Saturday, August 1, 2015

Day Ten: When Even A Sandstorm Stopped For Us!

Or so it seemed... I mean, about that sandstorm piece in the title above. But let's start from the beginning of the day, shall we?

[The Destination Film Shoot]

17 April, 2015

It was technically the last proper day of shoot. Tomorrow afternoon, our cameraman would take off and we would follow the day after, in the morning. So there was really little time to get a lot of things done such as:

1) Two major scenes that still needed an external location each.
2) One night scene at the hotel - we already had the permission for this, which was 2am tonight. The scene is to be shot in the front drop-off point of the hotel, and it had to be at a time when there is very little traffic. And the hotel gave us two hours - from 2am - 4am to get this done.
3) One final scene in the car with the actor at night, which as been planned before or after the hotel shoot tonight.
4) A few daytime montage scenes - which have been planned for tomorrow as those are the least critical.

Nett, we had a plan of action for (2) - (4) above and none for (1). And without (1), we didn't really have a movie.

As usual, the team met for breakfast. And as usual, we discussed out options.

Me: So?
Editor: So...
Me: So.....our locations for the two remaining scenes are a) Oasis, b) Dates farm. Do we really need licence for both the places?
Editor: The oasis is a public place and so definitely needs one.
Me: What about the dates farm?
Editor: That's a privately owned place but when I checked, they said we can't shoot there without the permit.
Me: Then?
Editor: Well, we could technically shoot there without the permit.
Me: Really?!
Editor: Yeah, we can go in and try shooting in some corner. It is so large, maybe we won't get caught.
Me: Urm... and if we did get caught?
Editor: Nothing, if we get caught... then that would be a problem.

So I clearly told him that I had no intention of even visiting an Abu Dhabi jail, let alone spend any time in it.

And then, just as I was munching on some of the lovely idlis and chutney that were available at Novotel's buffet breakfast, I had what one might call a really good brainwave.

You see, one of the "locations" I had shortlisted during my site recee in my last trip were these "eco-donut" boat rides. These self-maneuvered  boats start off at the Le Meridien hotel and take you through the mangroves around the city. I really liked it and had included it as part of the montages.

Ever since we had got to Abu Dhabi, whenever we start discussing out locations for the day, my editor would ask me whether I wanted to just get done with the montage shoot inside the eco-donut boat. But I had  always pushed back because they were expensive and the montage shoot wasn't the most critical of all that we had to do, so prioritizing that somehow didn't seem right. Thus, it could postponed endlessly.

So now my brainwave was this - instead of shooting a montage, why don't we shoot the originally planned "oasis" scene inside the donut boat?! The "dates farm" scene wasn't really an option here because the actors are supposed to walk for the entire length of that scene and there is very little walking you could potentially do inside this boat, but for the "oasis" scene, where they were only to sit and chat with each other against a nice backdrop, this might just work!  The boat would be considered private and as long as its manager lets us shoot, we should be good to go without a licence.

My editor was so excited that he actually didn't complete his breakfast. Asking the actors and the cameraman, he and I rushed to the Le Meridien and straight to the eco-donut boat area. The manager of the service wasn't around, but one of the staff helpfully connected us to him on the phone and he said, sure! We can pay for an hour, use it for an hour and a half at max, and just pass him the licence whenever it comes by. Yessssss!!!!

We quickly went back to our hotel, picked up the team and the equipment, rushed back, got into the boat, floated away, shot on the way, rammed into some mangroves here and there, completed shoot faster that we thought we would, so spent the rest of the time back (the boat took really long to get back to the pier!) laughing and chatting and taking pictures and silently thanking all Gods!

After the shoot, we quickly grabbed a bite and thought about our next move. We only had one main external location shoot remaining. But that one is a difficult one because I want them to be walking throughout and that means it could attract a lot of attention anywhere when people see two people walking with a cameraman and a steadycam accompanying them.

Me: Well, they could walk along the oasis.
Editor: Do you want to take the risk?

He and I were thinking the same thing. The oasis is by the expressway, but not easily visible from the road. It is at a lower ground than the road, and maybe... just maybe... we might get away with it? But I still had my apprehensions.

Me: But it is a long way off. What if we go all the way there and there are people around? Then we won't be able to shoot and we don't even have a spare day!
Editor: I don't know. Do you want to take the risk?

He simply repeated himself with a shrug.

It was a risk. A big one.

But maybe it was that we got lucky with the donut boat, but we were feeling confident.

So, we took the risk. And hoped that Gods would be with us.

The Gods were with us. And how!

We set of to the oasis, about 175 kilometres away from Abu Dhabi. And just about 20 kilometres into the journey, a sand storm began to form. It started out slow, but then slowly and steadily it started to gain intensity. About 100 kms in, it was looking pretty bad. We got pretty nervous because obviously a sandstorm means no shoot.

Me: What are we going to do?
Editor: I don't know. We have come this far. No point going back.

I agreed with him. We didn't have any more alternative brainwaves, so just getting there and figuring it out was the only option.

And then... just when we were only about 20 kilometres away from the location, just when I was beginning to think that there would be no hope for shoot, the sandstorm magically cleared. It just completely cleared! The sky was back to its bright blue being and it was as if the Gods did listen to all those prayers.

As soon as we got to the location, we quickly got ready for the shoot. We walked into the desert towards the oasis. It was a terribly hot, dry day and I thought I might have another attack of dehydration. We struggled with the long walk to the oasis over the hot sand.  The actors struggled to keep up with the blinding sun and dry weather that parched their lips. The cameraman struggled to wield the steadycam over the sandy desert and the hot sun, especially since it was long, walking scene. The car we had come in got entrenched in the sand and the editor was struggling to get it out.  And on top of all that, there was a guy riding a desert buggy or a quad bike in the background and he turned out to be the police.

The long walk to the oasis

No comments:

Post a Comment