Diary of a Shoot, Day 7 — Rollercoaster Ride

Telluride 7.1

Reviewing dailies with AD Jason. We like what we see, but we'd both rather be outside shooting.

From cloud 9 to the basement. Yesterday’s epic adventure whipped a 180 again today… If yesterday was chocolate cake, today was chopped liver. Reason being, we were completely shut out. Blanked. Skunked. As in zero photos, zero video footy. Didn’t even get the camera outta the bag.

Mother nature can giveth, but she can also taketh away. For continuity issues with footage and stills shot earlier in the week, we’re now in need of sunshine. And that sunshine is nowhere to be seen. We awoke to the flattest, murkiest weather. Socked in gray. Down side of that is we’re again behind in our schedule.

If there is an upside, it’s that we get to further dial in production related details for the remaining images AND some more time for reviewing dailies. From 10am-12noon my crew liaises with Matt the client data guru to ensure all the files from yesterday are ready for quick and easy viewing. Noon to 1 is AD Jason and I reviewing footage and stills. We’re finding gems and looking for missing assets and preparing for a meeting with Jason’s boss and the client’s strategic marketing leadership team who have just flown in to check out the shoot. That begins right on time at 1pm. Universal agreement – the work from yesterday is gold.

But there is still work to be done. Only hiccup is that Mother Nature isn’t having it right now…

Telluride 7.2

Production meeting, canceling the evening shoot on account of severe weather.

The heavy overcast turns into heavy snow. The heaviest we’ve seen yet. Under normal circumstances we’re celebrating great snow conditions. Today, however, when we need sun, we are not. We are glued to all of our weather sources and the windows of the hotel, overlooking the streets of Telluride. One report we get tells us of more 70mph winds at our location. Another report alerts us that they’re closing several lifts on the mountain for high wind warnings. It’s now 2pm – it’s a complete blizzard outside — we’d been planning on hitting our location at 430 to prepare for some luscious evening light, but all these signs are dissuasive. We call a full scale production meeting to discuss and what comes out of that meeting is the decision to pull the ripcord on the plans for evening light.

2 hours later, the skies open up. Not a cloud in sight. Perfect blue sky. But it’s too late for us to scramble together even a light/fast crew, let alone the whole lot of us. We’ve already told the resort we’re off for the day – no safety or support staff available, no special late access to the mountain is available.


Professionally speaking, this decision was the right one given all the info we had. All the stakeholders looked at the data and the weather outside (it was still dumping snow and blowing 40mph when we called it) and our thousands of previous experiences/decisions just like this one to made this call. It happens, it’s part of the job, and nobody can see the future. On paper it was the right one – we’d all make that call again. But…

But inside my little brain, I can’t help but wishing we were up there nailing it. Putting the finishing touches on the great work we’ve already got in the can… It kills me a little bit inside. Mother nature once again reminds us who is boss. I’m not sure what the lesson is here, other than despite the fact that we do this sort of thing 20 times a year doesn’t remove the emotions from the script. It’s of course part of the professional aspect of it all to be intentional and deliberate, but it’s human to bummed when you miss a weather window. That will never change.

The rest of the afternoon is filled with re-designing the schedule (again!), fine tuning the gear and the plans and trying to keep up with the other things we’ve all got going back home. There are spouses who finally get a call home, other work emails that get sent, maybe even a nap or two. The crew goes out for dinner in a few medium size groups – and a few more than one drink goes down to put our mind on some other things besides the unpredictable weather. It turns into a late one. I’ll leave it at that.

Call time tomorrow is a comfy 9:45. Must sleep.

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