VFOriginal: We trail through the California Deserts. Here’s what we found, here’s what we learned
January 14, 2014

VFOriginal: We trail through the California Deserts. Here’s what we found, here’s what we learned

desert headerWhy do a project you love? Because you get to make something like this! Last summer we went on a wild adventure into the deserts of California to film a documentary about the State we love. We had no client, no money, and yet no limitations. Here’s how we did it and what we learned along the way.




1Dig deep to find a story

When you’re off on your own making a film, with no client breathing down your neck about what shots are needed, frankly it’s easy to get complacent. It’s easy to phone it in, grab a few pretty shots, and then head to the bar with your friends. To create a film worth making it will always be hard work. You have to hold yourself accountable and dig deep to find a story worth telling. If you can’t find a story at first, keep going.


2You need to have a producer

Every single production, paid or unpaid, is better with a producer, and if you’re a one-man-band then you have to become the producer. During this documentary we had the most amazing producer with Jangis Marifet. Jangis did a thoroughly awesome job with pre-production, planning shots out, scouting locations, and scheduling. When you’re out in the desert baking under 100 degree temperatures you really need someone in charge.  Someone who knows exactly whats happening next and what everyone needs to be doing.


3Work like you’re being paid

Just because you aren’t being paid, doesn’t mean you should change your work habits. The advantage of doing a project for fun is that you free yourself up creatively. That being said, you still need to create a quality film. Treat your creative film as an investment in the future. As seen with many projects done for your own satisfaction, such as Pascal’s documentary in Afghanistan, the payoff may not be immediate, but your film may be seen by future clients. In the case of Pascal, his probono film led him to give a TED Talk and his footage was even bought by National Geographic!


ViewFinder in the California Desert




Part Two: Ghost Town

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