bts: webisode 1 ~ Hit the Ground Running

The bts series begins! Zacuto films presents a new web series, which goes behind the scenes of the making of the documentary “Rising From Ashes.” The Zacuto production team follow Director T.C. Johnstone, Producer Greg Kwedar and their entire film crew during the last 18-days of filming “Rising From Ashes: a film about Rwanda’s first national cycling team.”

bts: a web series – Webisode 1 ~ Hit the Ground Running
In the premiere webisode “Hit the Ground Running,” Zacuto’s bts [ behind the scenes ] crew captures the first 5-days of shooting on location in Rwanda. Fighting torrential rains, oncoming traffic, mass crowds of children and lack of sleep, Director T.C. Johnstone and Producer Greg Kwedar brave the elements just to get the perfect shot. “You don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Johnstone. “This is Africa and you’re walking into a risky situation to shoot these types of films.”

Tension. Power. Control. As the days wear on, the drama unfolds, crews break down…and things get real. “Everybody’s a little heated. Everybody has that kind of fire burning inside you and if someone says the wrong thing…you’ll just snap,” says Producer Greg Kwedar, “I’m frustrated because I want control. I’m not getting it. I’m not going to get it and I’ve gotta let go of that.” Near the breaking point, while burning cash and burning daylight, Johnstone and Kwedar fight to keep it together. Through all the obstacles on location, they keep focus on the interviews and story. “One of the things with an interview for me,” says Johnstone, “Is the balance between capturing the story and letting the scene of the story…tell a story within itself.”

“I only have two days to do this,” says Director Johnstone. “I need it now. I want it right now…not yesterday. I don’t want to have to teach you. This is not the time to teach you anything. If we don’t get this…I don’t have a movie.” Watch what happens when a documentary turns into a reality.

A Zacuto Films Production. Produced by Steve Weiss, Jens Bogehegn, Scott Lynch, Greg Kwedar and Daniel Skubal. Director of Photography Jens Bogehegn. Cinematography by Jeff Waldron. Lead Editor Daniel Skubal, Assistant Editor Chris Voelz. Graphic Design by Daniel Skubal and Chris Voelz. Sound Recordist Sean McCormick. Location Director Jake Hamilton. Directed by Steve Weiss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

67 Responses to “bts: webisode 1 ~ Hit the Ground Running”

  1. Chris Cooke on April 27th, 2011 11:27 am

    Nice! I’ll keep coming back for more.

  2. Michael on April 27th, 2011 12:42 pm

    now that was a great frist webisode!  plz give us more … could have gone even longer !  :)  up to 30 minutes would be ok i guess ;)

    … for a moment my “technical heart” missed some details … “what lenses?” … “why the slider?” … “uuh a marshall LCD!” … but soon i realized “hey its all about the process, the people, story and so on. so that “issue” i’ve had of no technical stuff at all was gone very fast. :)  

    the interviews are great … really like it … looking forward to see more! .(can’t wait to see wepi 2)
    so in a nutshell: well done! 

  3. Susan Rapp on April 27th, 2011 12:51 pm

    Thanks Michael ~ Love that you want more! I’ll the guys you want longer webisodes. And you are right…this web series is all about the process + story + adventures on location!! Cheers, ~sue

  4. Steve Weiss on April 27th, 2011 1:21 pm

    Thank you for noticing Michael that our show is not about gear, it’s about what it takes to create a story.  As producer Scott Lynch says:  BTS stands for behind the scenes, not “the scenes”.

  5. Michael on April 27th, 2011 1:46 pm

    haha got it ;)  

  6. Eric Nicastro on April 27th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Two things… a.) This film did not feel like it took 18 minutes.  It was so good, the time just flew!  b.) I don’t know what I want to see more of, the rest of the BTS or the actual documentary you guys are documenting!

    Great work to all the Zacuto people that put this together.  You guys are really setting the bar for the standard of web content.  I am so impressed!

  7. KX0101 on April 27th, 2011 3:16 pm

    Superb work I’m with Eric time flew by real quick 18 min in the web watching non stop a definite win for zacuto web programming.

    I like the fact that I felt like i was there and also could take away some knowledge from their experience like “not being alone looking busy and using another cam as decoy if available” 

    I have a trip next week to Mexico to shoot a music vid and some docu stuff for an artist and #bts felt like fuel

  8. Gert Kracht on April 27th, 2011 3:43 pm

    This first episode made me want to see the results of all that hard work!
    So much questions in my head also to ask about all those crazy situations!
    You people did some really amazing work over there! And those guys on the back of the motorbikes….CRAZY!
    Lucky they all got out of the traffic alive!

