As the full moon rose on October 29th, our Tampa video production company shot the first scene from our next short film, The Skyship Chronicles, a Steampunk action-adventure. “This film is a complete story in its own right,” shares Director and Litewave Media founder, Christian Schwier. “We also hope to gain enough interest in the idea to produce a full-length feature film of the concept.”
Pre-production began in early October when our Tampa video crew traveled to Tommie Turvey’s Equine Extremist Liberty Horse Ranch in Brooksville, Florida. Tommie and his stunt horse, Blade, have worked on numerous films and TV shows, including The Walking Dead, Jonah Hex, and 3:10 to Yuma.
While at the ranch, our Tampa filmmakers scouted locations, filmed test shots with the actors in full Steampunk costumes, and rehearsed the riding stunts with Tommie and Blade. After making some minor modifications to the shooting script, nearly two dozen cast and crew took their places to shoot the first scene.
Actors Jeffrey Shepperd and Mick Ellis played the two guards being hunted by the film’s villain Gustav (Ed Olson). Tommie rode Blade and performed several challenging stunts including the horse rearing up and chasing the actors. “We even shot some of the chase scenes from the back of an ATV Mule!” says the Tampa film director.
Co-Directors of Photography, Steve Allen and Ryan Grosjean, were behind the RED Scarlet Camera (filming in 4k) and the Canon 5D Mark III (Camera B). The camera crew (see complete list below) used a jib and dolly for action shots.
The intense chases required the actors to move swiftly over rough terrain while dodging trees and low hanging branches. “We were on a horse ranch in the middle of the woods, so there was no light aside from the moon and the lights we brought,” explains Schwier. “Since there was no power, we had to bring our own generator. It was quite a task hauling a multi-thousand watt generator out into the woods!”
Thankfully Andrew Ortoski, our gaffer and movie lighting master, provided the film crew with a condor, or lighting lift, that projected moon-like rays from almost 100 feet in the air. “We’re so happy with how the chase scenes turned out,” says Schwier. “We’re looking forward to the post production process and editing the scene in our Tampa post production studio.”
To add texture and dimension to the scenes, the crew brought in an industrial-grade fog machine. “Getting the right amount of fog in each scene for continuity was definitely the biggest hurdle of the night,” says Schwier. “In some shots the wind would blow all the fog away, and in others there would be too much and we had to disperse it.” But by the end of the night, Jeff Zampino, our Producer/Writer, was a master at wielding the fog machine.
Later in the night the temperature dropped into the low 40’s but our cast and crew soldiered on, and the last shot was taken as the sun began to rise. “We were all tired,” says Schwier, “but our sense of accomplishment kept our spirits up through the night. We were all definitely glad to be home in warm beds later that morning though!”
The Skyship Chronicles CREW
Seth Jones – Grip
Jeffrey Gross – Assistant Camera
David Bergvik – Production Assistant
Evan Zissimopulous – Camera Department
Ryan Grosjean – Co-Director of Photography
Steve Allen – Co-Director of Photography
Andrew Ortoski – Gaffer
Harold Hood – Production Assistant
David Lasky – Grip
Taylor Girard – Grip
Jeff Zampino – Producer
Bridget Desjarlais – Costumes
Rachel Lappe – Production Assistant and Craft Service
TJ Maynes – Set Photographer
Christian Schwier – Director
Devin Keebler – Assistant Camera
Tommie Turvey – Location Services
Don Knight – Boom Operation
Mike Barnitt – Sound Engineer
The Skyship Chronicles CAST
Jeffrey Shepperd – Guard 1
Mick Ellis – Guard 2
Ed Olson – Gustav
Tommie Turvey – Stunt Horse Rider
Blade – “Gustav’s Horse” & Stunt Horse