Sprinting Through Tahoe with Mercedes Benz
We started our camera prep days before. We tried to rent a Sprinter van to drive to Lake Tahoe for our shoot with Tim Tadder and Mercedes Benz, but all the rentals were booked so we settled for a Ford Transit Van. When we got the van home and realized the seats wouldn’t come out, and it was far to small for all our gear with the seats in, we drove back downtown to exchange it for a band van, your basic 15 passenger white Ford van. We got it home, removed the seats and filled it to the brim with gear saving just enough room for us and our assistant Armon. We were on the Grapevine when it happened. The temperature rose to hot and the engine light came on. We pulled over to the shoulder. This was NOT good. We used the water from our stylists steamer and then when that wasn’t enough, poured our drinking water into the radiator. This seemed like the perfect beginning to a terribly cheesy horror film. We limped to the next exit and found a mechanic shop. The guy charged us $89 to look at it sending us off to lunch while he did his inspection. We returned feeling greasier from the lunch than from being inside the hood, last time ever eating Denny’s, so gross. We came back to worse news than we’d hoped for, he could only take our $89 and send us on our way, the problem wasn’t fixable apparently. We hobbled over to the gas station to buy some water and decide what to do next. We decided we should call National and see where the closest van is so we could make an exchange. After an hour on the phone, Armon taped the leaking pipe and we hobbled on an hour away to Fresno. When we got to Fresno, there were two minivans waiting for us and without complaint, we made the exchange. We were ready to get to Tahoe already! After a full day of driving we finally arrived to our cabin in Truckee at 11:45pm. We were excited to arrive knowing we were walking into one big slumber party with a bunch of our creative friends. But everybody was already really slumbering except our favorite stylist in the whole world, Julia. She waited up for us with a fire and wine and we whispered for the next hour filled with excitement to be on such a cool gig together. We laid in bed that night happy to have made it. We were excited for what the week had to hold. The next morning was a scout and prep day. Kevin scouted with Tim and Dahlia while I did all the last minute prepping with Julia and Armon. Evonne, Collin, and Taylor arrived that afternoon so we decided it’d be fun to cook a big family dinner. After a long day running errands around Reno we arrived back to the house, opened some wine, and started prepping homemade pizzas and a giant beautiful salad to accompany. It was an assembly line of ladies, cutting, kneading, rolling, stirring, and timing our 4 handmade pieces of edible art. That may be a bit too kind, they we’re only semi round and a bit rogue but they still warmed our cold little bellies as we sat around the big dinner table together. We called it an early night since the next day was our first shoot day and we had to be up and ready to leave the cabin at 4:30! 4:30am is one of the worst parts about our job. There aren’t many bad things, but 430am is one of them! It was freezing on location, we started at Donner Pass – that tells you something! Tim shot stills first while we scouted our first shoot spot. After an hour or so of stills, it was video time! We filmed the red Sprinter taking off, spitting gravel, driving over rocks and through puddles. The scenery was beautiful and the red van was a nice contrast to the greenery surrounding us. Next we went up the mountain. And by up the mountain, I mean 4x4ing past ski lifts, over rocks, until we found our next shoot spot which was a beautiful ski resort view from the top of the mountain. Kevin and I took turns shooting different angles with both the Red and the Sony A7S. We also had our 5D Mark III built up as what we were calling the crash cam. Basically a glorified GoPro, we hacked it into Raw mode, wrapped it in a Ziplock bag and put it in low rock angles and near puddles to get cool undercarriage shots as the Sprinter drove past. The day was successful, freezing but successful, and we all went home happy we the footage we’d captured. My only regret is being too busy shooting the actual video to shoot any still for this blog. Sorry guys, I didn’t start capturing the trip until the last two days. The next was another scout day while Tim shot the bulk of his stills, so we all relaxed, built a fire, and soaked in the jacuzzi until somebody thought about dinner and we scrambled to figure out what we’d do. Thank god for takeout Thai and for helpful assistants who willingly drive down the mountain to pick it up! We feasted on noodles and curries and went to bed happy. The next morning was much easier than the dark and early morning we had the day before, today’s call time wasn’t until 1pm so we all slept in. At noon we all left the cabin and caravaned an hour into the wilderness. It was an entertaining ride since we all had walkies. 5 cars all with big personalities, equipped with walkies, chatting about everything, playing music to each other, sometimes with accompanying vocals. Ha! Fun times. It was a 4×4 trek down skinny roads on the side of the mountain but we all made it in one piece. The landscape was gorgeous and I was immediately inspired. I guess this is why the camera came out! Today was Tim’s day to shoot stills of the red Sprinter lakeside with kayakers surrounding it and interacting with it. The shots will be gorgeous, I know. It was such an epic landscape, styled perfectly! And we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. We drove through snow and ended up by the river in tank tops! While Tim snapped, we met up with Brad and Gary from Freefly and scouted our video locations for the following day. Brad and Gary are our aerial guys who fly the drone; they are seriously the best in the business! We were lucky to have them on our team. Together we found some great spots for the following days shoot and when we were confident with locations, the guys wanted to test out the drone since they’d flown all the way from Washington with it. That’s when we encountered the most violent mosquitoes of our lives! They attacked instantly at all angles. There was one time during a take that I counted 10 on Brads hand alone. They were attacking through our shirts, on our faces, it was bad. We endured it until sundown and then packed up and headed back to basecamp. At basecamp the mosquitoes were almost nonexistent in comparison to how many we’d just seen, so we were relieved. We were also stoked that the drone had performed perfectly and everyone was excited for tomorrow! We left the mountain and headed out to our new house. We switched houses tonight since this one would be closer to our new location. We arrived around 10pm and it was really dark so we could barely see the property we were entering into. As we winded down the road, the headlights caught a glimpse of a pond with a row boat, and then a mini man made beach with umbrellas and lounge chairs, we winded up further to a big driveway and hoped we were at the right place. When it was confirmed that indeed we were home, we piled out, weary and grubby from a long day in the hills. We wound down on the back porch around a big table, sharing stories and laughing. We even had a surprise visitor creep out from the dark. It was the most loveable dog, his collar confirmed his name as “Jet”. He made his way around the table giving each person seated there a welcoming nuzzle. It was a great day topped off by an even greater night. It isn’t often you get to spend the week with your friends in a house in the woods. We are so blessed to have these kind of experiences and get paid to do it. The next morning we packed the vans and headed out for our final shoot day. Today was our video day with our drone team and we were excited!! We started with the most difficult shot of the day and the guys nailed it! The first shot set a precedence for the entire day. This shoot day would be all about communication and focus, and getting the best shots possible. Take after take was gold. All cameras were in action at all times. Kevin and I switched between the Red and the Sony A7S, Armon and Kevin swapped between the Movi and the crash cam, Collin picked up my Sony A7R and shot behind the scenes stills when I was busy manning a video camera. It was a great collaboration on all sides. I can’t wait to share the videos we created for Mercedes Benz 4×4 Sprinters – Our desire to own our own Sprinter van has definitely grown from this trip… #TheJoelsonsWantASprinter The next day was back to reality, one last pet for Jet and one last carrot for the donkey and we were on our way. After 5 days of working in the wilderness, it was time to make our way South, back to San Diego. That night we slept in our own bed and it never felt so good. We long since rested and recovered and I’m starting to itch again for our next adventure…now that I’ve finally stopped itching from all the mosquito bites! AND FINALLY, as a result of ALL of this, here’s what we made. I think all the hard work, early mornings, and enduring mosquitoes was worth it.
Photos by Rebecca Joelson, Kevin Joelson, and Collin Chappelle on the Sony A7R, iPhone5 & iPhone6