26 January 2009

Riders on the storm

On the road to Cunamulla. This town is a sliver under 1000 kms from Brisbane. A documentary maker visited there some years ago and made a film that portrayed it as the bleakest most fucked up place in Australia. They have race issues, they have unemployed youth, they have it all.

On the way in, we are approaching a storm dead ahead. We are on one of those outback roads to nowhere, a dead straight line of bitumen, disappearing into the horizon in a perfect study of vanishing point worthy of a high-school art project.

We’re going at about 100 km/ hr and there is a massive black storm cloud hanging right over the hood of the car. Lightning cracks on the horizon. Our stills photographer is driving the landcruiser and picks up the industrial–sized camera from its permanent spot beside the gearstick. He rests it on the top of the steering wheel while dropping speed by about 5 kilometres an hour. “What are you doing?” is the simultaneous cry from the producer in the front seat and the video cameraman in the back passenger seat. “You’ve just got to get the moment before the rain starts, otherwise its no good”, comes the reply. He’s trying to get a shot of the lightning which is now arcing down from the dark clouds ahead to the horizon.

“Dude, if you’re going to use the camera, at least slow down” says our slightly older cameraman. He’s competing with the roar of several tonnes of metal roaring across the desert, plus rain and extra wind. ... “What?”... “I said, use it, but use a slower speed for god’s sake!” shouted now from the back seat. “Yeah, I’m on a one second exposure”. Laughter breaks out in the face of impending death. “Not exposure time – use the break for Chrissakes.” Nothing if not dedicated to the shot.

Its official, we're in the middle of nowhere. The GPS is lost.

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