CARLSBAD (AP) - Carlsbad Caverns are all lit up this week. Aperture Films' crew has invaded the darkness to enlighten visitors with a documentary video about the enchanting depths beneath their feet.
Cavers, videographers, photographers and light technicians trekked up and down the hills of the Caverns' Big Room Tuesday afternoon with wires, camera gear and giant light boxes to find the perfect angles for their video.
Aperture Films is an award winning production company specializing in documentaries . The crew began work on Sunday and plan to wrap up Saturday. The 15-to-20-minute video will be used for the park's visitors center to educate the public and will also be available for purchase.
The team began shooting the opening scene of the film on Tuesday, featuring a dramatically lit close-up of caver Scott Christenson rappelling down a rope from the Spirit Room, the highest point of the Big Room.
National Park Service producer Anne Tubilo helped choose Aperture after an evaluation of production company proposals were sent in. Tubilo has been working on this project for a couple of years and is happy to be out of the pre-production stages and moving forward with production.
"It was really important to us that their crew had professional cavers and that they had people that knew what they were doing. The park services aren't going to train the people to climb the ropes to get the shots," Tubilo said.
All crew members were already familiar with the caverns, she said. Tubilo added that the park will add more exhibits to the visitor's center in the fall, including the video.
The team is comprised of experts from around the world, including caver Gosia Allison-Kosior from Poland.
"This is a big deal, not only for our cave but for our community," Allison-Kosior said.
Professional caver Pat Sciser was hired to help guide the crew around the caves, not only to ensure their safety, but also protect the delicate cave, making sure no one stepped over the striped tape marking the normal walking areas.
Footage of the Mexican free tailed bats was taken before migration in October, and video of other wildlife around the park is being shot during the process.
"It's not just a movie about what you can do in Carlsbad. It's an interpretive film; we'll even have animation in it to show how the caves were formed," Tubilo said.
The film will also be narrated and filled with music and scenes of the entire park.
Director of photography Mike Madden calls himself the "light guy," but he's the crew's resident cave expert. Madden has been cave exploring for 30 years and specializes in underwater cave lighting.
"For me this is kind of a dream come true, I get to go into the biggest room with a million dollar light package and light it up, I'm like a kid in a candy store," Madden said.