We sat down with director Will Reid, to talk first impressions of Zihuatanejo, his weapons of choice and favourite scenes from our film, A Day In Paradise!
How would you describe the intention of this film?
Being dropped in a totally new environment in a part of the world I’d never been to in conditions that were totally alien (I’d never felt heat like Mexican heat) was extremely inspiring. Every wall, every house, every tree was new and visually refreshing. The customs and the community and the people were warm and open in a way I’d not expected. It was gorgeous. I think the intention rapidly became that of bottling this feeling, the sense of exploration and treading new ground, while also respecting and capturing the lives of the people I found myself surrounded by. It wasn’t to make a documentary – but rather let the imagery and the people speak for themselves and let their passion for their home flow freely over us.
What equipment and techniques did you use and why?
We wanted to remain lightweight and nimble while still retaining the ability to capture big, cinematic images. For this, I chose the Sony A7sII for its tiny size but big image sensor – when put in the right hands in post production (i.e. those of our exceptionally talented colourist Philip Hambi), we got some incredible range and colour in the pictures from a very discreet camera. This, paired with a set of cine prime lenses, made for a very successful setup – it was all in our glass. The lenses really made the film shine. We shot a lot of the film at either end of the focal length spectrum – either wide and up close for a real sense of being in the moment and intimate with who we were with, and then telephoto for capturing parts of landscapes or details.
What was the most challenging part to film?
One of the simplest moments in the first act of the film – the car, our beautiful 1980 Ford Bronco – drives towards the camera and parks up with the sea on one side and palm trees on the other. A post card image. I wanted to do a few takes of this to get the coverage, and on the third take I asked for the car to drive further down the beach so we could get more of a run up for the opening of the shot. Only the tide had just gone out, and all the sand down this beach was really soggy. The Bronco is a heavy truck that proceeded to rapidly bury itself in the wet sand and we spent the next 2 hours fruitlessly trying to dig it out in 30 degree heat with sticks. The Ford Bronco is about 2.5 tonnes so a piece of driftwood was unlikely to help – it wasn’t until some fishermen saw us as they were coming in to shore and hurried to the beach with their pickup trucks and pulled our car out with a piece of rope. We did our final takes and returned to the shade – I had severe heatstroke for the rest of the day!
Which scene is your favourite and why?
The sunset sequence. It’s like a trance – time slows as the light drips away, putting all the focus on the land and the sea. Then, night takes over, and things start to move again. It was the first time I’d seen the sun properly set on the horizon too so it was quite special.
What was your biggest taking from the experience?
That London speed is not the only speed. There are places where 24 hours feel a lot more calming!
What’s next for Will Reid?
Currently trying to figure out my next narrative short film project alongside plenty of bits in fashion and music. It’s a busy time – but hopefully there will be some more adventures to come before too long…