Just got back from Mexico yesterday night from a shoot with Giancarlo Marino for LA Fashion Magazine. Seth Hagenstein asked me to join him on his directing voyage after him and Giancarlo planned the filming of behind-the-scenes of this shoot, along with a short film that parallels the storyline of the 10 page photo spread for the magazine. This was definitely on my list for one of the most interesting locations I've had the pleasure of shooting in. We stayed for 6 days, arriving on Monday afternoon, and leaving Saturday afternoon.
We stayed in Playa del Carmen, about an hour south of Cancun. This area has less of a tourist population than Cancun, making a visible contrast between rich and poor. One moment we were shooting on a white powder beach in an exclusive resort, next we would be driving through a poverty-stricken town.
The police here are not like guys you will see in the US. Being that this area of Mexico attracts tourism, police must protect against any threat the mexican drug cartel might poses. They drive around in pickup trucks, armed to the teeth, strapped with AK-47s'. Driving down main roads you'll find a checkpoint every few miles with officers staring down all vehicles passing by, while other officers sit on motorcycles or stand behind sand barricades. If the cartel was to inflict any harm to this area, we would most likely see a dramatic decline in tourism as we did in border cities such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo. Both of which have been affected by drug-fueled violence that cost more than 70,000 lives in the past six years.
The shoot was split into two days. One would be the "storyline" photo shoot in the jungle of Sian Ka'an about an hour south from where we were staying, and the other would be a swimwear shoot on the beach at the Maroma Resort in Riviera Maya, a 30 minute drive north. The jungle shoot consisted of two girls being stranded on an abandoned road in the middle of the jungle, until hijacking an unexpected driver's car, leaving him in the dust. The swimwear shoot was a bit more simplistic - shooting two girls in swimwear on the beach and different exotic locations in the Maroma resort, most of which were Mayan themed.
Everything seemed to be lined up and ready to go, the only problem that had us worried was this:
Although the weather seemed unforgiving, both days went pretty smooth. The rain in the jungle of Sian Ka'an actually helped to create some awesome imagery and atmosphere - the girls kicking puddles of water in slow motion, along with the soft light we had all day. As for the swimwear portion of the shoot, shooting in various places throughout the resort rather than soley on the beach helped draw attention away from the weather and more on the environment where the model was. Towards the end of the day, the skies actually opened up for a good 45 minutes, giving Giancarlo an opportunity to snag some photos with the good-weather look. Opposed to the it's-stormy-and-raining look.