Special Guest – Billy MacTavish

Billy MacTavish

Cinematography, Lighting & Editing


Billy MacTavish’s first narrative film was shot in the fall of 1978, on Super 8mm film, as an extra credit project for his 5th Grade English class. For a 10-year old, this ambitious project included building full-sized sets, taking over the family garage for several months as his soundstage, using poster board models, prosthetic make-up and recruiting several friends and family members to be crew and actors. Intuitively and with no training nor instructions from others he devised ways of using sewing thread to move his models and dedicated hours of time to create laser blasts by making scratches in the film’s emulsion to add VFX shots to the visual story – which included a laser battle in a bar, the rescue of a princess, alien monsters, and a climactic space battle. Years later he realized that his “Original” story was, in reality, a 15-minute remake of the influential film Star Wars IV: A New Hope, which he had seen 11 times in the theater. Sadly this epic space opera was lost in the Harvey flooding of 2017.

He began working professionally in 1987, as a camera operator, for an independent production company in East Texas while attending film school before graduating in May 1990 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Cinematography and Film Editing from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

He joined Apple Box Grip & Lighting in October 1990, (at the time Houston’s premiere G&E owner operator rental company,) as best-boy to Key Grip Bob Reichmann. His three-year tenure at Apple Box included, numerous marketing, industrial, independent shorts, episodic television, and feature film productions in the Southeastern United States. From December 1993 to October 1995 he lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea shooting and editing a two-hour documentary about the Korea Seoul West Mission of the LDS Church.

Upon returning to the United States, he began working freelance in the Spring of 1996 as an Electrician and Generator Operator on commercials, industrials, television, and feature film productions, eventually working full time as a Gaffer.

In 1998 he started Moving Camera Solutions as a G&E production services company specializing in car mounts and physical camera movement through the use of a truck-mounted crane and jib, which he purchased for the film Face of the Serpent, (2003).

In August of 2005, Mr. MacTavish was invited to adjunct teach filmmaking classes at Houston Community College. And in September 2005 with 18 years professional experience working mostly in the grip and lighting departments, Billy transitioned Moving Camera Solutions into a full-fledged video production company. Working primarily as a cinematographer and editor but also producing and writing as needed primary making Oil and Gas industry industrial films, commercials and independent feature and short films.

Billy was instrumental in bringing independent film producers into contact with the colleges allowing for a partnership for his students to work on professional projects for industry experience and college credit, and the producers to save budget money on equipment and crew costs.

In 2010 his work on one such production (Renfield,) won a Bronze Telly for cinematography.

To progress in the teaching profession, in January 2010 Billy entered graduate school full-time, obtaining an MA in Multimedia Communications from Academy of Art University, and after only 17 months, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA. While at the same time, having joined the faculty at Lee College in Baytown, TX in 2009. He continues to teach part-time at the two Community Colleges while shooting and editing the award-winning independent TV Pilot Caveman Theory, (2011).

He joined the faculty at San Jacinto College in 2011, and Lone Star College in 2014. In May 2015 the demands of running a successful production company and working freelance as a Cinematography, caused him to have to stop teaching.

In August of 2017 Moving Camera Solutions was acquired by a leading e-commerce company. Billy now works full time to produce online marketing, product demonstration and how to videos writing, producing, directing, shooting, and editing as the head of Sprinkler Warehouse’s video production department.

Billy MacTavish’s awards include:

2017 — Worldfest Houston: Bronze REMI, Best Sci-Fi film, Win – “Seeds.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2016 — The Zone Sci-Fi Film Race: Audience Choice, Nomination – “Seeds.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2013 — Barcelona International Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize, Win – “Schultze Gets the Blues.” Key Grip.

2012 — Los Vegas Film Festival: Golden Ace Award, Win – “Caveman Theory.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2012 — Worldfest Houston: Gold REMI, TV Pilot, Win – “Caveman Theory.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2011 — Accolade Competition: Award of Merit, Win – “Caveman Theory.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2011 — Houston Film Critics Society: Best Texas Independent Film, Nomination – “The Great American Moon Rock Caper.” Cinematographer.

2010 — Telly Awards: Bronze, Best Cinematography, Win – “Renfield.” Cinematographer and Editor.

2010 — Telly Awards: Bronze, Best Editing, Win – “Renfield.” Cinematographer and Editor.