During the week of Thanksgiving I headed to Nagoya, Japan to work with director Tony Gilmore on a short documentary. The film, tentatively titled "Life As Dad," is about Craig Morrey, an American father stuck in an extremely difficult position. His son Spencer has an extreme case of CB, which requires 24 hour medical care. Due to a custody battle and international child abduction laws, Craig is stranded raising his disable son alone in a foreign country. We spent 4 days (it was suppose to be 5 but I got stuck in Detroit for 24 hours after missing my connecting flight by 2 minutes) following Craig and Spencer around the town of Okazaki and the city of Nagoya. We shot in various hospitals, on trains, in restaurants and at his home. The entire project was shot cinéma vérité style and will be told mostly through audio interviews.
We decided to shoot the project on the Canon 7d (and some with my Canon 5d mkII). We used a zoom H4 for sound and luckily had the privilege of a sound guy (thanks Dave!). We didn't record sound on every take, but when we did we employed the old school "double" system…. aka Camera speed, sound speed, action!… although since its a doc, we never really called action.
In order to keep all the material organized, we continuously dump files to a laptop, being careful to make sure the correct audio and video files went into the same folder. Our producer Tammy Chu handled all the media and did an amazing job in the field (She lives in Seoul so if you ever need a producer there, let me know!)
Gear wise we used the 7d with a number of lenses including the 17-35mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4, 200 f2.8 and two image stabilizing lenses, the 17-55 IS f2.8 and the 70-200 IS f2.8. The IS really helped when it came to shooting handheld, especially due to the rolling shutter issues with the camera. I also used a Zacuto Z-Finder. I had mixed reactions about the viewfinder, but I did find it impossible to film outside in daylight without it.
Another piece of gear I had was a small "Suitcase" dolly that I built. Its the typical skater dolly design, the only real difference is I built it to fit perfectly into my suitcase. That way all we had to do was find some PVC pipes and we were good to go.
Over the course of 4 days we shot about 300gigs of raw footage, that when converted to ProRes comes close to 1TB of data! I brought a little bit of the footage home with me, I'm hoping to cut together a short montage when I have a second.
The shoot went about as smooth as possible. Whenever dealing with sensitive subjects, I always feel weird saying we had a "great shoot" but I think we were able to capture some really powerful moments that in the long run will hopefully help Craig and Spencer. Keep an eye out some updates and footage!
Craig and Spencer.
First day of shooting.
I have had to wear some funny press passes in the past, but nothing compared to this! Its a terrible picture of me, but I just had to share. Next to me was our local producer Satimo.
Right as I was shooting here, I actually had someone come over to read my sign and make sure I had permission, like they couldn't see it across the room.
Sunset outside the hospital.
The crew, from left to right (Satomi, David, Tammy and Tony).
Okazaki Train Station
When i decided to sit on the floor to shoot of a moving train, I think people really started to wonder about me.
I love trains! and I love shooting trains!
Working the 7d and the 70-200 IS f2.8
Okazaki train station at night.
And here are just a few snap shoots of downtown Nagoya....
...and another one.
...and one last final shot.