kevin focht

Road Trip! Be Prepared

kevin focht
Road Trip! Be Prepared

I recently landed a new amazing client Lucy Activewear. I am over the moon, as they are a company that does cool things to be inclusive. The art director and I hit it off from the first phone meeting and in our first face to face meeting at Lucy headquarters.

Coming away from the initial meeting, I kind of knew what they wanted, but not completely sure. I made the decision that I wanted basically my whole studio of MY gear for the first shoot. After that, I would know what I needed going forward. Flying and shipping my gear was not an option, so after seeing it was only a 10 hour drive, I made the decision of a road trip!

Old fat head with a car full of gear.

Old fat head with a car full of gear.

I got rid of my Honda Element last year, and wasn't sure my new Fiat would hold it all, but to my surprise it did!

Way to go Fiat 500L!

Way to go Fiat 500L!

Now obviously, I could have rented a bunch of gear, and been fine. What I was looking to do here was to be prepared for anything with a new client, and also to feel comfortable.  

I had to unload everything when I got to my hotel, but if you ask nice the hotel will accommodate you with a room near an entrance. It only took me about 30 mins to unload. All good, as it was what I wanted to do to be a professional. 

Road trips are also really good for me creatively. Something about driving in a car frees my mind to think and be creative. I got a lot of inspiration on the drive.

clean space ready to create

clean space ready to create

I love coming into a new studio space and letting the clean space clear your mind. It's a blank canvas and and you get to create whatever you want with it. A very exciting thing for me!

In the end, I used exactly what I thought I was going to use, but still I felt happy with my decision knowing I had everything there I needed to create with.

screen shot from the shoot

screen shot from the shoot

Now that day one was done, I have a very bad story to tell you. Learn from it please. I have been shooting for 30 years, and have never had anything bad happen to me in terms of theft of lost images. I guess my luck was up.

I got done with the shoot, all the still images were on the computer at the studio and also on an external hard drive that I had in my pocket. The client had wanted a little bit of video, then when I was shooting it they fell in love. So they asked me to shoot more and more. This is the direction things are going, so it was fun for me. 

On the way out of the studio at the end of the day, the digital tech asked if I wanted to download the video. I said no, that I would back it up onto my laptop. I sat in the parking lot of the studio and backed up the SD card I had been shooting to onto my laptop. Feeling good about having it backed up to two places, I placed the card in the computer bag and had it under my rear seat in the car. All the gear was at the studio except for a light stand, a parabolic umbrella, and a scrim in the back of the car. I also had a plug in cooler in the front seat. I headed back to my hotel and decided to stop at an In and Out burger, because they don't have them in Oregon. The drive through was a huge line, so I parked and went in to grab a burger to go. 5 mins later I came out to my car and saw the drivers side rear window was busted......Fuck!!!  As I got closer I noticed that the two windows on the passenger side were broken too.

3 broken windows

3 broken windows

This was a well lit crowded parking lot too. I started doing inventory on what was stolen. The few things of gear i had was taken, except they didn't get the mount for the para, so it was useless to them. I hope they enjoyed the diet soda that was in the cooler. I was like "well it could have been worse" then I realized that my laptop was gone! Let me say this, I never ever let my laptop in my car. Not even for a minute. For some reason I forgot about it. I had also stuck my iPad mini in the case, because I was worried about the maid stealing it LOL.

My initial reaction was well, I'm insured and the shoot was all on the computer at the studio, and in the hard drive in my pocket.

Thank god I had a good friend nearby that was able to follow me to my hotel and then take me to a local store to get some garbage bags and tape to try and keep out the torrential rain.

After settling in at the hotel, it hit me that the video I shot was on the laptop and on the SD card in the laptop case!! I freaked out. Why didn't I keep the separate? Why didn't I back them up at the studio? I know I backed them up to two places, but I was an idiot for keeping them in the same place. I KNOW BETTER!!

The only thing I could do was to tell the client and give them options and solutions. 

The other thing I did right away was call the cops and they said to just fill out a form online. I also used the find my phone app and locked out and erased the laptop as soon as it's connected online. This is a really amazing feature. The iPad was locked up the next morning as they must have tried to turn it on. Now Apple gives the option of a message, and the normal message is "my iPad is lost please contact me at my number" My message was a tad different. Including some derogatory words, and that the computer is now locked and erased and have fun with the paper weight.

The next morning I told the AD about what happened, although you could kind of tell from my car.  I gave them options of flying down to San Fran and paying for the model and team to come up on my dime. I also gave the option of me flying to LA to shoot the model there. Being honest and giving solutions. They really appreciated it. A lovely client! They told me it wasn't my fault and that they would pay for the model to fly to my studio in Portland, and her rate if I would pay for make up and shoot at my studio for free. Of course I said yes. Best case scenario, and I know I will rock it out and really give them amazing stuff. It's a win- win.

Now I had to figure out a way to get back to Portland with 3 broken windows, My insurance tried to get a mobile glass company to take care if it there, but had no luck. I asked my assistant to try and find me some cardboard and that I would fix it up at lunch. A few minutes later, I couldn't figure out where my crew was. My assistant, digital tech, and the studio manager had gotten to work cutting thick foam core and taping it and plastic in place. Amazing work and totally unexpected. A great group of people

more tape needed as I drove, but overall amazing job by the crew.

more tape needed as I drove, but overall amazing job by the crew.

I then realized it would be way easier if i had a porthole to see my side mirror, and they even made that work. I came up with the idea of using a warming gel to cover the hole so I could see out. It worked really well!

Porthole installed!

Porthole installed!

I decided that I would just drive back all night after the shoot. There was a big storm hitting Cali, and I wanted to beat it home. I had a mountain pass to go over, and didn't think this would be snow proof. I also didn't want to stop at a hotel, as I would have had to unload everything. I left at 7:30 pm and got in shortly after 6am. I stopped for a quick 10 minute nap about 2 hours from home, and that was enough to get me home. Thank god I did that, because the storm that hit was one of the biggest in years!

The final piece of advice I want to give you all, is to check out your insurance and deductibles. My windows were covered on my car insurance with a $500 deductible, but my contents were on my business insurance and that had a $2500 deductible. So it made no sense to turn it in. They will just raise my rates, and the amount I would get wouldn't be worth the hassle. Personally, insurance companies are a scam. I found out after that if I would have lowered my deductible to 100 for each, it would have only cost me about 16 bucks extra every six months. It would have been nice for my insurance agent to tell me this, not another one that is a friend. I will be changing agents when this is all over with, because of that.

In the end learn from my mistakes.

1- Call your insurance agent today and find out how much extra it will cost you to lower your deductible. 

2- Never ever leave anything in your car. I always tell friends "would you leave $3000 cash in your car?" I know better and got lazy once, and it cost me.

3- ALWAYS BACK UP EVERYTHING TO TWO DIFFERENT PLACES. You never know when something is going to happen.

Trying to be a positive person, I see this all as a good experience. I learned there are really nice people in my life. The clients were awesome and understanding. My crew was top notch helping out. My friend was there for me to drive me around late at night. I get a new laptop. On that note, I need to tell you about my amazing fiancé Karli. She found out what I wanted in a laptop and just ordered it for me. It actually made me cry. In my 53 years, I have never had a spouse or girlfriend ever buy me anything except for xmas or my birthday. It touched me that she thought to do that. She knew I was stressed out, and wanted to help.

In the end I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life. I could dwell on the crime, or think of the good people that came to my aid in a time of need.