It was a cool Sunday night and we were all ready for not one or two but three different shoots! The first one was the Man in the Middle and Tyrone was going to lie in between two large black plastic sheets of which one had a small hole for him to pop his head through. We had cleared the chairs and there was a black stage setup for an event the next day which we thought was the perfect backdrop from which to pour the water onto Tyrone’s face. I hadn’t really thought the water contraption through but had brought some piping along.
Everyone was keen to help and we made an almost complete circle of tripods around the spot where the water was to splash. All the gear had been brought from home and we started placing the cameras on the tripods. This was quite a tedious process as I was the only one familiar with the cameras and how I wanted them positioned. Still confident we were on track for the second shoot my son-in-law Ewald who was to be dressed in a black suit went home to get dressed. Time was just running away now with the finicky setup of placing, focusing, adjusting apertures etc for fifty plus cameras. Richard and Bernard had the water pipe rigged up while my daughter Kelly entertained us with some impressions and songs. It was already ten at night and we were only then about to do the first shoot.
We cut the lights and I attempted to trigger all the cameras in the dark. I had a number of cable releases and camera remotes but many were old and I couldn’t get them to work in the darkness. The cameras were in bulb mode and I was listening if the shutters had opened. Some familiar cameras which I hadn’t used in a long time were difficult to work with especially in the dark. I knew I was in trouble even though I had such willing help. I decided to just use the digital cameras as that would give us some instant feedback. Richard and Bernard poured the water and Tyrone shouted as the water hit him and that’s when I triggered the 600Watt studio strobe overhead. Then I closed all the shutters in the dark and finally we switched the lights back on.
Richard tried to keep me calm by saying “Just breathe” and Ewald looking debonair in his black suit had done the maths working out how long it would take to trigger more than fifty cameras in the dark. The writing was on the wall – there was no way we were even close to getting the shot done. By this time Tyrone was pretty cold as it was a winter’s night and he’d been lying in between two plastic sheets with water around him.
Years of dreaming of this night and it had come to this dead end – time to call it quits and pack up. I felt so deflated yet everyone was still so upbeat. It was almost midnight as we arrived home and I was just humbled by these beautiful human beings and their belief. Technically the night was a total flop and I had been poorly prepared yet it was an unforgettable evening knowing I was not alone and the project was truly a team effort now. The dream was becoming a reality – back to the drawing board.