I am excited to announce that I have received financial and other backing from a small studio outside the United States, and will begin principle photography on my first film, titled Southwest Light, on Feb 15th, 2010! The film will be roughly 45-minutes in length, a mixture of timelapse, slow-motion, and real-time footage shot in beautiful digital RAW format on Canon and Red cameras.
.... I will travel the American Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona & New Mexico) for ten straight months, no stopping, in a Toyota 4X4 truck hauling a travel trailer and camera gear. My goal is to create a portrait of “a time and a place” using poetic, haunting, jaw-dropping visuals. The genre of the film will be similar to non-narrative masterpieces Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi. Along the way, I hope to offer unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the making of a film of this type, here on this blog. For those of you who really like to dig into the details (what f-stop? what gear? what settings? how did you shoot that?) and see how these types of films are made, this will be your chance.
Thanks to help from friend Vincent Laforet, Canon USA is stepping up and backing Southwest Light with a crucial, major sponsorship. I will also be announcing other major sponsorships over the coming weeks.
We are also looking for suggestions of amazing locations and events you think we should film over the coming year in the American Southwest. Maybe you know of some interesting local event, like a hot-air-balloon rally, Native American ceremony, a natural granite waterslide where families swim in the summer, or maybe some epic landscape where the setting sun hits a rock formation in a certain way only one time per year? Let us know! We are looking for great suggestions for locations and events. If you have expertise or connections related to locations (your Uncle works at a radio telescope array?), let us know. We will show up with the cameras.
I like this kind of filmmaking, Koyaanisqatsi is one of my favorite films. I've looked at your work up on vimeo, great stuff, it will be wonderful to see what you come up with after all that time on the road, then weaving together 45 mins of material.
Sweet! Congrats Tom, really looking forward to seeing more of your work. What's your release/distribution strategy?
Probably film festivals then sell the US rights to Discovery, Nat Geo, etc. The real question will be how to sell the rights overseas. Because this film has no narration, and is strictly visual (like Baraka), it should have appeal overseas. I am going to pack the DVD and Bluray to the gills with extras. There will be a huge amount of behind-the-scenes footage, so keeping some ownership of Bluray/DVD rights will be important for us.
But all of that is stuff I can worry about down the road. Right now, I just need to focus on kicking ass over this next year on the road.
We are fast approaching one month of production. Like hundreds of other people, I have been without Red #352 for over a month now, due to supplier issues and delays in the Red MX upgrade program. This frustrates me, because it will certainly cause a negative impact on the overall quality of my film. Because of this, I might try to extend the shoot dates into next year.
Anyway, gear delays aside, we are having a fantastic time out here shooting with the Canon gear! The first two weeks were in the Indio/Palm Desert area, and for the last two weeks we have been here in lovely Ajo, Arizona. We got permits for the US Air Force's Goldwater bombing range, and have been spending most of our time out there. It's a real hidden gem -- beautiful, iconic desert landscapes.
My custom single-axis timelapse dolly at one of my favorite spots out near Jumbo Rock at Joshua Tree.
"Astro Drivelapse" shot on the Canon 5D2 with the new 24mm f/1.4 II.
Epic lighting provided courtesy of the US Air Force. Those are battlefield illumination flares dropped by jets that are back- and front-lighting the Saguaro tree.
My assistant Dustin and me enjoying a night of "working" under the stars. We were roasting hot dogs and listening to the Red Centre podcast while the 5D2 did all the hard work a couple hundred meters away.
Well our Red MX camera finally arrived yesterday. I took it out for a little spin at dusk in my truck, filming out the window with a Cinesaddle (I was not driving). It's very mind-blowing to be able to "film" in real time basically in the dark. I was at T2.1 on Zeiss standards at ISO 2500. I can't even imagine how nice this type of shooting would be with a Master Prime wide open.
In another update, my assistant and I sought out and found a "secret" location in northern Arizona that pretty much blew our minds to pieces. This landscape is a game changer, from my point of view. Absolutely otherworldly. I think Fricke is gonna be jealous when he sees this place!