Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Loreley shoot

What a hard weekend. All for just 30 seconds. Anybody that’s not part of this filming world would not understand how much work goes into a 30 second commercial. I most certainly forgot.

After picking up all the hired equipment with a huge van, my navigation system sent me all around Frankfurt. Navigation systems and I am great friends. I remember so clearly how it once sent me right though a parking lot. I even had to get a ticket. At least I got out without paying. Imagine that.....

On Friday I made my way to my final destination. I wanted to set up all the gear the night before to make sure I was not wasting any time during filming. Saturday morning my assistant/ cameraman/ director/ lighting/ gaffer arrived and around 8 we started setting up outside in the street. All the actors arrived shortly after that and final practice and make-up was in full swing. Just before 11h00 we started filming outside on the crane. The head actress playing the character “Loreley” did a fantastic job under very hard conditions. There were really a lot of people in the streets. Then we had to close the roads and traffic was piling up for hundreds of meters. It was also hard to work with the general public, to play along and walk natural without looking in the direction of the camera while we were bagging the shots for the 30 sec puzzle. To say it was hard, would be a complete understatement. Continuity was virtually impossible but I remembered an interview with Danny Boyle about shooting in Bombay and how he just had to go with the flow of things as they tried to shoot a film in the highly populated streets of Bombay. If he could do it with a 7 million budget then I am for sure up for the challenge.

Back to the matter at hand. The day went extremely well. I got most of the outside shots, staying fairly calm. One classic shot is worth mentioning. I had to shoot a crane shot of wet tracks across the road coming from the Lady Loreley's bare feet. We tried several different methods but none was successful. Spraying water under her foot soles, standing in water, carrying her on a chair and then printing foot by foot. At the end the only thing that worked, was rubbing cooking oil on her feet, carrying her seated on the chair and print foot by foot. It was so successful that 2 days later, when I left for home, the prints were still in perfect condition in front of the hotel entrance.

At 22h30 Saturday evening we packed the gear and called it a day. On Sunday I was up and rocking by 6h30 setting up an extremely complicated restaurant shot. The problem was that I wanted to incorporate the great view from the Rhein river. This meant lots of natural light coming through the windows. We had 5 very powerful HMI daylight balance lights to light up the room. The glass windows and mirrors added to the adventure of the game. We did the lunch time shoot at breakfast time to have the restaurant as full as possible. Lots of interesting close-up’s with dripping water and great moving dolly shots to make for another epic day of filming.

All and all I am pleased with the outcome. My assistant, Lawence Richards, did an outstanding job and is a very talented producer to work with. Nattily, in the roll as the Loreley, worked extremely hard and was absolutely sent directly from heaven for this commercial. I cannot imagine another actor doing it better. The fantastic hotel staff helped as runners and made sure we always had refreshments. The end product will probably be available online some time in October.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

El-Paradiso trailer

I was commissioned to shoot a film of events happening over a period of one year at one of the most spectacular mountain huts in the world, the El-Paradiso. We are now halfway into filming. I had to make a teaser about what we are producing so the client can already use the material in marketing his business for the coming winter. Music was produced by Olivier Girardot. Over the next 4 months filming for a complete short film will continue.

Go and view the trailer at under movies or just view it below.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


I am in Germany for the casting of a lady actor for the commercial shoot coming up the following weekend. What I love most about my trips up North is the Autobahn. You can drive as fast as you want or as fast as your car can go. Driving on the German roads is an absolute pleasure. Most of the cars, mainly BMW and Audi, are fairly new and with good drivers. The regulations for both car and driver are some of the strictest in the world and it can be seen on the roads. It’s a world apart from conditions in South Africa.

Any case, straight after arriving, I saw a lot of possibilities for filming beautiful behind the scenes footage. The mist was low over the Rhein river and I could not let this opportunity slip by. I ended up filming for a good 2 hours before checking into my hotel room and packing out all the gear for the casting.

I was a little worried after seeing that the first lot of girls was not what I had in mind. The hands and feet were the most important aspects and they did not match the criteria. But then things changed for the better. We found the perfect actress for the roll. She had everything that the client wanted and after practicing the part a few times everybody on the team was convinced that the production was on the right track.

The next day I spent a great deal of time on the background interviews in connection with the client's business and did some fox pop interviews with his customers as well as more beauty shots and cut-aways. Although I was a a little stressed before I arrived, things are starting to fall in place and I am now looking forward to the actual filming of the commercial next weekend.

Friday, 7 August 2009

New toys

This month I have a new commercial shoot coming up in Germany and I really needed a new super prime lens for lowlight filming. A very good client of mine has got every lens in the book. The guy even owns a Hasselblad camera. It’s probably the most expensive DSLR money can buy. He also has a huge collection of Nikon lenses. I tried all of them. It’s an amazing privilege to shoot with equipment like this. But one lens in particular was my favourite. See, I remember Phil Darley from the BBC had this £10 000 wide angle Canon lens. Really a bomb of a dream lens to own, but if you can afford only one lens that has to do most of your production, then a wide angle can really spoil it. So, although a wide angle looks great, it was not what I was after. I needed to focus close and with a f-stop of 1.8 or bigger. The lens I was after was his 6 year old 28mm 1.4T .  It has a heavy cast iron solid body. He agreed on me trying it for the commercial and to make him an offer for the lens. This was what I wanted to hear. 
Life in general is expensive and on top of it all, our car was in for a major service and I had to buy a lot of new equipment. Equipment that I need for the  30 sec commercial in Germany. It’s one of my biggest jobs to date and I am pulling out all the stops to make this project as perfect as I can. One piece of kit that I need was a boom microphone. Normally I would hire the gear, but it is time that I spend some money and get my own things. Phil, my good friend from the BBC advised me to the little brother of the Sennheiser 416….. the ME66. I am a fan of Sennheiser since all the audio equipment I have from them works like a charm. After a bit of research I bought the whole kit, ME 66, pre-amp, boom pole, pistol grip and softie.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Waveski Surfing World Titles 30 sec TV commercial

I had to help the Australia Waveski Surfing Association to produce a 30 sec TV ad that will be shown on local television before and during the event.

A year ago I shot some great footage in ReunionIsland and just had to find a way of editing the material and come up with something unique. I had a look at what the Association of Surfing Professional (ASP) do with their event advertisement, but I was not excited.
However, I saw something on YouTube done with maps and it triggered my imagination. I scanned in the world map and started working on it in Photoshop. The idea was to let it look like you are flying over the earth ball as the Island from Australia turns towards you. Then fly right into Coffs Harbour where the event will take place. It turned out well and the client is stoked. I also got a comment from Discovery Channel to say that it is awesome. So if they are happy……. I am happy.

I just want to thanks my music producer for composing the soundtrack for this commercial. His name is Olivier Girardot and really a world class musician. Check out