“From the Ukraine With Love”
By Edward Boe, Production Coordinator
SolidLine Media

In any production situation, travel to and sometimes from the location can be difficult.  In the best of circumstances, invariably you will have to deal with 3 main issues…How do I get there?  How long will it take me to get there?  And of course, what do I need while I’m there.  All of these questions are usually dependant upon the answer to the first one.  “How do I get there?”

Now for most of our shoots, we end up driving our 50 foot production rig from our home base in the Chicago area to wherever it is in the country that we are going.  In this method, the second and third questions tend to work themselves out.  How long it takes to get there, depends on how long it takes to drive to that location, and what do I need to bring is less of an issue since we have just about anything we’d need on our truck, from spare clothes, to all of our high definition production equipment, everything has a place.

Occasionally we’ll find that it necessary to book plane tickets to our location.  This again, is fairly straight forward so long as the plane is on time, and as long as the location is a known quantity.  Flights can potentially present a little bit more of a challenge due to the fact that we are limited in what we can bring along with us, so situations that require a long trip, or as in this case, a trip abroad, are a little harder to plan for as you have to plan for everything.

For SolidLine’s trip to Ukraine for DHL Global Forwarding, we knew that all we would need was the camera and tripod, so we could dispatch with items like the audio kit, the first AC bag, and our 90 pound light kit.  Aside from that there were a few things that we knew for sure, and a good many things that we had to plan for anyway.  Our shoot was going to be outside, but we were unsure of the weather, so we had to pack rain gear for both the camera as well as ourselves.  Since we would be filming at a port location, we needed to bring hard hats, safety glasses, protective footwear, and safety vests, for our two crew members, and just in case for our client.  Being that we were filming outside, we would have no access to electrical power, camera batteries were a must.  20 to 30 pounds of batteries in all including the charger.  And just to be able to get a variation on our shot, we brought along two cameras that we could strap to anything, an HD flip video camera, and an HDSLR package with an assortment of lenses.  So, okay, add in our clothes, toiletries, computers, and personal items, and you’ll have a good idea of what we had to carry on the plane with us.

Keep in mind (because I certainly didn’t), that we would have to bring these things through security, through customs, back through customs on the other end, and then back through their security.  This meant pulling out our computers, and opening up the cameras (we packed no less than 5 cameras for this trip) for each of the times that we went through either customs or security.  This also meant doing the same thing on the way back.  Now it’s easy enough to explain what were doing to the security agent in Chicago, or even in Munich during our layover, but it is something else entirely to try to pantomime all of this to someone who only speaks Ukrainian or Russian.

If you couple all of these things with delayed flights, uncomfortable, ten hour plane rides, airport shuttle busses, and a general lack of sleep, you’ll know why it was such a relief that the footage turned out so well.  All the frustration and logistical planning that went into this shoot turned out for the best and was, in the end, worth the effort!

Ed B.