Written by Shona Smith on Jul 15, 2019. Posted in On Location

Rare solar eclipse captured in Chile for sci-fi feature

Jacaranda Films, PSN Chile enabled the production to capture the real solar eclipse - which lasted for only two minutes and eighteen seconds, by sourcing the perfect location and specialist equipment

On the 2nd July 2019, the astronomical society were poised to witness a rare total solar eclipse. Visible only in South America and the South Pacific, the total eclipse could be best seen from Chile and Argentina.

Director Taron Lexton (In Search of Fellini) chose to capture the rare celestial event for a once in a lifetime scene for upcoming sci-fi feature Nomad. A love story that traverses more than seven continents, Nomad follows the life of a young man who shifts his location on earth every twelve hours without control over his current or future location. Lexton was determined to push the boundaries of the science fiction genre by capturing the real eclipse in camera, rather than relying on VFX.Nomad1

Jacaranda Films, the exclusive PSN partner in Chile sourced both the location and equipment that allowed the production best capture the brief spectacle. Rémi Noiriel, executive producer at PSN Chile outlines the preparation and specialist equipment required for the shoot. “We started conversations about capturing the eclipse with Taron back in March. There was a lot of back and forth with information required from both ends but we finally got the green light in May. At this point, we started the scouting process immediately as all pre-production had to be ready for July 2nd”.

Cactus, mountains and valleys near Vicuña Vicuna city. Elqui VaThe pressure was high as this would be the only solar eclipse of 2019 and would be the clearest this moment could potentially be captured for years to come. Cristián Fuenzalida, Producer at PSN Chile led the project and put forward a location in the Elqui Valley (pictured left).

nomad2The valley is known as one of the best places for stargazing because of its high altitude, low population and generally clear skies and was declared the world’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Astronomical Union in 2015. From a production angle, Rémi explains that “we also had to consider a spot that would have the correct land elevation positioned just where the eclipse would happen. It had to be both film and logistics friendly, but free of tourists”.

Mathematical precision was required in order to capture the final moment and the right location was as important to the successful capture of the eclipse as shooting the scene. Remi explains, “the camera had to be at a very specific angle and height, with a specialist lens to be able to capture the eclipse in camera. We only had one chance and there was no room for error”, concluding that “it was a huge challenge and although there was intense pressure on this job, we had an amazing time doing it!”

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