About Me

In a sentence I’m a hopeless adventurer addicted to extreme wilderness, filmmaking, photography, exotica and life far outside the box.

About Me Preface

Writing ‘about me’ is an awkward exercise since by nature I’m not an exhibitionist, gregarious, or a self-promoter. However after more than 2 decades of professional work in TV, Film and Photography it’s become clear that sooner or later this amazing journey has to surface outside the vaults in which I’ve kept it all. I’m a ‘Dragon’ in the Chinese astrology and a ‘Virgo’ in Western Astrology (I actually don’t really believe in these things) and despite the fact that I realize these astrology things are more than likely bogus I definitely have the Earth based psyche of the Virgo and the creative force of the Dragon, but as with most Dragons I tend to tuck my treasures away in a hidden lair unseen by the rest of the world. Well that’s got to change… and so I’m coming out with this huge body of work and half a lifetime of adventures to share with all who might be interested.

gary orona tv producer

Gary Orona on location in Moab, Utah 1994.

With that said I now move forward and talk about ‘me’ regardless of the discomfort it causes, you see, I’m the quiet guy in a crowd and although I do on occasion appear in front of the camera it’s not my preferred place. I’m the guy behind the curtain turning knobs and pushing buttons and creating things so pulling that curtain aside and jumping out and screaming, “hey it’s me and check my stuff out!”, comes not from a place of arrogance but from a place of understanding that there is no use in hiding all that treasure in a cave! Here goes…

The Beginning

I was born in California in 1964 and at age 11 my mother bought me a 35mm camera AND a SUPER 8mm Movie camera. That was it, I was hooked, forever destined to lead a torn existence as both photographer and filmmaker and I blame it on my mother. I won’t bore with all the details but let’s just say that I love the great outdoors, adventure and have an insatiable curiosity, so with cameras in hand I spent my teens shooting non-stop.

gary orona with arri bl4

Gary Orona operating an Arriflex BL4 for his TV Series Hotel Erotica Cabo (HBO).

gary orona with leica

Gary Orona shooting with Leica R4s before the age of digital.

At age 19 I was first published in the Ventura Star-Free Press in Ventura, California where I was working as the darkroom lab tech. My fingers have soaked in developer, stop bath and fixer more times than I can count and since I executed the printing for most of the staff photographers on this good sized newspaper I became very skilled in what we now call the ‘wet darkroom’. The editors were happy with my photography and before I could blink I’d been published hundreds of times in the newspaper and in special Photo Essay Editions. A few years later the cinematography side of my personality took over and I jumped head first into the production of commercial spots, music videos and short films while attending Columbia College where I eventually earned a degree in TV Production.

gary orona photograph

A photo by Gary Orona published in 1984 by Star Free Press, Ventura, CA.

Okay enough of the setup here’s what happened next:

TV Film & Photography Bio

I moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I was snatched up by a production company specializing in commercial spots and corporate videos. I was the director and director of photography on many projects and won quite a few ‘Telly Awards’ in the process, but let’s face it a California boy with a dual cinematography/photography personality was going to outgrow Arizona very quickly, and I did.

EMI Records (Toshiba, Tokyo, Japan) needed an adventurous and creative Director/Cameraman for a series of Karaoke Music Videos and I couldn’t have been a better fit. It was a veritable crash course in telling a story through video and images, with minuscule budgets and with very little time and since I couldn’t hire a huge crew I learned to wear many, many hats, at the same time and not lose my mind in the process. This was just plain fun, severe work, outrageous locations, guerilla-style and I ate it up. It didn’t take long for some film production companies in Hollywood to take notice and soon I was offered the DP (Director of Photography) job on a campy ‘B Movie’ entitled, “The Bikini Carwash Company”. The rest is history. This movie became an instant cult classic and when the sequel came around I was asked to be its Director. For whatever reason I have a special sense of how to shoot the human body in flattering terms and as such the world of late-night exotic movies took me.

gary orona guatemala

Gary Orona filming in Antigua, Guatemala in the late 1990′s.

Confession #1: I’m not really all that into these movies featuring lascivious liaisons and explicit content but I did realize I had an excellent opportunity since I was rapidly becoming the big fish in this pond and since I had virtual carte blanche on what I produced, so long as there was ‘nudity’. You see, I absolutely love epic outdoor locations and deep wilderness and if I could make a living filming in these places I’d be the happiest guy on Earth. And since the “exotic” production world would let me shoot wherever I pleased… bingo… I’ll shoot beautiful women au natural in stunning, sublime natural locations!

gary orona tikal

Gary Orona on top of a Mayan Temple, Tikal, Guatemala late 1990′s.

