Monday, June 24, 2013


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Bella Vista

"Bella Vista" is the name the Italians gave Missoula when they first came here. It means "beautiful view." This is the name of the feature film we have worked on for the past two weeks. I really wanted to blog as we worked on it, but there was no time left in our days. We shot 37 locations in Montana during a 12 day period.
"Bella Vista" is a feature length drama about culture shock. I (Jesse) was hired on as the 1st AC and Hannah worked as the Gaffer/Grip. We shot the film on Sony's new FS 700. I had never worked with this camera before, but it's pretty similar some of the other Sony models I've worked with. Alex Cuesta, the DP, wanted to shoot using old 35mm, prime Nikorr lenses. We also attached a follow focus, matte box, and monitor. Anders Bronnum worked as the 2nd AC, so we did all the techy camera stuff together and he ran the Slate. We also had Robert Bohannon shooting steadicam footage and "behind the scenes" on his RED Scarlet. Jeri Rafter and Brooke Swaney were our awesome producers. We had the pleasure of working with a great Art and Costume department: Max Kubisiak and Bonnie Kathleen Ryan. And the lead actor, Kathleen Wise, aka "Doris", was great on and off camera. But, no shoot could happen without great PAs, Taylor Lennox and Tommy Driscoll. We were really fortunate to have such fun, positive people to work with.

Vera Brunner-Sung, a professor of Media Arts at the UM, wrote the script and directed the shoot. This was her first feature film. Actually, I believe that this was the first feature film for a lot of the crew. There were some very experienced people, like our audio crew, Heidi and Troy from Digital Sorcery. These guys did an amazing job with audio, and we'd  highly recommend them for any film project. Natural sounds and good audio is really going to tie this film together.

We ran into just about every kind of weather, and the car we rented for one of the scenes broke down three times, but I think this was one of the smoother shoots I've been on. We had a great crew and all the pre-production and location scouting really paid off. Most of the shots were also locked down on a tripod, with actors on their marks, so the actual filming was really simple. It's a good change from filming wildlife. When the variable of animals are taken out of the equation, it's easier to make a successful production.

We did a shot outside the Freestone Climbing gym, which was really weird for us. It wasn't a location we chose and it kind of teased us because we had friends climbing inside. We cracked down and get the shots done, so the climbing will have to wait for another day.
We did another scene at a new Oula dance studio. Oula is a workout dance class. It was the end of the day, so we were exhausted, but the studio was full of woman bursting with energy. We must have done 5 or 6 takes of the same song and routine, but they kept up their pizazz and enthusiasm. I don't think I've ever seen people so expressive and energetic with every move.

I think the film is going to turn out great and we had an awesome experience working with everyone. Vera is predicting post production to last into the fall, so maybe expect to see some type of cut by October/November.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Deer, MT

I just got back from filming a coyote hunt out in Eastern Montana. The show is called "Big Deer." Word to the wise - Don't shoot coyotes out of the car! This is what happens.  If you look through the scope, but don't see where the barrel is pointed, you might just shoot your mirror out.

I had about a nine hour drive to get out there and on the way realized that this is one of the first shows I've done in Montana. Crazy!!! I have to admit, it's awesome staying in Montana for a hunting show. Even though it was eastern Montana it was great terrain and good people. I always thought Eastern Montana was flat, but it still has some pretty gnarly terrain, and our guides hiked our butts off.
After about 10 minutes in our first location we had a coyote sneak up on us 50 yards away. They didn't wait for me to give them the "OK" to shoot and fired right away. I was lucky and got the camera on the coyote just in time. The rest of the trip we hiked all over the place looking for coyotes and saw several, but they were either too far away or the guides missed the shot. We did have good weather and it was great getting out and hiking the Montana mountains.

I filmed most of the show on the Canon 5d Mark II, which worked out really well. I also lugged around a sony camera with a long lens for filming the coyotes. It was tough moving the audio gear back and forth between the cameras, so I just ended up running both cameras most of the time. That way I had great audio on at least one of the cameras.
The last day we finally had another coyote encounter. It made for a really long day because we were up at 4:30am, hunted until around 1pm, and then I had a nine hour drive back to Missoula. I got back just in time for another shoot to start at eight in the morning.