    Just one question for now: What app did he use to watch the raw footage on the iPad? I’m VERY curious about that.

    My compliments for this first episode! Can’t wait for numer 2, 3, 4 and 5!


  9. T.c. Johnstone on April 27th, 2011 4:08 pm

    Gert, Thanks for the encouragement. Heres the link to the app I use for the ipad. Cheers. T.

  10. T.c. Johnstone on April 27th, 2011 4:19 pm

    Michael, The Kessler slider question is a good one. Its a story tool. I use it to be able to push in during interviews when the story got personal. I don’t have to cut, change lenses etc. allowing me to stay connected with my cast. With a story like this it got personal real quick. Very unpredictable. It’s kind of a dance as the DP has to have a great ear for story to know when to move in. We have a tight crew that I trust. Otherwise i would lock it down on sticks.  Hope this helps. 

  11. Chris Manning on April 27th, 2011 4:49 pm

    I can’t wait for the next episode! I totally know how Jake felt out there. I was the producer on a student documentary last year, and having to throw an entire day’s schedule out the window because of technical/weather/whatever problems was super frustrating. But, like T.C. said, you have to be able to turn like a row boat, not a cruise ship.

  12. Ron Risman on April 27th, 2011 4:56 pm

    This BTS film was incredible.  I am hooked and am so looking forward to next chapter in the series.  Awesome awesome job.

  13. Martin L Vargas on April 27th, 2011 7:04 pm

    Pretty awesome, as always a great post and clip from Zacuto!

  14. Martin L Vargas on April 27th, 2011 7:04 pm

    Thanks Karlo!

  15. Steve Weiss on April 27th, 2011 9:03 pm

    Thanks bro

  16. Steve Weiss on April 27th, 2011 9:29 pm

    You are my barometer, if you like it, I know i have a winner  :)

  17. Chris Manning on April 27th, 2011 10:13 pm

    Sorry about getting the producer’s name wrong. Greg, not Jake. I don’t know where I got that.

  18. Jude Charles on April 28th, 2011 1:11 am

    What I love about watching the Zacuto’s orginal programming is that you learn so much.  In less than 20 minutes I have learned small tidbits that I can use to apply to my work ethic. This is truly the best place to assess, learn, study, and apply. Thanks Zacuto!

  19. Nigel Walker on April 28th, 2011 11:49 am

    Loved this. The bit at the end when the director talks about missed shots… oh how that induced such anxiety, we have all been there. I guess the good thing about shooting one person docs is you have no one to blame but yourself, the bad thing… just about everything else. Nice job Zacuto TV.

  20. Darren on April 28th, 2011 4:05 pm

    After watching your Critic Series, Film Fellas and Shootouts, I often wondered what you guys could come up with next.  This is a welcome addition to a great site that never fails to keep me engaged and intrigued.  Keep up the work – looking forward to more!

  21. Jordan Fountain on April 28th, 2011 5:04 pm


  22. Steve Weiss on April 28th, 2011 5:14 pm

    I’ve done my share of yelling about missed shots too.  The worst was when I was in the Blue Hills of Kentucky doing a documentary of the history of the Jim Beam family.  We were driving at 6am and all of the sudden I saw the sun rising in the fog filled mountains.  I said stop the van.  We immediately stopped, got our then Betacam mounted it up on sticks and I said start shooting.  At that point I was told we have no battery on the camera.  The batteries were in the van in front of us which kept on driving.  I felt like I lost something (like someone stole it from me) needless to say I went buzzerk, screaming and yelling.  This was when I was younger and much hotter then I am now.  From that point on, crew policy is always have a charged battery ON the camera at all times and these days one in your pocket as well.  Couldn’t do the pocket with the old Anton Bauer Bricks, you old timers will get that.

  23. Steve Weiss on April 28th, 2011 5:15 pm

    We’ve got another series in pre pre production.  “The Anatomy of a Scene” coming in the fall.  

  24. Gary Nadeau on April 28th, 2011 9:40 pm

    WOW! This is great. Great Job everyone!

  25. Steve Weiss on April 28th, 2011 10:31 pm

    Thanks Gary.

  26. Michael Buffa on April 29th, 2011 9:40 am

    bts looks like another winner. This was awesome and has me excited to see the rest of the series. Great job Steve, Jens and everyone else who was a part of this!

  27. Bob Kerner on April 30th, 2011 10:37 am

    Thank you for posting this wonderful insight into a professional documentary team’s approach. I can watch BTS footage for hours. I find it very inspirational to see how professionals solve problems to produce great footage, and the though processes that drive such creativity. Keep up the good work.

