Big camera, big problem
Being DOP in a pandemic
We all enjoy a good coffee shop, me included. But having a 12-man film crew there with me just hit different. Picture it: I’m on set, it’s a production for a soon-to-be-launched financial brand and I’ve been appointed DOP. Literally, a dream come true. There was just one not-so-small challenge: we’re also in the middle of a global pandemic. Oh, and we had just one day to pull off the job, obvs.
It was nerve racking, to say the least. Adapting to new hardware, such as the beast of a camera I had personally picked out for this project, is difficult enough. For the first hour or two I felt locked-in to getting the shots we needed at a base level. In retrospect, I think of those opening hours as “warming up”. But it wasn’t long until the indie filmmaker in me said “invoke motion” – which is my personal mantra when filming any kind of content creation. Basically, if it aint moving eyes, it ain’t turning heads.
It was probably by scene 14 and all the mandatories were in the can that I attempted a whip pan shot; which is what I would usually do, were I operating a gimbal. All of a sudden I heard the director shouting “Yes! I love that, let's go with that!”. Admittedly this was a hard shot to pull off with such a ridiculously heavy rig but when you see your name on the clapperboard you realise that you gotta do whatever it takes to make that happen. Balls to the, uh, camera.
Working with Director Lamar Bonhomme gave me something extra, it must be said, to push through and get out of my box. Or whatever you call it, when you’re somewhat set in your ways. Each Director will have their way and his was part collaboration, part exploration. I figured that my role was to help him discover the beauty for which he searched. Loved it. Every now and again, he’d throw a famous quote my way to help me understand his intentions or to inspire a shot that wasn’t boarded. While that might be weird for some people, it made the experience interesting for me.
So what of the pandemic and COVID challenges?
Well, it all kinda just faded away to be honest. There were people assigned to ensure certain protocols, but as for me and my responsibilities: I was geared for the worst. I expected everything to be harder, more awkward and a whole lot slower. But I can’t say that this experience was any more challenging than what we were doing pre-pandemic. And for that, I thank my entire team at TNG.Productions. I think it all comes down to two things: passion and people. Together, those elements allowed me to focus on the job at hand, the thing I love.
And I can’t wait to do it again, mask and all.
Reach out, you’ll find me on all social media platforms.
Keegan Jood, TNG Productions
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