Morocco Shoot by Patrick Pierson

What to say about Morocco? just go there. It’s one of the most foreign and curious places I may have ever been. Its a cinephiles dream. Rich in culture, history, cuisine, architecture and geography.

This was my second production venture with the Escape Artist, Peru being the first. They specialize and build packages for a large array of international travel. They arrange a massive tour itinerary in conjuncture with the various tourism boards and vendors. Good guys who also like good beer. 

The length of our shoot tacked up to about three weeks, we were scheduled to film in Casablanca, Fes, Chefchaouen, Marrakech, Aït Benhaddou, Legzira, Rabat, Tangier, the High Atlas mountains and the Sahara Desert. That doesn’t include all of the gems we stumbled upon moving from each destination. For this trip we employed Eoin McGuigan as an AC everyman (Eoin works in production in Minneapolis and is a pretty well versed international traveller) who also shot quite a bit of the footage. There was just so much to film and be that his precense was absolutely necessary. 

Filming in Morocco is interesting. Many of the locals really don’t like the idea of having a camera in their faces, especially one that looked like it wasn’t a standard tourist camera. We had to be very sensitive to that. In most cases the people that we were filming were informed ahead of time so that took a little of the burden off. 

The only bad thing I would say about the country is entering through customs. That was atrocious and cost us three shoot days, despite having all the legal paper work. If you do find yourself shooting there, make sure you pack small almost like a tourist, especially if it isn’t official. We had high hopes of using the drone again on this one, but alas it wasn’t going to happen; that was locked up in customs for the entirety of the trip. I suspect some idiots may have attempted to use one to fly over borders to transport drugs, our loss. Once we did get our gear we were fairly home free, everything got a lot brighter from there on out.

Asides from that initial problem, we had quite a blast traveling by van and filming every possible moment of interest. Our driver and local, Hasan, was a brilliant cartoon of a man who managed to be persistently entertaining. From staying with a Berber family in the High Atlas Mountains, getting stuck in blizzards, riding camels in the Sahara and getting lost in their stunning markets; we were able to capture some really breathtaking day to day life of your average Moroccan. The people are ridiculously friendly and are sincerely glad that you are there to experience it with them. Now that I’m familiar, I would definitely go back to spend more time in key places. 

Thailand Shoot by Patrick Pierson

Thailand is just one of those places that should be on everyones “Must do places” from its beaches, temples, amazing food and incredibly low costs its basically a win-win.

After filming in Japan for a spell I flew into Bangkok and filmed everything from the Floating Market, Muay Thai fights to the Grand Palace. Bangkok is filled with variety and total insanity, in a good way. It's a place you go for both trouble and a place to find yourself. 

After a few days I met up with the rest of the crew from Committee Films, the producer Courtney Crockett, DP Brandon Boulay and AC Eoin McGuigan. We were tasked to film a short piece for Sperry Shoes starring two members of The Shout Out Louds band, Bebban Stenborg and Ted Malmros. The objective was to film their interaction with an indigenous sea gypsy tribe, the Mokens. We travelled from Bangkok to Phuket by air and from there we had a good 10 hours more on road and sea boat. Traveling that far to meet up with Sea Gypsies close to Burma it was impossible to know what to even expect. 

Once we arrived on the island we met up more a less with our fixer for the trip, Runar Jarle Wiik, a Norwegian filmmaker who had previously filmed extensively with the tribe. He was on first name basis with everyone and was practically treated like family. 

We filmed Ted and Bebban and their experiences for around 5 days. It was truly enlightening to see just how simple one could live their life and be happy for what they have. The only problem that really ever came up was having to put away the big cameras, there is some unfortunate politics with the Thai government and the Moken people. They didn’t take too kindly to us filming them in a professional way, the reason alludes me but thats how it was. Runar did a great job at highlighting those issue (and still does) with Project Moken, you can look that up here; 

It was a fantastic trip and a real pleasure getting to know the Moken story as well as working with new talented professionals. We of course had to film it all very sensitively narratively speaking with all of the parties involved. It can be a bit of a trap fall if you don’t project that carefully, it is advertising after all ;) 

Japan Shoot by Patrick Pierson

While I was only in Tokyo for a few days it certainly struck an impression. It’s a beaming and orderly metropolis. One thing that will strike you first of all is just how seamlessly systematic that town is. Everything is typically on time and everyone waits at a crosswalk. 

Japan has such a unique culture that you instantly fall in love with it. On one hand its hilariously absurd and on the other it makes total sense. The people are probably the most polite of any in the world, very patient and love to practice their English on you when possible. The sushi is obviously the best in the world and blows away most Western interpretations. 

My objective was to film as much as I possibly could in the short time that I was there. Flying from Minneapolis to Tokyo takes around 14 hours and the jet lag will cripple you. Its the polar opposite in time and your body will absolutely be confused for the first few days. One event you absolutely have to do in Tokyo is go to The Robot Restaurant. Its like a private Las Vegas show on acid. Robots battle robots, sharks eat people, scantly clad Japanese girls dance while riding tarantulas. It’s like the craziest and most fun dream you can’t describe to your friends. 

I will hopefully make it back there and film other parts of Japan. Tokyo can certainly keep you quite occupied for a few days. 

Omaha Zoo Shoot by Patrick Pierson

A :30 spot that I had the pleasure of working on for the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Another fun Drive Thru production.

About the most difficult task on this was to get a great 4 year old, as the script required, to be in the piece. Getting someone charismatic at that age is not at all easy, thankfully the young talent we landed exceeded expectations and gave us what we needed.