Lighting On Location – An Afternoon With a Terminator with Ian Spanier
It’s all about who you know… at least that’s how the saying goes out here in Hollywood. A few months back, I decided to take full advantage of one connection. It began with an Instagram post by Sandra Jersby (@swedefit), a fitness professional I have worked with many times for various publications since moving to Los Angeles. Sandra is also a trainer for a number of celebrities and professional athletes, and on that day she posted one of her clients’ progress videos, and the face was quite familiar. Any fan of “The Terminator” movies, like myself, would instantly recognize the Liquid Terminator, Robert Patrick.
Robert has also starred in various roles since then, in everything from “Sons of Anarchy” to “Goliath,” “The Expanse,” “The Walking Dead,” and other movies like “Safe House,” “The Protégé,” and even cameos in “Wayne’s World 2.” Sandra’s post was about Robert’s diligent work on his latest fitness prep for his role in the John Cena/DC Comics series, “Peacemaker.”
Not one to usually ask, I took a step outside my comfort zone and asked if she wouldn’t mind asking him if I could make a portrait. A day later, he and I were direct messaging much to my surprise! We worked out a date and I began my prep.
Upon arrival, Robert was AMAZING. Super friendly, and was game for some creative fun. I had planned five setups, ambitiously—I explained that I shoot fast, but I’ll take whatever time he will give me. Something I will say about all celebrity shoots: no matter what, I plan for two minutes. If that’s all I get, I need to nail the first shot. In the ideal scenarios, nailing the first shot leads to more than two minutes. I should mention, I also trained myself to shoot fast, with good reason.
I knew Robert was a motorcycle guy and owner of a Harley dealership. It just so happened that I had been working on a personal project all about motorcycle riders and I shared a sample of that with him. He liked it and we started there, just as I planned.
Ninety percent of the time, I plan my shoots out in great detail in my notebook. This is something I have been doing since the beginning of my career. I draw a birdseye view of the sets with details about what lights, modifiers and backgrounds I will use, as well as the settings and sample images of the day once complete. This has been an incredibly useful tool for my whole career, not only to be able to reference old shoots, but also to hand over the day’s plan to assistants when I need to deal with talent, my clients or even a computer glich.