I’ve been fortunate enough to know Will Roegge now for almost four years and it’s been very cool to see how his career and talent as a filmmaker have progressed over that time. He was even our first feature in the Shoot the shooter series. His latest film, “The Porsche From the Winter of 53″, which features multi-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb class winner, Jeff Zwart and his beautiful 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A, is certainly one of his best yet. And if this film is any indication of what we have to look forward to from Will, then we should all feel very lucky.
As soon as I saw the film, after it was released earlier this week, I knew I wanted to sit down and ask Will a few questions about the film, and the process involved in getting it made. I was lucky enough to get hold of him and he offered some great insight.
Here’s my conversation with filmmaker, Will Roegge.
ML@S: Tell me about the genesis of the film, and in particular, what kind of timeline did you have from inception through creation?
WR: The idea for the short film started as an iPhone video. Jeff’s daughter shot him sliding his 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A around in the snow in December – it was posted as Jalopnik’s Hoon of the Day. Jeff sent it to me after it was filmed and I knew we had to do something more. I’m fortunate to have Jeff as a friend and mentor – when I told him I wanted to make a longer film around the 356 in the snow he got excited, too. Fast forward to the end of March, I was working for Jeff as a camera operator on a commercial job he was directing and he said, “I have next week off. Want to head up to Colorado?” As Jeff mentions in the film, we had a great winter, snowfall-wise, compared to the last few years and we lucked out. It snowed both days we filmed. The film originally was going to be a dialogue-free sequence where Jeff sees that its snowed and goes out sliding in the 356. However, I planned on doing an interview with him to make a second video to accompany the action film. I had questions, I knew viewers would too. The interview was really amazing and I loved the backstory on the car.
ML@S: There appeared to be several shots in the film where you were only going to get one try at it (no tread marks in fresh snow, wipers across a snow covered windscreen, etc.). Tell me about putting contingency plans in place for a shoot like this.
WR: We had to prioritize the shots on order of importance and, more importantly, the snow. The shoot took place over two mornings and by 11am or so the snow was mostly melted on the roads. The wipers clearing the snow shot really captures the character of the 356, the small blades, unusual windshield shape, those details I loved and knew we had to incorporate. Ranking shots for telling the story of Jeff’s winter drive was easy for us, but it was risky, and we were both over joyed with the outcome! So in terms of a contingency plan, we would have ended up shooting something else fun, like snowboarding, if the roads weren’t covered in snow.
ML@S: Your teaser about storyboarding was really incredible. How important is the storyboarding process to the final product? And how much does location scouting play into the process of going from vision to storyboard to film?
WR: The more I grow as a filmmaker the more interested I am in crafting something before I ever shoot a single frame. Early on I formed many videos in post and relied heavily on a spray and pray filming style. I found my work becoming predictable and that I wasn’t growing – the truth is I was finding a story in the edit and not actually crafting anything during the production. Now I can sit down, write an outline, form a story, draw storyboards, and then only shoot what I need. The funny thing is I had no idea what the roads would be like in Colorado where we filmed and I never got to scout before we shot – so the boards were my dream scenario. Most importantly, Jeff isn’t just a talented driver he is the most accomplished commercial director and photographer that I know! He knew right where to take us to get beautiful scenery, snaking corners, and that fantastic bridge at the end of the film.
ML@S: How did you get so lucky with the weather? Were you watching the forecast for weeks at a time to get the perfect window?
WR: We started monitoring the forecast a week out and knew there would be a good chance for snow during our two day window.
ML@S: Thanks very much for taking the time, Will. The new film really is a home run. Great work!
WR: Thanks for Q&A! I just wanted to say thanks for posting the film and asking the questions! I have the best “job” in the world and am lucky that people enjoy the films I’ve made!!