Monday, April 27, 2009

Vasquez Rocks Revisit

Dear Reader

Vasquez Rocks is a great place to shoot, though this location has been shot numerous times, it is worth noting, that this park is massive and as such offers innumerable possibilities. A short hike to the north you can get a spectacular sunrise shot like this. (Note: this picture was modified)

A few years ago I was hired, by a promising photographer to provide a high end motor home for a European Magazine fashion shoot. The Photographer wanted a desert shot, he had a blanket film permit for north/west Mojave (Palmdale, Little Rock), at the last second he decided to add Vasquez Rocks at my request. Since Vasquez Rocks is on the way to the Mojave Desert we stop at VR first. The photographer loved Vasquez, he rushed his photo assistants to ready the camera, the make-up and hair stylist hurried to get the two models ready for the shot, which included gladiator props, please don't ask me what they did with the props, I never saw
the final pictures, though I have always been curious about this fashion shoot.

Again, when my Clients ask for my imput before a shoot, I can assist them more efficiently. If they have location questions or ideas I can help them. If they are concern about parking the RV or other large vehicles I can go out to the location and check the locale, look for any obstructions and confirm the directions. Good large vehicle directions are essential, bad directions can cause logistical problems.

If you have any questions about this location or other locations mentioned in my blog and/or you need a motor home for your next shoot call me, Mike Green 818 317 7099.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Irwindale Rock Quarry

Dear Reader

Now that I am back in Los Angeles enjoying the warm California sunshine, I decided to discuss one of my favorite locations, Irwindale Rock Quarry. This is an interesting location to shoot at because it offers a unique background, that one could not find at anywhere else. For one, there are the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, secondly there are an array of locations and construction equipment all over the quarry.

A DP or a Photographer could dream up endless options for their shoot, a car chase, a sexy model dressed in an evening gown next to one of the mounds of rocks for an editorial. One of my favorite clients asked me one day last winter if I knew of any rock quarries near Los Angeles. The answer was easy because this location is literally ten minutes from my Azusa lot were we keep most of our motor homes and other production equipment. I had been at this
location before for a music video several years ago and I had some pictures on file, I e-mailed the pictures to my client, my client was blown away. We shot at this location for several days and we still had plenty of location possibilities. My client saved money because she did have to seek multiple locations, she found everything she needed at one location and most importantly her client loved the location. There was plenty of parking and easy access to the location.

I felt satisfied I was able to help my client, and my client knew she called the right person for both location ideas and motor homes. Again, I am not trying to toot my own horn, but, I want my current and future clients to know I am a good resource for their shoots. As I said before I
been to some unique locations, not only in California, but in other states like Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho. If you need help with locations, please e-mail me, I probably been at your location or I have the resources to find the perfect location for you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Traveling back to Los Angeles

Dear Reader

When a job is finished, I can head home, the pressure is off me, I can mellow out with the satellite radio and focus on the next job. Coming home from Sun Valley, Idaho was not a picnic, first I had to deal with the heavy winds. When I stopped at the Flying J in Jerome, Idaho, the winds were so severe, there was several people flying their kids, not literally, but if it was not tied down, it was airborne. My comrade "Trent" was several hours behind me, I decided to warn him about the impending wind; a couple hours later he informed
me a rogue wind hit his RV and tore off his awning and roof air conditioning unit. By that time I was in near white out conditions in Salt Lake City, I pulled over at a truck stop and had lunch.

My goal was to make it to Las Vegas, I top off my tank, made a few calls, watch a little TV, took a nap, just kidding. It was easy going until I got several miles north of Vegas, the winds got strong again, the RV was rocking like small sailboat in a storm. I had enough, I found a truck stop in North Las Vegas and called it a night. The one thing
about traveling in an RV, one has everything one needs, including a bed and a shower.

The next morning about 4 am I got back on the road, I missed California and I wanted to get back home. The one thing about going out of town for work is, the traveling aspect; in a motor home one is going to stay close to the speed limit, one is not going to set speed records, RV's are not sports cars, however, with that said, most diesel pushers can travel almost a 1000 miles on a tank of fuel, try that in a hybrid. When we do long distance caravans with cars, I am amazed how many times I end up being only several minutes behind the cars, why? Most passenger vehicles do not have the range of a motor home, nor do they have bathrooms, so people in cars have to stop more often.

