MacGyver, was one of my favourite TV series from the 80s about a secret agent with a beautiful mullet who managed to come up with ingenious ways to build really complicated devices using chewing gum, paper clips, pens and a Swiss army knife.
(verb) : To improvise a creative solution to seemingly impossible situation by using everyday found objects, faith, spit, gaffer tape and a bit of luck.
I love to Macgyver. I do it often. Half my home has been MacGyvered together but the place I love to MacGyver the most is when I’m on a photo shoot. I love being able to come up with creative ways to MacGyver lights together or new ways to make things using found objects. I think this is the reason I love working in television and film so much. The crews I work with are masters of MacGyver. I’ve seen them pull off the seemingly impossible just by using a bit of gaffer tape, some spit and love.
I recently found myself caught short of gear on a location shoot 30km from my studio. The particular item I was missing was a boom stand for one of my lights that was crucial to the lighting setup I wanted to use on the day. Instead of wasting the two hours needed to drive back and get it, I did what I always do when I’m in a tight spot. I MacGyvered myself a new boom.
Here’s my 3 light set. From a distance my boom looks just like a regular one right?
The gig was a promotional shoot for Italian racecar driver Glauco Junior Solleri.
The boom was essential to the shoot because I wanted to light Glauco’s face from above using my Rotolux deep Octa box and could not use a regular light stand because it would have been visible in the shot.
The shoot was taking place in a large race car workshop and I managed to find everything I needed to MacGyver my boom. I must say I was pretty happy with the result.
Chains are a great alternative to sandbags because they are flexible and heavy!
The first thing I needed to find was a way to weigh down my lightstand so they wouldn’t fall over onto the very expensive racecar. I usually keep sandbags in my car along with every piece of studio lighting I own and a coffee machine (just in case) and several pairs of shoes (just in case). On this particular occasion I’d left sandbags with the boom (DOH!).
After a quick search around the workshop I found some chains and some material to Macgyver my sexy new sandbags.
Detail of my MacGyver boom with hand weights as counterbalance.
I joined two light stands together using a superclamp to create my MacGyver boom. I used some old hand weights I found in the car as a counter weight for my light. The chains would have been too heavy in this instance.
Hand weights worked perfectly as counterweights.
The whole setup in action.
And here is the final shot of Glauco Junior Solleri.