The drama continues in the bts documentary web series with Episode 2, “Chasing The Light.” While on location in Rwanda, the Zacuto Films behind-the-scenes camera crew documents the journey of Director T.C. Johnstone and Producer Greg Kwedar as they finish the last 18-days of filming their upcoming documentary, “Rising From Ashes: a film about Rwandan's first national cycling team.”
In this episode, it doesn’t take long before the collective vision of the RFA film crew begins to unravel as the passionate group of filmmakers battle it out to catch the elusive light. Lack of sleep, language barriers and the pressures of shooting on location in a foreign country begin to take its toll on the crew. “This has not been the easiest film,” says Johnstone. “It’s the hardest project I’ve ever worked on. There’s a real story here and if we wait, it’s going to pay off. At the end of the day, you look at these guys and you realize…this matters…this really matters.”
Magic Hour = Tragic Hour. The turning point in the race to finish shooting before night invades the sky escalates along a dirt road on the way to a mountaintop location. Egos collide as the crew breaks-up and scatters from the van in their own individual attempts to capture the beauty of Rwanda. As a slave to the light, a frustrated and exhausted T.C. attempts to reel in his crew, but at one point he has to make a decision. Do they leave a man behind?
“It’s like working on a horror movie and someone yells—Ghost!” ~ T.C.
Episode 2 continues to stress the importance of having a liaison while filming in a foreign country. You need someone who not only speaks the language and can translate, but also someone who knows the people and culture. “Someone that you can trust,” says Kwedar. “Someone who can get you places. It’s everything.”
Next, the RFA crew dives into finishing the day of interviews, but it soon becomes a struggle to choose between locations. Do you pick the location with the best sound or the location with the best light? Who gives in? Will it be camera operator, Jeremy Rodgers or sound recorder, Sean McCormick? The docu-drama concludes with the RFA crew coming together and doing whatever it takes to get the shot. Photographer, John Russell, “takes the shirt off his back” to create a last minute white, bounce-board. Just as things seem to come together for the crew, they begin to worry about the upcoming cycling race.
“Planning for the race is the kind of thing that would keep me up at night,” says Kwedar. “It’s been that looming storm on our horizon since before we even got to Africa. What happens if we don’t pull this off?” Come watch this dramatic episode and see what it really takes to film a feature length documentary.
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