When I finally pulled back into my lot, I was happy to be back in Sun Valley, that's Sun Valley, California. My lungs sucked in that brown air, it was 70 degrees, not minus 70 degrees, I could wear jeans and t-shirts again and discard my jacket and gloves.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sun Valley, Idaho Part 11

Dear Reader

Sun Valley, Idaho is a beautiful town, the air is crisp and clean, the people are some of the nicest on this planet. Coming from a Southern California native, this place is Antarctica, a jacket, gloves and a hat is must, night and day. Traffic is four elk crossing the road, my lungs were not used to the clean air, I had to take a couple hits from a bottle of "LA Smog" before my lungs finally adjusted to the smog less air.

One of the most challenging feats to adjust to, was driving on snow and ice, fortunately my motor home had something called automatic traction control or ATC. This device came in handy several times, as noted in this picture. When we were finished for the day, I started the engine and engaged the transmission, nothing happen other than the wheels spun around, no traction; I panic for a second, cell range was a good seven miles south of our location. Several seconds latter the ATC engaged, all four wheels moved forward and we were on our way back to Sun Valley.

The scenery was breathtaking, the creeks and rivers are pristine, if one likes to ski, one could not pick a better place. For shooting a movie, commercial or a photo shoot, Sun Valley is the perfect place, but be warned, winter last well into April and May
and weather conditions can be dicey; plan for weather days and bring plenty of warm clothes.

Our biggest challenge on this trip was not snow, it was the wind. Now wind is not something new to a California driver who is used to Santa Ana winds, these winds were so strong you could fly a five year old. My buddy "Trent" hit a gust of wind that tore off his awning, air conditioner vent and damaged his roof, as for me the wind almost tore off my jockey box panels, fortunately I was able to do a quick repair and I was able to save it. Winter driving is always a challenge, this trip allowed me to enhance my driving skills, in the end it was great trip and I would love to return to Sun Valley, Idaho, for now I must endure the icy Southern California climate, where is my sunscreen?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Destination-Sun Valley, Idaho

Dear Reader

I apologize for not updating my blog, I have been on one of my most challenging shoots, a shoot in Sun Valley, Idaho.

My trip began in Sun Valley, California, my home base on March 21st. Sun Valley, California is known as the junkyard capital of the world, in contrast to Sun Valley, Idaho which is has more rich people per square inch, than anywhere else. I met my comrade "Trent" in Barstow, California, the job required two motor homes, so we decided to caravan together, since I had GPS, I drove the lead.

If one has ever made the trip to Sun Valley to Sun Valley, the route is simple, take the I-10 east to I-15 north, past Las Vegas, pass Salt Lake City to I-84 North, and finally take HWY 73 north to Sun Valley, Id. I would say this was an easy trip, but as such, this would be a lie, especially in early spring, when weather conditions can change at a moments notice. We hit almost white out conditions in Utah, and heavy winds in Idaho. Driving a motor home in heavy winds is like navigating a sailboat in the ocean, except one has wheels instead of sails and the road is not forgiving when you have vehicles several inches from you. Common since is also a factor, if the weather conditions are too bad, stop at the nearest truck stop and wait it out.

We left Los Angeles on Friday morning at 6 am and arrived at out lodge the next afternoon at 3 pm. When I opened the door of my RV, a cold wind hit me, like a Mike Tyson punch, I put on my heavy coat, gloves and hat and checked into our room.

Sun Valley, Idaho in early spring averages in the low 30's daytime and can easily hit zero at night; fortunately, I had an engine heater for my engine. For a diesel engine to start properly in this cold environment, an engine heater is a must, plus winter blend diesel fuel, to stop the jelling of the fuel. The light poles in the parking lot had AC power for the engine
heater and shore power for the RV, the keep the batteries properly charged at night.

The next morning "Trent" and I scouted some of the locations we would be shooting at, mainly we focused on the difficult locations. If I have one issue that annoys me about this business specifically photo shoots, is when a location scout or producer considers a location only on the merits of the location and not the feasibility of getting large vehicles to and from such location. When one chooses a location consider how accessible the location is for large vehicles like trucks and motor homes, if one is not sure, ask someone like me (Professional Motor home Driver) to scout the location in advance of the shoot date. Do not rely on the owner of the property if they have had motor homes at their location. Most modern motor homes are thirteen feet high, almost a foot and a half taller than a motor home made before 2005. With that said, in my years in this business, I have never seen a road such as Warm Springs Rd; the road starts off safe, paved, then turns to ice and sludge, mud and snow. The perfect road to navigate my 4 X 4 truck, not a road that I would want to drive a motor home on, fortunately I did not have to go to this location, however my buddy did and two-thousand dollars worth of damages latter, "Trent" probably wished he never seen this road. The perfect solution, find a place to do a base camp at, and shuttle the crew to location, this is what "we" do on features and commercials, this saves money and frustration for the producer.

I will continue my Sun Valley trip, next time.