Thursday, 2 December 2010

Lighthouses music video shoot

Here's what you need for an amazing day out shooting a video:
  • One lighthouse
  • Lots of very cool friends with lots of cameras
  • Friends with keys to aforesaid lighthouse
  • Lashings of summer sunshine

And that's about it! You may want to include (as we did) some food for a picnic; silly toys and props for fun and merriment; friends who are talented filmmakers themselves (@FranFilmMaker and @HoccusFoccus); and a joyous sense of fun.

What you don't need is a cold & sore throat like I had, but if you have one, just push right on through it.


We set off from Mount Victoria Bowling Club late morning - I'd made it an open event on Facebook, which meant it was a bit uncertain who'd be coming and if we'd actually have enough drivers. I'd originally intended it to be an organisation-free trip: everyone films their individual trips to the lighthouse, and we all meet up there, I don't have to organise anything. Hmm not quite.

So it was pretty much like this:
  • Excited people, check
  • Enough cars, check
  • Blinding summer sunshine, CHECK. And off we went!
The drive out of Wellington is almost never inspiring, passing the railways and container port by the cake tin stadium, then following the harbour coastline straight up the underlying faultline. But with bright blue skies and a beautiful harbour, it was marvellous. I immediately started taking driving footage that undoubtedly every other car would be also taking in better quality.

The Rimutaka Ranges

After the usual exciting (i.e. stomach-churning) drive over the Rimutakas, we pulled together a picnic in Featherston next to the railway line. Apparently it's still in use, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's abandoned - you can just walk on it, over it, around it, whatever. Rachel busted out her pogo stick and hula hoop. Chiara busted out her pasta. It was good times.

The drive out from the Wairararararapa to Cape Palliser is straightforward, and on a sunny day, quite wonderful: flat, dry kiwi farmland making way for rough coastline with white foam on black rocks and sand. And as it turned out, cows all over the road. As you do.

What is this campimping, please tell me more

Sadly it's not seal season, so we skipped a trip to play chicken with the seals (note: this is a joke, never play chicken at a seal colony) and met up at the foot of the lighthouse.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse is about as stereotypical as red-and-white-striped lighthouses get, although rather than being placed 500m out to sea on a rock the size of a futon, it's merely up the cliff. 262 steps up, to be precise (kudos to James for counting).

It was up here the magic happened: as everyone caught their breath and took shots of the awesome coastal views, our friends who work at Maritime NZ unlocked the lighthouse door. (These awesome friends will remain nameless so a] they don't get into trouble, even though it was all above board, and b] people don't hassle them about getting into the lighthouse - this was a mega-special event!)

They were entirely professional and gave us the safety briefing, which mainly consisted of:

  1. Don't touch anything
  2. Small steps, watch your footing and mind your head, use the handrail
  3. Seriously don't touch anything, especially the lens which is the original, irreplaceable crystal glass from when it was constructed.

This last point was quite amazing - when I was on the final floor, I was far too close to take proper photos, so here is a very similar picture on Wikipedia to give you an idea of what it looks like. Awesome. I felt extremely grateful to be allowed inside, and I'm strangely excited to be able to say I've been inside a working lighthouse. Our friends were very cool and kept the door open for other people who had come to visit that day and got a special treat.

After that, it was just a case of playing a 4-song set in the sun and wind consisting of:

  1. Animals
  2. Boy With X-Ray Eyes
  3. Lighthouses
  4. I Believe In Dinosaurs

I'd had virtually no sleep the night before and my sore throat meant my voice was less than impressive - thankfully everyone helped out and sang along too. Major shoutouts to Chiara and Rachel for the dancing, singing & dinosaur sounds, you guys are more irreplaceable than that lens.

And that was that, project over, job done, just the drive home remaining. I think everyone had a good time. I certainly did.

Massive thanks to the drivers that day - Jay, Daniil, Rachel, Joel - without who(m?) it basically couldn't have happened. You guys rule.

So now all I have to do is get the footage from everyone and assemble it into a 4-minute pop music video. Easy peasy.

Thanks again everyone involved, the premiere will hopefully be in late January - I'll keep you all posted.

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