A CINEMATOGRAPHER’S BEST FRIEND: THE HONDA ELEMENT

Honda Element used for Denver video production

I have friends in the video production business who are long-time owners of Honda Elements. I remember them touting their virtues as far back as 2007, especially as tools for video production.

 

I didn’t care much for the vehicles visual aesthetic so I didn’t share in their enthusiasm. That all changed last year when during several car camping trips I noticed a lot of people driving them. They must be on to something, I thought.

 

So I looked into them and what others have done to modify their appearance. After seeing some inspiring examples, I knew I had to have one.

 

A couple weeks later I found myself driving my new car, a 2008 Honda Element, back to Denver from Jackson, Wyoming. My next course of action with the new car was tossing the stock grill and tires. The grill I replaced with a logo-less one and for the tires I picked up a set of BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s. These bad boys are a couple sizes larger than the standard tires and feature tremendous amounts of aggressive-looking tread, even on the side walls! Yes, they are great for driving in Colorado’s muddy and snowy mountains, but most of all they balance out the car so it actually looks like it should. They change the complexion of the vehicle so much that I have had people stop and ask what kind of car it is. When I tell them it is an Element, they are surprised.

 

My modifications have not been limited to the exterior, in fact, I have probably done more work on the interior. I removed the back seats and installed a rug. I created a custom center console that has room for four large Nalgene type water bottles and seven beverages all together. And I have created a road trip/car camping organizing system for the back as well as a foldout platform bed that is used for overnight ski trips.

 

It was the later system I had currently in the car when I was hired as a director of photography by the good folks at New York based ASL Productions. They had storyboarded a tracking shot of a guy riding his bike on a bike path, so I offered up my Element for the shot, which meant have to set my platform bed temporairly on the sidewalk and generated a fair share of curious looks. Miguel, operating Movi Freefly, sat on the tailgate to nab the shots while I captured the cyclist on a long lens from a tripod. Miguel’s resulting shots looked fantastic. Those friends of mine were wise, I should have gotten an Element much sooner.

About the author

Doug Gritzmacher By Doug Gritzmacher
Director of Photography
Cinematographer
Filmmaker
Denver, Colorado
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