The Tribe

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A story of roads…

The roads in Costa Rica are very narrow and usually there is a pretty deep pit on each side. In other words don’t drive too far to the right or you may join this unlucky truck driver we saw on the way home. Thankfully he was completely ok.

Rollercoaster 'Costa Rica-Style'

My birthday present from Jorg was a Canopy Tour, something I always dreamed of doing since watching “The Medicine Man” in my childhood. I joined Dorian, Dan and Helena, our stunt performers who will play the creatures in the film. Helena will also play a character in the opening scene of the film.

What is a canopy tour? Explained in a few words: Everyone is put into a harness, gets equipped with a helmet then hooked up to a steal wire and the rollercoaster starts from tree to tree through the impressive canopy. Don’t forge to sign the liability waiver, though :-)

Here is Dan taking off into the unknown…

And Dorian arriving on a 140 meter long cable.

In the middle of the tour was the so called “Tarzan Swing”. One of the biggest swings I’ve ever seen. Our guides hooked us up and gave us a good swing out into the green. Here they are with Helena.

The picture that Dan took of me really describes the amazing feeling it was. Don’t look at it for too long.

Is this Spiderman or Tarzan?

Then a few more cables with the last 250m ride.

We had so much fun! Thanks again for an amazing experience. So everyone on vacation down here go to “The San Lorenzo Canopy Tour” :-)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

All paths lead to Rome…

That’s at least what people say… And it felt like our taxi driver was looking for Rome instead of Alajuela.

Gabriel, Mo’s assistant explained him in Spanish how to get back to our hotel. It was only William and myself that participated in the adventure ride called “How the *@#$ do we get back?” Well, it started pretty smoothly. It felt like we were going into the right direction but… Soon he took a turn (into a one way street) up the hill and we both knew that couldn’t be right.

With our combined 3 word Spanish vocabulary (4 if you count “Dos Pinos”, the local dairy company and not including curse words) we tried to explain him where we needed to go. Suddenly the driver pulled into a car cemetery (at 2 AM!) and honked/whistled. William and I were just looking at each other with a “What is he doing?” expression on our faces. It would be a lie to say that we weren’t worried for a few seconds inside that perfect “Horror” movie location…
Before he got out of the car, we convinced him to turn around and get back to the main road. Once there, he saw another taxi ahead of us. Immediately he started flashing the lights and honking like crazy until the other taxi stopped (in the middle of the street of course). After exchange of information the ride continued but only a minute later, the driver pulled over and got out of the car. Again, William and I didn’t know what was going on…

Finally the other cab drove in front of us and guided us back to the hotel. What a ride! Thank you again, driver, he really did everything to get us back and was really nice. It was the first time he entered that part of town :-)

Duo Birthday

It’s B-Day time… On April 28th William our Production Designer celebrated his birthday and only a day later, I celebrated mine. Lost on the calendar for the past weeks I was pretty surprised. Mo, our producer took us to a club downtown San Jose to celebrate.

Also Terry our Stunt Coordinator enjoyed the party, free drinks (that Mo offered) and the many hot girls on the dance floor. He also showed us how the creatures from “The Tribe” would move to the music… Immediately it was accepted as a new dance style!

It also sparked some ideas for the next project: A Horror-Action Musical! :-)

Mo, enjoyed the party, too. He even convinced the owner Adriano from Resort Martino, where we’re staying, to join us.

By the way, if anyone is interested in visiting Costa Rica. I recommend to stay a few days at the Resort Martino. The rooms are great, the food is amazing and it also offers an incredible Spa. Check it out

Friday, April 28, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my DP

It can’t rain all the time but… let’s say pretty often :-) I mean, we are in the rainforest, it’s pretty obvious. A little rain won’t destroy Director of Photography Christopher Popp’s day. He is equipped with the right anti hydro gear or simply umbrella.

Chris was born in Germany and worked in Television for many years until he followed his dream to study cinematography in the United States. A wise move! Chris already won the ASC Award for Best Cinematography right after graduation from the famous AFI Conservatory. Then he photographed the Hindu epic “Lakshya” what kept him in India for almost 150 shooting days. Later on, he even received the Indian equivalent of the Academy Award for his outstanding work.

