After a relaxing day yesterday, day 4 of the Marfa, Texas Barefoot Workshops was once again a long and tiring day for me and my group (we need a group name or working title!). Chandler did a quick hands-on walk through of our sound gear which included a Sennheiser boom and wireless lav. Not being a big sound person, it was a useful refresher.

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Before breaking for lunch, we watched a few docs to get a sense of establishing shots and character introduction. These included Barefoot Workshop docs “The Mighty Quapaw”, and “River Don’t Come Calling” (which was hilarious!). A third example was the beginning of the 1992 “Brother’s Keeper”, which was really good. I’ll need to Netflix it to see the rest.

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The highlight of the day was after lunch. We broke into our respective group, collected our equipment, and were sent off to gather establishing shots and some b-roll based on the story we’d been developing. It was meant as half exercise, and half “get a head start” by getting to know your subject(s). Laura, Merri, and I had some firm ideas on how we wanted to tell the story of our subject, Jacob Guevara, a young man preparing to defend his title at this weekend’s shuffleboard tournament at Padres, Marfa’s local bar.


Laura & Merri getting a close up at Padres Merri covering Jacob as he visits a friend Chris shooting a cut-away at Planet Marfa


We had planned on just covering Jacob at his home, but ended up following him to Padres and Planet Marfa. We shot about 77 GB of footage (~77 mins), with only 1 major screw up when we accidentally left our tripod behind at Padres. For me, it was a good practice run looking for the “decisive moment” in a shot, as well as covering a scene when your subject is a spritely individual. For Laura and Merri, it was their first time doing real “shooting” for a real project with real equipment, so it was definitely a learning experience for them. I helped them out when it made sense, but also tried to let them figure things out on their own when it seemed appropriate.


Laura and Merri working late in our makeshift “war room”. A working draft of our production documents covering interview questions, b-roll, and possible scenes.


After dinner, as the other group worked on developing their story and narrative ideas further, we settled into the equipment/class room and made it our production “war room”, copying over footage, projecting it up on the screen for review and critique, creating a draft of our production punch-list, getting a Dropbox folder set up so we can share our production documents, and as midnight rolled around, switching focus to our Friday game plan, which will see us doing Jacob’s interview, the main interview of our doc.

Some of our footage worked really well, some of it we will need to reshoot, but we at least have the typical trip-ups and slow downs crews experience on day one of any production out of the way. As a team, we’re still settling in, but we at least have come up with a strategy for how to talk (i.e. signal) to each other when we’re shooting. Tomorrow will hopefully go smoother with stronger results!