From the Intern's Corner: Anna's 3-Day Product Shoot
11 Jan 2022
As a film student at BYU, this internship at BW Productions was an easy choice. It’s local, it’s paid, and it provides ample opportunities to work with industry professionals in all aspects of filmmaking. When the internship started, I sat down with Stewart Bounds, our internship coordinator, and we came up with a list of goals and things I wanted to learn from this experience. One of the top things on my list was learning the ins and outs of the grip and electric department.
I got this hands-on experience with G&E on the first big production I worked on for BW Productions: a product release promotion for NuSkin. It took place over three days and it was one of the most exciting and intimidating projects I’ve worked on, both at BW and in my film industry experience so far.
For the first day of production, we shot at Cutthroat Grip, Lighting & Stage, BW Productions’ new studio. The stage was large enough for a photography and video shoot to take place simultaneously, and as a studio assistant, it was my responsibility to help both teams as needed. As it turned out, each team frequently needed help so I was running around all day, making sure that everyone had all their necessary equipment, checking that all the lights were powered properly, and doing water and snack runs to keep everyone hydrated and full. I discovered on this first day that I love the fast-paced environment on large sets like this. Even though I was busy and rushing around, I had fun checking in on every team involved in the shoot and meeting all the talented people it takes to produce a promotion like this.
On the second day, we changed locations to a beautiful house in Alpine. My job was a lot more intense that day because I was supporting two photographers and two videographers, each working on their own projects in different rooms of the house.
It was crazy because I would get one task from a photographer, and, as I was leaving to complete it, I would receive three more from the Hair and Make Up team, a producer, and the G&E team.
It was a fun challenge to sort out all these responsibilities and make sure everyone got what they needed in a timely manner.
Most of my work that day involved helping the lighting team set up the lights for video and I spent lots of time learning from Jake, the Lighting Designer. He walked me through his setups and why he chose to light the scene the way he did.
For example, when we shot in the living room, we set up a 12 foot frame with a ¼ grid silk to cover the large windows to soften the natural sunlight. Then we added an Aputure 600c with a lantern inside between the camera and the window to wrap the light around the model’s face. This created a lovely natural look on video that subtly emphasized the model’s features and therefore emphasized how effective the product was.
By the last day I had finally started to feel more comfortable with my job and I could confidently jump to help when I saw a need. I spent more time with the photo team and worked with Joel, the First Camera Assistant.
I don’t have much experience in photography so it was fascinating to see how skilled Joel was at his job. Most of the shots we got were outdoors so we only used a bounce board, a strobe, and the natural sunlight to light the subject. We shot with the sun behind the model as a hair light, the strobe to the left of the camera and the bounce board to the right of the camera.
I originally thought the strobe would act as the key light with the bounce as a fill, however, Joel showed me that the natural ambience around use was enough to fill the shadows. Instead, we shot the strobe directly at the bounce and used that light to highlight the model’s nose and cheekbones and act as an eyelight.
To an untrained eye like mine, it looked like what we were doing had little to no effect on the image, but Joel showed me how the precise details we added heightened the natural outdoor feeling and showcased the practical use of the product.
Being a production assistant on a project like this was crazy and exhausting, but I loved every second of it. My confidence on set grew exponentially, which helped me later when I worked on shoots with Cinema Forte. I also made lots of great connections with talented creators from both the Salt Lake area and Los Angeles. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work on this set and challenge myself to learn from people with the skills I want to gain.
Utah Women in Production and Photography was founded by women for women. Their mission is to advocate for women in their respective industries. Women provide unique perspectives, skills and insight, making impactful decisions on set. BW Productions is proud to represent a dedicated group that advocates for and collaborates with women.