The next shoot is a feature film called "Bella Vista". It should be a good change from hunting shows and most of it is shot in Missoula : )

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Beavers and Gigging Suckers

Just got back from filming a "Dead Meat" show down in Missouri. The show usually involves hunting or fishing for something weird and then eating it. We started this episode by trapping and eating beavers. The local trapper set five traps and we caught three beavers from them. We went back to the house and prepared the beavers for a stew, and then fried up the backstraps like any old steak. Surprisingly, the beaver did not taste gamey. It actually tasted a lot like beef.

At night we went out gigging for suckers. Suckers are bottom feeding fish and gigging is a method of catching them. Gigging is done at night on a clear body of water with no wind. There are powerful lights on the boat that shine down on the water so you can clearly see the fish.  The instrument used is just a 15 foot pole with a sharp fork on the end. To catch a sucker, you sneak up on the fish and stab it. Filming the gigging was pretty boring, but after they caught a handful of suckers they asked us if we wanted to try. It was a lot harder than it looked because you have to judge the refraction of the water. Once I figured that out I was able to catch several fish.

Not many people eat suckers, but for the sake of the show we cooked them up. Sucker fish have a lot of bones, so they said you have to fry them for a long time to dissolve the bones. After the filming was done I tried eating some of the suckers and they didn't taste like anything special...just really fried. I also ate some frog legs, which were surprisingly good. Frog legs taste like really tender chicken wings : )

Now I'm back in Missoula and can focus on selling our TV series and doing some more local work.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sailfish in Guatemala

I flew down to Guatemala to film a segment for Fly Fishing the World. We arrived in Guatemala City and drove about an hour and a half to the Guatemala Fishing Lodge (that might not be the exact name). The lodge was 5 stars with an open bar, pool, AC rooms, excellent service, and the list goes on. I've been to Guatemala before, but I was always staying in $10 hostels living on a budget. This was a completely different experience. Even the plumbing worked like it does in the US. Every other hostel I've stayed in in Central America, the toilet paper does not go in the toilet or it will clog it. I felt totally spoiled.

Our host didn't arrive until day two, so day one we went out on the boat to just film some b-roll of fishing. We needed some underwater shots and some close up shots of sailfish jumping out of the water. In order to get those shots someone had to catch the fish.  Meaning, Bill (cameraman), Justin (producer) and myself got to trade out catching fish all day. Running a camera all day can be pretty tough, but running a camera and catching tuna and sailfish all day...that's a hard day at the office. I caught about five 30+ lb tuna. That is by far the largest fish I've ever landed. Bill was the only one to catch a sailfish, but man was he psyched. I've never seen such a big smile on his face. Bill said it was the best day of work he has ever had. It would have been the best day of work I've ever had except I eventually got sea sick. I've never spent that much time out in the big seas and my stomach couldn't handle it. I hardly ever vomit, but once I started feeling nauseous, I couldn't hold anything down. It also doesn't help being glued to a viewfinder and filming on a rocking boat.
Day Two: Conway arrived, but we decided give the fishing a rest and tour the historic city of Antigua. I have been to Antigua on vacation before, so it was weird being there for work. I remembered it being beautiful, but we went to a couple newer, higher end places, and I was just blown away by the beauty.  This little city has everything going for it. It has great people, culture, food, history, hiking, biking, great coffee, mojitos...

The rest of the trip we were out at sea, but this time I was prepared with sea sickness medicine. Conway caught some amazing sailfish. The sailfish fight hard and jump clear out of the water trying to get loose. I think we were able to make a pretty awesome show. To top it off, the wind calmed, the ocean became glassy, and we were surrounded by dolphins and porpoises for hours.

It's going to be hard to top this shoot.
Next up: Gigging for Suckers in Missouri in the dead of winter. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ruger Inside and Out - Wyoming

I just got back from a cow elk hunt in Wyoming. It was for a TV show called "Ruger Inside and Out". A majority of the show is all about guns. The host, James Guthrie, knows a LOT about guns.  Since I know nearly nothing about guns, I felt out of place. I can run a camera and talk camera equipment or climbing equipment all day, but guns are not in my terminology. During lunch and dinner conversations I had little input while everyone else talked about guns.

