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Filming tips for doc on landmine clearance


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#1 Nick NormanButler

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 03:59 PM

Hello forum members,
I hope to soon start shooting a character based documentary about people performing landmine clearance. Are there any films to be recommended for inspiration on stylistic approaches? Or does anyone have any tips from previous experience doing similar? Apart from watching your step ;)

Many thanks,

Nick Norman-Butler
Shooting Producer/Director
UK
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 07:11 PM

Get a Steadicam in low-mode, or build a simple rig so your camera can be suspended a few inches from the ground using a length of pipe with a handle / T-bar on top.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:14 PM

I'd suggest a long lens. :P
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#4 David Rakoczy

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:20 PM

With a doubler!
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:31 PM

I've actually done this very thing before. I was in Northern Cambodia (Pailin town, Pailin province) last summer with MAG, so I can at least talk about their operating procedures. Basically their method is to work in 1x1 meter grid squares. They find a metal object with metal detectors and excavate the site from the side to avoid the pressure triggered detonator. If it is a mine, they will blow a whistle and all work stops. The supervisor confirms the find and determines what type of mine is is and how best to destroy it. Then a charge will be set and the mine will be destroyed. Once it is confirmed destroyed, everyone gets back to work. With a 15-or-so person demining crew, we would see 4 or 5 detonations per day.

Number one is listen to the safety briefs carefully. There are very specific safety procedures that have to be followed to the letter if one is to be reasonably safe. Part of that is wearing your safety gear properly. We had flak-jackets and pretty heavy helmets with full face visors. Ask in advance for a new(er) visor because you will have to wear it while you operate. It's a pain but it's better than losing your face. Bring some anti-fog wipes to help keep the visor clear. We were there when it was very hot. Between the safety gear, carrying equipment, and the required long pants and long sleeves, it made for some pretty sweaty conditions. Bring gold bond.

Bring some small crash cameras to rig near demolitions and some good long lenses. MAG deminers will not work if anyone is within 30 meters of them. It's a safety device for them and you. It also is to maintain their concentration while they work. For demolitions, we were not allowed closer than about 100 meters.

Also bring some sheets of heavy plexi for rigging near explosions. If you bring enough, you can make sure that you're always using a new sheet and the shot looks like there is no plexi there.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Just follow every safety rule to a T and you'll feel very safe after the initial "so I'm standing in a live minefield" moment. Maybe if you're lucky they'll find and destroy a tank-killer. ;)
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 03:01 AM

Bring ear plugs :rolleyes:
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:23 PM

In WWII, they had that chain flail mechanism that extended from the front of a tank and whipped at the ground. It would detonate most anything, and far enough from the tank to be safe. All you'd have to do is back off and replace broken chains. That sure seems quicker and safer than what they're doing.




-- J.S.
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#8 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:07 PM

In WWII, they had that chain flail mechanism that extended from the front of a tank and whipped at the ground. It would detonate most anything, and far enough from the tank to be safe. All you'd have to do is back off and replace broken chains. That sure seems quicker and safer than what they're doing.




-- J.S.


My dad was a US Army Combat Engineer in WWII. He went from Utah Beach, through France and Belgium into Germany. I found these photos of his Battalion in a shoebox few years ago. They used the tanks on the beach and inland, but a lot of the work was done by guys with mine detectors and bayonets. They would lose a few guys a month to the mines. Whatever you do, be careful!

-Fran

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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 12:41 AM

In WWII, they had that chain flail mechanism that extended from the front of a tank and whipped at the ground. It would detonate most anything, and far enough from the tank to be safe. All you'd have to do is back off and replace broken chains. That sure seems quicker and safer than what they're doing.




-- J.S.


I asked that same question and the answer I got was that those machines miss a significant (20-30%) portion of the mines used in northern Cambodia. Something about exactly how the triggering mechanism works. Then the soil is plowed and, when the soil is loosened, the mines are very unstable and get set off.
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#10 Bob Hayes

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 01:04 AM

Where are you planning on filming this project?
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#11 Nick NormanButler

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 05:44 AM

Thanks guys. Some really good tips there and I appreciate the photos too.

Nick
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Visual Products

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Aerial Filmworks

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The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS