I want to say a huge and sincere thanks to Chris Mierzwinski — better known worldwide as “Chris M” — for all of his help, advice and friendship filming with me this last May and June. Chris and I share a lot in common, including many shared ideas and sensibilities about cinema, life… and epic women (of which we saw many this summer!) Poor Chris had to endure some tough times on that leg of the shoot, including all manner of blowouts, failures and catastrophes related to our RV. But we also managed to have a lot of fun and to kick plenty of ass with our shots. Living out of casinos in Vegas, chasing bears through Yosemite, breaking every permit law known to the western United States… I wouldn’t have wanted anyone but Chris with me.
Thanks, Chris, I owe you, man. And I hope to have you back out here soon!
First of all, just a quick update on how the film is progressing: fantastically. I apologize for the long delay in updating this blog, but we’ve been going to town on this film over the last few weeks. We’ve spent the last month or so based out of the town of Lee Vining, CA. Before that, we spent two beautiful weeks with the “Mobile Production Studio” parked off the grid at Green Creek, near Bridgeport.
As of now, my plans are to head out to Utah (Canyonlands, Arches, etc) at the end of this month, spend one month there, then spend the month of October at Lake Powell filming on the water, as well as filming surrounding locations like Antelope Canyon, Pink Dunes, Goblin Valley…. and of course a return trip to the “Holy Land” location in Arizona. November will probably be White Sands, New Mexico and possibly the Very Large Array, if I can get approval to film there. In December, I will begin to sort through my footage, maybe shoot some snow sequences, and sell the trailer. In January, I will travel to New Zealand to spend some time at the Rubber Monkey Studio with my producer and composer Nigel Stanford. At that point, we will begin to piece the puzzle together — to see how much footage we have, how much more footage we still need, how the music fits with the clips, and of course we will need to get serious about figuring out our post workflow.
Anyway, enough of all that, here are some pictures and videos from our last six weeks of filming:
Here is a video showing a typical morning for us:
Eric Kessler and Kessler Cranes have been a HUGE sponsor of this film. Here are some photos and videos of the crane in action, including a super-cool “Timelase Crane” modification Eric made for us:
Here is the resulting test shot:
Here’s a tour of our 30ft Toy Hauler:
Video of us packing the truck for a 2-day trip:
Another hard day at work:
Special thanks for Ryan and Jonah from Bristlecone Media for their camaraderie and collaboration on our Mono Lake shoots. And also a special thanks to Shawn Reeder, Mike Flores, Larry Gebhardt, and of course Drew Walker for their friendship and help with this film.
After Yosemite, we were two weeks behind on data backup and processing, so it was a real blessing when friend Tony Rowell offered to let us park the “Mobile Production Studio” in front of his house in Bishop for three weeks, and let us live and operate out of a beautiful 4-bedroom additional house he has on his property. This allowed us to catch up on a lot of business- and producing-related tasks, to get totally backed up on data protection and gear, and to operate out of a secure, comfortable base in a perfect staging location along legendary Highway 395. Thanks, Tony!
Here is a taste of our adventures over these past couple of weeks.
As I said, in Bishop, we finally had a chance to get caught up on our gear and computer stuff:
Next up, we are leaving for the High Sierras in the morning!
We had an awesome visit to Yosemite National Park in late May & early June, thanks to our gracious host Steve Bumgardner, aka “Yosemite Steve”: http://twitter.com/YosemiteSteve
The trip started with a real bang, literally, during the long drive from Palm Springs to Yosemite, when one of the tires on our 30-foot Toyhauler trailer blew out.
Thankfully, AAA sent someone out to fix it. After the tire blowout, my trailer brakes went out right when we crossed into Yosemite. I had to ride 1st and 2nd gears all the way into Yosemite Valley Next up, I had to maneuver the “Death Star” trailer through some crazy obstacles to get it parked at the Lower Pines campground in Yosemite Valley.
So after all of that nonsense, we finally got down to some filming!
One of the main goals of this early-summer trip was to film “Moonbows” on the waterfalls at Yosemite, which can mainly be done in May and June. We hooked up with well-known Flickr photographer and location expert Jeff Sullivan for several nights of attempting to capture these elusive moonbows. It was a lot of fun.
