WHATA FEELING

Being’s Believing

I wrote about my new Sony PXW-X70 video camera—you know, all the facts and figures stuff that Digital Video’s Ned Soltz is so good at. I read it and scrapped it. Sorry Cristina, no Production Diary this month.

Then George comes over for lunch. He was a cameraman at ABC7 and now runs a successful production company. Poor guy is tied up with administrative work but today he’s all smiles. Why? He’s shooting again. His eyes light up. He can’t wait to tell me about the thrill of shooting an orchestra playing on a lake with a fireworks display finale. What a feeling!

Marin Symphony Waterfront Pops Concert, filmed by George Lang.

George raves on about the indescribable high you get from doing what you love. He talks about passion. George talking about passion! Am I hearing correctly?

I am inspired to write this piece.

Take Your Passion, Make It Happen

Actors, athletes, dancers, musicians get “it” all the time. They rise to a new level of “peak performance,” a high. Sometimes it just happens, other times they’ll psych themselves up: tennis players by bouncing a ball, actors by some private ritual before going on stage.

I get “it” when I’m shooting handheld and the camera is part of me. It really is. There’s no thought of the exposure, shutter speed, focus or framing. Everything works in harmony. I could be Clapton, Nureyev or McEnroe—but I am not—I am a camera.

Making Pictures Come Alive

If you’re a filmmaker, “peak performance” is the place you want to be. Otherwise, you’re a technician or hobbyist with expensive toys. It’s a trap so easy to fall into. You read this magazine and are enthused to buy that new camera, that new lens, that new tripod. But …

Will you be a better filmmaker? Of course not.

What will make you better? Something money can’t buy:

Passion

The absolute need to do it and the love of doing it well.

Often it doesn’t make sense. “I really want to make a film about tango dancing.” Huh? Crazy, yes—but isn’t that better than “I really need to buy a RED camera,” or “That f/1.4 lens will make all the difference.”

Filmmaking, like playing a musical instrument, requires dedication and tons and tons of practice.

I Hear the Music, Close My Eyes, Feel the Rhythm

Last week Brandon and I were shooting my 3D tall ship documentary. It’s the day the ship’s transom is lifted into place. Brandon has been piloting the DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter for a year; practicing, practicing and getting better and better.

The brigantine Matthew Turner has its transom added. Quadcopter with 3D camera piloted by Brandon Cook.

I have four 3D cameras. I position three as remotes and handhold the fourth. Suddenly it’s all happening and we are in one-take mode. All four cameras are running, the quadcopter is up; the transom is flying over my head.

This is it. This is where I am meant to be.

What a feeling!

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