Danny Schmidt is a full-time cinematographer, producer and director of documentaries and broadcast television. He was recently awarded an Emmy for his work as DP on the PBS documentary Indian Relay for Independent Lens. He has shot numerous hours of TV for PBS, National Geographic, and many other networks, and has produced independent films that have been shown in festivals around the country.
TERRA: Tell us a about Adventure Science and how you got involved with them.
DS: ASC is the brainchild of my buddy Gregg Treinish. Their mission is to connect adventurers who are out getting after it in remote places with scientists who could use data from those same spots. We have known each other for a while and have produced some other short pieces together.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what life was like in the field.
DS: This project had a short window for production so we worked hard over a couple of days to get to all the locations and cover everything we needed for the story. We woke up early and accompanied the field crews into the woods to check their sites. There was a good bit of trekking to get to all of the sites, but the Olympic National Forest is such a cool place that I was psyched just to be out there.
TERRA: What surprised you the most about working with such an elusive predator? Did you ever get to see a marten?
DS: Unfortunately we never saw a marten, but going into the project we knew it was unlikely. Part of the reason this whole study is taking place is to prove the lack of martens in the area. This absence will help to inform wildlife managers about what steps they might take to reintroduce a new population of martens to the area.
TERRA: What types of equipment did you use? Do you have a favorite piece?
DS: This project was shot primarily on the Sony FS100 with Canon glass via the Metabones adapter. Lenses used were the Tokina 11-16, Canon 24-105, Canon 100-400 and the Rokinon 85mm cineprime for the interviews. This was the test run for the 85mm and it actually did pretty well.
TERRA: Did you have any particularly rewarding moments while making the film?
DS: It's always fun to hang out with the volunteers who are so engaged and energized by making more of their experience in the outdoors.
TERRA: What are the 3 things you’d never go into the field without and why?
DS: 1. Good plan; 2. Solid crew; 3. Dependable gear
TERRA: What’s your favorite aspect of filmmaking?
DS: Working with friends to make stuff we are proud of.
TERRA: If you could be any animal on Washington State's Olympic Penninsula, which one would you be?
DS: Probably a sasquatch...