Confession #2: I had a huge step up on other shooters in the exotica world since I was not only a seasoned cinematographer, photographer and film director and I knew it, but I had spent my entire life exploring ghost towns and secret wilderness locations all over the American Southwest so I could deliver production value that this genre had never seen. And I was already ultra-experienced in shooting 35mm film, 16mm film, broadcast video, and almost very format of still photography to date so I could keep my looks fresh and visually way ahead of the game.

gary orona arriflex

Gary Orona in deep water operating an Arriflex SR in Moab, Utah.

Okay… so even though I never set out to spend years shooting beautiful nude women running around in the great outdoors it just happened that way. I would use this basic formula in many varied forms and in a plethora of acquisition and delivery formats and this led to TV Shows, Home Video productions and Indie Feature Films which I created, produced, directed, shot and often edited for many years. Here’s what it led to in the form of a filmography:

FILMOGRAPHY IN A NUTSHELL

In 2002 an indie feature film I wrote, produced and directed entitled TRANCE won ‘Best Picture’ in the Fantasy Genre Category at the New York International Independent Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festivals. Tane McClure, Martin Kove and Bruce Abbott were a big part of that film and it was very cool. Thank you Tane!

I created, produced and directed sixty-five (65) TV Episodes for HBO/Cinemax, 15 feature length films for HBO/Cinemax, 4 mainstream independent feature films including the New York International Film Festival/LA Film Festival “Best Picture” “Trance”, over 200 “special event shows” for Directv, Pay TV, Pay Cable, and Home Video/DVD Worldwide, over 100 music videos for EMI Records, Tokyo, Japan, TV Pilots for Fox TV and other national networks, and as a photographer have been published in more than 20 major periodicals and print media.

All in I’m not really sure how many productions I’ve produced, directed and photographed at this point but I can say with certainty that I’ve done over 200 feature film length productions, 65 TV episodes, more than 100 commercial spots, and as far as short form videos go… I have no idea… more than 100.

gary orona colorado river directing

Gary Orona directing a TV show along side the Colorado River near Moab, Utah.

So all of these productions have and continue to play all over the world including; Broadcast TV, Pay-Per-View, Video-On-Demand, Home Video, Satellite Broadcast, Pay Cable, Internet VOD, and more through HBO/Cinemax, HBO Latin, Showtime Australia, B-Sky-B, DirecTV, Kappa Entertainment Japan, Kaleidoscope Canada, in the US, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and more.

Now my last production for HBO was “The Erotic Traveler” which continues to air as does my three (3) seasons of “Hotel Erotica”.

I DRAW MUCH OF MY INSPIRATION FROM PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography has always played a critical role in my work. By way of example; THE EROTIC TRAVELER which I created, produced and directed for HBO/Cinemax is the story of a female world traveler, renowned for her works in erotica. All of the photographs in the 13 episodes including the gallery exhibitions are actually my work! See how I sneak my loves into my work! LOL

gary orona exhibit

Gary Orona Gallery Photo Exhibit for HBO’s The Erotic Traveler.

I’m not only opening up my vast stores of images shot over the years but I’m also producing new works in wild locations like never before. It’s nothing short of liberating especially since the ability to exhibit, publish and showcase works is just a click away.

As for current works in film production, my wife Tabitha Stevens and I are currently producing independent feature films and Streaming TV episodics for a global audience.

gary orona black dragon canyon

Black Dragon Canyon by Gary Orona.

So that’s my story to date… whew… almost done with this ‘about me’ stuff.

INSPIRATIONS, GEAR, IDEOLOGY ETC.

These are just some of the things that make me tick. I do not suggest that they are wisdom, they are simply things that work for me. DIVERSITY IN NATURE IS GOOD!

PASSIONS/LOVES

My Wife

Making Films

Wilderness Adventures

Photography

Cinematography

Travel

Petroglyphs & Pictographs

Ghost Towns

Ancient Cliff Dwellings

Scared Locations

Taboo Locations

SPORTS

Rock Climbing

Mountain Biking

Canyoneering

Scrambling

Nordic Skiing

Kayaking

Trail Running

 

gary orona tabitha stevens

My wife, Tabitha Stevens on one of our daily outings in Utah.

GEAR

Arriflex

Mirrorless Cameras (recent convert)

Leica Glass

Land Rovers

Mac

Adobe Creative Cloud

Lowa Boots

SPOT Satellite Transmitter

Kuhl Adventure Clothing

Black Diamond Climbing Gear

5.10 Climbing Shoes

gary orona land rover

“Old Orange” Gary Orona’s Land Rover at Bahia Conception in Baja.

WHERE I AM NOW… THIS VERY SECOND… I THINK… OKAY NOT SURE

I split my time between Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Los Angeles. My wife and I own the historic Midland Hotel in Green River, Utah which serves as our 2nd home, and hub to the sublime Canyonlands of Southern Utah and Western Colorado. So at this moment we may be navigating a spooky slot canyon in Utah or we’re in Los Angeles (hopefully not) or we may be ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado (now we’re talking!) or even surfing in Hawaii (Aloha!).

gary orona

Gary Orona on location in Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico.