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Location Considerations

Lesson 13 from: FAST CLASS: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

13. Location Considerations

Lesson Info

Location Considerations

So I had this mirror idea tucked in my head for a long time. And we finally got some funding to go out into the desert and build a set out of mirrors and import Las Vegas talent out there onto a dry lake bed and shoot this job. And Lynn orchestrated this whole thing, so well, so yeah, well, so Joe has a habit of dialing up ideas that are just like, how? My exactly. Supposed to what? Okay, so I have to you after I have my initial shock of, like, how am I gonna do this? I start to really wrap my head around it and then figure out OK, well, at least we kind of knew the location was gonna be Vegas. There were a variety of reasons for that logistics. He wants to do it in the desert, so Okay, here we go. Vegas. You know, the dry lake beds out there? Great. We're familiar with Vegas production and people we know, Um, but I didn't know anybody who could build a set like this. So we did have some contacts in the industry out there, and I started just making phone calls. That's how you do it, yo...

u starts just like make one phone call that leads to another and another. And then you finally get Teoh the the people of the group who can help you or you think they can help you until you get their estimate for actually putting things out there. And we're like, Okay, we're gonna have to like real that in a little I mean, you know, yes, it's a wonderfully, you know, it's it's a funded shoot, but there's, you know, a limitation here, So the sky is not the limit, so we'll reel it in. The funding for sending me there went into the building of the construction of the platform, so I stayed behind. But a lot of production can be done right from an office. You need a phone and you need email and Internet, and you could get a lot done. My goal is to take the pieces of the puzzle for any production, put them together and then say, OK, Joe, here you go. Now you gotta like go do that. So that is always a magical moment for Lin because she'll literally live with things for weeks at a time and then she brings this to me and drops him on my lap and says, Now it's your problem. So this was kind of an end result picture from that that that we liked. This is a very typical thing about being, you know, tenacious As a producer, Lin found me that samba outfit. I own that samba outfit. That's where you rely on who do you know? Who could we count on? We have wonderful relationships with many talent in Vegas and the thing about town and sure you already know this, whether it's fashion models or, um, any level of town skill set that a lot of these folks have is you treat them properly there, doing a job for you, and they're very proud to be associated with that shoot. And they're being paid for and sometimes not honestly, a whole whole lot of money. Sometimes it's a more moderate some, but you still treat them nicely and fairly, and you will work with them again. And they'll be thrilled to work with you again because you were kind to them and, um and this is an example of some of the folks we've worked with because Dongsha you menu logistically on a set like this? Um, there's so many factors that way into the final products. Specifically, in this one mirrors, everything's reflecting back and forth. You never know until you get someone in the middle of the set where that you're going to see them next or what in the background, you're going to see your where our lights are, you know? So I mean, in this specific frame, you see me with the VT. This year I had to fit that in so perfectly in the middle of that that slit between the two mirrors because that was the only spot that that light could actually live anywhere else, even just an inter to the left or right. You had a full highboy in there with the beauty dish so that those kind of logistics or what we really need to focus on beforehand, um, going into a shoot like this generally Joe and I, Or if there's another assistant on set, um, we'll sit down and talk, you know, the game plan. It's like, where do we start? You know, we have to get a camera in our hands. We have to just take some quick shots like we did yesterday. You guys saw Joe. He said I'm gonna grab this camera, but they're an aperture priority. And I'm just gonna get my viewpoint here. So I really sit down and work with Joe on introducing the set to all of us. It's like, this is where we need to start. All right, let's build what can work, what can't work. And then we just kind of go from there, but the result where they were very, very pleased with the result. Okay, this was a big job. I was very nervous because obviously when you build a set like this, you've already spent a bunch of money before you even take the cameras out of the bag. And so pressure is on, as it is with anything. A wedding, You know how many how many here shoot weddings? Okay, get still. Get nerves about it. Yeah, you want to do well before and you want to plan it out? Scouting research, meeting. That's a level of production to try to make sure that contracts and and the and the expectations are managed. And all of the things that you're about to do are things that are necessary and expected. Absolutely. This was the other shot we did for the Halloween. Siri's. Okay, so this is a two, for this is the second picture that got draped in the Javits Center. Um, and my imagination on this is that too little trick or treaters wandered into the woods and met an evil tree. And, like again, I have seen too much of the Lord of the Rings. Just is just, you know, and on an enchanted forest. And they never came home again if anyone's going to twisted of that. But I have had a lot of experience with smoke, and