Yes, you guessed it! It’s time for the second shoot “the Desert”!
And anyone who doesn’t know about the first shoot should really keep up with what’s going on. I mean really…Oh, by the way here is the layout to refresh your memory.
And if you don’t remember the first layout, then please visit a medical professional for advice. I am pretty sure they make a pill for that…
Ok. I received an email from Sam who is the producer on this job that we needed to sit and look over what the location scout had come back with. Let me back track just for a second here. At the end of the first shoot “the Beach”, we all were sitting around having coffee that beautiful morning and discussed that fact that we needed to get a location scout out ASAP to get an idea of what locations we could find so we could get a quote for the job approved. So, after about two weeks I get the call to come in and check out the possible locations with Sam and Damian. Damian is the Art director, for those of you who are in need of that pill I mentioned earlier.
I arrive at the agency and proceed into the boardroom. Damian and Sam are there and we all get caught up for a few. Then our location scout arrives and loads up his images from the scout. It was difficult to narrow the choices down, as he gave us some great options. We eventually narrowed it down to the most desolate location. It just had such scale to it that we knew we could get something amazing from it. So we sat around and discussed logistics, permissions, costs, times… All those little things that make up the big picture and total costs for a shoot.
While I was working with my production team on getting all our costs together, Damian meet with the client and sold him on our location choice and all the other elements of the shoot. Which was talent, wardrobe, paint supplies, tree types, rock shapes and textures and the list goes on and on and… You get the idea…
So a week or so later I get the call to come in for the pre production meeting. Now I have to admit I like pre production meetings. They are usually full of excitement, sorting out logistics and final changes, great coffees and a few good laughs as well. So we are all sitting around the extra large boardroom table as everyone is chatting away. And Damian leans over and says something like, “Hey bro, what time do you think we need to plan to leave here?” I look at him and say, “I am thinking around 5 am.” Hey gives me that look of “Seriously…” At that point everyone at the table has quieted down and they are kind of staring at Damian and myself. So I lean forward and announce our itinerary for the trip. It went something like this, “Yeah, what I was thinking was we would leave town at 5 am. It is about a 6 and half hour drive to Calvinia. We need to check in to our accommodation. Then drive about two hours out of town and try and find our location. Scout it all out and then stay for a Sunset shoot.” At the end of my delivery everyone who was NOT going on our little excursion gave huge sighs of relief that they were not on this trip! And they were right to do so, as it would be a good 20 hour day by the time we got back, ate some dinner and prepped for the sunrise shoot. Yeah…. There is that word again, “Sunrise shoot”.
Now I need just a minute or so to tell you a little something about “Sunrise shoots”. If any of you have ever been on a REAL “Sunrise shoot” it doesn’t start at sunrise, it start at night. That is right. Because you need to get there and set up and be ready BEFORE the sunrise, so you can shoot the “sun rising.” And that my friends is the fun! A sick and twisted way of thinking I know, but there are few things more rewarding than sitting with camera ready, and everyone and everything in position and ready to go from “Zero to 100 mph” with in seconds. If you are asking what is the deal with “Zero to 100 mph”, it has to do with the fact that you only have a few minutes of “dawn light”. This is the soft moments before the sun actually comes out and CRAZY things can happen! I mean like color ranges you could have never even imagined changing right in front of you! Clouds that morph and act like kids at Christmas on Red bull! And then there is the biggest thrill of all…. Getting everyone into position and camera ready so that when that first ray of light hits the location or subject you are shooting and going full throttle. Because lets face it, after the sun has come up the shoot is over. Now you sometimes can get lucky and get a delay in the light due to clouds or mountains or buildings. But that just gives you the time for more OPTIONS… Oh, yeah… the word Art directors love…. “Options.”
Sorry for the digression there… I will fast forward a bit for you all now!
SO I am driving along and the sun is slowly rising over rolling countryside, while Damian and my assistant are sleeping nicely. And I start thinking about all the stuff we have to shoot. I am keeping an eye out for cool boulders or large rocks we can shoot. Textures and colors and trees. We need all these other elements to make up our “Rock” for the layout. Eventually I am tired of hearing “jaw open mouth breathing” as everyone sleeps quietly, so I plug in the ole i-pod and crack some Linkin Park! Oh, yah…. Wake up music! The guys SPRING to life and I get the wide blinking eyes of everyone saying, “Where are we?” I come back with something like, “in the middle of F^&king nowhere…How was the nap?”
We drive for hours and do what guys on a road trip do…. That is all I am going to say about that! We get to Clanwilliam where it happens the client is staying over for the weekend and we meet up with him as he shows us “trees” that he would like us to shoot. The light was great as it was early morning and we go on a bit of a tree hunting expedition. After a good hour or so, we got some great options and got back on the road.
We roll into Calvinia around 1ish and take a tour of the local sites. That took all of a minute and a half, as the whole town is about 20 shops in length. We found our accommodation and got settled. Soon after left for our location scout and sunset shoot.
One wrong turn, Lebo reading the map upside down, and 4 random sheep later…. we found the location. And what a place! It would have to be the closest I have ever come to feeling like I was on the moon while not being stoned! I have never stood in a place where it was…. wait for it…. “silent.” I mean there was a bit of a wind, but since there was not a surface area in site it made no noise. No crickets…No birds…No human…F*#k all! Very eerie and unsettling. I instantly flash forwarded to a gritty horror movie where I can see the masked hatch-wielding dwarf coming at me from far away and I have nowhere to run and hide! Sorry about that…. My internal monologue got the best of me there…. Back to the story!
