EV Video Shoot with the Pros–InMotion.pro

By Paul Gipe

I spent all day Sunday on a video shoot in Tehachapi for Project Clean Air, a local NGO. No, it wasn’t about windmills this time. They wanted to film me driving our bright blue Chevy Bolt.

Project Clean Air was producing a video for their web site on why Kern County denizens should be driving electric vehicles. After all, Kern County is #1 in air pollution in the USA. We’re tops in carrots too, but carrots won’t kill you. And even when the air pollution doesn’t kill you it can cause some of the debilitating diseases that plague the Central Valley.

Driving electric is the single most significant step we can make to clear the air in Kern County.

My segment of the video was the “traveler” because of the Pandemic Peregrinations I’d been writing about for the past year.

I’d been distracted lately and didn’t quite understand why they’d booked me for the whole day. Typically, a film crew will have me for a few minutes and then go about their business—as do I. Not so this time.

It only dawned on me that I was in for a long day when the production company, InMotion.pro, started pulling out their gear. They were pros and this was a Hollywood-style production suitable for a car ad—the kind showing the smiling owner whipping down a windy Tehachapi road with windmills spinning in the background.

Joseph Hernandez, head pro, lugged a big Canon to our 2020 Chevy Bolt and began mounting it on the dash. Ok, that made sense. Then, to my surprise, Chase Campbell began mounting the Canon’s twin on the other end of the dash. These guys were serious.

Makes sense when you think about it. One was set to record Project Clean Air’s Robert Garnsey as he asked the questions while we drove down the road. The other was aimed at me as I responded, articulately I hope. That’s a lot of gear with their big black eyes staring at you while you drive and try to talk nonchalantly with your passenger, hoping to remember the lines you worked out the night before.

And that was just the start of the day.

Naturally, it being Tehachapi, it was windy—and cold. Hernandez, Campbell, and their aide-de-camp Anthony Pilja had their work cut out for them balancing the light as the bright overcast sky burned off to the bright blue sunny skies we expect in our promotional videos.

Next up were exterior shots of our Bolt driving down the road. Hernandez began carefully mounting one of the Canon’s on the hood of his new Jeep. They first mounted three powerful suction cups and then attached a gimbal mount for the camera.

This wasn’t your everyday gimbal. It was motorized and controlled wirelessly from inside their car with a cell phone. They could focus, zoom, and pan remotely as they followed me down the road. That gimbal was a piece of serious gear. And it takes serious pros to operate it.

So we drove through the wind farms and out to the PCT trailhead. Now it was time for them to film the sporty little Bolt taking on sinuous Cameron Canyon Road as it follows the Garlock fault to Hwy 58.

Once we got the thumbs up from Hernandez that they’d got the footage they needed it was time for the pièce de résistance. This is where they film me driving as I pull up to and pass by them—on the right–as though they are not there. Yee ha.

That was, shall we say, a bit tense for a novice. We’d check the road ahead and behind and then they’d pull into the left lane and I drive by them on the right. First pass I was too anxious and drove by too fast and we had to shoot it again. Second pass, not quite right either. We finally got the footage they needed and we all breathed a sigh of relief. (I had images of the Tehachapi News blaring, “Windmill guy kills film crew during video shoot in Tehachapi.”)

The rest of the filming was pretty standard. I did a stand up in front of a Level 2 charge station at City Hall with Campbell holding a long sound boom over my head just like you’d see on a film set. In the process, the InMotion crew added to my lexicon. The furry wind screen over the mike on the boom is called a “dead cat,” explained Hernandez, because, well, it looks like a dead cat.

With the bright sun now beating down, my cap was shading my face. Someone suggested I try taking off my hat. I didn’t think that was going to work and once they saw that shiny bald head and flying grey hair they agreed. Nope, that wasn’t going to work. Keep the cap on.

Hernandez then filmed me pulling the Blue Bolt into the parking lot, getting out, plugging the car in to charge, and then walking away. That sequence required quite a few takes. Apparently, I am not destined for Hollywood.

It’s been a decade since I’ve worked with a film crew on an EV shoot. Automobile Magazine filmed me test driving the then soon-to-be-released Chevy Volt and the potential role renewable energy could play in powering electric vehicles. They got shots of the wind energy expert leaning against the hood of the new electric car with the windmills in the background.

That was a lifetime ago in EV technology. GM doesn’t even make the Volt any more. While I panned the Volt at the time, I later learned to appreciate it when we owned one.

The Volt had an EV-only range of 40 miles. The early Nissan Leaf we drove for three years did somewhat better with a range of 80 miles. Our 2020 Bolt has a range of 260 miles and can take us anywhere we want to go, whether that’s to the coast, the mountains, or the desert.

And wherever we go there’s no tailpipe emissions polluting the air we all collectively breathe. It was a good day working with the crew from InMotion.pro and I hope contributed to Project Clean Air’s goal of putting more people into EVs.