Monthly Archives: July 2010

On-Set With Elizabeth Allen, Director of “Ramona And Beezus”

       In April, 2009, I boarded an Alaska Airlines jet with a strange looking package bound in holiday wrap. It was extremely fragile, and a large, odd shape that would not fit well in the overhead compartment…”How is this going to work”, I wondered? I need to get this package with me to Vancouver, BC. The solution to getting my unusual bundle on the plane was to ask to put it in the forward closet of the aircraft, and away we flew.          My first stop was Seattle, where the bundle was carefully unwrapped and the contents assembled with dozens of smaller parts. The item was actually a small airplane: the Mynah Bird. It was an RC photo aircraft with a forward looking HD view, and it was enroute to the set of Elizabeth Allen’s latest theatrical feature; Ramona and Beezus with the mission of grabbing some aerial video and background plates for a special effects sequence for the movie. I had spent the last week designing and building the airplane and equiping it with an expensive new camera. The mission wasn’t an official part of the studio production, but an experiment, and an opportunity to do something completely amazing and maybe even historic.          The prospect of building an airplane to get shots for a movie was not something that happened overnight. I have had the opportunity to know Elizabeth Allen since her years as a film student at USC Cinema, where I assisted her on a handful of student productions. It was a completely fortunate event for me to meet and get to know Liz, because she was an extremely ambitious and visionary student with a lot of already well established mentors. I was just a guy from Minnesota with a lot of free time and aspirations to work in film as well, so we made a good team in the moment. After my stay, I returned to Minnesota to work and save money for what I hoped would be my eventual return to Los Angeles.                 Even after returning to Minnesota, I ventured back to L.A. several times to help Liz on a couple of movies, and at times just to catch up. Liz was always such a gracious host. On my next return trip, I worked on her first 35mm short film where I experienced the thrill of learning how to load a Panavision film magazine from one of the camera assistants. Being on-set is great, but I think it was the work leading up to production that is so interesting to be a part of; driving around Hollywood with Liz to do important things like pick up the film “short ends” (leftover film rolls from studio productions), tech scouting locations and meeting important people on the crew like the Director of Photography, etc. But it seemed like Liz always had important people around her, experienced talent that already had professional movie credits, and casts that included real stars and people that we all recognize from film and television.          The next production … Continue reading

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