Just outside the town of Oberammergau, in Bavaria, Germany, there is a small cave or niche carved into the cliffside overlooking the road. In this niche stands a statue of Jesus, oh, I’d say about 12 to 15 feet tall. On the other side of the road is a small alpine creek with a walking trail and some marshy ground. Further in the distance, evergreen trees and a snaking valley stretch into the distance, with snow-covered Alps in the background.
So I was driving back from Garmisch one day in late autumn and I looked up at the niche, and then in the other direction I saw an amazing view as the sun was dropping toward the Alps, and clouds rushed in from both sides in preparation for the snow that would follow the remaining week. So naturally I rushed to my hotel room to grab my camera – thinking a stop motion from the perspective of the statue/niche would be an interesting quick project.
But as I returned, it was quickly getting darker, so I opted instead for the creekside path. And from there, my view was blocked by trees, so I wandered off the path into the marshy ground, about 30 feet from the path. Wearing crocs of course. So that was fun. And I didn’t have a tripod (forgot to pack one) so I took about 5 minutes to precariously balance my camera on a small knoll of grass surrounded by water, and then found a place for the Flip HD in a small tree. Then I squatted in my wet socks to keep an eye on the camera screen.
My plan was to combine stop-motion footage of the swirling clouds with the ambient sounds of the creek and nature – in between cars speeding down the road. But an older German couple – the kind who wear the stylish ethnically-tinged walking clothes and carry those funny ski poles in order to walk properly, became concerned at the presence of “some guy” squatting 30 feet off the path in the marsh, staring at something they couldn’t see on the ground. “Hey there! Everything OK?” yelled the man.
“Yes, I’m fine thanks” I yelled back. OK, just edit that out. Car whizzes by. German couple mutters to each other.
“Are you sure you’re OK??”
“I assure you, I am fine! Thank you!” I get up and wave to reassure them, and squat behind the camera again.
“What’s going on? Dead animal or something??”
“No, I’m filming”
“What are you doing?”
“Ah, okay.” They walk beyond a small copse of trees. I see them standing there, muttering, concerned about this person who doesn’t seem to be complying with the normal rules of tourist behavior. I’m sure the rules are published somewhere, but I obviously haven’t read them.
By that time, the sun was almost out of sight. I salvaged the video footage I had managed to capture and slopped my way through the freezing slush and water and headed back to start editing. I sped some of the footage up, slowed some of it down, added some sounds. This is how it turned out. Minus the undesired dialogue, of course.