Every morning I wake up to an inbox full of offers. Parsing through them becomes an habitual daily task. They’re usually is a contrasting distinction between serious offers and junk emails. An email from an associate producer representing the Globe and Mail and Lexus Canada caught my attention. It wasn’t my stereotypical offer, this one wanted to place me in front of the camera so that I could share my vision on nature and wildlife photography.
I was intrigued, suspicious and honoured all at once. I rarely step in front of a lens, unless I’m cleaning it. The secretive nature of the project had a ton of questions buzzing around in my head. I was offered to shoot in French with celebrity host Patrick Langlois, a Montreal TV and Radio personality. There was also a chance of shooting the same mini documentary type spot with Les Stroud, Survivorman, but that slithered out of my hands. I must admit, at first I was more comfortable at the idea of filming in English.
The shooting took place in the area of Hastings Highlands in Ontario Canada. An incredible scenic and natural area in the proximity of the Algonquin Provincial Park. The project was named “Lexus Driven to discover”, “En voiture à l’aventure” in French
Our Lexus ride was the brand new 2017 Lexus GX, a luxury SUV with amazing capabilities. It was our moving studio as I road along with Patrick Langlois and a film crew in the back seat. With Patrick in the driver’s seat, we got started in a casual and improvised conversation about Nature and Wildlife photography. Simple and to the point, we drove beautiful roads as I shared my passion for nature and photography, all while being filmed. No rehearsals, any question Patrick had for me were unrehearsed and my answers totally improvised. We’d already been shooting for a while before I even had a clear picture of where this project was headed. This kept the storyline natural and pure.
Although I had heard Patrick on the radio and seen some of his television work, I was pleasantly surprised by the real Patrick Langlois. I’ve worked with many individuals in the media arts, no one has ever impressed me like Patrick Langlois. A true down to earth professional with an ability to quickly take charge of a situation and get things moving without stepping on anyone’s feet. His easy going attitude combined with impeccable communication skills gave me guidance and confidence throughout the shoot. A good listener and quick to understand what’s important to me, Patrick also brought to the table my interest for conservation.
For the exception of Zoe on sound, the entire crew was Anglophone, yet we were shooting in French. Being fully bilingual as myself, Patrick also had to take on the role of cueing the crew on our dialogue. It was a great experience to be able to work in a bilingual setting as we rapidly had to switch from French dialogue for filming to working in English with the crew.
Since every segment focuses on a different person, some work was done solo under the direction of Rob Brunner with Frank Vilaca behind the camera. We also had a second cameraman, Michael Reid, who was specialized in remote camera’s and drones.
Although we were able to shoot in a single morning, we still had a bit of downtime between scenes and various setups. Patrick’s genuine interest in my photography brought up various subjects from infrared photography to 360 spherical photography (Photospheres).
I always carry my little Ricoh Theta with me. I took advantage of the situation to introduce Patrick and some members of the crew to this little gadget of a camera.
We took a few photosphere selfies to demonstrate the capabilities of 360 degree spherical images.
Below you can see Patrick and I in a full 360-degree spherical view with all the splendour of the nature that surrounds us.
The spherical images also caught the attention of Steven Kim, Art Director on this project and a great photographer himself.
The end of our shooting was just the begining of our journey. We got to discover some beautiful country and great places. Our final stop with the crew was our lunch destination. The Sun Room Café, a great little place in Maynooth, Ontario on Hwy 62. With organic food and homemade goodies to take with you on the road they even catered to my vegan assistant like a queen. This place was a big surprise in such a small town. A highly recomended stop. Naturally, here’s our Lexus GX parked upfront.
The journey from Montreal to the Ontario shooting sight and back was done by car (Yes a Toyota Product) as the closest commercial airport still gave us a 3-hour ride. With our own vehicle it was easy to carry all the gear we needed to enjoy all the sightseeing opportunities along the way. We even had enough gear to lend some out to the film crew…
There’s plenty of cozy rest spots with scenic vistas along the way. The area has an incredible amount of forests, lakes, ponds and wetlands that are easily accessible and perfect for nature and wildlife photography.
Photo opportunities of all types are abundant along these roads. We just randomly fell upon these antique cars on the side of the road on our way back. Just one of many surprises to discover along the way.
There are plenty of small towns along the way, each of them with their own unique dose of culture and history. It was almost a ten-hour drive back as we took advantage of all the stops we could fit into our drive to discover. One of our most interesting stops was the Rockingham Church located in the St. Leonard’s Anglican Cemetary. You have to keep your eyes open at all times, this site is nestled atop a hill making it hard to spot.
Looks like I’ll be featured in Episode 10 (in French) along with Patrick Langlois who’s hosting all ten episodes. The first of ten is out and I invite you to watch them all below.
The French Episodes, “En voiture à l’aventure” are featured on La Presse + and can be viewed by following this link : http://www.lapresse.ca/xtra/lexus/
The Lexus Canada “Lexus Driven to discover” episodes in English with Les Stroud are featured on the Globe and Mail and can be viewed by following this link : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/partners/advLexusDrivenToDiscover/
The entire crew was outstanding and I simply have to share and feature as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, it all went by so fast that I ‘m missing a few names and some are just not available for me to find online.
Rob Brunner – Our director has quite a career and is involved in the latest and hottest projects on Canadian Television – INSTAGRAM
Frank Vilaca – Documentary filmmaker and cameraman on this project – INSTAGRAM
Zoe our sound technician was just an angel.
Also a BIG THAK YOU to Lexus Canada, The Globe & Mail, Cream Productions, Frances Casey (Producer), Kim Creelman (Producer), Joanna Corbett (Production Coordination) and Karey Billyard (Associate Producer) for this fun filled opportunity.
Naturally a BIG THANK YOU also goes out to my assistant, Eugenie Robitaille of Eugenie Robitaille Design Media for all her great work, the pictures and doing all the driving (Over fifteen hours worth of driving).
I hope you all appreciate this little behind the scenes look into the journey I took with Patrick Langlois and Lexus Canada.