It’s always darkest before the dark | Travis Stewart | Leaves in the River (SSP)

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It’s been an eventful few weeks. Preproduction was handled beautifully by Lawson Whitford, which gave me enough time to figure out some of the BTS solutions to some problems. If that makes it sound like there were only a few, then I’ve done a poor job. Bringing a mobile and yet powerful enough rain delivery system turned out to be a simultaneously hard and easy job; unlike things such as smoke machines or other film tools, Rain Towers are expensive (and only sold as specialty equipment) and take a lot of work to set up and supply with water and power. In the end, a simple brass jet nozzle did the trick, but even then; finding a 100 ft. hose was tricky, but also ended up being incredibly necessary. Building a fake sidewalk complete with handprint was its own trials and tribulations as it too needed to be movable with minimal effort and something that had to be built out from scratch. All in all, it was an interesting exercise in how some of the simplest things written on paper can actually turn out to be the most minute details that bring you the most pain.

Shoots like this are definitely what teach you the importance of compartmentalization on film sets. It’s easy to ignore people who do grip work or the electrical side of gaffing, up until the moment that you realize that you’ll have to move multiple lights, run extension cables, and diffuse lights… all with a few people who also have entire other jobs to do at the same time. It tends to make you distracted and the shots suffer from it, the expenditure of energy creates laziness in other areas and the mental splitting of attention makes mistakes. Certainly, there were technical improvements to make (a renewed interest in dual ISO cameras and solutions certainly stems from having to shoot with minimal lighting), and becoming more familiar with certain equipment before it is ever brought on set is a familiar need. But that is driven by the fact that everything that falls into your department needs to become second nature, if you’re distracted even slightly or need to take time to analyze something; that works just like having too many jobs at once on set.

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