

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Adobe Stock: Why did you decide to create a stock portfolio, and how do you see it complementing the work you do as a filmmaker?

Gavin: I had been shooting a lot of time-lapse work to experiment and expand my skills for a few years. Once I’d built a sizeable-enough library, I decided to create the portfolio for additional revenue to give me more financial freedom to create other projects. The extra income lets me work on more spec scripts and other unconventional creations without necessarily being stuck in a purely commercial box at all times. It’s also lots of fun to randomly see your shots pop up in TV shows and commercials sometimes.

Adobe Stock: What draws you to time-lapses, and why do you think yours have been so popular and successful?

Gavin: I was immediately fascinated by long exposure photography reveals stars and galaxies that normally wouldn’t be visible to the human eye. Seeing 3 hours of the sky’s progression in a 15 second time-lapse really gives an exciting perspective of how the night really works. It was this allure that eventually led to the Sky Glow Project, a big time-lapse book and video series exploring North America’s remaining magnificent night skies and the increasing impact of light pollution on our highly fragile environment, created with my filmmaker friend from AFI, Harun Mehmedinovic.

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Adobe Stock: Can you share a few tips on how to create a time-lapse that’s beautiful but also unique?

Gavin: For the night sky stuff, it’s really important to find a unique and exciting foreground. The spinning of the stars overhead takes on a more magical feeling when it’s rooted in something on the ground, like a statue, or interesting building. Try to look for locations and angles that haven’t been shot to death, and think about how the passage of time will create a “story” in the shot.

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Adobe Stock: What are some differences and similarities between working on the set of a film, and creating time lapses or other stock footage?

Gavin: One of the nice parts about shooting time-lapse and other experimental work is that there are less politics to navigate and fewer creative compromises overall. Working on a big feature is a huge operation, with lots of money at stake and many opinions to take into consideration, whereas shooting solo stuff is more like creating a painting. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but I found shooting experimental stuff to be a nice way to explore and create without consistently having to justify every creative decision to the larger machine.

Adobe Stock: One of our Visual Trends this year is Silence and Solitude — the idea that the introspection that comes from space and isolation can be powerful creative tools. Does that resonate with you and what you do?

Gavin: I’ve shot a lot of city footage in Los Angeles but my favorite work was created in supremely isolated locations like Death Valley and other remote desert locales. Being removed from the chaos and cacophony of the big city really does clear your mind and open you up to greater creativity. Some of my favorite script ideas have come in this place of isolation and peace.

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See more of Gavin’s otherworldly time-lapse videos on Adobe Stock.

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