Shoots Are Better With the HW Van

There’s little in this world that I love as much as the Hidden Woods camera van. When I’m driving it, I’m home. I step in, slide my wallet into the door for safe keeping, and toss my full sized Nalgene in one of the extra large cup holders. I keep a deep stash of my favorite snacks (Garden Salsa SunChips, Trader Joe’s granola bars, lightly salted cashews) at an arms length from the steering wheel. I never fail to notice that the windshield is gigantic; I feel like I’m piloting the spaceship from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. And–for good measure–it gets a surprisingly great 23 MPG on the highway. But all of those things are small pieces of the puzzle that Vincent (Van Gogh) has built in my heart.

Garden Salsa Sun Chips stand alone.

So what is this beaut of a van actually for? Well, Hidden Woods doesn’t ever (er, usually) shoot our videos in studios. That’s not to say we won’t—but in our five years of business, we’ve done a grand total of three studio shoots, and upwards of 100 shoots out in the real world. We prefer field production for a million different reasons, but that’s another topic for another day.

Because we aren’t shooting in Denver’s admittedly lackluster studios, our success is limited to the equipment that we’re able to bring with us. With our well organized, beautifully branded, plush seated van, we’re always ready to rock, no matter the production.

Some other goodies include: a stool for interviews, traffic cones to buy us some room when needed, apple boxes, a handful of tools, and a variety of gaffe tape.

When you open up the sliding door on the starboard side of this glorious road warrior, you find yourself in a filmmaker’s dream of different toys and tools to tackle the job that you’re on. The first thing you’ll notice is that our rigged out camera seems to be haphazardly perched atop our workbench, but boy-oh-boy, it is not. We went ahead and tossed a VCT plate directly into the wood to keep that bad boy sturdy so we don’t have to break it down and build it back up on company moves. Looking down from the camera, you’ll find two shelves full of miscellaneous pelican cases housing our action cameras, Teradeks, director’s monitors, mounting plates, Mafer clamps, Cardelinni clamps, quacker clamps, pretty much all of the clamps. And a can of haze straight from the Wizard’s Chest.

Our camera locks into the work bench to prevent the need to breakdown and rebuild during company moves.

We’ve stashed all of our 4×4 flags and frames up in the ceiling, so if you need cutters, floppies, silks, half silks, tuff spun, CTO, 250, etc., we’ve got you covered. Need something to hold those 4x4s? Or did your audio engineer forget their c-stands and boom holders? Worry not, we’ve got enough c-stands, junior stands, and combo stands to prop up the van and change out a tire (not really though, this thing weighs 9,000 lbs—that’s what our AAA membership is for).

Lastly, the big ol’ shelves. These things fold up and out magically, either making space or giving us storage to put our excessive amount of Pelican Cases. These shelves hold our cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, stands, ballasts, header cables, Dana Dolly, audio gear, and undeniably more than I’m recalling. The bulk of everything we use goes here, and all comes off of the van before and after shoots.

Shelf #3 up
Shelf #3 Down

What does this van need to be absolutely perfect?  We’ll, I’ve got a couple of ideas.

  1. We’d love to have a desk with a wall mounted 27” monitor above it where the work bench is for us to do DIT work and increase workspace in the van. Maybe a chair bolted into the floor by the desk as well. Big time goal, but this would be awesome and would basically give us a mobile office for shoots.
  2. I want to get a roll-out awning on the port side of the van so we can set up remote video villages or crafty without pop-tents.
  3. A platform for the roof of the van with a ladder for access. This would be awesome—a great way to pop up a couple feet for a shot without needed a jib or a drone. Plus, a killer spot to bake in the farmers tan and eat your lunch.

But for now now, we’ll be happy with what we’ve got while going the pedal to the metal on our way to the next location (at a cool 35MPH), windows down, munching on SunChips, c-stands rattling consistently in the background.