We just completed 3 days of filming in and around Palatka, Florida for the second episode of the Georgia-Pacific 'move the needle' campaign I designed, "We Are:" Palatka is in the heart of Florida right along the St. Johns River. Quick fact, Palatka was the largest town in Florida right through the early 1900's because the river made it the center of commerce in the state.
This time we go to meet the Dallas family who have a combined 150 years of service to GP's Palatka paper mill. Starting with Mom in the early 70's when it was the Hudson Paper Company, 9 family members have all worked and continue to work at the facility. Our tour guides for this episode are Wade Dallas and Karen Sessions, brother and sister who have worked at the mill over 30 and 40 years respectively. To say that the town, Georgia-Pacific and the Dallas family go together is an understatement.
Taking what we learned during the first "We Are: Brewton, Alabama" episode filming, we trimmed down the gear a bit but this time brought a drone. I had a three man crew, two camera and one audio with one of the camera ops also being a licensed drone pilot. Primary cameras were the Sony FS5, we also had a Panasonic GH4, GoPros and the DJI Phantom 4. I figured it would be handy with the town being right on the river. It turned out to be an amazing tool with the early morning sunrises. Our hotel was right on the river so we just had to walk out our hotel rooms and start flying. By parking ourselves right along the river bank, we were able to take advantage of the drone's 2 mile or so operating range to fly well out over the river and the come back and do some beautiful sweeps of the town.
Wade and Karen were just amazing hosts and they, along with Glen Freeman from the first episode, are the reason why this series was created. Georgia-Pacific has amazing individuals all across this great land and "We Are:" aims to introduce them and the places they live, one small town at a time. Prior to filming I found out Wade played football and ran track through high school, so we got a few of his former teammates to meet us out on the same field to reminisce and throw the pigskin around. It was like they never left, they could point out the exact spots on the field where plays happened, they started running drills and the entire crew got involved with playing as well. It was an absolute hoot.
This time we also got what should be a great local food segment at the oldest diner in Florida, Angel's Diner. The crew actually ate there the night we arrived because it was literally next to our hotel and it did not disappoint. I can tell you it has one of the best burgers I've ever had. We also experienced the Florida Azalea Festival which was much smaller than we expected and the parade completely bagged us. We were given bad information on the parade route, or they changed it last minute. In any case, we had to make a made 4 block run to capture any footage as the parade was over in literally 3 minutes. Not sure if we got anything useable, but we'll see. We definitely got some great shots of beautiful classic cars sitting out near the river.
The one segment that played out brilliantly, and I can't wait to get this sequence into edit, was the family dinner. I had the idea to get as many of the family members as possible to Wade's house and record their conversations over dinner. The conversation really took an emotional turn towards the end and I have a feeling our wrap up soundbites are going to come from that dinner.
All in all, a great three days of filming, as usual the production ran according to my planned schedule, the crew was awesome and I can't wait to get this episode into edit. The plan is to release a feature episode of "We Are;" in the 7-9 minute range and then a series of Social Media segments for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.