The Promise 2nd Unit

I’m in Oxford, enjoying a short break after wrapping 2nd unit on “The Promise”, a documentary on Israel. While Jim van Dijk (Director) and Todd Williams (DP) ran main unit, I had the fun job. Four people and a van loaded with gear ran around Israel capturing unique and hidden images of the place.

Each night as I reviewed the day’s footage, I rendered out my favourite shot or two along with some stills. I threw them into Final Cut to give you a quick sample of some of what we shot. Click the image above to view the reel.

Composing Israel

Week One in Israel has been a great experience. I’m directing 2nd Unit on a 3-camera RED shoot, with Todd Williams as DP and Jim van Dijk directing. The first few days after the crew arrived, I stuck with Main Unit while everyone got settled. Then Jim cut my leash and let me travel, picking up a long list of cover shots all over Israel. It’s been a blast.

The “Twunit” van usually carries me and two others, a RED, sticks, dolly, overkeeper and a nice set of lenses. Each day is usually a combo of specific destinations and “targets of opportunity” – shots along the way that add to the story.

Even though we’re working hard, the long days are a nice change of pace from directing my own show. The hard decisions lie with Jim, Todd & the producers. I get to do the fun stuff. I’m really loving shooting with the RED and the sweet set of glass we have with us: 15-40 and 28-76 Angenieux Optimo zooms and a full set of Zeiss T1.3 primes, along with the RED 50-150.

In many ways, directing 2nd unit for this show has been a lot like shooting stills photography – looking for images that layer into the story. I’ve grabbed a bunch of still frames from what I’ve shot so far on the RED. Click the image above for a quick gallery of Israel so far…

Bulembu to Tel Aviv

I seem to be a fan of these double-ender trips. This spring I went to Rwanda filming a documentary, then travelled on to Swaziland for a photo assignment. This time around, filming in Bulembu wrapped two days ago and I’m now in Tel Aviv ready to shoot another documentary.

The shoot in Bulembu was fantastic. Many memorable moments with the Tenors, and I feel like I was able to capture the beauty, memory and emotion of the place. It’ll be a fun edit – 2TB worth of footage – and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.

I’m now on to directing 2nd unit for a doc here in Israel. Main unit arrives in a couple days; I’ll be spending the first few days collecting “GV’s” (as the Brits say – General Views) around Tel Aviv.

23 Minutes

That’s how long it took to pack my bags & camera carry-on.

Incidentally, it took 23 minutes because that’s all I had before the taxi arrived.

A string of nights with 3 hours sleep then attempting an all nighter don’t lead to efficient work. Around 4AM I found myself nodding uncontrollably, so I settled in for a short “nap”.

But… I’ve done this a few times now. I only managed to forget a few Clif bars and my book to read. Everything else came out in a flurry, and habit landed most of what I need in my bags in a few minutes.

And with that we’re off to Bulembu. The equipment left yesterday with my DP, Jonny – 9 cases plus a carnet. So I’m travelling nice & light, just a carry-on and a backpack for clothes. It’s three days of transit to Bulembu… I hope to update with some pictures or video once we’re settled on the ground.

… and on to Israel!

YVR-SEA-AMS-JNB; JNB-AMS-TLV; TLV-AMS-LHO; LHO-AMS-SEA-YVR.

That’s the itinerary I just booked, leaving August 22nd and returning September 29th. After Bulembu, I’ll be heading to Israel to shoot 2nd unit for a production there with Jim van Dijk. I’ll be (happily) using the Red camera again, and working with a bigger crew & budget.

And on my way home, a short stopover in Oxford.

Together with Rwanda: Hope Rises being complete before I go, and the trip to Bulembu before heading to Israel, all I have to say is:

Woot.

Soul Custody

Thursday I’m beginning work on a new MOW (Movie of the Week) called Soul Custody for Force Four entertainment. I’ll be running the RED on-set workflow cart (which I’ve been building the last several days). Most exciting (for me) is that I’ll be shadowing the director throughout the production.

Since my part of the workflow is simple I’ll have a decent amount of time to spend watching and learning. I do well absorbing through osmosis, being in proximity, observing the little things, assimilating the habits and tools of another tradesman. While I’m itching to start work on a few of my own long-awaited projects, it’s great opportunity to learn and get to know some people in new circles.

Last Day on Sanctuary

Today will be my last day on the set of Sanctuary, the new SciFi Network TV show that airs in October. It’s been fun working with the crew, helping them get up to speed with the RED camera, and seeing a Vancouver show built from the ground up.

Now it’s on to finishing touches of Rwanda: Hope Rises before our first audience screening in Fresno this coming weekend…