Are you “Desolated”? An escape film

by MaddieLeave a Comment

Sean Michael Williams contacted me about his newest film “Desolated” and I just had to get a bit more BTS info…

A short film about escaping the habitual fast-paced urban lifestyle and finding peace of mind within the solitude of the Sierras. ‘Desolated' is a visually driven social commentary about the need to break away from technology and tune into the universe through the beauty of nature.



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From Sean Michael Williams for planet5D:

Thanks for watching and reaching out, we really appreciate the support.

So this project was about 2 months in the making. My Producer from Dream Music: part 2 (Gus Winkelman) and I decided to collaborate on another project. After the over 2.5 million views on Part 2, we wanted to produce a strong follow up short film. I wanted Desolated to be more of a visual social statement than anything else, the goal was to show the importance of breaking free from the technological bonds of modern life. I feel its important to have a healthy balance of technology and nature in order to really be in rhythm with the universe. So Gus Winkelman and I decided to do a short backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness in the El Dorado National Forest, CA.

It was Mid October when my friend Matt Karpinski cam out from CO. to be our main character. The 3 of us headed to the Sierras and after getting delayed by a flat tire, we arrived at the Echo Lake entrance point at 9:30 pm. We strapped on over 70 pounds of camping/photo gear, turned on our headlamps and hiked a treacherous 6 miles into the Desolation Wilderness. It was all uphill and the altitude made for a lot of huffing and puffing on the way up. About 4 hours we made it to our first spot which was Lake of the Woods (Lake 1 in the film). We set up to time-lapses on tripods and built a fire so we wouldn't freeze in the 15 degree weather.

The next morning we awoke to a ranger rummaging around our site and slapped me with a 400 dollar ticket for having a campfire in a restricted zone. We set up the Dynamic Perception Stage 0 dolly and the Stage 1 and fired off a few moving time-lapses. We ended up screwing in the rails too tight on the Stage1, so I had to carry a 7 foot dolly track for the duration of our trip.

The next stop was Lake Aloha only mile or two away, however being so late in the season most of the lake was dried up. This made for some amazing barren landscape shots of dead trees in the dried lake bed. We camped under trees by a small body of water and that night we captured the 2 blue tree star-lapse dolly shots. The next morning, we were all feeling very dehydrated and tired. To get back to the car, we all endured one of the longest and most brutal hikes Ive ever done. Carrying about 70 pounds of gear and the 7 foot dolly about 7 miles up and down steep mountains.

After we returned to the Bay Area, Gus and I spent about a month capturing time-lapses from all over the Bay Area, CA. We ended up heading back up to Tahoe last weekend to get a few more star-lapse shots. We captured 3 more star shots from 12:00 am-3:00 am in about 10 degree weather in the forest. It was difficult to get all the settings dialed in such extreme conditions, however we were very happy with the outcome. I had one of my close friends witha great voice and a studio to record the voice over.

Then I reached out to my good friend Robbie Fitzsimmons, who did the second song for Dream Music Part 2. I sent him the voice-over and he created an amazing song that we could edit to. We filled in a few more gaps, Gus edited the 3d intro in Cinema 4D and Robbie did the sound design.

It was really awesome to see it all come together without a budget and just by some friends combining resources to create a passion project. We hope this video has a chance to inspire people around the world, we are humbled by the opportunity to share our art with the world.

link to the BTS blog…more in depth backstory

Sean Michael Williams

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

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