The plane hits the runway. A 6-hour flight from coast to coast begins the Santa Cruz journey. We’re in California for a lifestyle video and photography shoot, highlighting various products for a vitamin company. Valentina Elegante, my manager, and mentor is in the two-ton Sprinter van that more closely resembles a school bus than a car and I’m driving the Toyota 4Runner. We’re on one of the more dangerous roads in the country. It’s a little strip of highway that locals have affectionately named “Blood Alley” or “Death Trap Highway” due to the high number of sudden, sharp turns. Our cars are loaded up with Dinesh Boaz, Creative Director, Danny Potts, and Elijah Guess, Video Production Specialists, and David Allee, Director of Photography. After 45 minutes of high-speed twists, we make it out alive!

Our next stop is the skate park. We’re scouting the Day 3 filming location. After calling every skate shop and speaking to nearly every skateboarder in the Santa Cruz area, we’re still on the hunt for one more skateboarding extra. With the rest of the crew looking down from the top of the hill, Valentina and I make the trek into the skate park. We approach a young woman with a baggy sweatshirt and loose-fitting jeans. Trying to sound as cool as possible, we pitch the video idea and ask her to meet us at the skatepark on Friday morning. She agrees, and we’re filled with relief. Two 20-something-year-olds dressed in cardigans and RayBans in a sea of teenagers. We play it cool until we meet up with the crew.

From there, we haul the equipment to the mountain house, the location for the first two days of filming. Through the twists and turns of the one-lane (yet, two-way?) mountain road, we approach the mansion in the hills. We excitedly run through the house, checking out the panoramic mountain views, the bright blue pool, and the modern features of the 16-acre property that took four years to build. We spend the team dinner conversing about the spectacular views and planning the three days ahead. After the wave of excitement flows through and the jet lag sets in, we head to our hotel rooms.

5:45 a.m. wake up for departure at 6:45 sharp. Schedule? Check. Appearance release forms and storyboard printed? Check. Equipment scattered throughout the hotel room? Check. Off we go, up the mountain and into the hills of Aptos, California. The models arrive, the grip and videographers set up the lighting, and from there, we’re rolling. The next two days are a rush of camera clicks and adjusting reflectors. What are the models wearing in the scene? How does the lighting look? What props are needed? Can we get some product shots in this scene? How are we going to get coffee to deliver all the way up here? A few questions are constantly circulating throughout the group.

Day 1 involves a meditation scene looking out towards the picturesque views, and a kitchen scene that exhausts all feasible angles of a smoothie. On Day 2, we finish out the house scenes with a workout feature and a dip in the pool for the models. We also make the trek to the Redwoods, models dressed in hiking boots and all.

After spending two full days in the mountains, we’re on the last day of the shoot. After hundreds of calls to the city and the state, we finalize the permit to film on public property barely 30 minutes before call time. With coffee and bagels in hand, we meet at the skatepark. As we start shooting our female skateboarders, a 14-year-old boy shows up, carting his skateboard along with him. After seeing some professional-level skate tricks and a quick conversation, his father is en route to the skate park to sign the appearance release. The next hour and a half involves the models carefully placed along the skateboarding rim with our skateboarding extras flipping and racing throughout the bowl. “Am I okay here?” Lauren, the female model asks. “Yeah… but maybe lean back… just in case,” the 14-year-old responds just before he flips over her legs and zooms back into the bowl.

Finally, we’re at our last location. We haul heavy paddleboards from the surf shop to the beach and eat sandwiches standing in the sand. After scenes of beach lounging and tossing the frisbee, our models take to the ocean for our last shot. They hop on the paddleboards and paddle throughout the ocean as the drone flies overhead. After meeting them at the other side of the beach and hauling the boards back to our meeting point, we look around. “Is that it? Is this a wrap?” says one crew member. Our 4 days of preparation and shooting have concluded. We celebrate with tacos, ice cream, and a redeye flight home. A week on set has come to an end.

Katherine Grabowsky, Content Marketing & Creative Coordinator