I realized I needed a particular type of smoke. I needed a low lying fog, not just a small machine or Roscoe Halloween party fogger or something like that. I needed low lying fog light smoke. And there are people who will do that for you. And that's when I turned to lit it involved body painting, as you will see. So just like with the bedroom, Halloween shoot knew that was gonna be the same, uh, talent and are same artists who would do the body painting did need to do some casting of a couple of kids, so that was a little more involved. Um, but that fog machine that just like, where am I gonna find this specialized. But in Brooklyn, you know, just like you make the phone calls. You search out what you're looking for and and you find what you need. But that was a very big deal to bring in. It was his tended insurance proper insurance for it because it was it was a £ Sylar cylinder. We had a drag into the woods. You know, this is a lot of work. Talk to me about casting kids. Casting kids is fun, but also really kind of difficulty because you want to try to get actual talent, not just your friends, child, because your friends child, although maybe cute or whatever might have the right look that you need. But not someone who, you know, maybe is in front of the camera that often and needs to understand cues and the way it all works. Now babies are different. They don't understand cues, but there's babies through agencies as well. So it's like a whole other thing. But, um, casting Children for this they were, I think, six and eight or seven and 10. I forget. Exactly. But in that age group, um, we knew we needed them to have a certain look and have a certain ability to follow direction. We did not, however, have the budget. Although we had a good budget, we didn't have the budget to do an actual live audition. That's where you get to meet your talent in person, get a feel for their personality and and know that they're either gonna work or not gonna work. We didn't have that opportunity, so I spoke with the agents. Um, I start out by doing like with any casting a wide field because I get hundreds, sometimes thousands of submissions and narrow it down, narrow it down until I get maybe a final core group. Then I speak to the agents, uh, ask them about the Children's in this case personality. And would they be able to follow direction that we're going to need them to act scared in the woods? And this is this is the role they're playing. It's not just for still photography for a catalogue where they just have to look cute. Strike a pose is actually acting on. Their parents were on set. They have to make it, so they have to be on the set. Um, and also we had to disclose to the parents upfront thes these ladies outside of the body paint are naked. Okay, so they're not naked, obviously, because they're bits and pieces air covered with the trees and their bodies air completely painted. But we had to make sure that parents were comfortable with their Children on the set with the presence of a painted lady, you know? And the kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. Just it all went. Really. It was It was crazy. Incredibly. Well, then, when I mentioned about the team that is Lynn, obviously, that's her daughter, Trevi, who is also very involved in the photographic industry. Callie as the lead there is, John, I'm not in this picture. All right? If you notice I abandoned the camera at that point, I've done my shooting. I think I have it, but I don't walk off the set until I get a consensus from the team that Yes, Joe, I think you did. Well, um, Cantlie when you're looking at the LCD here and you're on set. What is your What are your fears? What? Your concerns, Um, when I'm looking at, Ah, the finalized picture are for getting really close to the, You know, the end image is a couple of things that are pretty crucial to see for me at least, obviously critical sharpness being the 1st 1 Um, always zoom in. I go through a bunch of pictures really quick, just toe to make sure that the camera and the lens are operating correctly and all that stuff. Ah, a couple of things that I'm really looking for. Our, um Are the lights firing in every shot? You know, we have in this scenario, we probably had 45 like 2400 watt second units in the backgrounds, firing from super high on high boys down into the woods, picking up that smoke from the back, hitting the trees you'll see in the middle on the side. So there's a lot of lights and play here, So I'm looking and I'm saying, Is this spot up here in the top, right? Is that dead? Maybe we lost one of our 2400 watt second units without us knowing which is on the set. You should always have eyes on relight, and you'll see that with the crew here to you'll see a lot of remember sometimes, like have their one eye closed in the hand over that because they're just really trying to focus on a specific light source firing. Um, and another thing for me that I really look at it for me. It just bothersome to see any sort of like cropping into, like, elbows and, you know, shoulders and knees and the head and stuff like that. So I think you guys saw yesterday to was like Joe, just fire a couple on Give give a little more room on the bottom of the frame. So if I have to do anything to the picture cropping anything like that, I have the room toe work. We can always go in, but we can't build out as easily, so it doesn't usually my three big things. One of the things I do with Callie is I write a pack list. He's responsible for the gear. My first assistant is responsible for the gear, so I write a pack list before we go on location. but at the end of each pack list, Given the fact that he's been very involved in preproduction, I put always at the bottom of that think your way into this. Ask me questions.

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