Magazine article American Cinematographer

"Island" Adventures

Magazine article American Cinematographer

"Island" Adventures

Article excerpt

It's not uncommon for in-demand cinematographers to do a great deal of traveling, but cinematographer-turned-director Bruce Dorn and his director of photography, Jim Weisiger, are the quintessential frequent flyers. Experts when it comes to shooting in extreme conditions and distant locations, Dorn and Weisiger have literally traveled to the ends of the earth during these past few years to capture,great shots for the Re/Max Realty campaigns.

Puerto Aventuras, Mexico and the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska were just two of the sites selected for the 1995 Re/ Max campaign. "In the 'Island' spot, which we shot early in June, our castaway is trying all sorts of ways to sell his island home, including sending messages in a bottle," explains Dorn, who still takes an active role in positioning the camera, as well as selecting lenses and stock.

Achieving the look of an isolated island in the middle of an ocean involved a great deal of planning and location scouting. Cancun location manager Mark Pitman was able to secure a coral head that was conveniently located just off a private beach. The water between the beach and the coral island was no more than ten feet deep and had a sandy bottom covering a hard coral base. The proverbial deserted island was made from scratch by covering the coral head with black plastic and bringing in hundreds of bags of sand by barge.

"We made the palm tree bases from PVC plastic sewer pipe which we decorated with lines of fiberglass material," Dom reveals. "We covered those with fresh palm fronds from the nearby jungle."

Metal parallels were put in the water to get a camera position that allowed the crew to work off shore and create a "place in the middle of nowhere" look while still remaining close to the island. Weisiger used an Arri III package and primarily Kodak 5245 stock.

"We took along a roll of 96 in case we needed to shoot sunsets," he says. The team rented everything from Otto Nemenz before leaving for the location. "In Mexico City there's a Panavision package, but we were shooting over in Cancun and wanted to make sure we had everything."

Working in a sandy, salt-water environment is never pleasant from a cinematographer's point of view, and special underwater effects work only increases the potential for going over budget and/or time, but Dorn and his crew were able to get the footage they needed in only two shooting days.

"In this spot the Re/Max hot air balloon had to come up from the sea," explains Weisiger, who used a polarizer 85 and neutral grads to knock down the sky and capture more clouds. …

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