By: Jared Abrams
DOP Jonathan Combs was kind enough to contact me about this really cool music video. He used the Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 24-70mm Zoom Lens. The video is one continuous dolly shot with moving sets. The effort and creativity behind this is simply amazing. Jonathan sent me the breakdown for the shoot. Check it out in his own words.
It was shot on the Canon 5D Mk II with the 24-70mm L-series lens locked off at 50mm. We also used the red rock follow focus, mounted on a tripod, sitting on a doorway dolly.
Tim Halperin had approached us about doing a music video and said he didn’t have more than $500. The idea for it was conceived by Joe Childress (co-director/marketing) and myself (co-director/producer) during a lunch brainstorming session back in April. That’s when the idea of the “grade school play” was born as well as the moving stages & one-continuous dolly shot. The idea is that Tim is the narrator for a grade school play. He’s telling the story of a girl running as the audience watches. We find out at the end that he knows her life story because he was close enough with her that he asked her to marry her. But alas, she runs. The complete fleshed out ideas of what each scene/setting would be to progress us through the story weren’t complete until June, but this was only because time constraints kept Joe and I from working on it until then.
As soon as the idea of the school play was born I knew I was going to need an extremely creative Production Designer/Set Designer. Joe and I knew what we wanted things to look like but were having a hard time finding exact references. We just kept saying things like cardboard, Michele Gondry, cardboard, intricate but home made. Luckily I have a friend who is a very talented artist and all around free spirit. Joe and I met with Sarah Rogers and explained the idea as best we could. Sarah then brought on Brent Richardson (Art Director) and the two of them went to work. The two of them worked EXTREMELY hard to make our vision come to life. I am forever grateful to those two.
We took 3 days to build the rolling stages, and everything you see on them. Sarah & Brent had most of the cardboard props, and found items ready to go on day 2, it was just a matter of getting everything on there. We probably had an average of 10 people per day working non-stop for those 3 days. Late nights, early mornings. There were several times when I was afraid things weren’t going to be done in time. Because of time, budget, and schedule constraints there was no putting things off. We had to build in 3 days, and shoot on that 4th day. Scary stuff.
We shot in an open air parking garage because it was raining on and off the entire week of building/shooting. Every set had chalk marks for where it was supposed to start. The dolly is pushing straight through as all of the sets are moving left and right. It took over 30 people to make the shot work, and even that felt like not enough. We had actors holding set pieces, running to do their scene, then running back to hold other set pieces. Brooke Peoples, our leading lady, had to change wardrobe 3 times, 2 of which happen in a matter of seconds. Tim Halperin had 2 wardrobe changes as well. Our biggest set move comes oat the end when we come back out of the world of the play. At that point we’re 40 yards away from where the dolly started. The entire curtain, stage, piano, and audience had to move and be placed in once the dolly reached a certain point. The first few takes were disastrous. All in all we shot 13 takes. The take you see is number 12.
This was an absolutely amazing experience. Every single person that helped, including the key people, were 100% volunteer. It was awesome to see the amount of heart and effort that came from people who just wanted to be a part of something fun. $500 can go a long way if you have people willing to back you up.