We filmed the hunting segment with 13 year old Samantha shooting her first elk, which turned out great. The rest of the week we were predator hunting. We had an electric call where we repeated a dying rabbit on a loud speaker to call in Coyotes. Man, did I get sick of listening to dying rabbits. It is a weird line of work, but it gets me traveling, outside, and working with a camera.

Next shoot is in Guatemala!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

First Episode DVD

We just finished the DVD for our pilot episode and shipped it off to some different networks to see if we can sell a season. It's crazy to think that we've been developing this series since last year and there are no guarantees that we can sell it. But we're young and have decided we can afford to take some risks at this point in life. We are really happy with the way the pilot episode turned out and have had some great feedback. Let's hope the development executives feel the same way. Keep your fingers crossed and thanks for all the support with this series : )

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The New Sponsor - Goal Zero

Goal Zero just recently agreed to sponsor our new show, Hot On The Trail, so we put together a little time-lapse, product placement shot showing the their product in use.  Here's the youtube link if the video below doesn't work:
For more info on this solar setup visit goal zero here: GOAL ZERO

Friday, October 19, 2012

Busy Fall

Hannah and I have been busy, busy. We just got back from North Dakota, where we filmed the pilot episode for our new series. I think it was a super successful week. We worked with some great people, learned a lot, and got some awesome footage.
The day we got back to missoula we had two aerial gigs. In the morning we filmed a private retreat up Rock Creek and in the afternoon we filmed some aerial shots on the Bitterroot River for a fly fishing TV show.
Yesterday we filmed some more real-estate downtown and had a perfect morning with calm winds and beautiful fall colors.
Rifle season starts tomorrow, so now we're off on an elk hunt : )

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Camera Mount + HDMI Converter

Testing out the new cinestar 3 axis camera gimbal and HDMI converter. This gimbal is super smooth and allows Hannah to control pan, tilt, and roll while I fly around. With quadrocopter's new HDMI converter we can also view exactly what is being filmed with the Sony NEX 5n. We can also view all the camera setting and when the camera records and stops. It's a super awesome setup. Now we just can't wait to add a radian stabilizer to the roll servo.

 Hannah controls the 3-axis gimbal and views the live video feed as I fly the Cinestar.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In with a BANG!

 (Me with my dad's gun on the left and my little gun on the right)

We’re bringing this season in with a BANG! As we do every Autumn, my dad and I just got done sighting in a couple rifles. I usually take some shots with my little Model 7 Remington 7mm-08 with a shortened stock to make sure that every thing is running just as smoothly as it was last season. We make sure that my gun is accurate, meaning that my shots are all falling in around the same area, and precise, meaning that my shots are hitting where I’m aiming. Also, I like to take the time to remind myself what it feels like to pull the trigger again. Not that I ever really forget. But, I like to make sure that I’m ready for when the animal is in my sights and I don’t jump from the sound of the gun or make some other silly mistake.

(My dad giving me the "thumbs-up" after check my hits in the spotting scope)

This season, however, we also brought out my dad’s trusty 7mm Remington mag. This gun has passed the test of time. My dad has used it for about twenty years. It’s been through many Montana seasons and has traveled to New Zealand, Kirgizstan, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. This year, we’re anticipating some longer-range shots and my little gun would probably do just fine, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s not worth wounding an animal by using my smaller gun.

But, I do have to say, my dad’s 7 mag has a bit more of a kick than I’m used to. 

(Even Jesse got to take a few shots)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hard At Work In Montana

After about 40 hours of flying, I've finally arrived back in Montana. Traveling went way smoother on the way back and all of my luggage is here : ) Wooohooo! I am very glad to be back in one piece.

Now that that job is done I am back at work with Spaulding International Cinema. We are working our butts off trying to produce our very own TV series, "Hot On The Trail." Hannah and I started developing this series last year and have finally decided to launch a "Kickstarter" to help us fund the pilot episode. We have worked hard to design some unique rewards in exchange for your pledge. Please visit our kickstareter Page below and help support the first episode.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From The Bush To The Beach

We have chased lions for the past few days and for some reason they've all disappeared. Animals are unpredictable and although we had a few lions on bait, they decided to take off for some reason. We at least made some cats happy for a little while :) Tim shot an impala yesterday, which was a really easy, simple hunt and might add a little bit to the TV show.
I can honestly say, after Stu was shot, I just couldn't wait to get home. And now the time has come. We flew out of camp this morning and are now at the beach lodge associated with Kambako.  This place is amazing. No one is here besides Tim and me.  It's a huge resort with basically a private beach. This is by far the nicest place I've stayed with this job.  If I can forget what happened in the bush then this place makes the trip worth it. We are on the Indian ocean and the water is bath temperature with a large reef and awesome snorkeling for shells! I had to do a bunch of interviews, and film the lodge, but the second I had some free time I made my way to the beach.

