Spotlight: David Vassar, Writer, Director and Co-Producer, 'California Forever'
David Vassar and co-producer Sally Kaplan’s two-part PBS television special California Forever tells the story of California’s magnificent state parks, from Yosemite’s genesis in 1864 to the present day.
How would you describe the project?
David Vassar: Episode one, “The History of California State Parks,” highlights the discovery and creation of California’s state parks system, while episode two, “Parks for the Future,” presents the very real challenges that state parks are currently facing in California.
What challenges did you encounter?
The programs feature many of California’s storied landscapes, but none of them show their best character according to a logical and economical shooting schedule. For the Anza-Borrego Desert, we needed to be there for spring wildflowers; the giant sequoias show best when their leaves turn bright red in the fall. Weather and seasons dictated the two-year schedule, pushing our travel budget to the max.
What was your experience working with the RED ONE camera?
To shoot endless takes without film reloading was great. We often backpack our gear into the field for a full day or more. Carrying around chips the size of candy bars that can record 30 minutes of material in 4K was a miracle. Lens swapping was a breeze. On the downside, after a 14-hour day, endless downloading of the chips was a real pain. But it was a great improvement from shooting 35mm film, which is what we normally use. We came home with a massive camera master (8 TB) that we can re-purpose for future projects.