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Plains of Abraham - On Working With Less

Black and white screen grab from Plains of Abraham

As I enter the world of filmmaking, I'm doing so without the luxury of expensive cameras and paid sponsorships to send me back and back again to beautiful remote destinations to capture the perfect shot.

At this stage, my angle is much more focused on in-the-moment inspiration, and often times this means I don't get all the footage I need to fully execute my vision.

"Plains of Abraham," was no exception.

This was a short (albeit out-of-the-way) stopover on a long trip - just an overnight excursion to ride one of my bucket-list mountain bike trails. The idea to film any of it was a last minute thought. The morning of the ride, we decided to throw the drone in with our camel-packs and to use our iPhones for the filler shots.

Black and white screen grab from Plains of Abraham

We had never done a test run and truthfully had no real idea what the landscape would look like or where exactly the trail would take us, and we certainly didn't have a shot list in mind. We just started riding.

The grueling climb began in dense forest and after eight or so miles, we emerged above treeline on exposed, rocky volcanic terrain. We scouted a few shots on the way to the peak, ate lunch and came back down, stopping at only three locations and filming for a grand total of twenty minutes.

Black and white screen grab from Plains of Abraham

We were losing daylight and wanted to enjoy the remainder of the downhill, so we packed up and headed back to the van - assuming we got a few decent shots that could be thrown into other edits eventually.

Later in the week when I started going through the footage, I realized this really is our normal when it comes to filming these personal adventure projects. So I challenged myself to create a video from only these shots - one that would be true to the landscape - true to the timeline in which it was filmed - and true to the feeling of riding on these exposed, volcanic trails. Something that could stand alone as a visual art piece and at the same time, might even feel like the trailer for an epic multi-day bike packing journey.

Black and white screen grab from Plains of Abraham

These works in progress always teach me something. In this case, how to work with a little less - or how to make a reused shot feel like something new. So as I transition to relying more on my shot lists and detailed plans, I also look forward to making more videos like this - ones compiled of all the last minute and uncertain adventures that first inspired me to pick up a camera.


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