From The Intern's Corner: The Power District Shoot
11 Jan 2022
The Rocky Mountain Power's Power District shoot was a unique experience for me in that it was the first project I worked on for BW that involved a larger crew. A typical BW Productions shoot has one or two camera operators, a producer, and a production assistant, but this one had so much more.
There was a director, director of photography, gaffer, key grip, script supervisor, producer, creative director, makeup artist, sound mixer, two camera operators, two production assistants, BTS photographers, and more. Working on a project that was scaled up was a good opportunity to see the way these people work on fully crewed projects. This was also the first project for which I had the opportunity to work with Aaron and Greg, the two chief creatives of Cinema Forte. Their style of work has always interested me, so this was a cool opportunity.
I got a lot of hands on practice doing grip and electric. From the beginning, the gaffer seemed to trust me and allow me to do a lot of work myself. He was very kind and taught me a lot, even going to the extent of uncovering a panel box to show me the wiring and teach me about electrical currents. I was setting up lights, flags, and running power as if I was a member of the grip team. It was during that day that I realized I enjoy grip and electric more than I thought I did. I enjoy it for three reasons.
The first being the physicality of it. I love lifting heavy things and working with my hands. As a grip, it is in your purview to lift heavy stands, lights, and other equipment as well as assembling lights, frames, and other contraptions used to shape light.
The second being I enjoy the creativity behind it. I’ve heard someone say that the difference between videography and cinematography is the shaping and manipulating of light. As I looked at the monitor and saw the way lighting changes manipulated the image, this became very apparent to me. Nik Garff (see above), the gaffer, gave great attention to detail on these lighting changes in a way that highlighted his passion, no pun intended.
The third is advanced problem solving. Assisting the lighting on this project gave me the confidence to go be a swing grip on another project not affiliated with BW. Because the project was a smaller budget, we found ourselves with less resources, windows that were difficult to cover, a constantly changing sun, and curtains that were difficult to deal with. I was able to work with the gaffer of that project to come up with creative solutions. That whole experience was a byproduct of working closely with the freelance gaffer of a BW project. If I was to choose between assistant camera and gaffer, I would probably choose gaffer.
Another opportunity the shoot provided, probably the most important, was having time to get to know crew members and the full time staff of BW. An old adage of film production is, “Hurry up and wait!” On set, there are moments where you have to spring into action and work very quickly to get a shot set up, followed by long periods of waiting until the next flurry of action. These waiting periods are a good opportunity to hang out with other crew members and connect on a personal level, rather than just professionally. Talking, chatting, joking, and passing time are important things to do in this industry, and there was time in between interviews to fulfill that. It’s always eye opening to see that people are just…people.
Learning more about inter-department communication, lighting, interviewing, and team-bonding were just a handful of things I learned on the shoot. I’m excited for the next one.
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.