I am in
This show will be filming in
My trip so far:
August 24 – August 27
On Aug. 24th I flew to
First we saw old
Michael Schumacher is the most successful race car driver ever and is the second highest paid athlete after Tiger Woods, so escorting him was something special.
Next on Aug. 25th we flew a helicopter to the F-1 track and got fantastic views of old
Arriving by helicopter again, we watched the Grand Prix from the Ferrari Pit on Aug. 26. Those cars are so loud they resonate in your whole body, making your nose run.
August 27 – August 28
The next day Aug. 27 we flew another private helicopter to
We arrived in Tromso on Aug. 28 and began preparing for the film.
Pre-production Rehearsals Week 1
August 29 – September 1
In Tromso we attended film rehearsal and set up an office.
September 1 – September 2
Film Camp near bardufoss,
The night before a Norwegian Nome stole my car keys, setting me up for an awkward morning retrieving new ones when the rental place opened.
For preparation we attended a training camp of sorts about an hour and a half drive south. There was training in shooting rifles, roping, herding and butchering reindeer.
Instruction came from a Sámi person (the aboriginal people of northern
Tomas had me pretend to be a reindeer so my friend could practice lassoing as the photo shows. I also ate raw bone marrow and did other disgusting stuff like that, though I got worried about blood borne pathogens.
That night we saw a fantastic display of the Aurora Borealis.
Tromso is possibly the best place in the world to view the northern lights as there is a band that circles a certain latitude and concentrates right above Tromso. I've included a picture showing this.
On September 3rd we had a day off and took in some fishing in the fjords. We saw some wild reindeer on the drive home but did not have any luck with the fishing.
Uriel Noriega was murdered in
I heard word from
Pre-production Rehearsal Week 2
Film Camp near bardufoss,
We returned to film camp for training in dog sledding and wardrobe fittings. As can be expected, I was harnessed for some mushing myself!
I am learning so much! I learned what happens when you put gasoline into a diesel engine. WOW I’m an Einstein. The car goes Zoom, Putter Putter Putter Wheeze…. Kurplutz! In all honesty, I was thinking about the murder and my head wasn’t in the game.
I have today and tomorrow to organize things for the ship in
On Friday we will fly to
Production Week 1
September 10 - 16
We flew an hour and a half to Longyearbyen, the main city in
After arriving we boarded the Polaris, a Russian Class A cruiser. I moved M. into the best cabin on the ship right next to the Capitan’s quarters. There was enough space to fit all her things and some of mine as well. Then I had the delightful task of jamming all of my things beneath a bunk bed and into a foot locker. The crew are all sharing rooms and I am roomed with the Unit Photographer or still photographer in a room smaller than my first dorm room.
The still photographer takes still photos while shooting, which are then used for publicity, key art (promotional posters), “The makings of”, (and placemats for breakfast if the photos are particularly bad).
We departed the same night we arrive, sailing for location where we will be shooting the next few weeks. I got a little sea sick before we even left port, but recovered rapidly.
The first location is referred to as
We have not seen any northern lights just yet because the sun’s glow never fades to reveal the stars. But the sunset lasts from an hour and a half to two hours. Once we were treated to a tall-ship’s arrival at dusk.
All this week we have filmed on a beach which is protected by the sea and mountain. The polar bears are a real danger so we have from five to seven scouts with rifles watching for them. Several of our Logistics Polar Bear guards are cute Scandies! I’m feeling very safe already!
Our new friends are very exciting. As honored guests, we are treated to the company of explorer Jason Roberts. Check out his imdb.com credits. Jason has worked closely with the BBC and has logged over 58 trips to
The weather is already harsh though it is barely below freezing. We have enjoyed 50 mile/hr winds, meter high waves (really fun to ride the Zodiac boats in them) and sleet. When the sea is calmer I hope to take some photos of the Beluga and Orca populations that surround us. We will eventually come across a bear as there are more bears than people, but I have the cute Scandies to protect my yankee ass.
Because we work 6 days a week and only have one day on land, my blog will not be updated more than once a week. I hope all are well and healthy. Thank you for viewing my blog and send warm thoughts to the top of the world.
