Behind The Scenes
Spiral Jetty – Julian Sands
“Did I make the cut?”
Robert Smithson began the Spiral Jetty in 1970, and would die just three years after its completion. His death would roughly coincide with a period of submersion, during which the jetty was covered by the water level of the great salt lake for decades at a time. Forty-three years later the Spiral Jetty is exposed and visited daily – appreciated not just as a local monument but as earthwork for a new generation to contemplate.
We received a phone call from VideoWest producer Elaine Clark. She asked if we wanted to go to the Spiral Jetty with Julian Sands, who was in town for his one man “Celebration of Harold Pinter” show and make a short – we obliged, but instead of taking the natural vehicular approach and leaving at 3 am in order to get to the Jetty location and return in time for Mr. Sands flights, we enlisted a helicopter and it became a 30 minute rendezvous.
We arrive at the airport before sunrise and head straight to pick up Mr. Sands. This proved difficult, when the access gate was locked. Nevertheless, Mr. Sands tossed us up his bag and scaled the fence (and the razor wire) with ease, earning instant cred with our team.
Upon departure we were confronted by an electrical storm, and were grounded through the sunrise. The flight itself was amazing, and the ability to see the Great Salt Lake, salt ponds and the profound color spectrum that the landscapes holds was surreal.
Landing at the jetty landing we begin to explore and shoot Mr. Sands as he paced the inner spirals. Mr. Sands recited lines from Robert Smithson’s memoirs, improvising as he saw fit and moving fluidly with the words. Many of us were seeing the Spiral Jetty for the first time and being able to see it from every angle will never be forgotten, the colors and textures were a spectacle on the macro level and the wide angle of the total landscape.
Our trip was quick, but monumentally stimulating.
Julians first question after wrap –
“Did I make the cut?”
The aerial shots were captured from the helicopter by one operator holding the Movi M10, while the other controlled the gimbal from the Movi Controller. The controller is great piece of hardware, it has given us everything that the spektrum controllers couldn’t. The responsive joystick makes fluid pan and tilt moves so much simpler to accomplish. Additional aerial moves were done with our cinestar, gimbal moves were once again done with the Movi controller.
We wanted to emulate the original film created by Robert Smithson from 1970 by creating title sequences that matched his style. We created stickers that we applied to plexiglass, we then projected 16mm footage of the jetty through the negative space of the sticker. We pushed in and out from the plexiglass with the red dragon attached to the movi m15, the handheld approach gave the footage a unique look with the text being backlit.
Canon Cinema Lenses (24, 50, 85)
- Director Skylar Nielsen
- Producer Elaine Clark
- Himself Julian Sands
- Cinematography Joshua Fletcher & Lance Clayton
- Music GiantFrame
- Colorist Jake Penrose
- Production Assistant Steve Lupsha