Everyone in production, at least from my experience, wants to shoot in foreign countries. There’s something about the challenge of producing content in an exotic or unknown location that holds romantic appeal for anyone with a camera in their hands. So, when one of our clients mentioned a story they wanted to capture in Mexico City, my heart gave a little cry of happiness.
The project was to document a Women’s Empowerment Program and a program participant’s business. For this shoot we chose to send one of our producers (lucky me) to connect with a well-vetted team on the ground. For the sake of the client’s budget, this would be a quick trip: arriving in Mexico on day one, shooting for two days, then jumping on a plane and heading home on day four.
After an uneventful flight to Mexico City International Airport, I got to my hotel without much trouble using what little Spanish I remembered from college. The nice part about Holiday Inn, no matter what country you’re in, the signs are usually in the domestic language and English. And honestly, every hotel asks for the same credentials. That evening, I met my crew face to face for the first time. Our little band was made up of myself, the Director of Photography (DP), the fixer and an audio technician. We covered the shoot details, then hit the sack.
My pickup time on day one was 6:00 AM. The crew was pretty much business as usual – I could tell that they were seasoned because they were very professional, but not over-the-top about being up that early in the morning. I considered this to be a good sign.
Our first location was Nutricion Creativa, a company that specializes in no-calorie sugar substitutes. Maria and her family who ran the business were extremely nice and grateful for the opportunity. One interview then the standard run and gun doc stuff took about five hours.
Lunch was a serious treat for me. The best fish tacos I had ever tasted, hands down. The nice part about visiting a country in the production capacity and working with a local crew is that while you are still 100% tourist, you get to ride along and eat like a local, which I like so much better than having to wander my way around a city, trying to find something authentic.
On day two, we needed to capture 6 interviews on a terrace about 27 floors up. While I’m not afraid of heights, I’m positively terrified of complicated load ins, and this proved no different than my other experiences with urban underground parking garages and tiny freight elevators. Once we were in the room and on the balcony, however, the view was spectacular.
We wrapped up the day by shooting at the client’s retail location. The other constant truth about projects in foreign countries is that a shopping cart makes an excellent and free camera dolly, which our resourceful DP put to good use.
In end, we got all the content we needed, and more. Enough, in fact, to produce a pair of pieces about the program and the business separately, which the client was excited about. And my experience with Mexico City taught me how much fun this energetic city can be.