What to do when it all goes wrong, and how will you fix it?

The late June morning was perfect weather for a sunrise shoot on Elk Lake. It was idyllic, we wrapped by 10, and were back at our accommodations at Black Butte Ranch by 1pm.

The Hall family are on a glassy Elk Lake at dawn to soak up the incredible view.
The perfect place to shoot kayaking from is a party boat!

Our next call time at Black Butte Ranch wasn’t until 4pm, so we all took a much needed 2 hour nap.

We woke up to thunder. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It’s not supposed to rain in the summer in the Central Oregon high desert. This will quickly pass, right? I started to wonder if we had spent all our ‘good luck weather’ in one place.

Agency, talent and crew met at 4pm and looked at each other with bewilderment. But mostly, they just looked to me. Now what? Fix it, Therese.

Cancelling a shoot due to weather is a hard decision for me to make. Can we power through? Will the weather suddenly break? The next scene was of a family playing corn hole—that game is played in the rain, right? That’s normal, right?

We were also scheduled to shoot a scene of a family making s’mores around a fire. Could we at least get that shot? It’s a twilight shoot, we can still do that, right?

The lightning struck. The thunder cracked. Then the rain fell. In buckets.

I set out all my note cards and looked at my options.

  • Ignore the rain, and shoot it anyways. We’ve done that plenty of times. The CD said  “Sure, you could take a bunch of bad pictures. But why bother?” Good point, I can’t argue with that.
  • Shoot corn hole in the morning (during scheduled time off for cast and crew) and shoot s’mores tonight (fuck the rain).
  • Shoot corn hole in the morning and shoot s’mores tomorrow evening, after shooting all the other late day/early evening scenes we have to shoot. This would involve asking crew and talent to be flexible too.

At that point, I called it. Not gonna happen. None of it would look good with wet talent. UGH. Instead, we ordered a round of beers, and watched the lightning storm.

Luckily, we had clear skies again by morning. The agency account director asked  “why was it so hard to call the shoot, knowing that the weather was so bad?” Great question.

We were on day 1 of a 3 day shoot. It’s my responsibility to review every single option before the obvious one, to do my due diligence. I have to think about my talent, my location, my crew – would they all be available for an alternate plan? And what would it cost? I had to quickly estimate the price tag for a cancellation vs.  a rescheduling, and present these numbers to the agency/client. Get all the options on the table, so that we can all make intelligent decisions. I have to go through this difficult process, otherwise, I lose sleep at night because I feel like I left an option on the table.

For this shoot, we had some fairly simple solutions, with a relatively inexpensive work-change order. But the difficulty in making this decision, even with simple solutions at hand, is knowing that I, alone, am responsible if it’s not the right decision. If you’ve ever wondered what a producer does, this is it, right here. A producer makes the hard decisions, under pressure, while everyone is looking at her silently, wondering “how is she going to fix it?”.

Cornhole the next morning turned out perfectly— Huge sigh of relief! See the rest of the shoot here.

New name for a small budget

I was on the phone with a potential client recently, and heard the newest synonym for a tiny budget. It’s now called the Condensed Budget.

And it came during this conversation, which I’m paraphrasing:

We’re being forced to hire the other team, because they’re cheap. We don’t like their work, and if we hire them, we don’t get any creative or production control. So, can you shoot it for us for less than the condensed budget they shoot it for?

Oh, and as icing on the cake? “this will be a good opportunity for you, because you’ll get to work with our best CD, and he works on all the best projects”.

Fwiw, we didn’t get the job. Good/Cheap/Fast – you just can’t have all three, but no one seems to understand that these days.

 

The cinematic world of Bad Choices

Andy created a dystopian world inhabited mainly by strong/interesting/dimensional female characters. This project is called Bad Choices—which is also the name of the town at the center of this conceptual story.

He set his goals high: “I was tired of photographing happy people holding
happy products and pointing at happy screens. I wanted to challenge myself, get outside of my comfort zone”. 
One of Andy’s shots from a shoot for Best Buy
He went well beyond any comfort zones. Andy’s photography always tells a story regardless of the assignment, but to create a personal body of work that he could really sink his teeth into he needed something bigger. Many of his personal tastes and inspirations comes from the world of sci-fi, so he decided to start there. The project began as a character study with 12 different actors, and quickly became a full blown dystopian screenplay with overlapping story lines.
Early stages mind map
From each actor study, Andy started by painstakingly concepting and creating the key poster art for each character. One by one, the story has slowly revealed itself. He’s taken the project through 2 artist retreats on Anderson Island— using mind mapping, film research and creative brainstorming, all funneling in to the creation of the conceptual photographic scenes.
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He knew he couldn’t attempt this project by himself, and so he reached out to a crew of talented artists to ask them to contribute to the project. He first reached out to Hair and Makeup Stylist Terri Lodge to help flesh out and design FX driven makeup to represent each of the characters.
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Costume designer Rebecca Therkelsen was then quickly brought on to collaborate with Andy on the costuming, digging into the backstory of each character, to create a unique wardrobe for each of them.
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Art Director and Prop Master Ron Skrasek jumped at the chance to play in a post-apocalyptic world. His ability to transform words into key prop and set pieces have been critical to the visual storytelling.
Location scouting for our very first scene of Bad Choices.
Camera Assistant Galvin Collins was brought on as a key resource, contributing to all areas of production, including prop-making.

 

Naturally, Therese was responsible for logistics and project management, with critical help from Production Assistant Misty Post, who also worked as a prop wrangler and prop maker.
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Designer Adam Murdoch also gave significant time and guidance to Andy and the project. His combination of graphic design and brand experience gave the project an immense amount of focus. Adam’s unique process created an amazing brand story and design for Bad Choices.
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What’s next for Bad Choices? 

We are very excited to announce that in less than 2 weeks, we are shooting a new phase of the project, this time with the support of Lensbaby. Andy will be shooting with some of their top secret gear, and we’ll be taking the talent to the location. We can’t wait to add to this project. Until then, you can see all the images from the world of Bad Choices here!
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6 of 7 completed character portraits from the series. 5 more to go!
And now I have a treat for you. Because you just read the entire post! That deserves a bunny!
Bunny don’t F around! You’re welcome.