Production Week 2
September 17 - 24
On our last day off last week we took a tour of a working mine. We rode five miles into a mountain lying on our backs while riding a Uherman car. The Uherman car was especially built for mine transportation, has no electrical components to ignite the methane (coal is compressed vegetation or old peat bogs and releases methane gas that is trapped inside of it when mined, methane is very explosive) starts with air pressure instead of an igniter, and stands about three and a half feet high. Passengers must lie down while riding because the mine tunnels are very short, the clearance while lying down was at best a foot and at worst three inches... the car had guardrails so just make sure you don't sit up above the rails. Our driver was way too enthusiastic to provide adequate safety, plowed into an underground river splashing us, rear ended another Uherman driving too slow, and even scraped the guardrail as we were airborne from jumping a bump. I don’t believe my survival instincts are properly working... I was perfectly relaxed, sleepy even while screaming down these tunnels on my back. At one point I was thinking this is really fun, like
This past week was very cold and we finally got great shots of the snow. The crew has all become familiar with each other, partnerships have formed and couples have assembled and re-assorted themselves.
So far we have seen many wild seals, reindeer and a white fox. I found myself feeling a little isolated from the rest of the crew and not very useful, so yesterday I volunteered to help the crew disassemble our base camp. Now I am better and am and feel I’m a respected contributing crew member. We are moving locations tomorrow to a living and a dead glacier.
M. has been receiving shipments of meats, cheeses, wine and fresh vegetables from
The crew is quite the international mix consisting of over 17 nationalities. I am one of two Americans. My roommate is a lifelong professional photographer and has toured with several famous bands. I get a kick at throwing him band names to hear his personal anecdotes about them. His father is a particle physicist who was a member of the Nobel Prize winning team who discovered quarks (sub-atomic particles that boggle the mind, time and space).
Last night we returned to a snow covered Longyearbyen. Thank god for that because without it, the town resembles a charred scabbed wasteland. I stayed out until and am wondering if it was worth it today.
Production Week 3
September 25 - 30
This week was the most enjoyable of all so far. Last week I was fortunate enough to get the blog updated with pictures and enjoyed a Thai meal compliments of my friend. It only took the ship two weeks to get used to me (most of you know I’m an acquired taste), but now that they have I am having a ball. I am tightest with an Ulsterman named Andrew and together we make the tweedle dumb and dumber pair.
On Monday we shot scenes where the actors were in small boats, giving me the opportunity to do some manual labor on shore. There were fresh polar bear tracks but no bears to greet us ashore. I love to work like a mule but was having so much fun I neglected my friend. Sorry about that.
We were in the territory where a brilliant blue glacier glowed. The winds kicked up and we had the most dangerous ride yet. We all got sopped by waves and laughed the whole way back.
Glaciers that are alive are ones that are moving, expanding and contracting. They have a bright blue color as much of the oxygen becomes compressed out, just like de-oxygenated blood. Dead glaciers are basically solid still blocks of ice and no longer sculpt the land. Their color is a dirty black brown ice.
When we were loading up the actors onto the boats on Sunday morning we experienced our first glacier calving. When a live glacier is heated by the sun the ice contracts, and then expands again in the night as temperatures cool. When this happens great faults are created near the edge and occasionally pop or break under their own weight. This is called calving and is accompanied by the sound of a thunder crash. When the huge ice chunks fall they create huge waves that wash ashore. We had to scurry to rescue our gear from the coming waves. This calving can take place as frequently as ever thirty minutes in the right conditions.
The following day we shot on land and eventually on my first living glacier. We had a 45mn hike to this location but it was worth every step. I had a fantastic day with my crampons (fiercely sharp ice cleats attached to boots for mountaineering) but found ice was easier to climb then to descend. When we returned for our zodiac trip back we discovered the bay that was clear in the morning was all iced over and blocked our passage. We managed to navigate our way through a maze of icebergs and returned safely.
Sean Bean left the ship and will join us in
The very next morning the tide had cleared all the bergs and we shot below the glacier we were on the day before. It was so sunny and warm (just above freezing) with no wind. Yesterday we did pick-up shots with the actors on the little boats again and I was invited to hump on shore.
I overloaded a bag carrying equipment to be loaded by the boats crane and it took three of us to load it onto the zodiac. In the process of loading I had one foot on shore and another on the raft… and the raft began to drift out to see. There I was trying to keep the boat there while holding a few hundred pounds of gear and I ended up showing the crew how to do the splits. For my next act I worked it the front hold of the ship unloading the crane. One of the grips was off loading an articulating camera head that weighs 45lbs. and it slipped out of his hands and my reactions spared me broken bones and the like but gave me one hell of a sore shoulder. So I ended up getting my rugby workout after all this week.
Last night the Polaris unloaded us carnies and we took the circus into town again. My friends had a head start and were beyond conversation by , so I made it an early night. Today my friend and I were to tour the fjords via helicopter but there were repairs needed. I’m not in the mood to go down like a stone falling from heaven today.