Everyone is extremely happy to have Chris on board. Not only for his amazing talent and work ethic but also his unbeatable humor. Chris, you’re the best!

Oh Camera, My Camera...

A big day for DP Chris. His baby arrived :-)

In a total of 75 boxes fit all the camera gear provided by Panavision, Los Angeles. The film will be shot on Super 35mm Film (3 perf) in the amazing looking 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Not the right subject for Pan & Scan fans (right Mo?) but the right format to go with for the big screen.

It’s now 1st Assistant Camera Sebastian’s job to unpack and check everything. They will spend the next few days shooting some camera tests. The exposed film will be going to the Lab in LA for development and transfer (in our case a Digital Intermediate) where Chris will be able to look at the footage next week. He’s returning to LA for a couple of days to overview the whole DI process and see the camera test first hand.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Mo Factor

The first thing that comes to my mind is: You don’t wanna **** with Mohit Ramchandani :-)

The Tribe’s producer was born in Bombay, India, grew up in Hong Kong, China and was educated in London, UK. He entered the entertainment industry with a business background.

Mo is known for his tough negotiations and strict business rules. But underneath that think skin (many Hollywood agents and lawyers are very afraid of…) is the nicest guy you can possibly imagine with a great talent for finding and developing a good story.
Playing pool has become his favorite hobby during the time off. He's beaten pretty much everyone on the crew but I have a feeling that he'll find his opponent soon. The crew is steadily growing... :-)

Mo’s hard work doesn’t stop, not even in the deep jungle. Here he is on a conference call with a writer in LA for the upcoming project “Cold Fear”.

Thank you again for giving me this opportunity, Mo and good luck on your journey, producing this film!

Scout away..., Rainforest!

What would you like to get first? The good or the bad news?

Well, let’s start with the good ones. The rainforest is simply amazing in Costa Rica. Everything is alive and wherever you look it’s like a painting. Anyone, who ever dreamed of flying through the canopy like Sean Connery in “The Medicine Man”, can actually do that here. Many national parks are setup with a canopy tour rigging.

We found so many locations, one more beautiful then the other but…

…now the bad news. Everything we visited was completely inaccessible. Most of the places you have to walk for a while and the trails are super thin. That’s were logistics can beat production value. But then again, that’s not really true. There are so many beautiful places in this country that we found a replacement in a heartbeat.

One thing was for sure; I haven’t sweated that much in a long time. It was so extremely hot and humid that sweat was literally dripping from my skin like a waterfall. I think Jonathan our AD shared my opinion. :-) I felt like I was swimming the whole day. Then of course the mosquito factor was hitting us hard, too. Without repellant they would have eaten us alive.

But nothing could destroy that amazing experience...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Planet of the Creatures...

Since the rainforest reaches right down to the beach, many animal visitors from the jungle introduced themselves.

First we met the closest ones to our human race: monkeys. Wow they were fierce and bold! A few girls had to learn it the hard way. Quietly a few monkeys approached their bags while swimming. The girls realized it but too late. While one of the monkeys already grabbed a pack of coconut cookies (wrapped in plastic) the other monkey kept on fighting with the girls for the bag…

Later on, they ate the cookies, one by one sitting on the tree…

Also a nice Iguana paid us a visit. It somehow smelled the fruit in our cooler and wooooosh, was it already sitting on it. Even our threats didn’t really make it move. “This is my territory!”

On the way home we also met some crocodiles… Good that we were on a bridge quite in safety :-)

A day at the beach

On Sunday morning at 5 AM it was time to leave the resort and go scouting for our beach scene. So we left Alajuela and drove towards Manuel Antonio, what will represent the beach of our uncharted island in the story. And what a beautiful beach our characters chose to crash.

The sun was shining bright and not even the ocean was able to cool us down. While everyone around us was sunbathing and relaxing, our job was to figure out where exactly we are going to shoot everything.

Mo checked out the view from the top of the hills… Strictly checking out locations and nothing else… Right?

…while Director Jorg Ihle and Cinematographer Chris Popp decided on the direction they are going to shoot in. Or maybe not?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

And “The Tribe” goes to…

… Director Jorg Ihle.

Jorg was born in Germany and graduated from the directing program at the famous American Film Institute. He wrote "The Tribe" with Mo Ramchandani, who produces the film.

