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Friday, April 22, 2011

Co-Stars



At about 10 a.m on April 8 Carl Crawford climbed out of a dugout onto the field at Fenway Park, four hours before the home opener of the Red Sox. He was greeted by an E:60 crew on hand to capture the moment.
For Crawford it was the start of the Red Sox phase of his career, after 10 years in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
As Crawford walked toward left field and gazed upon baseball’s most iconic location, producer Heather Lombardo’s cameras devoured the scene. John Updike once called the wall “a compromise between Man’s Euclidean determinations and Nature’s beguiling irregularities.” Whatever.
To Crawford the Green Monster is something he was hired to protect, but to Lombardo it’s a co-star in her profile of Crawford.
In Lombardo’s telling, Crawford inherits a realm of immortals – Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice – Hall of Famers who played left field for the Red Sox. (And Manny Ramirez, an immortal flake and cheat). Crawford has something none of them had – speed – a gift that carried him out of his tough neighborhood in Houston and to four American League stolen base titles with Rays. And now it has carried him to a $142 million contract and a chance to become the next Hall of Fame left fielder from Boston.
“The Wall bookends the piece – we need it as a character,” Lombardo said. “We just wanted to capture the beauty and grandeur of the Wall.”
Lombardo approached the Monster shoot as she had other iconic locations – Churchill Downs, Belmont Park and Daytona.
“You want to capture them in their most pure form,” she said. “You want to capture a quiet moment – that’s where it resonates with people. You want it to be as pure as it ever was – if it’s iconic it’s traditional, and tradition is roped into it – you want to capture that.
“You want to make them feel big, because that’s how people build them up to be in their minds.
“And respect. You always want to be respectful of these locations. You don’t want to shoot the Wall with people milling about. You want it to be the central focus.”
The shoot began as Crawford and reporter Buster Olney walked toward left field, while shooters Mike Bollacke and Tim Horgan circled in front and behind. At one point, Crawford stopped and turned his back to the Monster, to allow for a different angle.
The shoot called for Crawford to walk through the door at the base of the Monster, enter the dim and cramped interior, and sign his name on a wall alongside thousands of signatures of players and fans. As Crawford signed, one camera zoomed in on the signature, while another got a low wide shot. But the interior shots, Lombardo knew, wouldn’t be as important as those of the exterior.
“From a distance the Wall looks small and then you stand next to it and look up and it’s huge,” Lombardo said. “It comes across as a larger-than-life structure, almost like a sculpture. That will come across, I hope. These guys are artists that way – they’ll make it come alive.”
The bright morning sun, which bathed the Wall in a flat light without texture, proved a challenge. Bollacke’s solution was a “boatload of filters”.
“You want something that draws your eye to the standard part of the frame but the edges will be kind of black or faded off,” Bollacke said. “The idea is to draw the viewer’s eye somewhere else to distract you from the flatness.”
The shoot took about 25 minutes. When it ended Crawford grabbed a glove and fielded caroms off the Monster. They had met before, but never as co-stars.

Posted by Steve Marantz, April 11, 2011