There’s something magical about a slow, colorful sunrise on a secluded island beach.
I long for inspiration and I especially love when it comes from a firsthand experience. Filming my short film, Good Morning, Goodnight: Kauai, was not only a series of valuable lessons but more importantly to me, a sort of high dive into creativity and inspiration. It took a bold move to up and leave my life in Sacramento and a lot of island exploration.
For six months, my wife and I lived in Kauai. We both worked our days jobs and when we were not working it was about planning. Where do we go to find the most inspiring places on the island and still manage to lug my equipment with me? How do I get there and is it reasonably safe? What could go wrong?
Sometimes there’s only one way to know for sure – just do it.
A great example of what it took to capture some of these images was the mile long hike in the dark, lugging a 45 pound case in the hopes we would arrive at the destination before the sun rose. The moon wasn’t bright and there were absolutely no lights around as we hiked down a dirt road towards the ocean. My case was equipped with rollers, not suitable for this road, which meant carrying it the whole way. My wife had to carry her share of equipment too. I knew we didn’t have much time before the sun would rise and we already invested an hour and a half drive plus the agony of waking up at 3:00 AM. The case grew heavy in my hand as the sun was about to peer over the horizon.
Just as I stepped on the rocky ledge overlooking the wild ocean below, it began to rain. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said to my wife. We were losing hope as the sun came into view. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this experience was more than just filming.
This moment unfolding in front of us was about adapting to our new environment, about enjoying the natural beauty of Kauai, and above all, appreciating it.
Soon enough, the rain stopped and I broke out my Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC), which I’ve developed a complicated love-hate relationship with. Despite my qualms about the BMCC, I wanted the best image possible and this would be the camera for the job. I was on the verge of goosebumps as I finished setting up and turned around to one of the most astonishing sunrises I had ever seen. It was the inspiration I was looking for and there was no one around for miles. The colors, the sounds, the cool mist rising from the turbulent waves pounding the rocky shore, worked together to create something priceless.
The key to living in the moment is finding balance.
I spent a long time scouting locations, planning a schedule, and preparing my equipment. These are certainly important steps, but as we all know, things rarely go as planned. For many of the shots I was envisioning, I needed a way to introduce movement to match the energy of the surroundings. To achieve this, after much researching, I purchased a handheld camera stabilizer (Steadicam XPRO). This purchase came at the cost of some serious balancing frustrations.
It was heavy, impossible to keep balanced, and constantly malfunctioning. This culminated in a particularly frustrating episode filming a secluded waterfall, which had me at my wits end. I was planning on creating two shots, an above view revealing the waterfall and a fluid ground level approach. As I clenched the burdensome stabilizer with one hand, I tried to navigate the slippery rock pathway under my feet, while painstakingly trying to keep this thing balanced. After many failed attempts, I could no longer hold my arms up. I was determined to capture this waterfall. The overgrown cliff trail full of large, meandering roots, above the waterfall was no picnic either. The roots were more slippery than the rocks and a swarm of mosquitos couldn’t resist getting in my face. I lost track of how many shots I took at this location.
Beyond these balancing frustrations, other challenges were waiting to meet me at each location. On the morning of the whale tour, my camera died. I also slipped down a trail covered with miniature pinecones, perfect for loosing your footing. There was never a dull moment.
Although the majority of time spent filming in Kauai was full of challenges, from the equipment, to environment, to logistics, I like to think that the moments captured in this short film are well worth it.
Sure, there were times when I wasn’t sure if our island car was going to make it up that mountain, or down that bumpy dirt road, but in the end it got us where we needed to be. There were the once in a lifetime moments that I didn’t have the camera ready. Like when the graceful humpback breached just hundreds of feet in front us while we were soaking up the afternoon sun.
And, now that you know the behind the scenes…
You should check out our short film and see what others are saying about it. Please leave a comment or ask me a question. I’d love to here from you. I’ve loved hearing all the very kind comments – they are another form of inspiration! I really hope you enjoyed reading about my staying inspired and lessons of filming Good Morning, Goodnight: Kauai. Until next time…