Everyone would love to have his job but not many are ready to do what comes with it… A lot of hard work and dedication to the project 24/7. Directing means having story for breakfast, locations for lunch, castings for dinner and a little bit of meetings for desert. Hey, I agree, it’s not only the most beautiful job in the world but also one of the most rewarding ones. You help the audience to escape their everyday lives to share your story, capture their imagination and entertain them. Giving people hope and dreams that have none…

So everyone who truly loves to tell a story using this visual medium called film must also be willing to take on the workload that comes with it. And that’s were my job comes into play: Make everything as easy as possible for Jorg by assisting him. Am I doing a good job…? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him :-)

Good luck on your journey Jorg, I can’t wait to see the result!

Dude, where should I shoot this?

One word: Location scouting… Only a few are being served on a silver plate but most of them you simply have to go there and find something to match the image in your head. In our case it’s jungle, jungle and some more jungle :-)

I realized that my retina already has a green tint… No actually it’s a lot of fun. Almost like playing Indiana Jones. Every scout comes with an adventure and I’ll soon post more about it. But for the beginning a few amazing jungle pictures... Costa Rica is one amazing country! And we all are grateful to be able to shoot here, at earth’s paradise.

We are leaving for another 3 day scout tomorrow to a place without the hub to the world or also called internet. So, I will update the blog once I get back on Tuesday.

Enjoy your time off from reading :-)

The Tribe inside a box

What? I thought that everything in connection with the film comes from outside the famous box… True, but when Director Jorg and DP Chris sit down to storyboard, every shot has to be put inside the box. To be accurate a box that has the aspect ratio of 1:2.35 also knows as cinemascope. A wonderful format that supported so many movies in the history of filmmaking.

This is not an easy task that kept the two awake for many nights during many weeks. Jorg explains Chris what he needs from every shot in the film/how he wants to tell the story then Chris brings in his visual expertise so they can find the most unique and interesting shots possible. Both of them are very strong visually and most of the time their ideas completely match.

Today is a big day, all 600 shots are storyboarded and ready to be shot.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Production Meeting a la Central America

Here we go, everyone ready to jump into the pool? Wait a minute… Let me take a closer look… This is not a bunch of people sunbathing; no it’s actually the first production meeting in Costa Rica :-)

Don’t let the environment fool you. It may look like an easy going get together but a lot of issues need to be resolved. The nice weather and vacation feeling doesn’t always help to stay focused and work hard but the “Tribe” team doesn’t have a choice. Only 3 more weeks to principal photography and lots of things still open: Locations, props, communication flow, effects… Chris (DP), William (PD) and Jorg (Director) working out solutions while hotel guests are splashing around in the pool…

Jonathan Southard (right), our Assistant Director, joins the team with Sergio Miranda (left), our Costa Rica Production Supervisor. Jonathan already made sure that James Cameron’s Titanic sank so keeping the Tribe set running should only be a small task for him… Sergio worked on countless productions shot in his home country and is able to bring a lot of experience to the table. The team is starting to become complete.

The Daily Planet

From now on I will be updating this blog daily if the environment permits it (Internet access). Almost all the key crew is in Costa Rica now, so lots of things are happening.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A day of freedom and friends

Today was my official day off since the rest of the crew arrived late at night. My plans were to sit at the pool, read some good literature (scripts :-)), listen to music on my iPod and do nothing. But then I got an offer, I just couldn’t refuse…

Even though I was only in Costa Rica for a few hours I was already able to meet some amazing people, actually two families from Orange County that spend two nights at the same resort. After running into each other already at the airport, we immediately became friends, and by the end of their stay I almost became part of their family. So I spent my free time with them and in the afternoon we all went exploring to the nearby waterfalls. You see them on the picture standing on the bridge: Brad, Suzanne, Devin, Blake, Patti and Val.

Nature is simply amazing here in Costa Rica. It feels like everything has been untouched by men. Since it was a holyday, everyone else up there were locals having picnics at the falls and we all really felt like “Gringos”. No one spoke English and we didn’t speak Spanish… Thank god for good old sign language. :-)

It really was an adventure and thanks again guys for everything, I had such a good time. You all are awesome! I hope the rest of your vacation was as much fun as this day.