  28. Susan Rapp on April 30th, 2011 4:41 pm

    Thanks Bob – this is exactly what we want from the series. We have lots more footage in the next few webisodes. Cheers, ~sue

  29. Susan Rapp on April 30th, 2011 4:44 pm

    Jude ~ it’s great to hear how much filmmakers are taking away from this series and thanks for making this site a place to learn & study & apply. Cheers, ~sue

  30. Steve Weiss on April 30th, 2011 11:35 pm

    Cheers Bob

  31. Sebastian TR on May 2nd, 2011 7:36 am

    Wow – Fantastic first ep – truly captured and presented the feel, frustration and difficulty of the filmmaking process – especially in a foreign environment where time is not a luxury.  
    Really enjoyed following along with the crew – and each various member’s difficulties – that was a great way to get inside the process and really see how it all comes together. Having been on many time constrained shoots – watching the guys struggle in certain situations + feel down and out about content + quality shots etc is something myself and many others can relate to.  
    Really enjoyable viewing – 18mins went very quick!! ( and saying that from watching anything online is a big plus  )  
    Keep on doing what you guys are doing! Love the small details – they are always what helps setup the big situation!  
    Awesome job Steve, Jens and crew – you guys are really bringing fantastic quality viewing online.  
    also keen to check out the finished Film – Despite the difficulties I can see it being a very moving and inspiring film – all the best to TC and co.  
    Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  32. Jerry R. on May 4th, 2011 9:37 am

    Great 1st episode!  Cool to see how everyone had their own little way to deal with the problems/distractions.  Really looking forward to the remaining eps.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  33. Jerry R. on May 4th, 2011 9:37 am

    Great 1st episode!  Cool to see how everyone had their own little way to deal with the problems/distractions.  Really looking forward to the remaining eps.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  34. Kimberly Moszyk Coats on May 4th, 2011 12:10 pm

    When is Webisode 2?

  35. Susan Rapp on May 4th, 2011 12:54 pm

    Kimberly ~ we have a new [ critics ] webisode & some product videos coming this month. Next webisode of [ bts ] will be around the first week of June. Cheers, ~Sue

  36. Susan Rapp on May 4th, 2011 12:55 pm

    Thanks Jerry ~ T.C., Greg & Crew give us some awesome material! Thanks for watching + cheers, ~sue

  37. Susan Rapp on May 4th, 2011 1:10 pm

    Sebastian ~ thanks for your comments and it’s great to hear how much filmmakers are getting out of this web series. It seems like you’ve all been through some trials & tribulations shooting on location! Cheers, ~sue

  38. Dan Rubottom on May 6th, 2011 5:03 pm

    Great job guys!  Really well done.  The cinematography, sound, editing, story, all of it.  Having been to Africa a couple times shooting docs, and how difficult it can be just with one or two cameras,  I’m especially impressed at how you could get all that BTS footage WHILE at the same time shooting a doc.  No small feat at all.  Looking forward to the next episode.

  39. T.c. Johnstone on May 11th, 2011 5:36 am

    Thanks Sebastian. The series only gets better trust me…. 

  40. Jared Levy on May 13th, 2011 12:42 pm

    So you’re telling me people get paid to do this? I’m in.

  41. Chris Gibbs on May 13th, 2011 2:43 pm

    Just brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed that!  Steve, did you get any BTS footage of the Zacuto crew?  I think you should have strapped on the old GoPro.  Your guys did such a good job it left me wanting some BTS footage of them also. :)

  42. Steve Weiss on May 13th, 2011 4:07 pm

    We call that BTS of the BTS  ;)

  43. Phil Arntz on May 13th, 2011 4:42 pm

    Great, great series. I really enjoyed watching this. Cant wait for the next episodes. Thats something Id love to do in my later years :)

    Keep up the good work.


  44. T.Busch-Christensen on May 13th, 2011 5:30 pm

    Daylight in Sweden from 4.30 AM-8:30PM this time of year!

  45. Susan Rapp on May 13th, 2011 5:43 pm

    Hey P ~ I’m so glad you are part of our crazy Zacuto family!! Glad you made it to the London Screening!! You can see the first webisode in June. Big hugs, ~Sue

  46. Stephen Berke on May 13th, 2011 7:08 pm

    Really great episode.  I’ve been enjoying all of Zacuto’s programming for a while now, but I really felt compelled to comment after watching this episode.  You guys are doing a real service to the independent film community.  As someone who regularly works on ‘behind the scenes’ programs, the production value on these videos often surpasses the big boys.  I really look forward to the next one.

