What I learned shooting solo Buffalo Joe and Box

  • Most important in live action production is the ACTORS' PERFORMANCE. Therefor, establishing and maintaining the actors' space is the top priority.
    1. table reads
    2. cue scripts and audio tracks
    3. getting lines down, (memorizing)
    4. finding the nuances in the lines
    5. rehearsals are about finding presence in the moment
    6. in character at 50% vs 110%
      1. rehearsals should be 50-85%
      2. save 110% for camera / live performance. creates something new
  • Closely following the actors' space is the documentation of the performance.

Benefits of solo

  • I like the space to perform alone, I can get in and stay in the zone without the distraction of directing crew. Emotional vulnerability.
  • crew does not know when to interrupt performance to address technical concerns, do not know what technical concerns are critical. M was not clear what the desired composition was.
  • confusing distracting to deal with crew when they are inexperienced
  • communion with the wilds


  • A live audience could be inspiring

Gear rating 1-10

    • [8] Canon 5D Mark III running Magic lantern
    • [8] 70-200mm big zoom lens - seemed brighter
    • [8] 24-100mm stock zoom lens - light more consistent
    • [8] C stands - easy to carry 2 in case via snow leapord backback
    • [7] foam reflectors - light, easy to carry. wind moved, need more clamps to secure foam, stiffer reflectors 1/4 inch plywood perhaps
    • [8] Zoom H6 - easy, batteries lasted all day
    • [8] Sennhieser shotgun in blimp and fur
    • [8] KM mic stand - needs base weight, center column tended to drift when boom extended
    • [8] big carbon fiber tripod minus center column - awesome angle, low to ground
    • [6] little carbon fiber tripod - center column broke on location, no longer easily adjustable
    • [7] camera bags - not enough room in pockets for battery and chip protocol, not much impact protection
    • [7] sterilite clear plastic boxes with snaps - light, contents easily visible, water resistent, large and small for gear and props
    • [8] hammersmith tents, felt cozy, out of the weather, need ground cloths AND foam for extended sitting.
    • [8] sleeping bag - pillow, nice to know there was a warm nap option
    • [6] costume bag - needs drawstring and closure nubbin


    • takes under 10 minutes is key
    • batteries last about 30-45 minutes at 40F
    • getting up to start and stop cameras, change batteries and chips is time consuming and breaks character
    • keeping track of composition problematic - c stand seen in camera B and Joe out of frame in camera A
    • hand held spectra light meter wasn't helpful. need constant readings with warnings of changing light, darker / lighter as cloud cover and time of day changes

Performance success

  • have lines down cold, gets us deep into them
  • practice - find nuance, business
  • rehearsal tools like cue scripts, audio cue tracks
  • set up a test location, rehearse and review. establish marks and then adjust on location
  • record practice and rehearsals and then
  • relisten, rewatch performances, notes
  • daily rehearsals, several each day as shooting approaches

Gear success

  • inspect and test everything before packing (see test location)
  • keep packing consistent
  • packing checklists
  • know the equipment through experience
  • call out / speak aloud camera on/off, speed, battery levels for each device cameras audio recorder, lights, heaters off/on etc.