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The Weather Gods

Filming in the Northwest anytime outside of July and August is always dicey, but this year, with all this rain, it has been a particular challenge.

We were slated to shoot a commercial outside, and trying to find sun in the ten day forecast was like chasing a moving target.  But there comes a point when you have to commit; crews need to be booked, locations secured, talent scheduled and gear reserved…

So with the date already locked, I was dismayed to see a weather advisory warning that a storm system with heavy rain was expected right on our shoot day.

Trying to remain calm, I made some calls and confirmed that it was too late to cancel.  Time to come up with a plan B.  It didn’t take me long to devise what I consider a genius plan B…I wrote a whole new script.  The new ad took place inside a car in the pouring rain, with the lost driver consulting a map.

I pitched the client (Clark College) and got the go-ahead.  It meant spending extra time and money planning for the backup spot.  I needed a power inverter to run lights from inside the car and a small generator for running a stationary outside light.  I also scouted what my DP told me would be a great location.  All the extra effort would be worth the knowledge that we had a plan B.

We needed to get three shots of an exterior building first (Clark College at Columbia Tech Center), then go on to shoot in a maze at Joe’s Place Farm.  We needed the building come rain or shine, but we decided that if it was raining when we got to the maze, we’d start shooting our plan B commercial and drive to the second location.

So the day came and when we arrived at the Tech Center, it was pouring with rain.  Not good.

Filming between breaks in the rain

We had no choice but to go for it.  We began unloading our gear and then… a break in the clouds!  We set up and captured the first shot.  It is nice and clear…with even a little sun.  As soon as we had a good take, the next storm front moved in and the rain began again.

We broke down the equipment and moved to the second spot, closer to the building.  We set up the canopy this time, covering the camera and the jib.  As we got closer to being ready to film, I noticed a break in the weather approaching.  Could it be???  Sure enough, the rain stopped, a little sun came out and we got the next shot.

Once again, as we were finishing, a new front moved in and more rain came…but it stopped a third time as we got the last shot of the building.

That’s right, three breaks for three shots.  A miracle!

Then we broke down our gear and moved to Joe’s Place Farm.  The cloud cleared out and once we arrived it was quite nice.  The storm loomed ominously in the distance, but the clouds were all going the other direction.  I consulted with the client and we decided to go for it.

We shot until around 1am and, apart from the odd sprinkle, it didn’t rain and we got all our shots.  The Rain Gods were truly on our side.

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