As cool as the moonbows were, probably the highlight of the Yosemite trip for me was the afternoon we spent filming wild bears in the meadows. All credit goes to Tony Rowell (http://www.tonyrowell.com), who spotted the bears and radioed us: “We got bears!…. turn around!” It was an incredible rush — a natural high — being out so close to the bears and filming them.
Tony got some beautiful still shots and even timelapses(!) of these bears, then snapped a photo of me and Chris coming back from the filming:
Tony got both of those shots on his dad Galen’s (http://www.mountainlight.com/rowellg.html) old, beat-up, scratched Nikkor 300mm.
Shooting waterfalls on the Red camera at 50 frames per second:
Next up, the Eastern Sierras!!!!
Some behind-the-scenes pics and videos from April and May in Palm Springs and Nevada.
Next up, we are leaving for Yosemite tonight for two weeks in the park with Steve Bumgardner!
After years of wanting to attend NAB (National Association of Broadcasters conference) in Vegas, this year, I couldn’t resist any longer. My work was being featured in Canon’s “HD Theater” in the main convention hall, and there were just too many people I wanted to finally meet, and sponsors I wanted to thank. After a grueling 10-hour drive hauling the 30ft trailer from Lake Powell down to Coachella, I raced back to Vegas to NAB. Almost immediately, I was able to meet a lot of the major players from Canon USA, including (the real) Chuck Westfall and Amy Kawadler. The strangest part for me, was the fact that several times I was stopped in the hotel or on the convention floor with “Tom?? THE Tom Lowe from Timescapes??” *Blush* I am a guy who spends most of his time sitting on camping chairs under stars and trees in remote places. I was quite surprised that anyone even knew who the hell I was.
I got to meet some of the real luminaries of new digital cinema, including Dan Chung, Philip Bloom, Rodney Charters, Alex Buono, Khalid Mohtaseb, Jon Rawlinson, etc. I figured most of my time at NAB would be spent eye-balling new gear and cameras. But in fact, 95% of my time was spent just meeting people and saying hi.
Wednesday night, Eric Kessler of Kessler Cranes threw what was supposed to be a small dinner party for just a few of us, but quickly turned into a fairly epic little gathering (photo above). By night’s end, we were at Gustav’s bar at the Paris hotel having drinks with Laforet, Chung, Charters, etc.
From the frying pan of NAB, straight into the flames at Coachella! Dan Chung and Drew Walker joined me immediately after NAB for three days of filming at the Coachella music festival. Needless to say, this was a bit of a culture shock after the previous six weeks of filming cactus and joshua trees out in remote deserts. First of all there were gorgeous women everywhere. And the music.. wow!
Here are two frame grabs from the Red footage we shot… all of it was filmed at 3K RAW 50 frames per second…
Next up, I am heading to Nevada soon to film for about a week to ten days, for a big new Nevada State Museum project. This will be a high-tech museum with video walls. I believe it will be built on the Vegas strip. I will use the earnings to supplement the modest “Southwest Light” budget, and will also be able to use the clips in my film.
I wanted to say a special thank you to my spring intern, Dustin Kukuk. Simply put, I couldn’t have done what I did over the last six weeks without Dustin. His enthusiasm, humor, hard work and artistic ideas helped push me in new directions and motivate me to work even harder myself. For a guy with little camping or timelapse experience, Dustin took to it like a duck to water. How many bonfires did we huddle around while the Canon cameras were tucked away in some nearby valley shooting timelapse until 3am? How many miles of pitch-black landscapes did we stumble across to check on the dolly without ruining the shot with flashlights? How many nights did we freeze massive amounts of balls in sub-freezing temps sleeping out in vast deserts on open cots? How many times did we rock “Dubside of the Moon” in breathtaking locations under epic stars? It was awesome, my friend. Hope you learned something. I did.
And just remember your promise…. to wheel me out to the Holy Land when I’m 90 years old for one last cold beer, bonfire, and timelapse shoot!