Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Lot Of Ice, Not As Cold

It's hard running on ice. Luckily I have these:

(Spikes on my shoes)

It was warmer yesterday, so the ice melted, then froze again in big sheets along the road, and - slightly more dangerous - along the hill outside our house. When you start sliding you don't stop. The driveway is just a long sheet of pure ice now.

When it gets dark out here, there's a moment just before complete darkness when the sky becomes deep, electric blue, and what's left of the sun begins to reflect off the snow. Everything glows, looking so surreal it reminds me of a film set. The lighting looks artificial.

And into that electric blue darkness, that grey water, we sometimes jump. For the thrill, for the challenge. For the reminder of how cold it really is. Here's proof:

That's one way to get out of the house. On Wednesday night, we head for the centre of the city to see a night of music as part of the Barents Jazz festival. Kohib, (aka Øivind Sjøvoll) is an ambient musician based here in Tromso who we'll be working with on the film's soundtrack (along with five or six other Arctic Ambient musicians). This soundtrack is an experiment. With so many unknowns, we decide the more we know about the musicians the better, so we say hello to Øivind and talk briefly before his show. The artistic community here has a unique dynamic. They have fun (London, take note). They're open and friendly, and not pretentious (London, take note). They collaborate and support each other (London, take note). They are open and experimental (London, take note). 

(I could go on, but you get the idea...)   

The lights in the venue are blue and red. And a white chandelier. The beer is very expensive - but that's to be expected. Sometimes you need to roll with the punches to enjoy yourself, to break out of the warm Arctic cabin for the night. 

By Saturday, we have a rough version of the first 15 minutes of the film to show to a festival programmer here. He's interested in screening the film. Images, music, archive, voice over: all the elements finally come together in a delicate balance to tell our story. We decide to take Sunday off, to give ourselves a chance to breath...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Listening To Scenes From The Shining While Running In The Arctic

I terrified myself last night. I went for a late night run around the lodge (not so late, it was only 8pm but the sun had already set hours earlier). Around 1km from the house there are no longer any street lights so my head lamp (thank you John Arvid) was the only thing lighting a small patch of snow in front of me. I was listening to my favourite podcast (thank you Adam and Josh) and, in the middle of their discussion about horror, they played that seminal scene of The Grady Twins trying to lure Danny to his death..."come play with us Danny...forever...and ever...and ever..." This is not the sort of thing you want to hear while out running on your own in the pitch black surrounded by unfamiliar forest and snow.

Luckily, the Grady Twins didn't get me. I survived to see the sun the next day.
This is what it looks like, hitting the snowy beach outside our lodge:

When we're not outside freezing (or diving into this water, as Mar and I did today) we're editing. Here - as a monument to time and space, effort and coffee and the filmmaking process - is the first cut made on this film:

Remember this moment, ladies and gentlemen. The first cut is the deepest.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Little Less Sunlight Every Day

We are in a lodge, at the top of the hill, overlooking the water below. The sun rises to the left of our window as we're eating breakfast. It sets to the right, only five hours or so later.

The lodge is used as a retreat for treating alcoholics and addicts, but we're guests here when it's not in constant use. Every morning, Jan or Bernard arrive at 9am with a few of their young clients, eat breakfast, and say goodbye. They go to work. "Work is the best therapy," John Arvid says...

In the afternoon, there are chainsaws outside, cutting down branches. They're installing a satellite dish here (For us? I hope not. I don't think we'll have time to watch tv...)

When the sky is clear, the temperature drops. The mountains in the distance come into view, then they are slowly edged by orange, then purple, then electric blue when the sun fades behind them. The days are so short it seems late at 2pm.

When we get restless in the edit suite, we walk downhill (trying not to slip to our deaths on the black ice), crunching through the snow, and stand at this beach, feeling the cold air in our faces and admiring the view.

This is what we look like basking in the sun at -1ºc:

And this is what the edit looks like so far:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Tromso, in a few more hours

These are our last few hours in London before we fly, tomorrow morning, to the Arctic city of Tromso to finish this film / adventure.
Here's where we'll be staying:

(Apparently the lodge we're staying in used to be an insane asylum. Appropriate...)
And, in this land of the midnight sun, we're heading up there in time for the "noon moon." Within two weeks, there'll be constant darkness, 24 hours a day.
And thus, it begins...