  47. Ron Coker on May 13th, 2011 8:07 pm

    Interesting. Good going

  48. Steve Weiss on May 13th, 2011 11:32 pm

    Thank you Stephen, we have an amazing staff in our production department at Zacuto, some of the best talent I’ve worked with in my 28 years in production.  We are putting the hours in to make these shows right but most importantly we are having a ball doing it.  Thanks for your support.

  49. Armando Montoya on May 15th, 2011 1:34 pm

    Congratulations Steve it was about time some one made a constant effort to highlight this perspective of our job as storytellers nicely done! I am a director and  I am down in monterrey mexico if you need anything anytime.

  50. Ben Briceno on May 16th, 2011 4:39 pm

    Steve!!! This has been a tremendous help and awesome insight on what to expect when we are over there in India for “I AM NOT A SLAVE”.. Thanks so much for all that your team is doing with “BTS” it rocks!

  51. Ben Briceno on May 16th, 2011 4:56 pm

    When does the next episode come out!?!?

    Before June 21st I hope, that is when we leave!

  52. Susan Rapp on May 16th, 2011 5:19 pm

    Ben ~ bts: webisode 2 comes out on June 8th! See you then and thanks for the kudos on the series. Cheers, ~Sue

  53. Steve Weiss on May 16th, 2011 5:33 pm

    Good luck on your shoot Ben.  Email me if you need some Z gear on loan for your trip?

  54. Aaron Morrell on May 19th, 2011 8:19 am

    That was great!! Your footage, edit, sound, narrative was seamless. A great way of educating and inspiring us about guerilla documentary work. 
    Humorous when you think about it… Documentary crew chases documentary crew chases bicycle team!

    Can’t wait till the next one!

  55. Susan Rapp on May 21st, 2011 8:57 am

    Thanks Aaron – Greg & T.C. and the crew gave us some amazing material. The drama continues in June. Cheers, ~sue

  56. Mats Larson on June 6th, 2011 2:08 am

    I wonder what the workflow is for viewing the daylies on the ipad. Seems to be a smart thingto do but i wonder if it needs a lot of work when shooting on an DSLR. Nice show btw :)  /Mats

  57. JM on June 24th, 2011 4:30 am

    Really nice! what happened to episode 2?

  58. Steve Weiss on June 25th, 2011 10:53 am

    Next week, if I can get it finished if not the following week for sure.  All I can say is it starts off with some tears.

  59. T.c. Johnstone on June 25th, 2011 11:39 pm

    Hey Mats take a look in this post chain I put up our workflow for the ipad. It’s worth looking into. T. 

  60. Faith Fuller on July 7th, 2011 9:26 am

    You guys are doing some amazing work. Wow, I’m finding your site for the first time and I’m blown away!  Totally love the “documentary behind the documentary” series.  Super top notch, high end stuff.  I’ve never been to Rwanda, but I’ve traveled/filmed fairly extensively across Africa (about 10 countries) and I could totally relate to what T.C. and his crew went through.   Again, great work Steve, Daniel, Jeff, Jens and team!

  61. Steve Weiss on July 7th, 2011 10:03 am

    Thanks Faith,  Please check out some of our other programs in the web series menu, we have other shows like our Emmy nominated FilmFellas, Emmy winning Great camera shootout and our fun and entertaining Critics show with Philip Bloom.

  62. Faith Fuller on July 8th, 2011 9:13 pm

    Checking out FilmFellas now.. awesome!  What a great service to the filmmaking community.  Would you mind if I embeded some or all of these videos on my documentaries website?  Would love to help get the word out.

  63. Zacuto on July 8th, 2011 9:32 pm

    Faith feel free to embed them, though some new episodes there is a delay where we only allow them on our site for a few weeks.  Feel free to shoot me an email if there is a particular episode and you cant find an embed for it. ~Dave

  64. Faith Fuller on July 8th, 2011 11:28 pm

    Thanks Dave.  Will do!  

  65. T.c. Johnstone on July 11th, 2011 12:09 am

    Thanks Faith. Sounds like you can relate! 

  66. T.c. Johnstone on July 11th, 2011 12:10 am

    Ben, Hope your shoot goes well or is going well. Send us info so we can track with you OK! T. 

  67. T.c. Johnstone on July 11th, 2011 12:11 am

    When can we come visit? We’d love to check out Monterrey! Seriously. Our crew is always up for an adventure. Let us know if you need any help with anything down there.