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I have been told off for not posting on the anniversary of finishing filming on June 21st, which I should have done. But I don’t think I haven’t really wanted to acknowledge that it has taken me this long!
Since the last post the music has been composed, recorded and mixed and is beautiful. We are now on to sound design and grading and so we are really nearly there. So much so that it has already gone to final some film festivals in the hope of getting a screening around the time it is finished. And I will let you know about screenings as soon as I do. (There is a tentative plan for a screening on Knoydart which I will set dates for soon and the possibility 24 hour online premiere for those who can’t make it).
I can hardly believe a whole year has passed since the last day of filming. I remember so clearly the incredibly sense of liberation when I stepped off the train at Glasgow Queen Street station and maybe I enjoyed it a little too much. But I needed some space away from the material before I was able to edit the film.
Once I begun it took three weeks just to watch the sixty hours of footage and almost twice that choosing moments from each day, putting them together, and trying to make sense of it all. By January I had a rough cut twenty minutes long which I showed to a couple of people. It was kind of interesting, even compelling in places but it still wasn’t there, but it didn’t seem to hold together, and didn’t feel like a film.
I had to think seriously about how to structure a film with no narrative, words, or change of location.
It was always going to be chronological, but how long for each clip? In the end I looked to music and the film became a series of bars, phrases and movements. It took a while to get to this point, but it was a turning point in the edit. By late March I had something close to a final cut I could give to Fraya Thomsen the composer.
Fraya had already been working on sounds and phrases and musical ideas by this point. I had played her a collection of very odd collection of music and sounds, a stuck CD of Scottish music, some great cello and some modernist classical composers. Her response to the film was incredible and she was able to start structuring what she had to the film.
But even after I had handed the film over to her I was still editing and making changes. It took several months of hard work from Fraya to get the music right. Fraya would send over drafts we would listen and discuss and then re-draft. We then recorded the music in May over a thirteen hour session with a cellist and two sound engineers. Mixing the different layers has also taken several weeks.
Hopefully all of this work has been worth it and will be evident in the film. Either way it is has been an incredibly rewarding time with a massive learning curve.
And so much else has happened his year too. It couldn’t have been more different from the one I spent filming, which was catorized by a sense of confinement and isolation. Towards the end of filming I met someone visiting Knoydart and fell in love. I spent six months splitting my time between two different remote peninsulas and made the decision in March to move away from Knoydart to Morvern. It is nice that both my relationship to Knoydart, where I lived for seven incredible years and my relationship with A are, in their own way, documented in the film. I have also spent the last six months learning to drive, taken the radio iodine, written a feature lenth screenplay, learnt to sea kayak and much more. So not all my time was spent in the edit.
And so here I am preparing to send the film out into the world. The intensity of the filming process now seems a distant memory, but hopefully one that is caught on film. At this stage I can’t help be aware of some of the criticisms the project has had and would dearly like to prove the critics wrong. (I have shown the film to a couple of trusted people in the last few weeks and so far the response has been quite profound.)
It would be interesting now, at this stage to work out my hourly rate, but I wouldn’t know where to begin and that has certainly not been my motivation. (You would be daft to go into experimental film making to make money.) The films value will lie instead, in it’s relationship to an audience, whether people are moved or intrigued and how long they want to keep watching.
And I am really really looking forward to hearing from you what you think when you finally see it.
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