By Raan Parton
Photos by Dave Christenson
To prepare for this trip, like any good cinematographer, one would study parrallel films which were relevant to the setting and storyline in view. A couple months back, our cinematographer, Dave Christenson, expressed an amused concern after studying the weather's beseting effect on the production of the epic war film Apocalypse Now (1979). We have had our own struggles during this project, but have thankfully been spared of an overweight Marlon Brando and a near-fatal heart attack from Martin Sheen. Regardless of Dave’s harmless preparation, his attention to detail and ability to capture a story continue to be invaluable.
It has been a wonder to travel with Dave, a Nevada native who was responsible for our Nepal Film 4m 48s. Christenson has been shooting our daily Vietnam photos and documenting everything on HD film. As for his battle gear, he is armed with a Canon 7D, five lenses, three compact flash cards, a Marshall monitor, a Manfrotto tripod, three hard drives, and an external audio recorder. I had to get a few raw words from Christenson in regards to dealing with our apocalyptic conditions: “The rain starts so fast in Vietnam; if you're shooting here, always be prepared with rain covers for your camera... but the good thing is, Canon's 7D has a monster body. It is so tough, in fact, that it could probably survive a water submersion. I don't know that Canon warranty covers intentionally submerged cameras though, so don't try that one at home.”
While talking about yesterday’s adventure over breakfast, we mapped out our route to head back to the factory to oversee final revisions. We were delayed leaving Ho Chi Minh due to a unsurprising rainstorm, a few close calls with police officers, and more than one bottleneck traffic jam. Yet once we made it over the Saigon River and into the countryside, we entered a beautiful part of rural Vietnam, surrounded by orchards of rubber trees that were laid out in complex geometric patterns.
We eventually arrived at the factory as the rain clouds began to disperse. Jacques immediately greeted us as we stepped off of our bikes. Looking at us as if we were crazy, Jaques asked - “Why would you drive out here on motorcycles?" He explained to us that the bikes we were using, especially the Minsk, were primarily used as farming tools, not touring bikes.
Powering through samples and design updates, we made final adjustments and organized the production run for the upcoming transit issue items. Afterwards, we partook in yet another memorable feast, but it ended up being only a short pause before going straight back to work. By around 1 am, after unsuccessfully battling my fatigue with Vietnamese iced coffees, Geoff and I decided to call it a night and planned to tackle the remaining revisions in the morning.