Working on the Van Von Hunter project at my job for the last two years has introduced me to a number of people. One of those people is a guy named Travis Stevens who has been playing a major character in the project and contributing a lot of assistance in other ways. He has worked in television and film production for a number of years and is much more friendly and cordial than you may expect from a person mired in an industry known for brewing cynicism and distrust. Much like all of us involved, he has his own aspirations and passions. He has a devout interest in Westerns and Horror and penned a screenplay combining the two. I read it. I liked it. I was absolutely interested when he said he wanted to shoot a scene from the script as a test piece.
There were a number of factors that made me interested. I have recently become intrigued with the Western genre myself (I think I have hit that age where Western story elements suddenly seem relevant as a male). It would be shot on the RED camera, a camera I have been interested in working with. It would be an opportunity to try out a variety of effects and keying techniques on very high quality footage. Travis is a standup guy and has helped me in the past with my Marty Mitchell project. It would be fun. And the clincher, Daisuke. Dais is an editor I work with. He exudes a stoicism and dry wit that makes him a perfect candidate for playing a cowboy. He would be part of the cast. Deal.
Travis wanted his actors to feel comfortable with a six-shooter so he took them and some of us on the crew to a firing range. Despite growing up in “Sportsman’s Paradise” (that’s Louisiana for those who don’t know) surrounded by an extensive hunting culture, I had never managed to fire a real firearm in my life. It was an interesting experience. Holding a real handgun, feeling its weight, experiencing its explosive force, and hearing its deafening roar is intimidating. Especially when you are standing in a firing range where various weapons are being fired every few seconds. There is a great power there and a necessity to treat it with respect. It was a valuable learning experience.
The video shoot encompassed the first three weekends in June. We started in a green screen studio and moved to a ranch for the last day of shooting. Travis compiled a relatively small, but exceptionally efficient crew. Everything was pre-planned, each position was filled, everyone knew what they were doing, and the days ran smoothly. We often wrapped early. The nice thing about the crew is they were all friends and associates of Travis’. Thus, everyone got along very well and most of the time everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. It didn’t feel like work. This was the first shoot I have ever been on that used a crane. It was spectacular to see it in action. I look forward to using a crane on a personal production someday. It allows the camera to get places it can’t normally and move in ways a person can’t. It also makes finding shots and preparing setups much faster. I really enjoyed the location shoot also. Having the actors on horseback trotting across ranch property added a beauty and believability we wouldn’t be able to mimic in a studio.
Now the project is in editing and soon it will be coming my way. I was on each shoot and helped as much as I could, but my real work on this project is yet to come. Soon I’ll receive an edit with all 60-70 shots and the compositing and visual effects process will begin. I have lots of keying, comping, and grading ahead of me. I look forward to seeing this short when we finish it and I hope to work with this crew again in the future.