Filmmaking is often a fast-paced process. You have to be ready to hit record at a moment’s notice and then run off to set up your next shot. Actors have tight schedules (even more so when you’re not able to pay them). Lighting conditions are in flux. It is constant movement; constant anticipation; constant, simmering chaos.
Except when it’s not. Rarely, a filmmaker has an opportunity to relax while working. While filming my latest project with Obscure Studios — Poverty With a View, a satirical look at life after college in the recession — I decided to grab an iconic shot. In Flagstaff, the most recognizable feature of the landscape are the San Francisco Peaks.
The Peaks are actually one mountain, one huge volcano rising over 12,000 feet into the sky. The dominate the northern horizon and can be seen from almost anywhere in town. So, if I was going to make a web series set in Flag, the Peaks had to be in it.
I decided to film a sunset on the night of the summer Solstice. I staked out a clear spot in Buffalo Park and waited. Just waited. Once I had framed the mountain and hit record, there was nothing left to do but wait for the sunset. That was the strangest part. Filmmaking for me is such an involved process — there are so many variables to control and monitor — that to sit by idly for an extended period of time felt wrong. But after fidgeting for half an hour, I finally allowed myself time to enjoy the sunset.
And it was beautiful. The way the golden light paints the dead grass on the mesa; the way a violet shadow grows over the face of the mountain; and the gathering burnt orange glow around the sun. It actually made me stop thinking about the technical aspects of what I was doing and forced me to soak in the grandeur of the world.
I think we all need that from time to time. We get so wrapped up on our own little problems that we forget how small they are.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer and filmmaker in Flagstaff, AZ, which was almost the town in the Eagles’ hit “Take It Easy.” Sadly, Winslow won out and ruined a lot of great marketing opportunities. Please feel free to comment or follow me on Twitter: @jonnyeberle.