Shoot two, Day two

Today in ND, we stopped on the side of the road to get an exterior shot. It was beautiful: there was a halo around the sun that I called a borealis and our heroine called a sundollar, and the light refracted out in rainbows all around. The only problem was that it was negative 20 degrees, and the wind was blowing.

That is not hyperbole. It was Negative Twenty Degrees.

And the wind was blowing.

So our cameraman and soundman jumped out of the car, rigged up the gear, and set the shot. Fumbling to organize my own equipment, I followed thirty seconds on their heels and within a minute my fingers were aching, my face was numb, and I retreated to the confines of our minivan for recuperation. My boss (and all other parties, aside from me since I am too focused on my wounded digits to conceive of any further action) decided that the shot would be PERFECT if only a car were driving away from the camera. I hopped in the front seat and threw it into reverse.

Watching my crew members fade into the rearview (at all of ten miles per hour – my brain was so cold I could barely move), I felt terrified. I’d lasted approximately 90 breaths with the windchill, and every inch I drove was two seconds longer my new comrades would be stranded in the elements. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four. Fuck it. I let a school bus clear the shot, then turned around and floored it.

Our cameraman, Jason, pulled the HDX900 off the tripod just after I pulled to the side of the road, and as he walked toward us my heart nearly stopped. You know how pale girls like me powder blush on the apples of our cheeks to make them pink and pretty? The apples of Jason’s cheeks were WHITE. Fucking white. White like snow, white like copy paper. White like twin smudges of wet talc.

“DUDE” I shouted, leaping from the car, “YOUR CHEEKS ARE FUCKING WHITE”

“OH MY GOD” yelled my boss, from the front seat of the van, “LOOK AT YOUR FACE”

Jason laughed, or at least I think he laughed, since he was shivering so bad he could barely speak. “I can’t see my face” he chattered, “how the hell can I see my face?”

I wanted this to be a funny story, and really, it WAS a funny story. Five minutes later, we were all laughing about how we’d only have to worry if one of us was stripped naked, in the last throes of hypothermia, still waving on for the next shot.

It was funny. Later. But when it happened, all I could think was how dangerous it is to be outdoors here, right now, and how dangerous it is for people like Jason and Byron (soundman), always pushing themselves to the limit for the perfect frame. Much to my embarrassment, it was only later, as we passed ice fishing shacks just past dusk, that I thought of the people who live here, who work and play here every day of their lives, and wondered, seriously, how on earth do they survive?

And do they ever need blush to keep their cheeks rosy? ‘Cause I use a lot of blush, and it could be a real dealbreaker, someday.

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