In this Q&A, Craig Miller, Executive Producer of Craig Miller Productions, shares perspective on what it’s like to shoot a film on a peanut farm. Craig and his team produced the stunning video series called Peanuts are the Crop of Now, which highlights the day to day life of three U.S. peanut farming families and how they keep their farms sustainable for future generations.
What’s it like shooting video on a peanut farm?
The best thing about shooting on a peanut farm is the people. They are salt of the earth, always have something cold to drink, and usually invite you to a family meal. You just don’t find that hospitality anymore.
What preparations have to be made in order to make the film come to life?
For one thing, we have to make sure it doesn’t rain. Like farming, rain usually kills our day. Also, most farms are located near smaller towns, so we have to make sure that the equipment we need travels with us or is readily available in the city we fly into. We have to be sure the crop is ready to be harvested so that we don’t miss any of the action. In that same category, we have to make sure the farmers have enough time in their schedule to have us interrupt their day with filming. Usually we have to do things more than once and it’s a little hard to get the peanut back in the ground once it’s been harvested, as you might expect.
How long does it take to shoot, edit produce one of these videos?
It usually takes about four weeks from the beginning to the end of the process. With this particular process, we had a theme we were trying to develop: “Peanuts are the Crop of Now.” We completed vision boards that painted a picture for the National Peanut Board of what we hoped to do.
What equipment is used to get all of the striking shots?
We love to use drone footage and we’re very adept at shooting aerial photography. The trick is not shooting from 30,000 feet but from 10 feet and moving around the tractor and harvester to capture dramatic footage. Safety is always a major rule on all photo shoots we do for agriculture. Making sure that we get aggressive, challenging shots and are safe while doing it is very important.
What is something you learned about peanut farmers that may surprise people?
From the peanut farms we visited, most still appear to be family-owned operations. In our shoots with big agricultural equipment companies, we have seen that the farm has become a corporation. We enjoy both, but to see that a farm can still be run by four or five family members with additional seasonal help is an amazing thing in the 21st century.