We drive around for a good hour or so and then decide it is time to get set up and shoot some sunset plates. As the sun does its thing, we boys did ours and got some sweet shots. It must be around 8ish by now and we are packing up and driving back. Easier said than done, as there is no real road out of our location and ABSOLUTELY no light.
Little to say it was a slow drive home as the roads where a bit dodgy and dark.
10:30 pm we sit down and eat our first REAL meal of the day. Now remember we started today around 4ish so we could leave town by 5ish. Add that all up and we are looking at 18 hours plus at this point. Everybody slugged down some food and a few nice cold beers. Speaking of that I forgot until the thought of some cold icy brews came to mind that the average temperature during the day was 48! And lets say it was down into the “teens” at night… That just made it more interesting!
Midnight rolls around and everything is on charge and everyone is in bed. WHAT A DAY! And not bad for the first day either I might add…
So at 2am I get up and meet the guys at the vehicle so we can leave by 2:30 am. Yeah, that’s right… TWO hours of sleep. Welcome to the world of location shooting. We needed a good hour and a half to get to location and find it again in the dark. Sunrise was around 5ish. We found it like we owned the place! We got out into a bone chilling “silent” breeze. I mean F@$king cold! Damian and Lebo immediately hopped back into the car and just kind of looked at me. I then knew… it was all me! There are some moments when being a photographer can be a lonely existence… and this one. So I get to it! Now to be honest the guys helped, but there was not reason for them to stand in the coldest darkness one could imagine and wait for the sun to come up. So they did it in car! Fair enough, but it was so beautiful out there that I decided to shoot nightscapes and star movements. As you do when you are in the middle of nowhere with a camera!
Ok. Sun comes up and everyone is out and we are moving camera and getting some INCREDIBLE landscape plates… I mean WOW! By 7:30 ish we had shot every angle and area of the pan we could shoot. It is now 30+ Celsius and we are cranking music and to be honest a “bit out there” due to the lack of sleep. But fear not! As we are practicing professionals and being a “bit out there” is a normal thing! Thus we head back into town and get some well-deserved coffee and breakfast. A quick accommodation check out and a refuel we are on the road again.
Now as we are all driving back I am doing some mental calculations on what else we need. Great landscape plates at Sunrise and Sunset…Check! Trees…check! Oh, I forgot to mention this! Give me a moment please… It will be worth it! On our leaving town we had to drive by the “Calvinia Country Club”. I shit you not! And hold for it… The course is made of hard desert dirt and the “greens” where not really green. They were circular shapes of hard packed ground that…. wait for it…. Had been “oiled and tarred”! It was the most random thing I have ever seen. We all just laughed for a good 10 minutes as I literally drove our vehicle on the course to shoot the PERFECT TREES! Never in my life have I ever seen a town so dedicated to the passion and insanity called GOLF! I figure that if everyone started and learned golf on this course, Tiger Woods would have never made the cut! OK…. I had to share that. Anyway… Trees…. Check! We still needed! Our rock! Which proved to be very, very illusive.
We stopped out side of Clanwilliam, as there were nice rock textures and colors. So we pulled over every few K’s and shot some thing that looked interesting. Rock textures, shapes and colors…Check! Still no rock/ boulder shapes that really worked.
Fast-forward many hours of BOARING driving… My eyes are watering. My neck is F*#king killing me. Everyone but me is sleeping and I still haven’t found a good ROCK!!!! A road sign reading 60 K’s to KaapStad and I am starting to stress a bit. Now hear me out… I have backup alternatives for the boulder /rocks in and around town. So I knew I could always shoot some of them and make it work. But I wanted something better. So I am driving over a hill when I see out of the corner of my eye…. a field of Boulders! I drive by in shear amazement. In an instant I slam on the brakes and turn around! The guys bolt up right in shear terror and grab for anything in front of them. With everyone awake NOW, we all went on a nice walk in rolling pastures and shot some very cool boulders / rocks. So rock / boulders…Check! Once again the power of BELIEF shines through…
We get back around 6ish and drop off Damian at the agency. Lebo and I go back the studio and unpack and prep for tomorrows shoot. Which is the second half of our shoot. The model and paint buckets!
We scheduled it as an afternoon shoot as I knew we would all be F^*KED after another 20 hour day. At this point I added it up that I was working on about 2 or so hours of sleep in two days. Not recommended unless completely necessary…. which it was!
So after waking up and feeling like I had been run over by a road grader and then left in the sun to wither…. I got up at 8am. You ask why, because we needed to back up and process all the stuff we had shot over the last two days. As we didn’t have any time to do that while we were on location. And to make a long story short…. Yeah I know, “to late.” But we shot the model the next day on location with paint buckets and loads of options!
So getting creative and making our background and rock work beautifully, we came up with a MASTER PIECE! And here it is… SWEET… huh?
And after looking at all our hard work, I smiled to myself, as I knew this most definitely is “one of those rare opportunities.”
Now… we must not forget about the next layout. The “Train shot”! And let me tell you… This has been easy so far. Try and organize a shoot with any government agency in SA and you will feel all our pain…
Until then… All the best from Locker 14.