remember the opening for herzog's 'aguirre, wrath of God', with the conquistadors slowly moving across the south american landscape? that's what today was for us. we made a 4-mile hike to a waterfall; one that had the advantage of never been used in any major movies before because of its remote location. how herzog's crew carried all that film equipment for his movie is something i can't imagine; i'm impressed that paul was able haul that heavy beast of a camera this far.
we were told that this trek could be made in two hours. we made it in 2:45, during which we traversed many mountains, hopped over waterfall streams crossing our path only to be faced with mighty rivers, with no choice but to hold the equipment overhead as the water rushes up to our waste. there were times where it was difficult discern the correct direction, and while other times presented no apparent way to move at all except to gymnastically maneuver between tree branches.
while this was taxing on both body and mind, the same challenging land also buoyed our spirits with impressive mountains of brilliant green, mist rising amid the hills; the rich blue pacific ocean strecthing to reach the endless sky; bamboo forests and lush jungles, us forgiving our soggy shoes, socks, and pants because the same water provided the majesty all around us.
the waterfall was the capstone of the dual nature of the journey, of trial intertwined with beauty. at the base of the valley the water splashed at the end of what must have been a 200-foot fall. everything was verdant and alive. yet, like so many other locations on the shoot, it wasn't quite as it was when it had been scouted a few months earlier; the water volume had seemingly tripled, creating much more noise and bringing more wind and more spray. despite the blue sky above, it felt like we were perpetually in a mild hurricane. t.i.h., my friends.
but we'd been at this for over a week already, and we knew how to work in this; you just do it. finding places to safely rest the camera while framing a usable shot, doing all that we can to keep the camera dry, and fighting an sisyphean battle to keep moisture off the lens [never had the choice to use a single zoom lens over a set of primes been proven wiser]. wiring the actor's with wireless mics was obviously the only option, and we had a laugh when brian commented that he could hear one of their heartbeats. this was made all the better because this scene involved a kiss, and evidently someone was a little nervous, because the beat got faster halfway through.
the three hours spent hiking in the morning and saving three and a half hours for the return trip [we do not want to be on that hill in the dark] left us with about 3-4 hours to shoot. we worked as fast as we safely could and used every trick we could to speed things along, but in the end we had to cut a scene and shoot it somewhere else another day.
the return hike was reminiscent of the triathalon i did last year; after the first hike and the shoot, i had no energy, and you can take all you want from nothing, it's still going to be nothing. actually, i had run out of energy about halfway over the second of the three or four mountains we crossed at the start of the journey; the rest of the day had been on that mystery energy that comes from i don't know where. so the return home wasn't all that bad, save final 20-30 minutes when the sun had fallen from the sky and it was getting to dark to see much. i saw a light up ahead and was happy to hear ryan's voice; he brought me a light then continued on, going to give help to the group behind me. i was surprised to know that i wasn't the last one, and relieved to see people again. heck, i was thrilled to see.
sitting in the car on the way home was one of those moments when you never thought you'd feel that comfortable again. but if a warm, dry, cushy car seat wasn't pleasure enough, we were rewarded with the one thing i told myself could make this better: we heard the 'huli huli chicken' song on the radio.
t.i.h. this is hawaii.