I like to think back on how I first got interested in filmmaking, and I have to say the first time I ever really enjoyed the process was back in college. This was well before I became a professional videographer in San Francisco, CA and I was focused on my degree in marketing and business administration. But one of my hobbies was in Film Club, where we made short films for fun. For three years we took part in a very challenging local event in Spokane, WA: the 48 hour film festival.
This was, as you can imagine, a wild weekend of shooting. We were given 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a film with given parameters. Though we never won, we did come close two times. As you can imagine, it's not the most conducive environment for high-quality filmmaking, but rather forces you to make fast, tough decisions. A lot of what you want to do has to be thrown out, and even more gets left on the cutting room floor.
Fast forward to 2017, and an opportunity presented itself to me at a Sony shooting event in Sedona, AZ. I was told at the onset that we had two days to make a video, and of course I wanted to win. I looked at who I was up against, and because there were so many dedicated YouTubers there I was a bit afraid of the competition. That's when I remembered my experiences doing 48 hour film festivals, and I thought that maybe that would give me the edge.
Turns out, it did. The video above was conceptualized, shot and edited in just 48 hours and was voted the best video produced at the event. We were given the opportunity to shoot out of a hot air balloon at dawn, and I took that time to make all of the aerial footage you'll see in the video. Though I normally use drones for much of this kind of thing, the balloon afforded me some unique advantages. Firstly, it moves very slow and deliberately, and it allowed me to mimic some of the more sought-after kinds of aerial shots (slow reveals, pans, and the straight-down clips). It certainly helps that my balloon pilot was excellent at his job, and was able to fly us into some really amazing scenes, and deftly skirted the tops of the brush at the crest of the mesa.
The timelapse shots were created using a mixture of a traditional intervelometer and my Cinetics Lynx rail.
It was extremely rewarding to not only produce something in so short a time, but something that I was happy with and so were others. It's absolutely not the idea situation for creating content, but it was a fun exercise that took me back to my early days.