Sunday, May 18, 2008

Southern Utah Part 3: Apocalypse Now?

With every great shoot, throughout history, there are always the occasional moments of frustration. Brando was said to have been a complete pain in the rear, demanding exorbitant sums of money up front, and then refusing to show up for the shoot. For many productions, if the shoot goes over, tempers flare. If the shoots end too soon for cost reasons, the director throws a tantrum. No shoot ever goes off without a hitch. It's the nature of the business. What matters most is that everything works out in the end.

So far, we've lucked out. That is to say that we really haven't had too many issues during the course of shooting this project. We, the production team, all come from different backgrounds. Jeff is a doctor, Melissa is a doctoral student in rec. therapy and I am not a doctor. But every once in a while, I play one on TV. The three of us have all come together with the same goal in mind: to create an amazing short film that will show individuals with SCI what's available in the arena of sports and recreation. This is a lofty goal, but very do-able. And we're doing it! No longer is this project mere talk or speculation. We've all committed an enormous amount of personal time to bring this baby to fruition. So, it's only natural that at some point, all of us were bound to reach a moment of frustration. Today, that frustration reared its ugly head and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we were running on a tight shooting schedule, with very little time for R and R, and a lot of distractions.

Jeff, Al and I had already found the ideal location for the One-Off cycling sequence. So that was taken care of. Chris Waddell, our talent, had driven down the night before and stayed in a motel. Chris is a great guy and I was excited that he was helping us out. Jeff and I had briefly gone over the game plan, so the day of the shoot, we had an idea of what we wanted to film. I had already been a little frustrated with the late starts on each shoot and that's because I've always been a firm believer in starting on time. But I also realize that things happen, which can always delay the start of any day's shoot. On the 29th, we had another late start and I was concerned about having Chris wait around for our crew to arrive. Chris was very cool about things and followed us up to the location, which was a 35 minute drive. It took another hour to get our talent and crew out to the actual shooting spot. It was a beautiful morning and despite some strong gusts of wind, Jeff managed to get some amazing jib arm shots of Chris pedaling over patches of slick rock. After the jib shots, Jeff and Chris took off to shoot some free form coverage shots, which ended up looking great. But since I couldn't see what Jeff was capturing, I began to worry that we were straying too far from the storyboards and shooting schedule. Morning was also becoming afternoon rather quickly.

Next, we loaded up the gear and drove down the canyon to capture shots of Chris speeding down the dirt roads. This guy can cook. I don't mean food, because that would be silly in this circumstance. I mean, this guy can move down some gnarly switchbacks. But Chris is a world class athlete and flying down hills is in his blood.

I'd envisioned several shots, which we were in the process of acquiring. And then Jeff received a call from his wife and the shoot had to wrap. I won't go into specifics, suffice it to say, Jeff's call to wrap early was appropriate and totally justified. I just felt bad that we had to scrap so many of the shots, but I also understood the circumstances.

We returned to base camp (a.k.a. my parent's place) and everything ended up being okay, which was a relief. Crisis averted.

But I still couldn't let go of the fact that we'd lost some potentially killer shots. That's the perfectionist in me. I tend to obsess about certain shots whenever I'm in "production mode". Jeff sensed my frustration because it was making him frustrated as well. Melissa too. I think it even affected one of my parent's dogs. Maybe even one of the hens. In any case, Jeff and I touched base and everything got resolved.

So, what have we learned in this blog entry? Well, for starters, Stan can sometimes be OCD about production. That's in his blood. We also learned that not every shoot can be 100% perfect... but 97% ain't too bad. And finally, good communication is the key to happiness and understanding. Once Jeff showed me the footage, I felt a little better about the day's shoot. Jeff is a great videographer and I trust him implicitly, despite my perfectionist nature.

Apocalypse? Not really. Just a small bump in the road. Which is great considering we've come so far with no issues to speak of. This shoot put us over the halfway point of our production, with 17 activities "in the can". And the next shoot ended up being one of the best of the trip. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait for the next entry to hear that story. As well as the story of how my mother became a part of our production, officially.

Stay tuned for the exciting Southern Utah finale in Part 4!

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