Tomorrow we will be filming on another glacier which will include the coldest weather on the trip. My days of adventure have kept me from missing
October 1 - 7
Then back to
We set off for the new glacier Svea Saturday night. The weather sent us some beautiful snow in Longyearbyen. It felt like an early Christmas and all was quiet. It was a nice gesture but Mother Nature never gives gifts for free.
Our week began on Sunday with the long ordeal of loading Ski-Do’s (snowmobiles) onto our zodiac boats and shipping them to land (ice actually). One Ski-Do punctured a zodiac offloading and added an extra challenge to our preparations.
The crew was transported to the top of the glacier by Ski-Do and a ski cart-trailer. Every day began with an amusement park ride. The snow the night before made the terrain more dangerous because this glacier was striped with huge crevasses that were just waiting for you to take that fatal step. We were only allowed on designated trails and NO ONE WONDERED OFF THEM. You never knew if that lovely snow was in league with the hidden crevasse, plotting for your demise.
The first three days spared us the worst of the cold. In the winter when you have overcast skies (like we did the first three days), the cloud cover acts like a roof keeping in warmer air. When skies are clear all the warm air (every things relative, not actually warm) rises and you feel the bone chill of the arctic in full splendor. These same cloudy skies caused beautiful sunsets that rivaled those of our first week.
We were lucky enough to get a quick boat ride up close to the glacial face. This can be risky incase a calving takes place. You could not only be crushed by ice but drowned by the huge waves. This all makes it all that more fun. The dark blue stripes represent different periods in time, much like the rings on trees. Some colors are very dark because instead of being frozen compressed snow, the ice melts into water then refreeze. Ice cores are drilled and analyzed to discover what our atmosphere was like thousands and millions of years ago. This makes sense because the falling snow traps in air from the atmosphere and preserves the gasses.
We were also visited by a curious seal on our adventure. The clear ice block near the seal is not your average ice berg. This one is made from frozen water vs. snow, and can really cause trouble when boating if there are any waves... you can't see them like regular ice bergs.
Being on such a high frozen plateau it was only a matter of time before vicious winds visited. Thursday was our trial by cold. Staying comfortable and safe in sub zero temperatures can be very tricky. The worst thing that can happen to you is you perspire. This is so dangerous because once you stop moving you are wet, and your core temperature can drop suddenly. In addition to this, your body burns a lot more calories trying to stay warm. This vicious combination can catch you suddenly and it is very easy to pass out / faint. The best thing to do is to warm up in a dry tent and eat something. But atop a glacier with limited sunlight to shoot with can make this very difficult.
Rumor has it that a few B camera crew spotted a polar bear. I believe it was Ingrid from locations who actually spotted it but since I missed the sighting I believe it to be B.S. (yes I’m a bit jealous).
Our ship returned to Longyearbyen on Thursday night and we were all treated to a great meal. Living in such close quarters under such rough conditions can create a pressure cooker but surprisingly everyone got along and laughed a lot. This fact really speaks testimony to how positive, supportive and fun our crew really is. In my few years in film production I have never worked with more fun and friendly people. If you can believe it, on our last night we all stayed on the ship.
We off loaded our belongings and took a flight back to Tromso yesterday. It is really weird being back on mainland, having your own room and delicious food in all varieties. I hope to keep this blog updated but things are really busy and I think internet connection will be questionable so we'll have to see.
Production Week 5, 6 & 7
John Lennon defined life as what happens when you are busy making other plans. At times my life’s adventure feels like a moving train passing through space and time on its own accord. My role is to sit back and take it all in while trying to accomplish my daily chores. I can’t believe our Norwegian portion is over already.
Our time at Filmcamp has come to an end. Everyone feels the loss of new friendships as we move to
Filmcamp Week 1 (October 8-15)
We arrived in Overbygd after two full days off in Tromso. It seemed very strange to have the space and privacy that was lacking aboard the Polaris. It took some of us a full week to adapt to our new accommodations. The crew was housed in four different locations, a large military barracks, an officer’s barracks, a block of three bedroom apartments, and a small hotel above Overbygd’s pub.
Once on set it was back to doing what ever needed to be done to make our day. We started shooting 45 minutes away from filmcamp in a boggy area tucked away high in the mountains. The weather changed daily but finally settled on making us miserable with cold heavy rain. Wet, cold, miserable rain! Oh, you poor poor Brits. We finally got a little snow on Saturday giving us a little boost of spirits for our day off.
