documentary

Update on the film process

It's been a long time since my last update... I've obviously returned from San Francisco, where I spent three weeks on a work/holiday, and had the opportunity to sail Harmony for the first time. She's a gorgeous boat, and even better than I had anticipated. I intend on sailing to Mexico later this year (2011). News: I recently did an interview with the nomadic Aric S. Queen. And...

Jack has sent through a detailed write up and a few pictures on how the film Between Home is progressing - Be sure to visit the film homepage and get on the newsletter to receive updates on the film release. From Jack:

"After our final shoot with Nick, in early 2010, I spent close to three months, digitising, viewing and logging (making notes), over two hundred hours of material, which consisted of a combination of Nick's footage and my own.

During the Berlin summer of 2010, I rented studio space deep in Berlin's east, in the city of Lichtenberg, where mixer, Jacob Ilgner, had his studio in a crazy old margarine factory, which was built around 1900. It's been a very interesting environment to work in, with a diverse range of people – From re-training programs for the jobless, and artists, programmers,a motorcycle club over the road, a pool hall down stairs and thai boxing gym next door. It's also nearby the famous The Dong Xuan Center, an enormous Vietnamese market which maybe the biggest in Europe.

By mid-summer I'd compiled and assembled a three hour rough cut in Final Cut Pro. Editor Hagen Hinkelmann, then joined me in the editing suite, and we began reducing my initial three hour cut; boiling it down, going back to the original material, adding new shots and deleting others... Rinse and repeat... I believe it's what Walter Murch calls the 'spaghetti sauce' approach: Refining, shaping and crafting the story of the film. After around two months we were down to a two hour edit we were happy with. With the film still in rough cut form, and using pre-made music, we screened it to colleagues for feedback, and then went back to work. Often the film would get longer, and then we'd shorten it back again - The process was a fine balancing act between addition and reduction – Always seeking to the essence of things.

The entire process was intense, as we delved deep into the central protagonists mind (Nick's), spending lots of time with him in some kind of weird, strange, and oftentimes frustrating way. Overall the process was fantastic and the best edit I've lived through to date and Hagen – I believe he feels the same. They say sometimes when you look away, it's only then that you really see, and we really felt that with this film. Our rhythm consisted of early morning starts, lots of coffee, cooked hot lunches, and then more work late into the afternoons. Often I'd stay on into the night and continue to review material, polish and write narration text, while Hagen would go and collect Lewis his young son from kindergarden.

Eventually we had a tight edit, and in an offline state, we began the process of music and graphical voyage maps etc. My good friend, Jörg Diernberger, who's does many things - Guitarist, writer, actor and director came in, and we began talking about music. Conceptually we'd agreed that idea was to use single guitar; a wooden instrument with metal stings not unlike some forms of boat, solo – Like the sailor in the film. While this worked well, it was soon clear that additional music needed to enter the soundtrack alongside it's design.

Hagen and Jörg play serious guitar - Certainly a few of notches above my abilities... Hagen is also a member of Juri and the Gargarians. In Hagen's rehearsal space, with some warm valve amps and vintage mics, Jörg and Hagen began laying down tracks. It was an amazing experience. Hagen, who was responsible for the 'art of recording', mixed the tracks and integrated them into the edit as a layout. Once we'd achieved 'picture-lock' (Meaning a fine cut where no real changes to the picture should be applied), we could enter the sublime and complex realm of sound design.

Jacob Ilgner, my friend and colleague, who's studio is next door had shown great interest in taking on the sound, but was disappointingly booked out... Another collegue, Markus Stemler who I'd worked with before, saw the cut and really like the film – He offered to come on board as sound-designer. This was an extraordinary and enormous undertaking – A process not only involving design, but also the complete dialogue editing, which means all the sound one hears; primarily voices and atmospheres, with a surround mix coming from the front speaker. Lots of work; and in this case, even more given the amount of wind at sea hitting the mic and other difficult sound issues associated with filming outdoors in the ocean.

But with a stroke of luck, as Markus began compiling sound archives for the project on Protools, Jacob's other film was re-scheduled, and he entered the process as dialogue editor. I began exporting the tracks from the edit, compiling other additional atmospheres from the 'raw' material, and the two began working. Markus, in his studio 'tonstudio warns' in Berlin's Moabit, and Jacob working in Lichtenberg, collaborated with each other remotely. Markus also felt that sound needed focus on screen and suggested we record foley's – Creating live action sounds with a foley artist, that would blend into the final mix. Foley work requires a large amount of space and sound-post production to be done well. Markus and Jacob are currently in the middle of editing, equalising, filtering and creating a sonic 'Tour de Force', like wizards – Or better still, alchemists; simultaneously on two different systems, bouncing mixes to one another though a speedy back-bone server.

Philip Samartis, Australian sound artist and academic, has also been able to offer some very unique sound recordings for the Australian component and other environments.The sound post-production is leading toward a full 5.1 cinema mix that will be mastered in March 2011. Presently the ongoing work involves recording my own narration, composition of additional music, the final picture color grading, graphic layout, and cartographic map animation work.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to the people who collaborating in the making of this film. They are giving there time, skills and knowledge in good faith, and at no cost, in the firm belief that this story of the young man who follows his dream to sail around the world, is well worth telling. It's amazing all round! I know it's way too early to roll any credits, but here's just a few specific thanks: Jack's co-producer Gunter Hanfgarn, associate producer Selin Yaman, editor- associate producer-composer Hagen Hinkelmann, composer Jörg Diernberger, sound designer Markus Stemler, dialogue editor Jacob Ilgner, graphic design Willow Berzin, map animation layout Yoann Talle, motion graphics Georg Rück, colourist Ralf Ilgenfritz and colourist assitant Moritz."