Whatever your interpretation, whatever your emotions evoked, whatever the meaning perceived, you are encouraged to allow the imagery and audio to become a soundtrack to the freedom of letting go and the beauty of holding on. (Please make sure the sound is ON and volume is up)
When I first started out doing photography and in doing so, wanting to do travel photography, I knew that somewhere down the line I would venture into film. How and when, that I did not know nor did I plan.
Back in 2010 I bought the 5Dmk2 as I had planned to go the Galapagos. Going all that way just to take photographs was not enough for me. I wanted to capture some footage whilst I was there, mainly to show people how amazing it was. So it was then that I started filming on most of my travels since then. Still photography was and is my passion and drive. I love it. Early on when using the 5Dmk2, I had to be consciously thinking about film, switching the settings so that I could record. My mind is always in photo mode and instinctive, but not so for when it came to filming.
As an artist, creative, photographer or filmmaker, you sacrifice a lot in terms of achieving your goals, whether it’s through working multiple jobs, not going out, working long hours, not having time for your friends, family or even loved ones. It’s the struggle that many go through. But there will be a time when all of the pain, stress and financial cost makes it worth it. For me, it’s been, some could say a 10 year wait, multiple trips to some amazing places on this planet that culminates in something that is only 5 minutes long. Ultimately I’m never going to stop this journey, been on it for 10 years and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learn’t to slow things down a bit more, take things slowly, not the rapid pace when I first started out, but that insatiable appetite to explore the new, seek the untouched has always been inside of me and that will never slow down.
I’ve said that travelling is the best education one can get, you learn more about yourself and the space you occupy than anything else. To go out there, to travel to new places, experience cultures, stepping outside of your comfort zone, that’s when your learn, that is when you educate yourself. It can be a scary experience but its having that fear that drives me to do what I do.
My initial idea stemmed from films by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, the duo behind the Baraka and Samsara and those films to me are just amazing. The first time I watched ‘Baraka’ I was totally floored, never seen anything like it, then came along ‘Samsara’ the was totally blown away with the visuals, the richness in content and both are powerful pieces of cinema, that not only moved me but also questioned by place on the planet. Its rare for films to do that. Every time I watch these films, its a sensory overload, but one which calmly enables you to process what you're seeing.
I originally storyboarded an idea that I would film on a trip to America where I would film on both the East and West Coast. I also searched online for places to film and working out logistics in how I would do it. It was not until I started shooting my planned shots that I realised that it didn’t feel right, the dots were not connecting for me. It was filming in Humboldt Redwood National Park that the idea of trying to achieve something far bigger in scope that I decided that I would incorporate footage that I had previously filmed in other countries over the previous years into what you see now. Once the idea was settled, I carried on capturing my planned shots and continued to film more scenes that wasn’t planned as I didn’t know if and when I would get the opportunity again.
I chose 10-15 clips from the countries I wanted in the film and put them all on a hard drive and gave it to Jim. The premise was simple. He didn’t want to know what the clips were about or what they showed. I gave a brief overview of what I wanted out of the film and what I was trying to achieve.. I’ve never worked like this before and it was a gamble but at the same time it was refreshing. To give utmost trust in an editor to cut my film. I have met Jim through work in which I worked under him on another short in which he was Director of Photography and I was the cameraman. I didn’t know what to expect in how Jim would edit the clips, but it all worked out in the end.
Colour grading was done by Michael Gibson (www.michaelgibson.cc). I always wanted my film to be colour graded but I personally didn’t have enough knowledge to pull it off. Jim got in contact with Michael and he accepted the job and I am thankful he did. He did an amazing job, even explaining why he graded the way he did. Even though I did not sit down with him to colour grade, just seeing the graded footage, I learnt a lot in terms of how saturation, hues, shadows etc can change the feel and look of the image and the impact it that can have on the viewer.
Working with these two has made me realise the importance of editing and colour grading, both of which I want to learn more of as I develop my skills as a filmmaker and hopefully work together on potential future projects.
I would get rough edits every few weeks from Jim and I would review the footage and ask for subtle changes until I was happy with it. In all there were about 5 edits (I think?) Each one better than the last, tweaked and more slightly refined.
It was a pleasure working with both Jim and Michael, between them they have great knowledge in their respective fields and I would definately work with them again on future projects. But more importantly working with an editor and colour grader has taught me how important they are to the film making process and getting them on board early on will not only improve you as a filmmaker but make the final product as close as to what you had in your mind which is where all ideas come from.
Jim Robinson - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Gibson - Web: www.michaelgibson.cc
Camera: Canon 5Dmk2
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4 L USM Fisheye
Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM
Giottos Vitruvian Tripod
Manfrotto 501 fluid head
On a more personal note there will always be a void in my life that will never be filled and that is that my dad isn’t alive to see what I’ve done. 20 years is a long time to see it pass by. Growing up and just getting on with life. Whether he’d be happy or not with me pursuing this crazy life of taking photos and travelling, one wishes he could see this short film. But the past is the past and I live in the present, whatever the future holds, I’ll deal with it as it happens, that said, its been the most immense journey thus far, and I did it on my own well 98% on my own, the other 2% with a little help from select friends.
To my friends who are now parents, your are the fuel to keep the fire inside your children burning bright. Allow them to dream, be there for when they are lost, be there for when they are found. Be the inspiration to allow them to pursue their dreams. No one said that that it would be easy but life never is.
Check out my other blog posts for inspiration, advice, tips or for just general reading!