In the trenches

Lately I haven’t been working in the trenches much, I mean totally, hands on, until recently…

We got an urgent call from a solar panel company to shoot 3 solar installations going up in the same day. The marketing guy sounded anxious. He was asking all the right questions and I seemed to have all the right answers. We struck a deal and two days later I find myself on the roof of a house in the mid day summer sun shooting a solar panel installation. Not just one, but 3 homes on one block! Turns out it was a huge deal for the company. The marketing guy who happens to be their video guy was out of town for a wedding.

He was looking for a “pro” to save his arse, because his boss  was very anxious to get this 3fer documented. They wanted time lapses of all three houses, coverage during the day of each of the installs, a sound bite from their sales guy and sound bites of the happy customers. Oh yeah, can you also get a sweeping drone video production shot coming down the street and iso shots of each house? “They start at 7:00, no break for lunch, no restroom facilities, the installers are a bunch of leathernecks, so stay out of their way because they get paid by the job.”  I was back to working in the trenches…

Huh.. Alright, sounds like a lovely day.

cameraman on rooftop

Shooting from a rooftop while installing solar panels

It was a long day…

Needless to say, it was a 14 hour day from doorstep to doorstep. Trying to get time lapses of guys working on houses is not the most interesting thing in the world and besides with such a short notice, not enough resources and a tight budget, I opted to do one house and that was incremental. It’s not that exciting once the panels are on the roof.

It got hot… pretty hot, and when there’s not a cloud in the sky and no wind, here in Western WA, it get’s warm. So, my trusty assistant and I came prepared with water, lunches and our trusty Mobile One Sprinter Van that works great as a mobile studio.

I was able to get the sales guy’s sound bite, of course he was good. He has done canvasing door to door selling the jobs and he was spot on. Then we got the customers. And with a little coddling from yours’s truly, we were able to get the one homeowner who was at first reluctant, to really gush about the company.

Here comes the drone video production.

DAC directing the drone pilot

DAC directing the drone pilot

Later in the afternoon my drone video production pilot arrived with his FAA certification card in hand and his drone to shoot the sweeping neighborhood shots. The company owner decides he knows aerial photography and proceeds to direct my drone video production pilot as to his vision of the shots. Which were significantly different that what was on my shot list. So, I had to gingerly ignore him and explain later that we can try his shots if we have time. He was happy when we went back to the van to view the footage, he thought it was really cool and it was.

Later in the day, and actually through out from when we first arrived, the crews installing the panels were the nicest guys you’d ever meet. They were helpful to assist us in getting our shots. We respected their time and gave them space. They were some of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met and were genuinely happy to help.

When it was time to pack up and go, I went to each one and thanked him for their cooperation and how pleasant it was to work with them. They all concurred saying we were pretty cool to work with as well.