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Customer Spotlight - Don Brookins

2014-06-09 - Customer Don Brookins

Filming a 1971 1800E

by Don Brookins

I took a buyout offer from my employer of 31 years and I have been marketing myself as a Video Story Teller catering to small business people who may want to have a video shot for them for use on their web site or for any other marketing need they may have.

I have a passion for classic cars and I feel that owners of classics would likely want to pass more than just photographs down to their children and grandchildren.

In June of 2012, in order to demonstrate my abilities to those potential clients, I knew that I'd have to shoot an example of how they could envision one of the many ways they could show off their pride and joy. I pressed my '71 1800E into service.

I decided to begin the video with a sunrise scene at Red Rocks Amphitheater west of Denver, Colorado. Just south of Red Rocks Park, Hwy 285 (Turkey Creek Canyon) heads up into the foothills and winds its way into Park County and up to Kenosha Pass overlooking South Park. South Park is an approximately 60-mile long high mountain valley. Kenosha Pass and its view was to be my video's ending point.

I took a drive to the Red Rocks location on Saturday morning, June 16th, to do a sight survey so I could scout out shots and also determine where the rising sun would appear on the horizon. It turned out to be a wonderful pre-dawn 30 mile ride from my home. When I arrived, the location was almost deserted and the upper parking lot near the top entrance to the amphitheater was nearly void of cars. “Perfect”, I thought. “When I come tomorrow morning, I'll set up here, back out of this space, etc.”I thought I’d start the piece with a little natural sound and add in one of my favorite driving songs by Jim Croce.

The next morning was Father's Day and I was up again and out at 4:30. The Deja Vu ride was great until I reached the park. I should have realized but didn’t that Red Rocks, having hosted a concert the night before, was a place that was abuzz with activity. Cars were in the parking area that I had anticipated using, clean-up crews had been there all night long, tearing down equipment and piling up garbage bags. The lower lots were peppered with cars left behind the night before since their owners were, no doubt, in no condition to drive.  There was even one SUV sitting in one of the lower lots with all four doors wide open. The myriad of roads that snake through the complex were bordered with beer bottles and former beer bottles.

I adapted. I got some nice sunrise shots. I rolled the camera and I left it by itself a few times on its tripod as I drove through the scene, turning around and then coming back. I even hid the camera in a bush that overlooked a scenic wide shot. A little anxiety there. After about an hour, I had the opening sequence shot.

I then planned the rest of the shoot. I need two more days, a friend and a GoPro. I obtained a GoPro and on July 1st, I went solo again utilizing that camera to shoot all the angles that showed off the car’s wonderful lines. The next morning, I rendezvoused with my friend Mike and he did the driving. We also used his car to get the car-to-car shots using that GoPro.

I tried for “one-take” efforts each pass for obvious reasons and I'd say that I accomplished that at least 90% of the time. My past experience as a news photographer paid off there.

All in all, it was a lot of work and a lot of fun but, that year in Colorado, we had record heat and needlessly to say we used up a lot of physical energy... and a bit of gas. We put my 1800 through a bunch of stress as well and as usual, she didn’t seem to care.

The next morning, by now having already edited the Red Rocks footage, I finished up the edit and uploaded it to You Tube. I now have an example to demonstrate to folks needing to picture their own video.

Little did I know that that shoot would be a benefit to me beyond its use as a marketing video. Late last summer, I had to sell the car. It was my daily driver and she was going to need some investment that wasn’t in the budget. I hated to lose her but with the sale, I was able to obtain a low mileage ’02 C70 Coupe. I now have a keepsake of my 1800E in the form of a moving memory.

If you'd care to check out the video, here's the link:

Don Brookins
Broomfield, Colorado