There's a bunch of local woman fishing who take interest in my camera. They speak Portuguese here and I had no clue what they were saying, but they really got into posing for the camera. These women smiled and danced around while I snapped a few photos. Then, I headed back to the lodge to pack up again. It's a long flight home, but at least I got to relax a little bit before the journey back.

P.S. The climbing potential in Mozambique is unreal. This would make the coolest documentary: Climbing in the middle of Africa with guns to protect yourself from lions : )

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Feedin' the Cats

We are so busy on this trip that it's hard to blog everyday.  Jumbo, the owner of Kambako Safaris, is now filling in as our PH. Stu is being taken care of in Johannesburg.  It sounds like he will be all right, but it's going to take several surgeries to clean out and repair the damage. The good thing is that he's alive and in good medical hands.
Yesterday we checked lion bait all day and replaced some older bait with some good zebra and buffalo meat. We have cameras set up to see if any male lions are on bait. When we check the cameras it shows that we have a lot of leopards on bait and a couple of lions on one bait. There is one male lion, so our plan is to keep him on bait until we can tell if he's old enough. As we drive in to check that bait, we see nine female lions crossing the road. It's a pretty amazing sight. I never thought I would see so many lions on this trip. We drive up to the bait where there was a male lion and can tell the cats have been fed well. They devoured the meat, so we put up some fresh bait.  There are large paw prints in the dirt, so the trackers think this lion is large and mature.

After hanging the bait we move on to the next location and find that most of the lions are not eating our bait. It's hard to understand these cats and why they are not eating this meat.

I am still not over our accident the other day and am extra cautious every time we start walking around with guns. I've gained a much greater respect for guns and I'm always checking where the barrel is pointed. I'm know Tim is extra cautious, but I've learned to always be on my A-game and always stay away from the barrel.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Day After...

It turns out Stu actually shot the buffalo at the exact same time Tim’s gun fired. No one knew at the time besides Stu, but if he had not fired that shot, then the buffalo would have gored him and there’s no doubt he would be in worse condition if not dead. In fact, if Stu hadn’t shot the buffalo it would have just plowed over all of us because of how trapped we were in the jesse. The situation could have been way worse.

Not too many people slept through the night. The sun still hasn’t come up, but we can hear the plane coming in for Stu. The dirt airstrip is pretty close to camp, so we gather a team to pick up Stu’s mattress and load him in the back of a truck. All the trackers, PH’s, and other hunters come to help. Stu was drugged up all night, so he’s pretty chill for the move considering there’s a bullet hole in his back. We load him in the plane and they fly him straight to Johannesburg, South Africa because they have better hospitals than anywhere in Mozambique.

We stay back at the hunting camp and I’m assuming our trip is now cut short because our PH was shot. However, they want us to keep hunting. Jumbo, the owner of the camp, is flying in to act as our new PH so Tim can keep hunting. I can’t believe it! After the experience we went through I am over this trip and ready to get home. The thought of going back in the bush to hunt more lions and buffalo seems a little crazy to me. I think that Tim wouldn’t want to touch his gun for a while after that accident, but everyone encourages him to get back out there. We have to wait for Jumbo to get into camp, so we just hang out most of the day. Several other trackers and PH’s go looking for the buffalo that charged us.

By around noon, A PH calls into camp to say they shot the buffalo.  Tim and I drive out for the recovery to check out the buffalo that could have killed us.  It wasn’t far from where our accident happened. We found where Stu shot the buffalo and it went straight in through the top of his nose, out his chin, through his chest and then through his foot.  The only way this is possible is if the buffalo was right in front of him with its head down in attack mode. That shot Stu fired didn’t kill the buffalo, but it turn him away and saved his life and our lives.
Tomorrow Jumbo should be here and we’re back to lion hunting. Man, this trip just never ends.