Music: Black Sky by Alpha Rev
Licensed for use by Alpha Rev and Scire Vox Records
Download the song for free: alpharev.com/
This has been the only piece I’ve ever worked on that made my eyes well up with tears while editing.
This video is not the complete piece but rather a montage of some of the footage that we filmed for the project I’m describing here.
I got a call at 10:30 at night from Michael Linehan from ifbtv (facebook.com/iFBTV) saying that he had just flown into Austin and needed a cameraman and crew to shoot a piece with Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers. Apparently Michael and he had been talking about this before a Gaitlin Brothers show just days before and within an hour and a half of their talking Larry had written a song about the fires. He went on to say that Larry wanted to do a video with ifbtv and wanted to start PassTheHatForTexas.com to help raise funds for victims of the current Texas fires. We would be going out to Larry’s place to do an interview and record him performing the song, we would be going to do some interviews and possibly going out to film some of the damage.
We met up with Michael the next morning and headed out to Larry’s home. Though it may seem trivial in light of the circumstances I can’t go further without mentioning just how gracious Larry was. Before we had even started setting up gear he said he had ordered us lunch and it would be there any minute. We unloaded the gear and over lunch discussed how bad things had gotten. All things convivial but the mood was noticeably somber. While setting up the camera Larry picked up his guitar and sang the song he wrote “Rain on Texas”, chills, hard to believe that such an amazing song was written that quickly, inspiration is a wonderful, if not sometimes a heartbreaking thing.
We were pressed for time but managed to record the song and a bit of Larry and Michael talking about the project. A quick load out and we were off to the City Of Bastrop Convention Center which was serving as the command center. The closer we got to Bastrop the stronger the smell of smoke. We pulled up and Larry did few interviews outside with a survivor and some of the staff. After that we were ushered inside and past the doors that labeled with large signs that read “NO MEDIA”. Maps, computer projections and a good hundred or more people were busy tracking the fires. Firemen covered in dirt and soot passed by and Larry didn’t let one pass without thanking them. We shot a little of Larry talking to some of the representatives and volunteers. One in particular was a standout, a fireman named Jim from Delaware that Larry was speaking with who said “We’re here to help out and I know if Delaware ever needed a hand I’m sure Texas would come to help us, that’s what we do right?”
Grabbed the gear, jumped in our cars to follow an escort from the Fire Department who lead us past the police and police barricades and into an area had suffered catastrophic damages. The smoke wasn’t just visible now but it seemed to be everywhere. On either side of the highway there were workers cutting down trees in an effort to clear a path that the fire wouldn’t get past. Few houses were left standing, just piles of smoking rubble and burned out vehicles. Some of this I was unable to film. I was asked by our guide to only film the parts they okayed out of respect for the victims.
We went down a few side streets, it was nearly impossible to tell that it used to be a neighborhood. The three horses were spotted just running down the middle of the road loose as the owner had presumably not had time to haul them away and had no choice but to open their gate and let them free hoping they would survive.
The footage you see is part, but not all of what we saw. I simply couldn’t fit it all into this one video and hope that some other shots will make it into the finished piece that ifbtv is doing. Time was limited so it was just run around and grab what I could from the one small area we were allowed in.
Once done we made our way back to our cars but before I had put the camera up I saw my two crew guys, Arturo Cavazos and Eli Mendoza, being led by a couple home owner back to the where their house used to be. They were Rory and Iris, a married couple who lost just about everything. Iris led me around and pointed out some of the things that had survived. I simply cannot fathom what they are going through or moreover, how they remained so incredibly high spirited they were despite the tragedy. I can only hope that the world is as kind to them as they were to us as they set about rebuilding their lives.
The last little bit that I want to mention is that I wanted to get this up sooner. It’s been a couple days since we shot it but my main computer has been down. Beyond that I also didn’t know what I wanted to do with the footage. I knew I wanted to do something in addition to what iFBTV and Larry Gaitlin were doing to help bring even more attention to it but thought that using Larry’s song might be redundant and wanted there to be two video’s that were worth watching to help spread the message further about PassTheHatForTexas.com, just really had not even a clue as to what. Today my computer got back up and I happened on a post by the band Alpha Rev that said “Check out videos from yesterday at The Bing Lounge : tinyurl.com/6grdjy9” … so I did. The third one down was “Black Sky”, they had dedicated it people who had lost their homes. From the first note I knew that this was what I needed. I started writing whoever I could from the band and within 30 minutes got a message from Derek Morris that said “Absolutely love to help.” followed by a wonderful call just minutes later telling me how strongly they felt about the situation and they would love me to use it. Can’t thank them enough. I’ve heard that a miracle is an coincidence God snuck in when I wasn’t looking; finding that song today was a complete and wonderful coincidence.
As for the technical this was shot straight to SxS cards on a Sony PMW-F3 almost all with the kit 35mm, not a lot of time for lens changes. Other than that used an indiSLIDERair from indisystem.com that stayed mounted on my Sachtler tripod throughout the shoot. Edited in Sony Vegas, additional CC with Magic Bullet Looks.
I’ll post a link to the finished ifbtv video with Larry Gatlin and Larry’s new song “Rain on Texas” as soon as they get it online.