Up before dawn this morning to look at our beach location choices at sunrise this morning with the producer/director.  According to my SunPath charts the sun rises almost due east and sets nearly due west.

The first beach choice is a 10+ minute drive away from the rooms.  It has a fabulous rock outcrop in one direction and a long beach in the other.  The beach faces west meaning long shadows (or in shadow) much of the morning and slam into the sun in the afternoon.  With a compass and inclinometer it looks like the rock outcrop may never actually get sun on it.  Another problem is that the beach is really not closely accessible to trucks.  We’ll have to park the generator truck too far away from the water to cable to the set close to the water.  I’m hoping the other beach choose is better.

The second beach choice is about a 5 minute drive from the rooms in the other direction.  There is a large palapa (open wall thatched roof structure) right beside the dirt road which will be great for our base camp.  The beach faces due south with a wide expanse of maybe 2 miles to the east and a good deal of space to the west before a rock outcrop. Generator access is great and we can cable right to the water’s edge.  This is the place I recommend and it becomes our home for the shoot.

On the way back to the hotel we drive by the parked equipment trucks.  From the outside they look well maintained and in good shape.  I anticipate good equipment inside.

After breakfast we head back to the chosen location with the vans full of electronics and the lighting trucks.

Ernesto and some of the crew setting up the lights

I am amazed at the quality of the lighting gear… stunned actually.  As an owner operator and provider of equipment I must say that I’ve never worked with better lighting & grip equipment in my 25+ career.  Ever!  Revolution 435 out of Mexico City!  I can’t recommend them enough or the crew that owner Fernando Hernandez arranged enough.  Outstanding!

By mid-afternoon the lighting is ready to go!

The video equipment from Miami is a different story (I had nothing to do with this vendor choice)!!!  What was to be a few hour cabling and fax turns into a nightmare.  Equipment is missing (not lost, just not included).  After swapping parts and boards the engineers have half of the cameras working.  There is not a decent video monitor in the whole kit.  This stuff is CRAP!

No NABET card is necessary to tweak monitors in Mexico

I’m concerned about how we are going to control and supplement the sun lighting-wise with this video set-up.  I’m anxious to see some images this afternoon ASAP as we are scheduled to shoot some simple host wraps with the afternoon light.

The video gear is not working enough to shoot yet.  Nothing gets shot today.  The mood is anxious.  Sometimes, especially out of the country, production does not proceed as planned.

The only shot the director could check today

According to the locals the tide comes up high on the beach at night.  So, every piece of gear including the lighting and the set (it takes 20 guys to carry each half of the set platform) has to be struck to high ground of the palapa at night.  The video gear is covered and we head back to the hotel with the headlights on.

The US crew who was staying at the other hotel don’t want to return there.  They call it a slum.  No hot water in the showers.  So, the suite I’m in, really part of a two bedroom house, with a low season rate of $1,900US per night, now turns into a four person dorm.  We really have enough room and with 2 1/2 baths we’ll make out OK.  I’m glad my new roommates don’t have to return to their former digs in the hood.

Oh, we see a small slip of paper on one of the desks describing the international telephone use procedures.  Calls to the USA are billed at $10 per minute.  TEN DOLLARS US PER MINUTE!  There are no pay phones.  There are no long distance calling card opportunities.  We are in such a remote place that the hotel has had to build their own microwave tower phone link back to PV.  No wonder the per minute rates are so high.  But, the connection is nearly instantaneous and the voice quality is very good.  However, this is the last time for me.  I’ll never leave the USA without a satellite phone again.  Iridium would have been 1/10th the cost on a pre-paid plan.

Sometime lat in the night a new jib operator/cameraman with jib has arrived from Miami via AeroMexico.  It seem AeroMexico is happy to have the revenue of paying passengers with lots of excess baggage.  Heck, they even discounted the excess baggage tab!  Let me say that again.  AeroMexico discounted the total excess baggage tab.  I guess that the Continental Airlines ticket counter in Houston hasn’t heard that airlines are in poor financial shape and need revenue.

Famous quote on the set today courtesy of the EIC: “I wonder if we can dump all of the gear in the ocean at the end of this job and create an artificial reef instead of sending it back to the US and making someone else’s day a disaster.”