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Caravan Driving

Published : 13th February 2007

This is a topic that has been bugging me for years. Inevitably I find myself caravan driving with crews for company moves, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, it seems inevitable. I've come up with some techniques that make the process easier, but getting others on board with the "system" is pretty tough. My favourite was a producer in a car much faster (and more expensive but we won't get into that) than mine leaving me in the dust on a location scout. When he wouldn't answer his phone I had no choice but to turn around and go home. He was surprised and embarrassed when he arrived at the location alone. All worked out fine in the end but the better part of a day was lost.

These are the tips I offer others when caravanning, has anyone come up with additional techniques or find fault with mine? I wish this and knot tying were taught in film schools. I think #5 is the most important of all of these.

1/ : Slower vehicles in front

2/ : Taller vehicles in back

3/ : Everyone is responsible for keeping the person behind them on track.

4/ : Lane changes happen as early as possible and as infrequently as possible.

5/ : If you need to make a lane change, the leader puts on their turn signal, followed by everyone in line. The last vehicle moves over and slows down leaving a clear space for the rest of the line to change lanes.

6/ : If too many cars contaminate your line especially if it means you can no longer be seen by the person behind you (see #3), slow down. You'll be amazed at how quickly people will get out of your line if your line is going a little slower than the rest of traffic.

Any other ideas?

David C. Smith
LA/OC D.P.

P.S.

And yes, printing a map is another excellent option.


class="style15">> Any other ideas?

Go to: http://maps.google.com - enter address - then click on "satellite" (way over on the top right) to view the actual overhead photo... Directions to "set" can't get any clearer...

Richard W. Gretzinger
Director of Photography
www.richgretz.com
USA

P.S. I don't work for Google.... just amazed with this new mapping tool!  . .  hey that's my house!!


class="style15">>These are the tips I offer others when caravanning, has anyone come >up with additional techniques or find fault with mine?

David,

Are you actually suggesting taking all the fun out of company moves?

I think company moves demonstrate a lot about the personalities involved in the production and is a never-ending source of amusement as well as a good source for future storytelling.

Long ago on one of my last gaffing gigs, we travelled to Poland for a commercial shoot with a well-known photographer directing. The photographer had a location scout scouting for several weeks before we arrived. We went on the scout with the edited location stills in a caravan with the scout leading the way. That is until the photographer decided he suddenly didn't like any of the locations they had previously chosen and told everyone in the caravan to follow him.

Of course, he had never been to Poland before this scout. So we had about 4 SUV's and vans aimlessly scouting the countryside around Zakopane, randomly trying to find a location, and stopping over and over to run out to the middle of a field with a viewfinder only to find that it just wasn't right.

Back in the cars, K-turns, travelling to dead end roads, climbing over barb-wire fences into farms and fields, getting into thorny brush and thick forest. I never saw anything so amusing as this spur of the moment scout with about 15 people in tow. In the end, he found whatever it was he was looking for but I swear it wasn't much different than the original scout photos.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


class="style15">> Any other ideas?

Go to Ron Dexter's website, specifically for caravanning:

http://www.rondexter.com/professional/production/caravanning.htm

For tons of other terrific info:

www.rondexter.com

Brian "Dexterfan" Heller
IA 600 DP


Caravanning is technically illegal. I think a better way is:

1/. Print maps

2/. Phone numbers of someone in charge

3/. Go in threes

4/. Have a rally point 1/2 way (if a lot of cars involved)

5/. Have a rally point near the final destination (if the actual location is difficult to find) ....just my 2 cents, but David's right; the 'leaders' always drive like a bat outta hell & change lanes with no regard for the followers

All best,

Al Satterwhite
DP/Dallas


class="style15">> Go to: http://maps.google.com - enter address
> [...]Directions to "set" can't get any clearer...

Whilst Google Maps satellite facility is cool (check out what they've done with the White House roof! And if anyone wants it I can send you the URL for Area 51 off-list!) surely - in answer response to the original post - surely it's the responsibility of a location manager to ensure that all crew expected at a location recce are furnished with directions, maps and an itinerary in advance?

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London


Tom Townend writes:

class="style15">>... surely it's the responsibility of a location manager to ensure that all >crew expected at a location recce are furnished with directions, maps >and an itinerary in advance?

Certainly. And, now that cell phones are ubiquitous, company moves are no longer the issue they once were. But even the best laid plans....

And even having directions, maps and an itinerary in advance does not ensure that everyone on the crew is a diligent or competent (dyslexia) map reader, or that they should even be trying to read a map while driving, or that last minute changes in schedule or locations won't throw everything in disarray.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


Walkies in every vehicle, and a passenger to operate it instead of the driver. Illegal for the driver to d so in NYC and NJ (maybe other states as well by now). Cell phones are not walkies, especially because you cannot instantly communicate with ten cars at once with cell phones.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP


class="style15">> especially because you cannot instantly communicate with ten cars at >once with cell phones.

Yes you can with the push to talk features on such phones as Nextel where you have the ability at group communications.


Disclaimer : My opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are my own and may not reflect yours. The use of the pronouns "you, "some", and "many" to name a few are generalizations and without a proper name attached to them are not references to anyone reading my posts.

Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


Yes you can with the push to talk features on such phones as Nextel where you have the ability at group communications.

While technically correct, this only works if everybody so happens to belong to the same cell phone company and has these enabled phones or the production supplies them to each vehicle. In that case they might as well issue walkie talkies.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP


class="style15">>While technically correct, this only works if everybody so happens to >belong to the same cell phone company and has these enabled >phones or the production supplies them to each vehicle. In that case >they might as well issue walkie talkies

The only point I was trying to raise regarding cell phones and company moves is that now that everyone has one, the prospect of someone's getting seriously is no longer the issue it once was. Likewise for being separated.

At the same time, the increase in traffic has made caravanning in large numbers more and more difficult; and oftentimes it consumes more time than it saves.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



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