WE DID IT! FOXFORCE completed its first video production during Covid-19.
We want to express our gratitude to the many filmmaking friends on Facebook who offered their advice on #practicesafesets during the Covid-19 pandemic to keep our crew healthy and protected and the Unions who provided “The Safe Way Forward,” a multi-union report on Covid-19 safety guidelines. Secondly, I would like to thank all the cast and crew for being so careful. With that being said, let us break down how we handled the production.
This time, FOXFORCE was asked to produce a book trailer for author Shina Reynold’s debut novel, A Light in the Sky. It’s a high-flying new fantasy series filled with passion, betrayal, and adventure via Goodreads. We knew this was going to be a challenge as the budget didn’t allow for any stunts or VFX work to create flying horses with wings. However, most of the time in this entertainment business, you need to be creative. We were not intimated, but rather eager to come up with creative solutions.
As with any video production, commercial, film, branded content, etc., productions start with research and development. Since we couldn’t afford special/ visual effects ala Clash of the Titans, we decided to focus on the romantic relationships in the book. However, we still wanted horses in the trailer as the book includes non-flying horses as well. So we figured out how to imply a horse with wings and showcase a normal horse as well.
Thanks to Shina Reynold’s open-mindedness, we were able to work on a story and shot list which was realistic to accomplish. With a solid idea in hand, we settled into the pre-production phase. This is the second stage of filmmaking.
FOXFORCE had about one week of prep. We immediately got the ball rolling with casting, costuming, storyboarding, location scouting, equipment rental, hiring crew, reaching out to prop houses, and anything else that goes into pre-production. To find a cinematic film location Julin reached out to her producer buddy, Robert MacCready, with fabulous production company Tiny Apples, and simply asked if he happened to know anyone with horse stables. Thankfully, he did! We spoke to his friend about the video production, overall storyline, and feel of the project. His friend, Maria, was super connected to the Houston Polo community and donated an incredible film location with one of the most cinematic horse stables that we’ve ever seen. FOXFORCE ended up filming at a $15 million dollar mansion in the heart of Houston with six acres of land. It had plenty of room for social distancing.
That is why networking and connections are so important in this film business. Robert’s friend even recommended to use a professional polo rider, Lily Lequerica, who we ended up casting for the lead role of the trailer. It’s also worth mentioning that Greg at Hearthstone stables was more than happy to help us out too.
Now that we had the location secured and the main actress casted, we still had a lot of work ahead of us. FOXFORCE worked hand in hand with Shina Reynolds, Maria, and our other filmmaking friends from Houston to secure props, costumes, camera, and lighting gear. We were able to source everything locally in Houston, TX, and were ready for the next phase – the production.
FOXFORCE headed to Houston to film the book trailer. Saturday, Chris and Julin drove to Houston to pick up equipment, check with the grip truck, and then headed to Lily’s horse ranch to get some beautiful shots of her riding one of her favorite polo horses. This was a last-minute idea we added and we are so glad we did. We used natural light, a drone, and our beautiful in-house Arri Amira camera. The shots came out wonderful and gave a natural and cinematic feel. The lenses we used were a B-set of Zeiss Ultra Primes from the mid-’80s. They were the same set of lenses used on the indie horse film, The Rider, which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Sunday was the big shoot day. The call time was 10 AM and we planned for a 10-hour shoot.
Thanks to pre-planning we knew exactly what and when we were going to shoot, where to stage our equipment and craft services, where to park our cars, how the horse was going to be transported and safely put in the stable, and where the cast and crew could safely rest from the Houston summer heat.
FOXFORCE had a safety meeting to discuss how to stay safe during the production and how to act safely around our beautiful co-starring Friesian horse, Princess D. We had no problems with everyone wearing a mask, socially distancing, and eating at different times. Julin did have to remind people from time to time to sanitize their hands and keep a distance. Luckily, Julin had read that it is normal practice to remind people. For more information about safe sets during coronavirus please check out Practicesafesets.co and the union safety guidelines.
The shoot was a total success. Everyone stayed safe and the footage looks incredible. Now, we are off to the next phase – post-production. That means, FOXFORCE will now edit the footage, add special music, light effects, color grade and deliver the final video for everyone to see with a few tweaks in between.
The cool thing that happened the morning after a long day of work is when FOXFORCE woke up on Monday to read that our production had made headlines in the Houston Chronicle. READ ALL ABOUT IT here.