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ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Muse

Eiffel: What Goes Up

As the Seine meanders aimlessly through Paris, Gustave Eiffel’s work of wonder appears to glide from one bank to the other. Our Batobus commuter boat docks in the shadow of the Tower, and I shepherd my small flock to the shore.

Razi, 14, and Danny, 11, have been troupers on this first trip to Europe, and they are eagerly anticipating the Eiffel Tower.

Except … my wife Susan has a phobia. Elevators make her anxious, and she’ll only ride in one if there’s no alternative. Fortunately, the small hotels we have stayed in on this trip have booked us on low floors so she can climb the stairs. But the Eiffel Tower is no walk-up, and we approach with some apprehension. . . . CONTINUE READING: Eiffel: What Goes Up

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Muse

Unpunished

Ten of us arrive, unannounced, at the restaurant on the terrace, hoping for an outside table.

The staff seats us quickly, then waters, breads, menus, wines, serves, desserts, and espressos us in style. The service is seamless, though during the meal I notice one of our waitresses hurrying by, looking harried. But we gab and laugh and catch up in the sun on the terrace, enjoying the company, the food, and the splendid New England day.

Eventually the waitress brings the check, with amends. “I’m so sorry about the delay. Thanks for your understanding.” . . . CONTINUE READING: Unpunished

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel

Sky Jockey: Conquering Jetlag

Busy week. Lotsa time in the air:

Last Monday—Fly SFO to Washington-Dulles / Tuesday—One-day shoot near Dulles airport / Wednesday—Fly Dulles to SFO / Thursday—Breathe, pant / Friday—Scheme, pack / Saturday—Depart SFO to Paris / Sunday—Arrive Paris / Monday—One-day shoot in Paris / Tuesday—Fly Paris to SFO / Today—Breathe, pant, blog

Mastering jetlag is the only way I can get through periods like these. It’s an imperfect science at best . . . CONTINUE READING: Sky Jockey: Conquering Jetlag

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel

Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon

News from Townsend 11, the writing collective I’ve belonged to for years, here in San Francisco:

First—Volume 1 of our new book series, No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel, was originally published in July as a Kindle book. But now we have made it available at most e-book stores.

Next—Volume 2 of the series, No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Misadventure, will be published in a few days on the Kindle Store, and through other e-Book outlets a few weeks later. . . . CONTINUE READING: Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos • Travel

Streets of São Paulo

Photos from my Brazil trip, August 2011 . . . CONTINUE READING: Streets of São Paulo

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Brazil: Smooth as Silk

Less than an hour after my last post (Brazil: Some Days the Bear Eats You), my friend The Dave Mitchell responded on my Facebook page: “Nice, Bill. Easy days are completely forgettable.” Isn’t that the truth?

“But,” added The Dave, a freelance gaffer/key grip, “I’m available if you’ve got any coming up.” If only!

After our tough time at the tower, the next couple of days shooting in Brazil were smooth as silk. Just as The Dave said, I can remember little about those shoots except for what we did and where we did it. I always find it amazing that I can easily spin out 1500-2000 words describing a bad day, but smooth shoots leave me with less material. That’s why OO stories (Overcoming Obstacles) are so popular in movies. It’s hard to find a narrative arc in a yarn about happy professionals cheerfully moving apace from setup to lovely setup. . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Smooth as Silk

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Brazil: Visiting the Rental House

On my first day in Brazil, I visited the rental house with Mush and Heeka.

I brought my Canon 5D, a slew of lenses and two GoPro cameras with me from the States, but we’ve arranged to rent a second 5D camera body, two tripods, a small monitor, a wide angle lens, and some accessories from Universo Imagens here in São Paulo.

Visiting the rental house is a time-honored ritual on international shoots. The most interesting rental house experience I can recall was in India several years ago. In a small warehouse crammed with a variety of battered and somewhat obsolete lighting instruments, a dutiful staff brought out each light we were renting, then plugged in and turned on each one. I’d seen this ritual before and was impressed that almost every light actually worked.

Then I noticed that, because of rain pouring in under the rollup door, the floor was wet. In fact, the staff members were standing in puddles, barefoot, as they plugged in and demonstrated their lights. I backed cautiously away, nodding approval at the demonstration, but a bit cowed by the unholy mix of water and electricity.

On another shoot in Taiwan, the staff demoed . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Visiting the Rental House

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Back to Brazil

On my first trip to Brazil in 1993, I was shooting for a Japanese high-tech company. We arrived in São Paulo and went out to scout at our client’s manufacturing facility nearby.

We met with the general manager of the company, a Brazilian who was impressed by this visit from corporate headquarters.

“What can I do for you?” he asked our clients from Tokyo. “Where would you like to film?”

“We are here to film the manufacture of our cellular phones,” they responded.

A frown crossed the general manager’s face. “Cellular phones?” he asked, then consulted in Portuguese with several of his colleagues.

“We have not made cellular phones here for three or four years now.”

Somehow, the geniuses in our client’s PR department hadn’t gotten the word that the cell phone manufacture had been moved to the Philippines a while before.

We did some filming in the factory anyway, but we still needed a compelling story. Through our local production company, we found a sports radio reporter who used a cell phone to issue soccer game reports from the sidelines. Pretty advanced for 1993!

Last year I returned to Brazil, this time to the smaller city of . . . CONTINUE READING: Back to Brazil

Books / Writing • Travel

My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with other authors in my writing group, passing through final stages of publication for our first e-Book … Drumroll !! …

Available NOW at Amazon’s Kindle Store:

No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel

This collection of 11 personal essays, memoirs, and true stories from Townsend 11, a group of award-winning writers, takes readers on emotional journeys and adventures from California to Croatia to China and back, Ethiopia to Egypt, England to New England, and Hawaii to Hot Springs, Arkansas. . . . CONTINUE READING: My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series