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How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Building a Camera Tower From Bamboo Canes For ‘My Name Is Salt’

How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Building a Camera Tower From Bamboo Canes For 'My Name Is Salt'

Farida Pacha’s new documentary “My Name is Salt” is certainly ambitious. It covers the salt people of India; a group of 40,000 whom year after year, for an eight-month period, move to the desert to extract salt from the burning earth. It investigates why they consistently return to this harsh climate and devote themselves, their lives, to this goal. It screened at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14th.

[Editor’s Note: Indiewire reached out to filmmakers with films playing at the 20th LA Film Festival (June 11-19) to ask them about how they shot their indie, and what advice they had for other filmmakers. We’ll be posting their responses throughout the run of the festival. Go HERE for the master list.]

What camera and lens did you use?
SONY EX1-R, fixed zoom lens

What was the most difficult shoot on your movie and how did you pull it off?
The most difficult bit was to get an elevated perspective as the desert is completely flat. To the amusement of our protagonists, the cinematographer, Lutz, tried to build a little camera tower from bamboo canes – to no avail. I ultimately suggested to stop one of the passing trucks and just climb on the roof top. That pulled it off.

What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started your movie?
I had spent a considerable amount of time with my protagonists before the shoot. But I had never witnessed the very first days of their season, when they arrive at their place in the desert and set up their home and workspace. Nor had the cinematographer. So, during our first stay we kept chasing after frames. Rather than just being there, at the right spot, at the right moment – an attitude we eventually developed.

What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
To look for drama – or at least interview my protagonists. Fortunately, I sensed that it would have been totally wrong and so I never stepped into this trap suggested by TV commissioning editors.

What’s the best?
To uncompromisingly stick to my original vision of the film.

What advice do you have for aspiring or first-time filmmakers?
Stick to your vision and don’t get discouraged by people who don’t share it.

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