The Disappeared | The Technical Side of The Disappeared
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The Technical Side of The Disappeared

Director Shandi Mitchell

22 Sep The Technical Side of The Disappeared

The Disappeared , our small independent project, is filming on the open ocean, with few luxuries. Most films that are filmed on the open ocean – such as Titanic, Master and Commander or Moby Dick – are huge studio projects with big budgets, with months of production on the open sea, in dry, controlled studios and often in water tanks that are designed to fake the ocean.

The seventh cast member, the Atlantic Ocean, is untrained and does not understand what a call sheet is or where to report for hair and make up. She does whatever she darn well pleases.  Sort of like Marlon  Brando. So far she has been as well behaved as all the other awesome actors. But as any Maritmer can tell you, “Don’t turn your back on the sea.”

Director Shandi Mitchell

In order for Shawn, Billy, Brian, Gary, Ryan and Neil to bring this story alive, The Disappeared requires an amazing crew of 44 people, helping writer and director Shandi Mitchell. But there is only room on our hand built raft for maybe 14 on a good day. This indie film is on the open ocean, a feat that usually gets this response from seasoned crew: “are you kidding me – you guys are crazy!” We won’t count our fish before they are in the net, but so far so good.

Every morning it takes 40 to 45 minutes just to boat out to set, the set being a 16 foot x 24 foot platform far enough out so we can film without seeing land. This set can hold two dories on the platform and about 10 people. Or one dory and a couple more crew. Our crew, led by Director of Photography Christopher Porter, have created homemade rigging systems for the cameras, to steady the cameras and save money. Now that is ingenuity! Hopefully other independent teams can learn from this and benefit in the future. By shooting the dory on the raft, we get the full feel of floating on water but speed up production because the crew can work alongside the actors in the dories.

Ingenuity on the set

With such hard work on the sea, our group gets hungry! Meals are transported from land for their half hour lunch break; cast and crew eat on the open ocean. Eating on the water has its charms, but it is all about efficiency here. Plus, what else will they do for the usual hour long lunch, go swimming?  Speaking of which, today our camera trainee took a head first plunge into the drink trying to move gear between boats. Let’s hope he does not get the cold that some of the crew are suffering from.

The team is a happy, passionate and very determined group, who work wonderfully with our seventh character – the North Atlantic. Every day The Disappeared depends on the mood of the ocean. We need a nice mix of weather for the script (fog, rain, heat, sun, waves, calm, etc.) and so far, the sea has been giving us gold. Maybe she can read a call sheet after all.

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