In order to tackle such a large story with so many elements in such a short period of time, MediaStorm decided that a two person team would be most effective. MediaStorm Director of Photography and Producer, Rick Gershon
, worked alongside Director of Photography Nathan Golon in the field.
With less than a week scheduled in country for reporting, the two person team allowed us to double our efforts in gathering content when needed and combine our efforts in other situations.
The solution to finding a great subject really started before travelling to Laos. We worked very closely with in-country staff to identify potential subjects that met the criteria that we were looking for before we hit the ground. This allowed us to narrow down our options before arriving and saved us valuable time that we could then use for gathering content. It still took two solid days of pre-production interviews with victims of bomb accidents before we found the right subject.
In order to pull off a lot of the dangerous shots we wanted without actually putting ourselves in harms way, we utilized a tiny HD camera called the GoPro HD
. This allowed us to get a camera very close to the explosions for maximum impact and allowed us to mount the camera to various items like their metal detectors and vehicles. The camera has a very sturdy, waterproof outer shell which helped protect it from flying debris. On one occasion the camera was actually knocked off of the tripod by shrapnel but still kept running.
To deal with the super challenging audio issues on this project, we used several different microphone set ups to achieve the results we wanted. For the on location interviews we brought a portable boom pole that allowed us to mount a Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic
directly above our subjects heads, pointing down, allowing us to isolate a majority of the unwanted noise surrounding us. We also ran a hard line lavalier to our subjects. This proved to further isolate the noisy surroundings and since it was hard line we didn't have issues with interference from foreign frequencies. For ambient sound while on the move we used the Rode Video Mic Pro. This allowed for a smaller, more portable camera rig and elevated the quality of sound greatly over the 5D Mark II
's internal microphone.
In film making, when dealing with the aftermath of an event that has already happened, it is important to give a strong picture of that event that places the viewer in the moment and allows them to feel the horror and terror of what it was like. We felt this was key in allowing the viewer to care and feel a sense of responsibility for the plight of this nation and the individual residents we were profiling. Especially given the fact that this was a war that we as a country waged and the bombs that are still in Laos are American bombs.
In order to do this we spent a large amount of time finding compelling and powerful stock footage from the Vietnam war. We felt this archival footage really gave a window into the violence and destruction of the war while allowing the viewer to understand a vital part of the story that we had no ability to capture ourselves being that it took place over 30 years ago.