A dynamic exploration of Aric Geesaman's custom knife making process and the passion that drives him to create these incredible tools.
Aric Geesaman crafts unique, custom-designed knives at Ash Blæds, a boutique smithing shop that he owns and operates in McCordsville, Indiana. Last year, our team felt a creative itch to produce a very stylized video featuring someone who was passionate about making things by hand. Our initial concept focused exclusively on the aesthetics with minimal or no spoken content. Based on that idea, Aric generously invited us to have free rein over his space.
When we first visited Aric’s shop, we were struck by the intricacy of the knives. He explained that most of his work was commission-based and, often, he was asked to use materials that were meaningful to his clients. It's not uncommon to find him using wood from an old tree or barn that once stood on a customer’s family property. Sitting next to these sentimental “ingredients” is a library of more obscure elements. We saw chunks of wood from the USS Constitution, bits of fallen trees that grew on the other side of the world, and little jars of Japanese beetle wings and chicken feathers that Aric casts in resin for handles of knives that call for extra special flair.
“We decided to start with a completely dark room and build the lighting from the ground up. We used Quasar Tubes to give the workshop an authentic look without sacrificing the quality of light. We used a lot of cool (blue) backlighting to contrast with the warmer tones of the workshop and I think the result gives the video a stylized look that's still grounded in reality.”– Joe Frank, Director of Photography
During the day of production, the thing that stuck out to our team the most was how passionately and humbly Aric spoke about his craft. We slowly began to realize that our original video concept of stunning visuals with no spoken content wouldn’t do Aric and his work justice. The world needed to hear directly from this uniquely passionate guy who makes elegant, world-class products out of a cluttered, unassuming garage in suburban Indiana.
“The footage is very sound-heavy. Each step has a distinct sound that carries with it a distinct feeling. The sketching is slow and peaceful, while the hammering is loud and violent. So, I wanted to find songs that matched the tone of each part of the process. Through editing, I realized just how dynamic and unique the knife-making process is, and the fact that a bluesy guitar riff can be in the same video as Chopin's Nocturne in Eb Major is a testament to that.”– Glenn Johnson, Editor
The backbone for this story is the process to craft each one of these knives. Each step brought its own bit of drama to the narrative and capturing these moments required some unique planning. For instance, to get the footage of the knife blade being quenched in liquid to cool it down, we needed to fill a fish tank with water and back-light it so that the intensity of the moment comes through on screen.
Our team is proud of the way this story came together. It’s a great example of how extensive development and pre-production affects the quality of the finished video, but it’s also a reminder that with people-driven stories, it’s important to be flexible and allow the story to reflect the personality and authenticity of the individuals on screen.