Last year I was awarded a fabulous shoot for a long time client. For the second time in 5 years I had the opportunity to go to China for a three week shoot for my client's international partners.
I always like a challenge, but shooting a large scale food shoot in China proved to be a tough one, fortunately with some good producers, leads and persistence, we managed to line everything up. The first challenge was finding a studio that would accommodate the set ups we needed for this scale shoot. As it turns out, Hong Kong is more of a fashion city so most studios are not equipped with sufficient kitchens for this scale of a food shoot. Also space is expensive there so many studios are pretty small- so finding one that had kitchen space, proper lighting and size appropriate for the shoot was one of the bigger challenges. My local producer was persistant and she and I started thinking of alternative spaces. She ended up finding a live work loft in an industrial part of town which suited our needs. Our props were sourced in San Francisco and shipped.We used a shipping company that was used to all the challenges of sending things to China and through their customs. It was a ton of production, required a great deal of organization, but in the end a fantastic, successful project. I truly believe that obsessing over production details ahead of time leads to a much more enjoyable and therefore creative shoot.
Photo shoots invariably have some sort of curve ball that needs to be worked around (late delivery of products, or a client changes their mind on something.) The more you can take out variables ahead of time, the better you will be suited to accomodate the last minute changes. When shooting in Hong Kong it was even more important to do that. We had shipments of product that was flying in from different countries so on time delivery was not always guaranteed. Luckily we had a very persistent and resourceful client who knew how to get things done. Still we needed flexibility and since we had set ourselves up so well ahead of time we were able to afford that.
One of my other favorite stories the trip was that after all the effort to secure the studio that was so accommodating, after two days into the shoot we started to hear horribly loud drilling sounds coming from two floors below which was also vibrating the building. My producer swiftly went down to check out what was going on. Construction was just starting on a lower floor and they were jackhammering the concrete walls and floors. We could barely stand the noise so I asked the producer to go and see what she could do. Shortly after she came up and said that they would only do the jackhammering on the weekends! Wow- thank goodness we had someone who could communicate with them!
Although shooting in Hong Kong posed some challenges, it was a great city to work in. Coming from San Francisco I felt almost at home in this vibrant international city.