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.
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…
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.
There’s something satisfying about throwing a passport in a carry-on with a few changes of clothes and heading out the door – no gear, no cameras (well… almost. Does an LX-2 count?), and the work has been done. Now I’m just along for the ride.
A heroic all-nighter by my editor, Steve Plitt had me exiting the door with two freshly burnt copies of Rwanda: Hope Rises in my hands. I caught the gate as they were making last call, and here I am: In Fresno.
This is the first time an audience will see a completed cut of the film, the culmination of three year’s work. And it has turned out better than I imagined. Having a skilled editor see with fresh eyes has brought the story to life again for me, and I’m excited to show it to people. It still has yet to go through the spit & polish of a final mix etc. but I think the three audiences this weekend will enjoy the experience.
If you’re in the Fresno area, get in touch and I’ll let you know the details of the screenings.
Suddenly, things got busy.
- Post continues on Rwanda: Hope Rises along with preparations for screenings in May and June
- The Red camera business has taken off like a shot. I spent this afternoon at Anthem Visual FX testing our workflow for an upcoming SciFi network TV show
- This morning was spent prepping for a week long shoot with the RED, including skydiving, sailing, and ice skating
The pre-edit checklist:
- New burr grinder, for consistent, tasty quality
- Slightly leaky but functional coffee machine
- nearby coffee shop for emergencies
- 7 terabytes of data neatly organized and backed up
- Workstation set up and monitors calibrated
- Post workflow researched and tested
- Slide scanner prepped for distraction during long renders (yes! finally get to bring in some of my slide film from 2006)
… and I’m ready to start editing! Here’s where I’ll be spending the next six weeks:
Not the greatest picture, I guess… ah well. I’ve finally been able to set up a standing editing workstation, something I had back at my old job. I had the maintenance guys find an old countertop and install it at standing height. It helps keep me alert for the long stretches… this isn’t quite as fancy (two cardboard boxes and a leftover shelf) but it’ll do the trick.
Editing is my favourite and least at the same time. I enjoy seeing the story form from the raw, but the long hours without fresh air get to me… and my attention span has decreased with my approach to old age :)
I’ve found a nearby river for some peace, and I’m within walking distance of an old heritage home with a coffee shop inside. I feel well prepared and I’m looking forward to tackling the story challenges ahead of me.