The View From The Bottom, SLM Intern Blog Week 3
by David Rokos, Solidline Intern

Five days, eight states, and 2700 miles…what a week it has been! We shot in four different locations, in three different time zones, and got a lot of great footage. This was my first week traveling on the SolidLine Media truck, or tour bus as they call it, and though it wasn’t quite the Motley Crue style party bus that I was expecting, it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

On Sunday we met up in Rockford, loaded the truck, and hit the road towards Danville, Kentucky. Traveling most of the day I started to get used to life on the truck. Showering and using the bathroom while moving definitely took some getting used to, but beyond that it was very hospitable. I was able to get some work done and hang out for the seven hour haul before we parked at a WalMart in southern Indiana, cooked up some awesome bacon wrapped steaks, and called it a night.

IMAG00471-scaled
We bring a lot of equipment with us when we travel.
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Our two very important forms of transportation when we are on the road.

The next day was extremely busy. We finished the last two hour drive to get to Danville, KY and got to our first shooting location, a local hospital, around eight in the morning. First, we filmed some b-roll of a nursing class in action. Trying our best not to disturb the class too much, we set up the camera and lighting gear and got a few shots of the students and teacher in action. In the end we got some great footage, and I think we all learned a thing or two about nursing.

Picking up some solid
Picking up some solid b-roll in Danville, Kentucky.

Our next location was a tobacco farm not far from the town. It was a wonderful location set on 60 acres, with wide fields, and great weather.  But we almost didn’t get in to shoot. While driving up on the the farm’s small gravel driveway the truck got stuck on an incline and wouldn’t budge. While the entire team’s hearts collectively stopped beating for a minute (especially Greg and Michael), the truck was able to get it’s gripping back while Ed gave it full power of the Volvo diesel engine and was able to pull the hitch of the truck out of the ground and drive onto the farm with only minor damage (the road took the brunt of it).  This, I am learning, is just one of the many crazy things that happen when you live on the road…

road that almost took down the truck.
The road that almost took down the truck.

Once we got in and set up the location was more than worth the trouble. We interviewed a rural Nurse Practitioner outside and the backdrop of the field looked really good, but I learned some of the troubles of shooting outside. With the sun constantly moving and the reflector making the interviewee squint all the time, we had to set up a large 12×12 scrim above her to keep the lighting constant the entire time. It took some time to assemble, but the results really helped and the interview went off well.  SolidLine really has gear for any situation.

what it takes to get a great outdoor interview
Doing what it takes to get a great outdoor interview done.

After we were done shooting we had a problem on our hands, how to get out of the farm without getting the truck stuck. After much deliberating with the farm owner, it was decided that it would be best to drive the truck out into a tobacco field, around giant mounts of hay, and out a little fence at the far end of the farm. It took about 45 minutes of maneuvering and was pretty crazy, but the plan worked and we were back onto the road. Check out my video from the farm:

Our final location of the day was a local health clinic back in Danville. To get the best b-roll possible we pulled out the jib and set up some interesting moving shots of the nurse working with a patient. To change it up a little bit we also took a really nice outdoor shot of her leaving the building, then moving the camera down to show the name of the clinic. It was a long day, but we got a lot done.

no room to spare when we set up the jib
There was no room to spare when we set up the jib for the shot.
set up for a really cool shot
The set up for a really cool shot outside the clinic.

After the shoot we drove through the night. I tried to stay up with all the guys who had to drive the graveyard shift, but by two in the morning I left Ed to drive on his own and I fell asleep. Lucky he was up for the challenge and we made it through the night safely. The next day we stopped off at a campground near Denver. Knowing Greg and Michael’s sixth sense for finding any hot tub within a hundred mile radius, I wasn’t surprised that the campground came equipped with a hot tub and we were able to relax in it for a while.

 truck parked at the campsite
The truck parked at the campsite with the slide extended for extra room.

The following morning we headed into the suburbs of Denver (just missing any good view of the mountains I was hoping for) and went to our last location of the trip. We were interviewing a couple in their home and when you are going into someone’s house you never know what to expect. We got very lucky because the couple, the Skolniks, we extremely kind, hospitable, and had a really cute dog (see below). It was a very sad interview, the Skolniks were talking about problems they had at a hospital that lead to their son’s death, but their openness and honesty made for a very engaging interview and will help prevent other families from going through the same thing.

Olivia
This is Olivia, I almost tried to take her home with us.
Our final interview of the trip
Patty and David Skolnik were truly great people to work with!

After the interview we picked up a few shots of b-roll, said goodbye to our new friends, and headed our for the 19 hour haul back to Chicago. That night, while we were driving through the middle of Nebraska, Greg was nice enough to set up his computer for the truck speakers so we could listen to the Blackhawks game. Reception cut in and out a lot, but it was crystal clear when Kane hit the overtime goal… celebrating ensued!

Party on the bus
Party on the bus on I-76 Eastbound after the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win!

Thursday saw us pulling back into the SolidLine barn South of Rockford, Illinois and Ed and I heading back to Chicago after the SLM bus was all packed away in the barn. I lived through my first time traveling on the truck, I learned a lot, and honestly I am looking forward to doing it again. Next week I am going to try doing some sound design for a project SolidLine is working on and we are flying out to Yale for a day to shoot an interview. It should be another exciting week!

The Doctor

PS:

I am going to start keeping track of all the states I have been to this summer with SolidLine, here’s where I’ve been so far:

Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Washington DC (I know it’s not a state but I’ll count it), and Maryland.

Total so far: 10

This is a little off topic, but here is a picture from when I went to the Stanley Cup parade on Friday.

Sir Stanley's Cup.
That’s right, that’s Sir Stanley’s Cup.

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