Blown Away is a show that puts the art of glass blowing on display. But there’s also an art to capturing it on film.
Shane Geddes is a prolific cinematographer who won a Leo Award in July for his work on the popular Netflix series, which is filmed in a “hot shop” set in Hamilton, Ont.
When he’s not travelling to be on set, Geddes lives in Vancouver. He grew up in North Van.
This isn’t the first time he’s received acclaim for his film work. Geddes was awarded Leos for his involvement in Eat Street, The History of Food, World’s Weirdest Restaurants and The History of Home. The Leo Awards were founded by the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of British Columbia to spotlight standouts in the provincial industry, which generates at least $2 billion a year in economic activity.
When it comes to his work on Blown Away, Geddes says he got kudos for his creative intent behind choices on how to film the fiery series.
On unscripted shows like that one, the camera crew is always chasing the eight-ball, Geddes explained. He was awarded in part for the plan he put in place to give the show a certain look, in a genre that generally focuses more on story than visuals.
One of the things Geddes likes to do is embrace the natural environment by using whatever natural light sources are available. On Blown Away, a lot of the orange glow in the visuals is coming from the so-called glory holes, the furnaces that heat glass at temperatures above 1,200 C.
“We strategized how to set and augment the rest of our light levels to allow the glory holes to become one of the key light sources on the set,” he said. “We filled in where those glory holes weren't hitting … and then those levels were just set and exposed in a way so the glory holes became that warm glow on the inside.”
Anyone who’s watched the show, or has otherwise witness people blow glass, can appreciate the physical challenge of working with a massive ball of molten glass hanging off the end of a metal pipe.
Part of the concept for filming was capturing the intensity, the heat, the physical exhaustion, and expressing that visually, said Geddes. The extreme heat coming from the glory holes produces a glow that’s almost like sitting around a campfire.
“So it was trying to figure out a way to capture that warm glow – have that as a starting point for the look and then evolve from there,” he continued.
Geddes’s cinematography chops are in high demand. When reached for an interview, he was working in Kansas, Texas, on a documentary series for streaming service Curiosity Stream about what the Wild West was really like . Also on the go is another arts-based competition series called Best in Miniature.
Geddes said he feels like he has a bit of a dream job because he gets to be creative, and his work environment is constantly changing.
“I get to tell stories,” he said. “The work environment as a whole is really fulfilling because I'm surrounded by people who love their jobs, are creative and are trying to push boundaries every day.”