Nothing about this project went as planned. The only thing that we planned for, that actually delivered, was the right people showed up.
Check out our BTS Vlog of our trip!
I realize that for those of you that just stumbled onto this blog you have no idea what I am referring to so let me give you the back story.
Back in March we started talking with Cascadia Vehicle Tents (CVT) about doing a customer story piece about the need in our culture to get back into the outdoors and how CVT helped facilitate that.
We started to dive into pre-production. We found a song we loved, Ryan developed our key story points, I wrote a script, we used Google Earth to help us find shooting locations.
We found the perfect customer, thanks Stefanie! (She and her friend Tiffany were serious troopers, like seriously.) She had a loaded out Toyota 4Runner a CVT trailer, tent, kayaks and even a dog named Riley! It was all coming together. The only thing that wasn't working in our favor was the weather. The weekend we had chosen was supposed to rain but we decided to overlook that and count on the ever changing Oregon Coast weather to change 24 hours in advance and give us clear skies.
We left Bellingham on Wednesday with high spirits and clear skies, destined for Portland to meet with our friend Ben who runs Happy Mountain Kombucha, we then drove to Bend where we met up with Bobby and his guys at CVT and then drove to Salem to crash at a friends house.
The next morning we drove to Cape Kiwanda, scoped out some potential locations and at this point (Thursday) we decided to change all of our original locations.
Lesson 1: Don't expect to shoot at the locations you planned for
I had spend the better part of half a day mapping and scouting out locations up and down the Oregon Coast. Trying to balance a tight shooting schedule with peoples schedules, a script, the light and the weather up and down the coast of Oregon seemed daunting but I thought it would be manageable. I was wrong. Thursday we decided to scrap all of our original locations and spend the next 4 days shooting at Cape Kiwanda.
We woke up Friday morning from our illegal camp spot on a random parking lot above the beach in the hopes to find a sunrise, but to our dismay and the weather man's accuracy it was socked in.
Lesson 2: Don't count on the weather
We adjusted our game plan and spend the rest of the day shooting b-roll at a variety of locations. The fog ended up burning off and by the end of the night we had what resembled one of the weakest sunsets ever.
Friday night was interesting. We decided to sleep on the beach and met @basillynch who happened to be our beach neighbor. The weather again predicted that there would be 40mph sustained and 80mph gusts. We didn't believe them. We settled in to our tent only to be woken up around 2am by heavy wind and the noise of an ocean slowing creeping closer to our campsite fueled by a high tide, combined with heavy winds.
We packed. Fast. We carried our rain soaked tent over a hill, through a river and set it up in a spot inside the trees. We then trekked back to grab our car, drove a 1/4 mile down the beach away from our tent, got back on the main road and drove back to our tent which had blown over and was even wetter. We didn't sleep that night.
Lesson 3: Coffee shops are king on a shoot
I don't know how many hours we spent in this coffee shop but the answer is 10+. We showed up as early as they opened Saturday morning to dry out, charge our batteries and back up our footage. Charging our batteries throughout the trip was a constant game of conservation. Every day we would shoot sparingly and then charge them all back up in the coffee shop or via a cigarette outlet any chance we were driving.
Stefanie and Tiffany arrived in the middle of a terribly rainy Saturday. We hung out at a local brewery and passed the time over some beers. Eager to start shooting, we briefed them on the project and headed out into the 60mph wind and rain to shoot our first scene.
Lesson 4: Sand gets everywhere. No matter how hard you try
What do you get when you combine 60mph wind, pouring rain, a sandy beach and camera gear? It's not pretty. 1 month later we are all still picking sand out of our hair. Despite the awful conditions and a lot of garbage bags to protect gear, Stefanie and Tiffany braved the weather to capture some amazing shots. 1 scene down.
Drenched and sandy and not very eager to keep shooting we called it a day. Ryan and I drove to a nearby town to dry our clothes and to charge batteries (again.)
We woke up the next day, loaded up our camera gear which we stored in our wet tent so we could sleep in the dry car, to a hopeful forecast. We finished our second cup of coffee at a pleasant diner as the skies started to open up. It was go time. We spent the rest of the day shooting and got some amazing images.
Lesson 5: Dry weather puts everyone in a better mood
We ended the day in high spirits, set up camp, pulled out our untouched camp food and feasted. Hot dogs, pasta, salmon, beer and salami. It wasn't until this point that I felt confident about where this project was going. The weather and all the changes until this point had rocked my confidence in ourselves and our ability to adapt but as I sat sipping coffee (again) petting Riley I relaxed. We were going to make it.
We ended our trip with a short shoot the next day but after hugs and many thanks we turned for home, 8 hours away.
Was this trip a failure? We had planned so much and literally nothing went to plan. I don't believe so.
As I'm writing this post (and picking sand out of my hair) I reflect back on this shoot. The video isn't done, I'm editing it right now but it's going to be beautiful. Despite all of the changes and our own ignorance of the weather, the project worked. I think we were able to succeed because we had planned. Even though our map changed we still knew the direction to travel. We improvised and were able to carry the project through. It was because of our planning that we were able to deviate from it (even though it wasn't by choice) and walk out of the shoot 5 days later feeling good.
This is a lot to read and you'll likely just watch the recap video we made but I leave this out here for anyone worrying about a project that might deviate from the plan. Let it. Have an adventure, trust yourself.
The project might even turn out better for it.