Friday, February 15, 2013

Jibbin' it up in the HCM

Our last day of b-roll was spent lugging Matt's home-built, 12-foot jib around Ho Chi Minh City.  It was a blast!

We found a rooftop café for a short lunch break, and discovered Vietnamese coffee.  It's a strong, strong shot of espresso mixed with sweetened condensed milk.  I'm not sure you can come closer to heaven on earth...okay - I know...Vietnamese coffee during a Vietnamese massage.  Yes, that's the life.

You can see the music video production just above
Matt's left hand (your right).  Our jib's better. ;-)
Walking down the road to find a good location to set up filming, we saw a weird little contraption across the street from us.  There was another homemade jib!  A man was shooting another dude singing a song.  A music video!  Ha!  What are the chances of running into a person using his homemade jib while scouting a location to use our homemade jib?  Apparently pretty high.

After seeing how acceptable jibs are, we busted out ours in the middle of a park.  We found a cute old lady with a snack cart where she was cutting up mangoes and trying to sell us drinks.  We asked if we could take a photo, and she and her sister didn't seem to protest, so we dropped our three bags and began setting up the jib.

Matt showing the sisters how the jib works.
The were quite surprised, but went along with our antics.  The little lady would pose for "photos" as we shot video around her cart and out into the street.  We swung the jib down from signs and over her spices, and shot a conversation with her sister and an old man sitting on their little stools.

They were nice and friendly up until the point that we were finished, and then wanted money (of course).  We bought some mango and a coke, but she still wasn't happy, so finally Danny gave her the equivalent of $10, which was probably more than she makes in a day, and that shut her up.  We chocked it up to a location fee because we got some awesome footage!  Urban street vendors without teeth equals fine cinema.

Cute poses.
After appeasing the sisters, we wandered off through the dangerous streets of Vietnam.  I carried the backpack and the blue jib bag while Matt and Danny pulled a Charlie Chaplin and weaved their way through the streets with the jib all put together.

We had a few good laughs and also a couple good scares, but all in all our travel with the jib was safe.  We found a beautiful cathedral, and stopped there for a little bit to shoot the sights.  A giant tour bus of Europeans pulled up and swarmed the statue, chasing us off since a bunch of white people around the place didn't make very good Vietnam b-roll.  (No offense to white people...)

That doesn't look weird at all!
We were right next to the main post office in HCM, so I decided to send off the postcards we had written a couple days ago.  Inside, it was a sprawling, beautiful space.  It was an old building that they had turned into a post office and souvenir shop.  It was long and had a tall curved ceiling.  Very beautiful.  I wish I had taken a photo, but I was so darn hot and sweaty that I wanted to just get the stamps bought and get out of the stale air.

Today was blazing hot, and people were being smart by staying in the shade or staying inside.  In front of the cathedral, we were baking to death, so it might have been fortuitous to have been chased off by so many tourists.

Our caravan of comedies embarked again through the streets to a large roundabout that had been transformed into a walking mall just days before for Tet.  (The Chinese new year).  The busy roundabout, beautiful flowers and classic buildings made a perfect location for a few more jib shots.  We set up again, and got a crowd of people.  Everyone wanted to see the monitor and everyone was wondering what TV station we worked for.  Many wanted us to pose for a picture.

Us in front of the cathedral prior to the tour bus swarm.
At one point, a giant Asian tour group wandered by following a man with a flag on a stick.  The man asked us what we were doing, and when we said shooting video, he translated for the group who, at the same time, went, "Oooooh!" then started snapping photos.  I put up the two-finger, peace-sign pose and anyone who didn't have their camera out, got it out and started taking pictures.  What a sight!!  Better than the gardens, for sure.  I'd love to know how many QQ pages we'll be appearing on this evening.

We were so dang hot and so dang dehydrated, that I decided to head into a building to see if I could find us some water.  We had brought water, but drank it all in front of the cathedral since we were sweating so much.  I wandered into what looked like a small, fancy shopping mall only to find floors and floors of escalators that went down to floors and floors of stores and food courts.  Two floors down there was a legit grocery store with 1.5 liter bottles of water for 7,000 dong.  That's less than 50 cents!  The street vendors sell little bottles for 20,000, so I jumped on the opportunity and bought some cokes and the giant bottle.  I got back up to the street and found that Matt needed more counter-weight for the back of the jib, so we had to begin on our cokes while the water became a part of the film gear.  A small sacrifice for sexy footage.

We saw a group of Semester at Sea faculty and staff led by the dean, Tom Jelke.  He's good people (as we say in the business), and we've really enjoyed partnering with him to make this experience happy for the students and Unreasonable.  As soon as he saw us with the twelve foot jib and a crowd of tourists and locals peering at our monitor he just shouted, "Yeah, real subtle, guys."  We never said we were going to be subtle...did we?

Matt got the grand idea of sticking the jib out into oncoming traffic to get some good shots of the motor bikes.  Motivated by the good shot, Danny and I agreed to participate in this shenanigan.  We got a couple epic shots and left the square happy filmmakers.  Matt did a wonderful job creating a travel jib.  With a little stabilization, the shots will be flawless.  Hollywood quality.

With the jib packed up and our cameras stowed, we headed back to the shuttle that takes us to the ship.  We were sweaty and gross, but content with our day's work.  We got to the ship and headed straight for dinner and then a shower.  Tomorrow morning we head out at 8am with Pedro to find a plant in the middle of the wetlands.  Thank goodness we're taking our malaria medicine...