Gobinon

Peter faces the smoke monsters in Gobinon.

In November, my co-worker and friend Byron Wolter asked me to help out on set of his independent feature film, Gobinon. I knew that the film had been a production-in-progress for over a year. Byron even joked to me about how he has used up almost every resource in town to complete the project. Byron wrote, directed and starred in Gobinon and I know he is treating the film like his child. He is caring and tending to it over a long time while undergoing the hardships and pressures of producing an independent film. Seeing that his film is really important to him, I wanted to help his production come to a close by assisting with camera, lighting and general production labor.

Just a few more action scenes needed shot for Byron’s film. These scenes alluded to the mysterious sci-fi movie that Byron had described to me before, shots where his character, Peter, has dream-like episodes where he portrays a janitor chased by smoke monsters.

A shot of Byron Wolter as Peter on the roof during the first night.  Instagram: @brown300

A shot of Byron Wolter as Peter on the roof during the first night. Instagram: @brown300

On the first night of shooting the last shots for the film, the smoke monsters chased Peter across rooftops. The temperature at night dropped really low and we had to shoot the rooftop scenes in harsh, biting winds. The crew persevered and kept working through the cold as we got the needed shots. Byron had wide jumps to clear from structure to structure on the roof. We got to incorporate the given architectural elements into the scene, such as Byron running through these big, pyramid-shaped skylights jutting upwards from the roof, which added unique visual interest and light. He also had to run and abruptly stop at roof edges and peer over them while staying balanced and cautious, which is unnerving at four to five stories high off of the ground.

Matthew Levandoski, Director of Photography.

Matthew Levandoski, Director of Photography.

Thomas Greenwood as a smoke monster.

Thomas Tiggleman as a smoke monster.

On the second evening and after a few takes of a continuous shot of Byron running through the town square, we condensed to shooting in a tight alleyway. We knocked out shot after shot with ease, as it was a closely shot, stare-down moment between Byron and smoke monsters. I had more time to shoot production stills while we kept filming, as set up time for each shot was minimal. Later that night, we wrapped the film. Byron had felt very bittersweet about this, since it was a film he was shooting for over a year but it was finally coming to a close—the beginning of the end of the Gobinon journey.

Recently, I was able to see a rough cut of the film, and I discovered it was layered with more mystery and ambiguity than I had imagined, and was way different from what I had thought. From what I interpreted from this edit—and without spoiling in detail—the dream sequences that Peter experienced shaped his graphic novel as well as complemented the life’s work of his significant other, Rachel, but Peter doesn’t piece this together until the end. Yes, that’s right, it’s also a love story of these two characters, a love story paralleled with the subject of Rachel’s work: the evolution of the species of fish called the Gobinon.

It’s almost no wonder that the quote, “You may change direction, but your heart keeps its bearing,” is central to this film through its story and in its characters and writer.

Now with the production wrapped, Byron can focus on editing and completing the film. He anticipates the night of the big premiere in town, knowing it will feel bittersweet to see the filmmaking process end for this story but remaining hopeful about the future of Gobinon and the film festivals he plans to enter with it. For him to finish the film and submit it to festivals is a huge accomplishment, and I wish him the best of luck saving the world with Gobinon.

Gobinon Official Trailer from ByronWolter on Vimeo.

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Holding on to Dust

In May, I photographed on the set of an artistic video directed by my friend, Dylan Cashbaugh. The video was co-produced and choreographed by Melissa Strain and it features her dancing to “The Lonely,” a song by Christina Perri.

Melissa Strain and Dylan Cashbaugh

The view from the pond on the building’s west side.

The Woolery Mill is closed now but it is used as a space for special events such as portraits, weddings, Bloomington’s Craft Beer Festival and films like “Breaking Away” and “Holding on to Dust.” Inside of the mill, the rooms are decorated here and there with graffiti, old clothing, broken glass, rusty equipment and other traces of human presence. From the outside it looks like a dark, abandoned warehouse; the structure is almost skeletal yet still sturdy and massive. However the open south entrance and the west window line allow the sunlight to pour into the space making it feel bright and warm in its charm, and we filmed on a hot, sweaty day.

Holding on to “Dusk”

Because we were shooting the video in a day, we raced with the sun for the shots planned for natural light. While the first half was fun, what was really exciting for me was that we were shooting well into the night and I was able to experiment with long exposures of the old mill and of Melissa dancing, both producing pretty cool effects. I just love shooting abandoned places, especially at night.

