Thursday, October 16, 2008

Climbing to the Finish

So, I don't really have any photos of our climbing shoot. Nor were any photos taken by anyone else. These two photos (and the HD footage) are the only documentation of the event. And what an event it was.

The climbing shoot was by far the most difficult shoot to date. Why? Well, first, there aren't that many individuals with spinal cord injuries pursuing rock climbing as their sport of choice. Or even their leisure activity of choice. It just isn't very common among the SCI community. It is however, very do-able. And I'm surprised that more folks with paralysis haven't caught the bug. Even I haven't dipped my numb toe into the climbing waters, and I of all people should, given the fact that I used to rock climb.

Needless to say, the search was difficult. Luckily, we found a climber from Colorado. His name is Vijay and he was more than willing to help us with our production.

We hired a climbing guide from Exum Utah Mountain Adventures, a fantastic company that helped us set up Vijay's ropes. If you ever need to rock climb, ice climb or canyoneer, mountaineer or do any backcountry recreation, Exum's the place to go.

I met with Vijay and Adam George, our guide, to discuss the shoot and pick the climb. There were several factors involved, including light, pitch, etc. We decided that the Dogwood climb would be the best for the shoot. It's a great spot with somewhat descent access. Vijay needed some assistance getting to the base of the climb, but other than that, Dogwood worked well.

I wish I could have stayed for the shoot, but I had to return to my "real" job. That was a bummer. Around 4:00, I returned to the shoot, just as everyone was returning to their vehicles. Jeff was happy with the footage and showed me a few clips. It looked fantastic. By the end of the day, the light on the rock face was perfect.

I hope our video spurs more interest in the sport of adaptive climbing. Utah's an ideal place for climbing, and it's strange that more individuals with disabilities aren't hitting the rock.

Up next... one more shoot and Post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Production: Up-To-Date!

Alright, I've decided to play ketchup (catchup) and update everyone on the project. I posted waterskiing yesterday and realized that I've been slacking in my blogging duties. Forgive me. But before I delve into the production, here are some pretty pictures to look at.

Fishing: I know what you're going to say. "Fishing? Really? What, was butterfly catching already taken?" Look, fishing is a great activity that anyone can do. Particularly those who can sit for long periods of time. See my point? It's also a perfect way to get outdoors.

We'd already shot fishing. Unfortunately due to unwanted thunderclouds, we had to re-shoot the entire sequence. Kelly was a real trooper. He was patient the first time and even more patient the second. We met at Silver Lake, early in the morning. That's the best time to shoot at Silver Lake because of the way the light hits the trees and surrounding mountains.

We cruised through the shoot and were happy with the way things turned out.

I wasn't able to be a part of the next two shoots: sailing and kayaking. This had to do with my work schedule and the fact that I've used up all of my vacation time. I really wish I could have been a part of those shoots. Unfortunately, I'm working on this project outside of my "real" job. Which means any weekday shoots require the use of personal vacation time.

Jeff shot both and managed to get what he needed. Weather permitted him from getting ample kayaking footage. Weather has hampered our production at the most inopportune moments. We're now in crunch time, so of course... the weather gets worse more often than not.

Today, however, the weather was perfect!

Today, we shot archery. We were supposed to shoot archery and climbing. We hit a slight snag with climbing, but archery was an near perfect shoot. Robert Ackerman, our archer, did a fantastic job. Robert shot his bow and crossbow. We used a fake deer target, which kept looking at me the entire shoot. Very creepy.

Our location: The Spruces Campground. The campground is closed for the season, which was perfect because it gave us privacy and allowed us to shoot weapons without fear of killing anyone. Actually, we took safety precautions and made sure we were shooting towards a visible hillside. Robert is also an excellent shot. With the bow. Yeah, crossbow too. But mostly the bow.

The shoot was a lot of fun. We captured beautiful fall colors and some great steadicam shots. During the shoot, I made plans to reschedule our climbing shoot for this Thursday. I'll explain the climbing shoot in greater detail, once it's complete.

