Dominion — Cool Assignment in Lake Powell for B & A’s Filmmaker

 

Our very talented videographer, Woodruff Laputka, had a great opportunity to visually capture models in breath-taking Lake Powell. Here is the story that he wrote about his experience for you to enjoy on our blog.

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The landscape of Lake Powell, Utah, is interesting to explain. It’s a man-made lake, possible via the massive Glen Canyon Dam that presides over the Colorado River. This ancient landscape was immediately changed, its immense floor frozen beneath more than 100 feet of water at its deepest depths. Within recent memory, trekking sites, camp grounds, plant life, and even ancient ruins, were sunk out of sight in a single raging tide, waiting silently for their chance to one day reemerge.

 

The cyclopean majesty of this landscape takes some getting used to. It’s also literally quite big (You can start on one end riding your boat full blast and merely crawl to a small amount of the epic, 1900 miles of shoreline.) Additionally, it spiders off as hundreds of small, off-shoot canyons, crevices and caverns that wind in every direction off the main drag, each with its own mesmerizing magic of colors, life, and still, antiquitis silence.

 

Dynamic Photography Workshops has been operating in Lake Powell for several years, bringing quite an array of skill levels to engage in creative discourse there. Through several recommendations, the programmers of this fine operation and I came into touch. They were looking for a filmmaker to help document what they do out there.

 

I was fascinated, and after some wheeling and dealing, was quickly charged with the task of filming this landscape via the application of the nude human form. It was rather last minute, and I quickly had to throw together my multi-day bag and format some cards before grabbing my camera and running to the airport. Having only a short time to read about its 2 million-plus visitors a year, I imagined Lake Powell to possess a veritable city of tourist-traps and boats-for-rent promo-boards. ‘See the ruins!’, ‘Kill the fish’, ‘See the ruins while you kill a fish….IN THE RUINS!’ The possibilities were mind-boggling. How could such an immense body of man-made-water (second largest in the U.S., by the way) not be down-right infested by eager weekenders and vacationing Korean families? Hell, I could open up a smoothie shop there!

 

Well, I apparently was mistaken; my dreams of the Lake Powell Smoothie Factory (as it happens to so dutifully be called) were quickly dashed. Aside from a small community that lingers around a floating marina (small compared to the sheer traffic the location experiences), there’s nothing out there. It’s roughly 6 hours from Salt Lake City, and leads you through some of the most remote, wild-west feeling communities you’ll ever strike upon in this nation when trying to get to it. Places like ‘Bunyan City’ and ‘Prairie Dog Court’, or the honorable village of ‘Coyote Baby’, carved into the edifice of old sandstone cliff faces.

 

Heading into Lake Powell, I was immediately impressed. It’s difficult to not be inspired out there. Many have regarded it’s array of colors, or it’s smattering of Anasazi ruins, or its remoteness as either a chemistry of dominating muses, or singularly on their own. Personally, I was constantly thinking about the lake itself. What secrets does it possess? How has it changed the environment here, and how does the environment handle the presence of, in geological terms, its brand-new master? I kept thinking about how the lake was something that pulled the world of Glen Canyon together. A singularity in both form and concept. Not just a conqueror, but also a re-designer, giving this landscape of elements a totally new connection, both dividing worlds and stirring new ones.

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When shooting in Lake Powell, it’s never hard to find what to shoot. But for me, I was faced with the question: How does one document such an array of life, history, and geology? via applying the human form of nude models?

 

Well, the first day of shooting was over, and we were all heading back to camp rather late. The sun had already gone, the monumental, some seven-hundred feet tall, canyon walls now plunged into an indiscriminate pitch of shadow against a twilight of dark blue fading songbird yellow. I was shooting at the front of the boat, watching the almost mirror-like water pass us by, when Glen Canyon’s historic muse hit me. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Every shot. Every cut. It all made sense. I had made good friendships with all of the models quite quickly, and noted their various personalities and physiques. Their curves, lines, and silent-expressions that can only be seen when a model chooses to communicate them to you. There’s a long-standing knowledge of the power that occurs in this place when artistically juxtaposed with the human body, and this was precisely the mechanism needed to answer the muses call.

 

Through the model’s physical interpretation of the landscapes upon which we ventured, we sought to not simply capture and document Lake Powell as a location. We sought to capture it’s essence, the ‘Glen Canyon historic muse’ itself. I wanted to find those elements that rule this landscape, and tie them together with that universal commonality: the lake. An entire week went by in the process without even a notion of time, leaving a strange longing in your stomach once you realize you’re passing Coyote Baby and about to get gas outside of Virgil’s Cross Roads. The experience becomes something of a dream more than a memory, and as I had heard and now attest to personally, doesn’t seem to ever leave you.

 

As a filmmaker, and as a story teller, I was entranced by the this place, and in an instant would find myself back there, hiking among its rocks, studying its endless amount of curves and carvings, and swimming in its waters, a sea of dead trees, sunken treasures, and the distant calling of a landscape begging to be interpreted.

– Woodruff Laputka

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