More photos on my Flickr account.

“I’m a ghost of a girl that I want to be most”

Filming.

Lights, Camera, Exercise.

Shooting a music video on the roof overlooking Rose-Hulman's football field.

Video production.

Although I was in media-related majors, I didn’t have production classes in college; I had basic shooting/editing projects in an Intro to Journalism class. This past weekend, I got to see and learn how Perfect Cut Productions produced a music video for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Sports and Recreation Center. I felt completely useless because I didn’t know how to assemble anything on set and would have hindered the crew further behind schedule, but that’s not what my job was anyways. Instead, I spent each day photographing behind scenes. I shot the crew at work and of their candid moments, images they could use for marketing/advertising purposes.

The whole crew: Nick Maudlin, Evan Richardson, Lorne Golman, Steve Mech, Michael Bennett and Alex Guevara.

Music, Red Bull and a blurry haze of exhaustion

Key elements needed for production sets that I learned: Red Bull, iPod/stereo, candy and chips. These provisions fueled the team for the 15-hour workdays and were much appreciated by everyone. Shout-out to Perfect Cut for the transportation, snacks and meals such as dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.

Sure, a music system of some sort is obvious for the set of a music video, but an upbeat, energetic and comical playlist helps heighten the crew’s work ethic and overall mood throughout the day especially when the days drag on and the tensions through exhaustion begin. If I could create a playlist for this post that would match what we rocked out to, I would. However, WordPress doesn’t have that sort of technology, I don’t think, so instead I’m going to include turquoise, italicized links for you to check out as you read to get an idea of what we used as motivation and inspiration.

Possible scene from "Silent Hill"

On the first day we drove up there, Friday the 17th, the entire drive seemed like we were in the movie, “Silent Hill,” because of the dense fog we tunneled through along the highway. Eerie.

The first day had scenes that included cool hand scanners, a faculty basketball game, Rose-Hulman’s elephant tusks circa 1959, the Vince Lombardi Trophy won by Super Bowl XLI Champions the Indianapolis Colts, elephant mascots and “Gators,” the men’s varsity locker room and finally a night-time jib shot of the building’s entrance at night complete with hyped students and Steve Mech, our talent for the video.

Night shot in front of the SRC.

The GoPro camera makes an underwater debut.

For Saturday morning, we started off with high dives at the pool. Lorne, the director, changed into his SCUBA equipment and shot Steve underwater. Steve, who was wearing weights, said, “I’ve always wanted to do this after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean,” and began walking underwater from a five-foot depth downwards to about eight feet.

“This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate so brave on the seven seas.” –Michael Bolton/The Lonely Island

Next came shooting a pick-up football game, the catwalk above a conference championship track meet, a fluid mechanical engineering lecture, cheerleader stunts and we finished on the roof overlooking the football field at night. I hope Steve conquered his fear of heights by this point. Before this night, I don’t recall ever seeing a silent and reflective group of guys. The roof, the football field, cold weather, a clear night sky and “Paradise” by Coldplay on blast makes for a humbling, thoughtful moment we got to experience both individually yet together.

Sunday was our final day of shooting—a frigid wind chill morning where we had to shoot outside in front of the SRC. Later we shot the weight room which included lifting weights and running on treadmills.

“I-I-I work out.” –LMFAO

We proceeded with shooting racquetball, karate, swing dancing and dance aerobics. Even with the usual down-time here and there, I feel like it was quite an active day.

Rose-Hulman's dance aerobics club dances to "Jai Ho."

Group critique.

Now to wrap up, I really enjoyed being on set and watching video magic happen, making new friends with the Perfect Cut team, and having access to basically wherever we wanted at Rose-Hulman’s SRC because it gave us really cool location/shot opportunities that I know will make this music video interesting and quite frankly AWESOME. Also, much thanks to Michael, Nick and Alex, the guys in the background who continuously assembled and disassembled the lights and hauled the equipment. Without them, we literally wouldn’t have gotten around, and I wouldn’t have such sweet lighting in my set photos.

Once Perfect Cut edits and completes the video, I’ll post it in another blog entry, so please be on the lookout for that.

And as always, go to my > Flickr < account for extra pictures, because you won’t want to miss them.

Side view of Rose-Hulman's Sports and Recreation Center.