Big Production

12 Dec

This post is very important to me because it is about a project that I am really passionate about and am extremely honored to be a part of. I recently got to be a part of a very important video production about heart attack awareness and CPR preparedness. This is about the people who helped make it a success and the position I was able to perform. My friend Lucas Hirst brought me on board and this is about part of the production process. Enjoy.

Lucas and I have known each other for a long time dating back all the way to high school when both of us were in video production class together. We used to shoot all kinds of videos for fun and for pay and even had our own production company called NITRO Productions where we filmed, weddings, fundraisers, etc. Although neither of us really continued to pursue film after high school, we knew we worked really well together. So, after one of our usual heated racquetball games (I won, of course) Lucas began telling me about a new project he wanted me to be a part of. He has volunteered and now works for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) for many years now and has been able to have some tremendous opportunities through his time there. You may be asking yourself what kind of “tremendous opportunities” comes from a local fire department? Well clearly you don’t know about SRVFPD.

Not only is the SRVPFD a state-of-the-art fire district in terms of equipment response times and their staff and overall organization, they are also very forward thinking. Go to their award winning website, (yes, FIRE DEPARTMENT), and you will quickly see the high caliber this fire department is. This website has all the information about the fire department you could possibly ask for, including incredible photos and videos from actual incidents! Not only is their website very web 2.0, this past Summer they even released their very own Fire Department app for the iPhone. Not only can you access all the information available on their website, you can even get push notifications when live incidents are taking place and it will show you on a map where it is happening! Ever see a fire truck go by and wonder where it’s going? Check out the app and you can see exactly where it’s going and what type of incident it is responding to and listen to the live radio at the same time. This app is revolutionary and has already been downloaded thousands of times across the world even. Oh, and my friend Lucas, he was the project manager for the website and the iPhone app AND takes all the video and pictures for the website. Really incredible. That’s the kind of tremendous opportunities I am talking about.

Fire Department iPhone App

Check out the website and download the iPhone app and see for yourself the caliber of this fire department.

So, now you can start to see why I jump at any opportunity to get involved in a project with my buddy Lucas and the SRVFPD. The project Lucas introduced to me was a video to raise heart attack awareness and CPR preparedness. As Lucas explained to me the desired (huge) outcome that the fire department had in mind for this video, we both began to feel less confident that our dated videography skills would be enough to accomplish this. So, for this project, we decided to take on the role of producers. I would be in charge of casting the actors and managing the budget and Lucas would take on the logistics of the locations as well as the general vision for the overall shoot and we would both do any work required for the production of the shoot.

In order to accomplish the high production quality the fire department was after, we needed a production crew that was experienced and talented. Lucas and I began thinking of who we could get that fit that desired level of quality. I started thinking of my film major friends from school and immediately thought of Daniel McNutt. I knew he was both experienced (he currently works in the industry in LA) and very talented. Lucas and I watched his reel on his website and immediately knew this was our guy. After introducing the project to Daniel and confirming his availability he was excited and on board. Daniel would be our Director of Photography and would bring along his talented friends Jeff Webster as Key Grip and Kyle White as Camera Operator. Through their connections they were able to get professional-grade equipment, including the Red camera, for a fraction of the cost, which was great for our budget.

Red Camera

With the help of Craigslist and a casting website I was able to find a number of potential actors to fill the spots we needed. Lucas and our Director Scott Stiefvater (who is actually our old film production teacher) took care of the auditions, which I couldn’t be a part of because I was working. We got our two actors and production started the following morning on Tuesday. Our day consisted of four locations: Fire house, Staples, call center, and Home Depot. Thanks to Lucas and Daniel who worked tirelessly on the specifics of the production, planning out shots, locations, equipment, and overall feel, the production went amazingly smooth. We worked for 18+ hours and not once did we feel rushed or the need to compromise production value for the sake of time. It was amazing.

Working with Daniel, Jeff, and Kyle was incredible. They’re like a trio of film-making-superheroes who can read each other’s minds and know exactly what the other is thinking and how to accomplish the desired shot. Not only are these three guys very experienced, they have tons of talent and a huge amount of knowledge despite their age. I don’t know how many conversations I heard them have about how excited they were about seemingly tiny details of the project such as new cables, wattage, lenses, and various other gear.

Kyle, Jony Jib, Lucas, Daniel, Jeff

Their enthusiasm was definitely contagious. Also, the respect they had for each other and those involved with the production (even when they were the most experienced by far and I’m sure we got in their way) really set a great standard on the set of the production. I would, without a doubt, work with any of those guys again given the opportunity and I know everyone involved would also.

I can’t write about this incredible project without mentioning the Fire Chief of SRVFPD, Chief Richard Price. He was integral to the overall success of the project. He was heavily involved throughout the entire process from way before pre-production to post-production and everything in between. He took time away from his very busy schedule to help out in any way he could and his passion for the project made all the difference on set. When you see someone as distinguished as Chief Price carrying film equipment between locations and helping out during the production you quickly see the kind of leader he is. Having him involved and showing how much he believed in the project was incredibly inspiring. Because of Chief Price’s great understanding of technology and cutting-edge thinking Lucas aptly calls him Chief 2.0 which fits him perfectly. Through my time interacting with Chief Price I know he is a great asset to not only this project, but the community at large and I am glad that I live within the San Ramon Valley District under his leadership.

The production is currently in postproduction and is expected to be finished soon and will start to be shown in early January. I will be sure to post the video here and give more details at that time, so watch out for that. Take a look at the gallery of photos from the production to see some of the awesome equipment we got to use and get excited for the final product.

This production couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of many people and organizations including:

San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District – Incredible organization with a great understanding of how to serve their community

Fire Chief Richard Price – Chief 2.0

Lucas Hirst – Producer

Daniel McNutt – Director of Photography

Scott Stiefvater – Director

Jeff Webster – Key Grip

Kyle White – Camera Operator

Kim French – Public Information Officer

Jony “Jib” Huffman – Jib Provider/Operator

James E. McGowan – Lead Actor

Mari Kearney – Lead Actor

Amy Jensen – Snacks & Beverages; Photographer

Home Depot & Staples – Graciously allowing us to use their stores


2 Responses to “Big Production”

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