How I survived a film shoot in the dead of summer with Portacool

Portacool on set 2

Summer may be on its way out but, does it ever really leave? Not here!

For the past seven years I’ve also asked this question; Why does the 48 Hour Film Project Orlando have to take place in August? It’s in the dead of summer, humidity’s at it’s highest. Even when properly hydrated (it’s IMPORTANT, folks!), it’s an absolutely miserable time to spend extended time outdoors.

Portacool on set 3

Director TL Westgate with some familiar faces; Actor Nando Luis Torres and camera op Jay De Los Santos on set of our short film, “Resolution.”

On film shoots, days are long. Depending on the setting and length of your script, you can spend anywhere from eight to sixteen hours on set. When shooting a scene set in the outdoors (aka: an exterior), it can be particularly brutal in the summertime. Here in Central Florida, we don’t have the privilege of the wondrous phenomenon known as “seasons,” like most of you see. Aside from rainy days, we enjoy “Hot” and “Not as Hot” changes in weather. This Central Florida summer was particularly sweltering until mid-August, where I pulled out what will become a dedicated friend for years to come.

Enter Portacool’s Cyclone 3200.

Portacool on set 2

Calm, cool and collected: Portacool’s Cyclone 3200

You ask, “What’s a Portacool?” It’s pretty AWESOME, that’s what it is! And huge thanks to Lee Allport from mysentimentexactlee.com for introducing to me this technology! (She used a bunch of these units to keep her wedding vow renewal party cool.)

Ever hear of evaporative cooling? It’s a concept where air is cooled by added water vapor, unlike an air conditioner which alters the temperature of a space, basically, by refrigerating it in cycles. Confusing?

Think of when you sweat and drink a cold glass of water. Yeah, it’s gross and our involuntary brand of sweat is always unwelcome, but it serves a purpose. The cold water keeps you hydrated and your sweat cools your body. This is kind of how Portacool’s products work except the unit doesn’t ‘sweat’ like your skin. In fact, there’s no liquid mist expelled at all. Just cool air, and enough to cool a 700 square foot area!

Portacool on set 1

Instead of changing his shirt (again), Jay stepped in front of the Cyclone 3200 instead!

Since we were run and gun the weekend of The 48, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to or between setups. We shot in a park, in a parking lot and inside a private residence, and we only had the bulk of Saturday to complete principle photography (aka: get everything shot).

When we landed at our ‘home’ location, I quickly set up the Cyclone in the garage which served as our holding area for actors, crew, craft service (aka: food, drink), babies, etc. I locked the castor wheels, threw on a stinger (extension cord) and the nearest water hose and let the 3200 fill up a bit. Here’s where it got interesting…

Our camera operator (and Central Florida Top 5 contributor) Jay was in direct sunlight most of the shoot, had already drenched one t-shirt and was sweating profusely. According to my smartphone’s thermometer, the temperature got as high as 112 degrees with the Heat Index and humidity this particular location. We took a small break to step into the garage, and the temperature change was remarkable.

Where the temperature was well over 100 degrees, within a minute of stepping into our Portacooled ‘trailer,’ if you will, the temperature had immediately dropped to the 90s. By the end of the video above, the temperature dropped to a much cooler 85 degrees! That’s a pretty huge difference, and by the end of the break, Jay’s shirt was nearly dry!

Also in the video above, I mention sound. Of course on set during a take, no one talks, so of course it’s probably not best to run the unit then. However, I stood directly in front of the Cyclone 3200 on its higher fan setting and could be heard in the same area just fine by the crew. So for instance, at a pool party or get together, your guests will be louder – guaranteed!

Conclusion: I love this unit!!! For our outdoor filmmaking purposes, Portacool’s Cyclone 3200 was a WONDERFUL addition to our shoot! Setup was a breeze – pun intended. Cooling down an area took very little time, especially in a time crunch. The unit itself weights about 100 pounds (empty) and fit snugly into the back hatch of my mid-sized SUV with room to spare on the left and right sides. I will say though, more side grips are needed. Ideally you’d want two sets of hands to load and unload this into a vehicle. It gets a little tricky solo, especially with my short arms and small hands.

Top 5 reasons to check out Portacool’s Cyclone 3200:

  1. Unit is relatively lightweight and portable
  2. Cools up to 700 sq ft of outdoor space by 30 degrees
  3. No moving parts or special electrical hookups, uses tap water
  4. Castor wheels lock unit in place
  5. Locally available at Home Depot

Get more specs and product line info at Port-a-cool.com or on their social media accounts:

https://www.facebook.com/PortacoolUnits

https://twitter.com/portacoolllc

https://plus.google.com/+portacool/

 

The ‘cool’ kids over at Portacool provided me one of their Cyclone 3200 for this post. All opinions expressed in this post were written by me and are of my own, semi-conscious mind. Thank you Portacool!