Until then... that's the production so far. I'm still editing and doing everything I can to stay sane. I'm gaining wait and getting cabin fever, but I'm optimistic about the production. As of today, we now have two more sports to shoot. Two! We've already captured 26 different activities, which is absolutely astounding.

Okay, you're up-to-date. Next... climbing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Smokin' On The Water

Sorry about the delay in posting. Things have been incredibly busy production-wise. To start, Jeff (my producer/DP) and I have been trying to film as much as possible before the snow flies. Which it already has. I've also been spending all of my free time in front of two computer monitors, trying to cut raw versions of 19 different activities. Okay, let's get to the meat of this bad boy: Waterskiing.

Deciding to shoot waterskiing at Lake Powell was an easy decision. The place is amazing. Logistically, the shoot was a little tricky. We had to rent a jet ski and boat, which aren't cheap expenses. We also had to coordinate with talent. Our first choice for waterskier was Bill Bowness, a world class competition skier. He's a T-12 Para and a legend on the adaptive waterskiing circuit. He and his wife agreed to help us with our shoot, which was great. Bill and Denise were planning a trip to Moab, so we decided to time the shoot to coincide with their previously scheduled road trip. It ended up working out really well, which was fortunate considering how temperamental weather can be.

Looking back, we really lucked out on the weather conditions. Most of our local shoots have been canceled due to rain or clouds. So, driving down to Lake Powell was most definitely a gamble. What if it rained? What if was overcast the entire time? I'm sure we would have still shot our sports, but the footage wouldn't have looked that great.

We spent the night in a wheelchair accessible trailer. Yeah, doesn't get more pimp than that. After getting everything ready, we headed down to the marina and launched the boat and jetski. For the first day of the shoot, the weather was perfect. Blue skies, no wind. We decided to shoot jet skiing first. This was a last-minute decision, as we'd had some difficulty coordinating schedules with our previously cast jet skier. Bill and Denise did a great job on the wave runners and we managed to get the shots we needed.

Following jet skiing, we decided to wait for the best light before filming the waterskiing sequences. This was a gamble. Shoot while the weathers good or wait until the best light and risk a change in the weather. We could already see some threatening clouds brewing on the horizon. This was around 2 in the afternoon. Still, we decided to wait until about 5 PM. Getting beautiful light is key for any external production. Shooting at High Noon is never a good idea because of the way the sun hits the face. Evening light also enhances the red rocks.

We dropped Jeff off on a small sandstone island while Bill was preparing his skiing gear. For the next hour and a half we shot some amazing footage. We were able to get what we needed before the clouds passed over the sun, ruining our magic hour lighting. Jeff and I were happy with the day's shoot, but we also felt like we needed additional shots. Bill and Denise were gracious enough to extend the shoot an additional day.

The next morning, we were on the water by 7 AM. We had the lake to ourselves and the water conditions were just perfect. I drove the jet ski and Jeff filmed from the back. Then Jeff shot from the boat and water. We managed to get some great shots of Bill on his trick ski. At one point, as Jeff filmed from the water, Bill headed straight for the camera and I thought he was going to plow into Jeff. He didn't. Jeff and I both laughed. Bill was in total control. That comes from countless hours of skiing slalom courses.

We wrapped around 9 AM, just as the good light began to dissappear. Overall, it was one of the most beautiful shoots so far. There's nothing better than racing across glass water at 7 AM. It's so freeing.

Bill and Denise left and Jeff, Al (Jeff's Dad) and I took the boat out to play around on the lake.

We headed home around 3:30.

On a personal note, it was a real joy working with Bill and Denise. Bill's an amazing skier and I can't wait for everyone to see his footage. Thinking back on the shoot, I really felt like we got everything we wanted. The light was perfect, the talent was everything we could have hoped for, and more. It was an ideal production. Sometimes the stuff you shoot never turns out the way you imagine in pre-production. In this case... it did.

Next Up... Fishing, etc.