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shooting in the jungle


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#1 tanner wolfe

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 04:19 PM

i will be the key grip on a show shooting for 5 weeks in panama. we will be in the jungle and it will be the end of the rainy season, mid-november. i've never worked in the jungle before and i'm not really sure how to prepare for it. any thoughts?

cordially,

tanner
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#2 Felipe Perez-Burchard

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 04:46 AM

i will be the key grip on a show shooting for 5 weeks in panama. we will be in the jungle and it will be the end of the rainy season, mid-november. i've never worked in the jungle before and i'm not really sure how to prepare for it. any thoughts?

cordially,

tanner


I'm not a grip, but I have worked in the jungle and I would say be prepared for a LOT of leveling, with LOTS of apple boxes and all the wedges in the world... Once we had a long track that started with two wedges on one end and was at least three or four full apples on the other end.
Trees were used a lot with ropes to rig the diffusion... cranes are great but figuring out the safety of where to place them and how was of prime importance.

Maybe this is obvious, just trying to help...

good luck!
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#3 Phil Savoie

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 10:50 AM

Howdy Tanner,

Jungle environs require a bit of thought as they are difficult locations to film. The jungle understory is usually very dark photographically speaking with dappled light sprinkled about thats often 15 stops hot to keep you on your toes. I agree with Felipe keeping thing level will certainly challenge you. For camera movement such as tracking and dolly moves I've had very good success with sliding cameras down aircraft cable. Stringing cable, although laborious is often quicker and much more practical than laying track over the many vines and buttress roots of rain forest canopy trees that one encounters. If you click on the link to my website below you can see film clip examples.

The basic practicality of moving the equipment to the location(s) itself can be a challenge. I'm a one man band producer/director/shooter, usually traveling with one assistant and hiring one or two locals to help transport gear - even so it's not uncommon to use between 20 to 40 cases of gear, not including generators and jibs to get the work done. I don't know your remit but I'd advise planning for local help & extra time to get gear to location and rigging. Jungle trails are often a hilly slippery muddy mess - even in the 'dry' season, extra hands can make a great difference in not getting spent just getting to location.

As the humidity is usually close to 100% you'll need to plan for keeping the gear and film/tape stock safe. Hard Pelican cases have served me well, they are waterproof and I stuff a good number of large silica gel bags in each as well as a humidity indicator card. For yourself the humidity can also be a problem. I tend to dress in 100% cotton. If your like me you'll sweat quite a bit, bring a few water bottles. Plan on drinking a few gallons a day especially during the dry, read bloody hot, season. Remind the producer how important a good source of clean fresh water will be for the entire crew, this can be more involved than you think. I had a job in Guatemala shooting a Mayan series at the Tikal temple ruins and one of the real challenges was keeping everybody watered properly for six weeks, in the end I hired a local who's sole job was water for the crew.

Check to see what medical prophylaxis is required. I don't respond well to Lariam as a malaria preventive but find Doxycycline no problem. Indeed one of the side effects of Doxycycline is 'increased sensitivity to light' which I always mused was a good thing for a DP ;-). Chiggers and ticks are common in Panama so bring some powder - don't forget some fungal power either.

Enjoy the trip. Jungle filming can be very rewarding and exciting on a personal level.
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#4 Phillip Evanesce

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 12:53 PM

Phil,

That's some of the best nature/wildlife footage that I've seen. Great work.
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 12:05 AM

Bring me. I'll help you.

Jamie
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#6 Rob van Gelder

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 10:43 AM

Don't forget to bring a Ladderpod, for the high shots, quick, easy and stable to set up.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 06:11 PM

Insect repellant.
Serious boots that are broken in before you get to the shoot.
I'll ditto the anti-fungal powder as well.
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#8 Bob Hayes

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:51 PM

Definitely light cotton or nylon clothes. I like shorts and short sleeve but I always bring light weight long pants and long sleeves for bug protection. Good solid boots are a must but I would also bring some river shoes because you may find yourself standing in water. A light weight sun hat is a good idea. Research the diseases and take precautions I caught Malaria from Zimbabwe and take it from me mate you don?t want it. Definitely tell the producer about the importance of water. I always bring my own supply and I also bring power bars. Every show I have done we have run out of water. Don?t let it happen to you. I also carry water purification tablets. If you work out at a gym you might want to spend some time in the steam room just to get you mind wrapped around the heat and humidity. I also bring a couple of water proof bags for my important gear. Also I always carry a supper lightweight Gore-Tex Rain jacket, Pants, and hat. I like the kind with zipper that open under the arms and again you want the lightest weight you can find. I don?t know what your jungle will be like but from my experience rain is often an option and you don?t want one of those vinyl rain ponchos when it is 100 degrees. I tend to be very careful with what I eat and generally live on rice, cooked vegetable, and cooked meet.
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#9 tanner wolfe

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 11:49 PM

thanks everyone. your responses were very helpful and helped to shape my to do list.

tanner
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