jets scream overhead as I try to get focused. clutching a Red Epic in my hands and a tripod under my arm I take off in a run while the deafening sound of military personal screaming commands is all I can hear. as I pick up speed I try to eye ball people specifically to get a read on them, I’m seeing Privates, Sergeants, Seamen, Lieutenants, Captains, Colonels, even Generals. I put my eyes back on the prize as I near my destination and begin to slow down when suddenly a hole rips through the crowd and even more troops pour in! there must have been 200-300 of them and this time they were in a very calculated and tight formation, there’s no way I’m getting through that, I’m going to have to recalculate and find another way and it’s got to be fast because I’m getting new instructions over my headset.
am I in a war zone? no, I’m at my very first shoot for stillmotion and what would become the most memorable – the final game for A Game Of Honor.
but let’s take a step back, my journey actually began the day before. I touched down in Washington D.C. fresh from Toronto not knowing what to expect, after all everyone else had worked on this doc for 127 days. me? zero. in fact, I had only worked at stillmotion for 4 weeks and 4 days at this point! I checked in, met up with everyone and took possession of the Epic and after a quick dinner I set out on my way. I was brought in as tech manager because with all that was going on as well as the size and scope of the film at this point handling gear was a job in itself! a job no one else had time for, they had a lot of planning to do and an entirely different headspace to get into.
I took the Epic on a bit of road trip to Frederick, MD to rent a Canon mount for it, Canon mounts from Red were in pretty short supply at the time and we were going to need the speed and weight savings Canon lenses can offer over PL. after I got familiar with the mount and learned to install it myself I headed back, but drat! because of traffic I was late for the production meeting! I got back and crept into what was definitely the most intense production meeting I’d ever been in, everyone from the sm and cbs teams were there and were focused and ready to bring their A-games. the next day’s game was the climax of the film and unlike scripted content (which I personally have more experience with) no one knew exactly how it was going to turn out, who was going to win, what new storylines were going to present themselves, or how this could change the storylines we already had. after we wrapped the meeting a few of us stayed back and thanks to our friends at Lens Pro To Go I had access to all the gear I could ever want and based on feedback from everyone else I built each shooter a kit based on their style and what they’d be covering the next day as well as taking a portion of for myself to distribute as needed during the shoot. after all was said and done and everything was prepped and ready to go it was probably around 4am, I needed to make sure I got what ever sleep I could because the next day was going to be a beast!
that brings us to game day, the lights, the sounds, the jets, the players, the army, the navy, the secret service, the president. it had been a long time coming for everyone else and here I was plopped down right in the middle of it, green as grass to this environment. I established a base camp with my gear, slipped on my headset and basically made myself available to whoever needed me at the time and that was usually a lot people at once which meant I needed to prioritize. without getting into it with too much detail lets just saying calling it hectic would be an understatement! everything and everyone was constantly moving so base camp wasn’t as “camped” as you’d think. from handing off sliders to configuring steadicams and fixing cameras right there in the field I was trying to do my part to make sure the sm machine kept moving and in the odd case where I was the only one who was in or near a position that needed to get covered guess who covered it? that’s right! my first sm shoot was actually my first time shooting for sm!
before I knew it, we were all in a really good rhythm and everyone was doing great and the game was over. the stuff that made the doc was insane but what was just as insane was the stuff that didn’t make the doc, all the footage is so good that we could probably make a really great piece out of just the stuff that hit the cutting room floor. in that one day I learned a ton more about production, about being present when you shoot and about what an animal everyone at sm can be!