Out of This World Production
On the 24th of August, 2015, I took off from the San Francisco International Airport, arriving five hours later in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I found myself worrying about how many bags I would be bringing with me, bringing only the most necessary film gear. I had to trust my gut instincts on what that would be, as I only knew a few things for this shoot. I knew it was going to be more or less in the middle of nowhere in the desert, and that it was going to be HOT. I would be documenting field research on a 1945 U.F.O. crash site in Socorro, New Mexico. Footage would also include interviews with eyewitnesses and other experts.
This was, to say the least, a very interesting experience. One of the reasons that we work in video production is to get these widely varied experiences. Finding myself traveling from the editing bay in our Novato office to the visually stunning New Mexico desert, listening to people talk about a topic I had previously heard nothing about, is a perfect example. Documenting the way we do puts us in a position to look in on a part of life that is different than our own, and the perspective you get from that is invaluable
I ended up bringing only 3 bags, which included the following:
Tripod- 1st bag
Camera Bag with most of my gear, 9”x9”x14”- 2nd bag
Duffle bag, for my clothes- 3rd bag
Both the camera and tripod bags fit into all of the planes I boarded, either in the overhead compartment or under the seats. The camera bag contained only the essentials; DSLR camera, three lenses (a fast prime for night work, a long telephoto and a medium zoom), preamp mixer, audio recorder, shoulder rig, AA batteries, 2 15ft XLR cables, Sennheiser wireless kit, an Audio Technica wired lav, 12 batteries for the camera, a 6"x4" LED pane and some gaffer's tape. Never forget the tape. It was an admittedly heavy bag, but heading this far from support means you need to be sure. Running out of batteries wouldn't be an option. Knowing what to bring is a question of experience, and is a skill well worth learning. If you are a person who ever thinks field work like this might come up, you should practice getting everything you need into a couple of bags you can throw over your shoulder and move out with.
Field researcher David Garcia and I drove to the town of Socorro from Albuquerque. We rode in style, making the trip in a brand new Charger, which made the trip that much better. We met the rest of the team at the famous Owl Bar. Paola Harris, the lead investigator; Jan Harzan, Director of MUFON; Tom Hamblin, Field Researcher and Chase Kloetzke, forensic lead. After assembling we drove to the location to start the process.
I had to handle all of the video and audio myself. Normally we try not to do that, but in some cases you don't have a choice, and only you can go do the mission. With budget considerations we sometimes have to limit the crew numbers, and this case, due to transportation, we had a hard limit on how many people could be in the group. I was able to set up a useable rig built off of our shoulder mount. This had room to hold the camera, preamp mixer and Zoom H1 recorder (the smallest recorder we own).
Yes, shooting alone can be done, but having someone to record the audio for you could help tremendously. You can take care of the camera equipment and he/she can do the audio, cutting the setup time in half. This means you can cover more angles and get more b-roll footage and more locations, which translates to your client being satisfied of how fast and efficient you or your team work. The biggest hit that running this alone brought was in how long it took me to setup each shot. But we got the footage, as we always do.
Mainly I would say two things to make a shoot go well; always try to bring a sound person and always have fun! Even though a few horseflies got me, this experience was amazing!
Alan Ricardez, Production Manager
Editor's note: I'm really sorry about the title of this blog. I had to. I just had to.