First I just wanted to share my gratitude for MR PORTER & BELSTAFF. Stoked to have had the oportunity to work on a 2nd film with you guys! Excited for Round 3! Thank you to Chloé McLennan, John Carrington, Lens Rentals, Defacto Sound & The Music Bed for coming through big time & of course JG, Mercedes Motoring & my kick ass crew! You all were crucial & made this film what it is!
One lesson I’ve learned repeatedly as a filmmaker is how important it is being able to adapt & adapt quickly. Time is extremely important on any shoot & utilizing every second of it can't be undervalued. I am a firm believer in planning as much as you possibly can, and to be quite honest, pre-pro is one of my favorite things in the creation process. I could list 1000 benefits but mainly it helps your overall vision & confidence going in. Regardless if the shoot is very basic or low budget, I can't stress how important planning is.
MR PORTER & BELSTAFF hired me to shoot a 2nd film in a series called "ON THE ROAD".
Pre-pro started off with some big obstacles.
Our talent changed a couple times, which changed our car and location. At one point, we had a muscle car which would’ve been shot completely different. Different mood, sound, style... I had mentally mapped out 3 different films before we got the green light!
JG was confirmed 3 weeks shy of the production, which meant we had a ton of work to do in a short amount of time. Physically scouting wasn't required, however I really wanted to get out there and see what I was working with, esp considering our time crunch. We only had 2 days to shoot this film. The shoot had us in Joshua Tree at 2pm Monday & leaving 4pm Tuesday. We'd then finish up in JG's shop Wednesday morning. We had roughly 26 hours total in the desert...26 hours. That meant no room for 2nd guessing or looking for locations while on the shoot, wasting precious time with talent and crew. Everything had to have purpose and be planned to the minute.
I flew to LA a week early so I could scout. Elizabeth (Producer) and myself left LA around 3am to get to the desert on time to watch the sunrise. It wasn’t enough to just get there and see locations, but I wanted to see what it looked like in the early hours. The scout went very well, we locked in all of our locations & formed a solid plan. I knew exactly what I wanted to do & had formed a pretty damn good idea of what the film would look like..... We saw beautiful colors, milky skys, and first light hitting the beautiful landscape of the park.
You can plan things all you want, but like the saying goes, shit happens! Mother nature gave us heavy rain, thick fog and clouds all day! Despite it not being what we planned, I was in mood & tone heaven! That is where the planning saved us. I had another set of plans re-arranging the order of our locations, utilizing the drone, and back up locations if the rain made things too muddy.
Here's a series of images from my SCOUT followed by what took place on the ACTUAL SHOOT.
ACTUAL SHOOT - The rain was moving in fast so I decided to go for our main road shot first. The original plan was for evening but considering the rain was supposed to stay around for a while, I'd rather get something then risk getting nothing. Plus we got help from the overcast sky. We got two passes with the drone before the heavens opened up and kept us from flying the rest of the day.
We followed JG in our truck. The pilot needed to stay within range of the car & also to maximize how much we could film before the rain came. Didn't want him driving short distances and then turning around. The pilot stood in the back of the truck keeping eye on the drone, gimbal op and myself sat in the back seat of the truck with a monitor, all of us on headsets. We drove behind JG about 50 yards and filmed until the drone needed to land. Photo below shows us starting the first take, rains a coming.
ACTUAL SHOOT - This storm was very beautiful. I could've watched the dark clouds roll for hours.
A little insight for you nit picky know it alls who think he faked working on his car. He actually worked on his car 2 times on the trip. One of them was a wiring issue. We didn't fake it. I was actually informed by my producer.... "Hey JG is going to fix his light right now." Me - "In the rain?" Producer - "Yes" So I grabbed my camera and filmed for an hour in the rain. The car was back lit briefly by a car passing, which was my producer running into town for a late errand. Just happened to catch it. I have her to thank for this sequence.
The original plan was to actually film him around a campfire, writing in one of his road trip journals he's been collecting for 20 years. We had the fire scene set up in an amazing location with aerials & time-lapse involved. This head lamp fix was a fortunate replacement. We even had a MOVI on set but didn't even use it once due to the weather.
ACTUAL SHOOT - We were driving in the park at 5am to our master location "THE VIEW"
SCOUT - This was our master shot. The pay off. "THE VIEW"
ACTUAL SHOOT - Quite the difference. This opening only happened once and lasted only about a minute. Was just blinding clouds after.
The fog was so damn good & I knew it wouldn't last. We were already 30 minutes late to the "DRY LAKE BED" but I made the decision to continue shooting while we had it. Leaving "THE VIEW" location, we turned down a road Elizabeth & I had seen on our scout. We captured the following shots, all unplanned.
SCOUT - The "DRY" Lake Bed
ACTUAL SHOOT - Luckily it soaked in a bit, but the surface layer was still wet making it extremely sticky. Had to scrape clay off my boots very often. JG used a spray on his tires that kept any mud from sticking to the side walls. We grabbed a couple shots and then got out of that mess.
ACTUAL SHOOT - As stated, we only had roughly 26 hours in the desert & the only sunshine we got was while leaving the park, headed back to LA. I quickly jumped in the car with JG as we drove out & got the sunny shots you see in the film.
The weather definitely played to our favor & gave us a much more unique film, but the planning before hand was absolutely crucial.
It allowed me & my producer to make informed decisions on the fly and get the most out of our time on the shoot.
CLIENT : MR PORTER X BELSTAFF
Director & DP : Cale Glendening
Producer : Elizabeth Brissenden
1st AC : William Carnahan
Editor : Cale Glendening
Sound Design & Final Mix : Defacto Sound
Location Sound Mixer : Michael "Rusty" Eagle-Hall
Color : John Carrington
Aerial Operators: Beyond LA Productions
Pilot : Pat Kerby
Gimbal Operator : Max Kerby
Set Supervisor : Erin Granat
Music: Salomon Ligthelm "Lives Are Threads"
BTS photos : Machete Bang Bang
Camera: Red Epic w/o Dragon. Shot in 5k.
Lenses: Canon L Series -16-35 II f2.8, 50 f1.4, 24-105 f4, 100 f2.8
Filters : .9, 1.2 ND + .9 soft edge ND Grad
Lights : 2 LED 1x1 Panels
Drone : Flying a GH4
Extra : Dana Dolly, 8ft rails, 2 big ass umbrellas.