The largest video project we have taken on to date, Look Over Yonder Hill is a documentary about The Cold Stares that we shot early in 2015 in Memphis Tennessee and Clarksdale Mississippi. We set out with an idea in mind for the film and it wound up being nothing like I thought it would be, but I think it turned out great. We combined found footage with pics Chris Tapp (Vocals, Guitar) has taken over the years to tell the story.
We started off in Memphis at the Hard Rock Cafe to interview the GM that used to run the Hard Rock in Nashville when Chris and Brian won the battle of the bands. After some shooting on Beale Street, we ended up in Mississippi the first night. Bill was kind enough to lend us his house to stay in for the duration of the shoot. We shot a lot of video in and around the house including the interviews with Chris and Brian that open the documentary. From home base we went out into the country for various shoots, but much of our time was spent driving around location scouting for cool places to shoot. We ended up shooting live performance footage at two separate venues as well as shooting the guys playing at various places that we found throughout our travels.
We tried to offload footage as often as possible to make sure the footage we were getting looked good. We shot the whole thing on a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 6D with a number of different lenses. The lens that found its way on to most of the shots was a Canon 85mm L series for it’s low light performance and its great rack focus ability. We also used a 40mm pancake lens which also had great low light ability as we were run and gunning it most of the time and didn’t have much time to put up lights.
One of the final locations we shot at was Robert Johnson’s grave site. We knew that this was going to be a big part of the documentary and it was very important to Chris. I had this shot in mind from the moment Chris told me about the location where I would take our DJI Phantom drone up and spin overhead. Once we got on site, there was a dense tree right above the grave, but I still really wanted the shot so I held my breath and flew the drone into the tree. With a bit of luck I was able to navigate the drone up in the branches, spin it around, and get it out without incident. We weren’t able to inspect the footage until we got back to Bill’s house and I was so relieved when we pulled it off the camera and saw it looked so good!
When we got back, we had a lot of beautiful footage, some cool performances, and a couple good interviews, but we still did not have a story. Chris, Brian and myself spent a lot of time going through footage and pictures of their travels and writing copy for Chris to voice in the studio. Splicing everything together and making it a competing story took longer than I think any of us thought it would. We put a lot of love into this piece and I hope everyone enjoyed watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!