it’s always good to take a moment and reflect on your past experiences. for me personally, i learn so much from every single shoot i go on and even when they get stressful and chaotic, sometimes taking that moment later on to reflect, can often teach you even more then you thought possible.
the whole stillmotion family has been on so many shoots this past year that i’m certain we’ve all lost count. we are all very visual learners and i often associate certain memories or lessons with specific visuals. out of all the shoots we’ve been on this year, the one that was the most memorable and taught me a lot about being a present filmmaker, has got to be shooting the Army vs. Navy football game, the climax to our feature length documentary, “A Game of Honor.”
so much happened that day and i can remember it all going by in a flash. i can remember waking up early that morning after a long night of planning with the team and even though i wasn’t entirely rested, i could feel my adrenaline slowly building momentum. i took advantage of the ride over to the stadium and used that time to try and visualize certain shots i wanted to look for and needed to get. my focus for the game was on the family of the players and being that we had been on several shoots previously with these families, we all knew each other and they were all more then happy to have me invade their personal space for a day. it was also extremely helpful having Shelby, one of the field producers, with me at all times to help me pick our characters out of a sea of black and grey cadets.
if you’ve seen the doc you’ll know that the game started off with incredible momentum, with both teams giving it their all. once half time hit, Shelby got a call on her headset saying that they needed me on the field as soon as possible to film President Obama walking across the field to represent his equal support for both teams. this wasn’t originally part of the plan, but since Patrick, Joyce and Justin were following the teams into the locker rooms, that meant they needed Ray and I on the field to provide cover. Ray was on steadicam and I had his back on monopod.
you can imagine the feeling of nervousness that came upon me when i heard i was supposed to film the President of the United States. Shelby and I ran through the bleachers and onto the field as fast as we could and i got into position to wait for the president. i had my monopod and camera ready with a 70-200 mm f/4 because as much as i would have liked to use prime lenses to shoots this, i knew i wouldn’t have anytime to switch lenses or even get as close as i would have liked. the Army and Navy cadets started to lineup up on the field to welcome their humble leader. as i anxiously waited for the arrival of Obama, i shot some pageantry of the cadets to pass the time.
being an active and present filmmaker i knew i couldn’t get too carried away with over shooting the lineups and all of a sudden a feeling came over me that compelled me to stop. so i took a moment to look at what was going on around me and when i looked over my shoulder, Obama himself was standing right behind me barely 5 feet away. i then took a deep breath, framed up my shot, and hit the record button. it’s one thing to see the leader of the free world on television, but to actually see him in the flesh just an arms length away was a feeling that i’ll never forget.