How important is a film location and can it be the difference between whether or not your filmmaking will have that Epic look you want?
Are you willing to research gorgeous locations? Are you willing to wake up at crazy hours to get to a location at sunrise? Are you willing to hike, swim, sweat to get to that perfect spot in very cold or very hot uncomfortable conditions to get that perfect shot?
Seeing as the new year is any day now I thought I should focus this post on a less technical topic and more on an inspirational one. Don’t be fooled though, this is crucial info that we all, myself included, need to put much more emphasis on. 2014 . . . here we come!
I remember when I was starting out I would see other people’s amazing footage and be disappointed that mine didn’t have the same emotional impact. So I did my research, practiced, got on sets, and asked questions. Often I still felt disappointed in the results. I was still missing (at least) ONE VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR.
When learning how to make video look like a blockbuster hit, most of us know the following intuitively: find an awesome location and your half way there. But this is sort of like everybody knowing that they have to bust their rear-end in the gym to get in shape – they still don’t do it! It helps to see what it truly takes to get awesome shots, to inspire us to make it happen and to realize upfront that IT AINT EASY.
Watch this video by Devin Graham (subscribe to his crazy cool youtube channel) to understand what goes into getting awesome footage (besides your skill), and the pain-in-the-ass you gotta be willing to go through to make your filmmaking stand out.
So, I ask again: are you willing to research gorgeous locations? Are you willing to wake up at crazy hours to get to a location at sunrise? Are you willing to hike, swim, sweat to get to that perfect spot in very cold or very hot uncomfortable conditions to get that perfect shot? If not, well then your reel just won’t be mind blowing like the next guy’s work.
When we see awesome images we give the cinematographer a lot of credit, as well we should, but we put all that credit instinctively on the framing, exposure, camera settings and any other technical perfection that was applied.
We completely forget about the factors that are responsible for at least 50% of the shots’ awesomeness . . . namely: Film Location (subject matter), time of the day, and hard friggin’ work to make it all happen.
Probably the first thing that is stopping a person in getting this right is that they do not put enough emphasis on this ridiculously important factor. I mean let’s think about this for a moment. Take a shooter who has a decent skill level and give him an average location in the middle of the day to shoot – the results will be decent, but nothing to write home about.
Take that same shooter, and put him in an awesome location at the perfect hour of the day and what do you get? Awesomeness, that’s what! (*Tip: Sunrise and Sunset also have a pretty big window where just 10 minutes of that time are much more amazing than the rest.)
It may be that another shooter who is just as good as you, or maybe even less skilled, has more impressive footage on his reel! Very often, a lot of that impressive footage is due to exactly what we have mentioned up until now.
The Extra Mile
Here are some of the back breaking facts you can expect to have to go through:
- Expect to wake up hours before the sun does
- Expect several hours to set up and find the shot
- Expect to screw up several takes, and maybe have to come back to try again
- Expect to leave with minutes worth of footage after hours of effort
- Expect to have only one or two 5-second shots useable at the end of the day.
So there’s the hard hitting truth, but we’re not afraid of hard work are we?! And like all hard work A) it pays off and B) most people aren’t willing to do it! So if you are willing to get it done your footage will shine while everybody else is trying to polish a turd.
Let’s make 2014 full of epic shots!
WHAT CRAZY STUFF HAVE YOU DONE TO GET THE SHOT?
DO YOU TAKE THE TIME TO FIND AN AWESOME LOCATION?
DO YOU FOCUS ON GEAR INSTEAD OF WAKING UP AT 3AM TO GET THE SHOT?