We discovered the local gym which houses a rock climbing wall. Several of our crew were so used to heavy physical exercise in the harsh environment that after dinner we needed some work-outs. Matt, Asif, Jack, Ahmed and several other limies owned the football field. After climbing with my friend I was lured onto the football pitch. As soon as I saw the ball and gave chase I was reprimanded for rough play. Apparently you are not supposed to slide tackle your teammates. English football is not like American football, so after trying not to slide tackle anymore I realized I should give it up and stick to rugby. Sorry Rubin and Asif.
Filmcamp received an honored guest on Sunday. The Formula One Ferrari hero arrived, giving the crew a chance to thank him in person for all the food from
With her apartment finally in working order, my friend continued her hospitality by hosting twelve lucky crew members to a home cooked meal. Bravo!
Filmcamp Week 2 (October 16 – 23)
The second week shooting on solid Norwegian ground began on a mountain-framed lake. Another guest of honor arrived, Tim Miller, Asif’s co-writer! He immediately charmed his way into a tight knit unit and became one of us. The snow receded but mother nature substituted it with wind. It was a little cold but dry. Anyone can handle cold if it’s dry. On this location we were on boats, in the forest, threw someone in the freezing lake, and hired Scuba Dan to be a human ice-breaker.
Whilst the department heads were on the river, us second classer’s entertained ourselves with umbrella races. Thee people hold an umbrella to their forehead, spin in a circle ten times while looking at the ground then race to there and back. I finally got my full contact sport as being so dizzy we knocked each other over like dominoes.
This week the moon was waning, allowing the dark sky to showcase some fantastic auroras. The sun rotated and exposed the earth to some very large sunspots, producing excellent Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday we moved locations again and filmed deep within a mountain valley. We were here only one day but it had snowed heavily all night and all day, so it was very memorable. It reminded me of snow-days from childhood where the snow closes schools early and let’s all us kids discover the wonder of deep quiet magical winter. I didn’t make any snow forts or go sledding, but hell yes snow balls were thrown. Thank you for the whitewash down my back Kerstin!
That night my friend and I drove to Tromso through heavy snow while the aurora played hide and seek behind the curtains of snow. The following day we again hustled through the driving snow for good reason. Below the officers barracks our Ulsterman Andy discovered gold in the form of a private bar and the Formula One season finale in
The race did not earn Ferrari the Driver’s nor the Constructor’s championship but it was the best performance I have seen out of our road-rocket-scientists. The young protégé from Brazil Felipe Massa lead the pack earning him the first prize in his home country. Schumi, the Driving Adonis raced his last race and really showed the world just how good he is. Starting tenth he worked up to sixth place when foul fortune destroyed one of his tires. He drove an entire lap with only three tires and pitted. Returning to the track in last place he fought his way past everyone until he ran out of laps, finishing fourth, just seconds behind a proper podium finish. I know only a win would satisfy team Schumi, but I’d be hard pressed to find a disappointed fan.
Filmcamp Week 3 and 1/6th (October 23 – 30)
Our final seven days of shooting in Norway were snow filled. We moved to a location where we worked with a small portion of a reindeer herd. There is a saying in the film industry "Never write a script with children or animals in it", as both are not very direct-able.
This week in addition to shooting we were also in the process of wrapping up strong friendships. Though dusk was approaching these friendships, dawn arrived with a few last minute friends. We attended a traditional Sámi dinner of stewed reindeer and heaps of atmospheric smoke inside an over crowded tent. It seems we could not get enough of close quarters, having learned that tight proximity often leads to joyful exchanges.
By the time the week was over and we finished our packing for
Death By Stage
Our scaled down lonesome crew arrived lean and mean for what could only be considered an easy end… filming inside a heated sound stage in the world’s city,
Several Scandies visited us from the great white north, one was mugged but recovered his bag. We shot in Twickenham film studios where I had the pleasure of missing two International Rugby Tests (international matches) that were being played no more than a mile away. Twickenham Rugby Stadium is one of the best places in the world to see rugby, a place I’ve longed to go to. And I was there, just on a sound stage. Okay, no more whining, I know its boring to most of you.
Moments of note… I enjoyed fantastic hospitality by the writer Tim, got stranded trying to meet up with friends when the tube system closed (eventually met them after two busses and a rickshaw ride), literally bumped into Jude Law outside of our stage (I’ve worked 2 films with him previously), was visited by our Ferrari Hero (affectionately known as The Pope), assisted my friend with the London premier of the new James Bond installment Casino Royale, ended up running errands in a chauffeured Ferrari and Masaratti, looked for work in the UK via some celebs I’ve worked with before (no luck), and thought about friends, family, Norway and South Africa!