After I had approval it was time to shoot. This is my favorite part. It's where the creative side of my brain gets churning. I didn't set up a lot of guidelines for how I would shoot but I did know one thing, I wanted to try and only shoot at sunset. You get that beautiful golden light at sunset and it obviously makes visual sense with a video called Mr. Gold. Plus, I think it framed Jose in a different light. Some people would see this guy working long and hot hours on the side of the road and think, "What a crap job," or they would look at his history and automatically dismiss him. By framing him in the light of the sunset I wanted to show the viewer what I saw in his story; hope, determination, joyfulness, and spunk.
While I was shooting I ran into a few hurdles. About a third of the way into shooting I started realizing the difficulty of shooting him while he worked. You see, Jose works on a street corner. That limits the angles I can shoot him at (at least on wide shots). Furthermore he pretty much repeats the same actions and motions (I joked with him that he's a master at knowing the timing of the lights at that intersection). I had to figure out how to break things up, which was good because it made me think outside the box. Besides doing the simple wide/long, static, and detail shots I incorporated some steadi shots. Now I'm not a steadicam expert...by any means. I really suck at it to tell you the truth. It's an art. Thankfully I only had to do enough steadi for a few shots. I'm really proud of how they came out, particularly the one at 2:46 (which was fun to do. Probably because it was dangerous).
Speaking of steadi, my buddy Matt Hutchens is an excellent steadicam operator (among a list of other things..ham radio operator, chess master, ballroom dancer, marksman, butterfly collector). He also knows how to work a mean high speed camera. High speed has slowly become a gimmick (ha...I made a pun). Kinda like shallow depth of field was when DSLRs came out. I didn't want the use of high speed to be a gimmick, something to use just because it was available. I think I succeeded in using it appropriately (especially at 1:55 and 2:36).
I had a couple happy accidents while shooting too. The shot where there is a police car in the background (2:30) happened inadvertently (I didn't call a cop for that one). I like how this shot plays off the dialogue of Jose talking about his most memorable experience as Mr. Gold. It was also a great way to juxtapose his past life with his current life. The shot of Jose at 1:06 was also a total accident. I was setting up my camera and checking my exposure and just happened to have the camera rolling. Thankfully he thought I was paying attention and flipped his hat. That scene really shows Mr. Golds character and attitude. The shot at 00:43 of Jose showing me his prison photos on his broken phone was another happy accident. At the end of our interview at his apartment I asked him if he had any prison photos on himself. The phone is such a great illustration of his life at that time. It always pays to be curious and ask lots of questions.
In case you're interested. Here is the gear used in making the film:
Canon 5d Mark II
Some kind of Nikon Dslr that shoots video (Steve was shooting it for the interview. I'm not a Nikon guy)
Canon lenses (16-35, 50, 85, 70-200mm)
Monopod with fluid head
Glidecam 2000 Pro
Rode Videomic microphone
My Honda Civic for the driving shot
Final Cut X
Up next: Part III: The Edit