Aperture Films asked me if I was able to go and work with them in New Mexico as follow up work to a previous project I worked on with them in December 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Obviously, when they asked me, my immediate response was yes! I was eager and excited, but I was also a little anxious, as it would be only the second time I’d flown alone. I made my flights and travel arrangements around 3 weeks before the actual day of travel, which is cutting it fine, but made the whole experience even more exciting! On Friday 8th February I travelled to Heathrow airport in London in readiness to fly to Dallas, Texas, to meet up with the crew from Aperture Films. We would then travel together to Roswell, and then to Carlsbad, New Mexico to work on the set for a film they’re about to start filming for the US National Park Service.
The film would be an informational / promotional piece for Carlsbad Caverns, a series of caves situated just outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The caves are roughly 750ft underground, with extensive man made trails, along with an unknown number of smaller, more beautifully decorated formations. My role on set was that of Production Assistant (PA) and BTS (Behind The Scenes) photographer and videographer. I was on hand to assist in any way possible, whether that be changing the lens on the camera, running back and forth fetching specific equipment, being an extra or setting up lights. At the same time as this, I was shooting all the behind the scenes footage for the production. This included photo and video, all shot on my Canon 60D (with the camera being mine, it made my job a lot easier as I was familiar with the camera and knew what it was, and wasn’t capable of…).
Speaking of which, shooting / taking any type of photo or video in the dark depths of a huge cave comes with its difficulties – you can’t see anything! It was a good job that this was the biggest lighting set up Aperture Films had ever used (with over 20 high powered lights, ranging from 500watts to 1800watts), as they lit up Carlsbad Caverns like it had never been seen before, the caves were truly stunning. Even the park rangers had never seen the cave in such a way, re-igniting their love for the cave. We, the film crew, were granted special permission to go off the designated trail around the cave. This allowed greater freedom for creativity, movement and will overall make for a better film. But this came with its risks – carrying heavy lights, tripods, cameras, dolly track, jib arms, etc. off trail can be dangerous. So due to this, we had to wear work helmets with searchlights whenever we were off trail.The experience I have gained from this set, and the previous work with Aperture Films has been, and is, invaluable. I have learnt about film making in the real world: how to work to a tight schedule, and when things go wrong how to deal with them quickly and efficiently – as time is money! My time in the US with Aperture has developed my professional etiquette, my social skills, and my own skill set has been vastly increased, now knowing how to set up and use a lot of industry level film making equipment, which I know will come in very useful in my future career. I can’t thank Aperture Films, and everyone who works there enough. They took me under their wing for the second time, so hopefully I did myself proud and did a good job.
I’d like to thank Josh, Chris, Kris, Jina, Max and Greg individually. They made me feel welcome, and their equal, allowing me to learn and develop my own skills, whilst teaching me the tools and techniques of the film industry. But, most importantly, for being great friends. Here’s to next time guys! I’d love more work in the industry, so please do contact me about any opportunities you have. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks.