Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mitja and his boat

Photo by Nikky Holmes

Day 2: I still don't have my dinosaur pin. Chances of finding it diminish.

Today, Tuesday 28th, was the first real production day. In the morning, Pillau and Alexis went out to do some testing and find out how all the equipment worked together, Alexis's sound stuff (which he brought with him) and Pillau's cameras (rented). In the meantime, Leo and I spent time on the script. We prepared tomorrow's (Wednesday's) session with Henri and Ville first, because it will be the only one with the two together and probably the most important in the whole documentary; and today's with Mitja, which, yes, was today, but much easier to prepare, because we knew we would be relaxed and because Mitja's availability during the production period is very flexible. Then we went to the place we would meet Mitja, ate some sandwiches from the nearby shopping centre Verkkokauppa, then he arrived...

...and we went to the harbour, docks, whatever. The boat was out of the water because he needed to do some maintenance work on it. We interviewed him while he was doing it. It took a while to start; first the technicians had to prepare all their toys. For me this was very interesting because I had never seen filmmakers filmmaking. It's actually amazing how a set-up works, the ritual of mounting the mechanical parts, the positioning is hilarious, etc., but then the coordination is perfect and they get super cool shots. We divided the session into four blocks, with four different topics and four camera positions. See some of Nikky's photos:

(Some are censored for the time being. No spoilers, goddamnit!)

After that, we went to buy an additional hard disk drive for the data backup (we're using 3 disks of 4 TB, that's some seriously secure backup) and we came back home. I spent the rest of the evening writing here while the others prepared check lists and spoke about cards and cables.

Finally, delight your eyes with my cellphone pics.

The star waiting for his turn

A retarded touareg

Can you spot Alexis capturing ambient audio?

Weh! Weh! Look at me! I have a rectangle! Weh! You're not looking!

The Windmobile

The star gets his attention

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Shit just got real

Tuesday, June 28th, 22:06 Helsinki time. We are in the apartment after a long session with Mitja and his boat.

But... WAIT! How did we get here?

On Thursday 23rd, I had a plane to London which first got delayed by 1 hour, then got delayed by 3.5 hours and eventually got cancelled. It was super cool to spend hours in the airport struggling to find out 1) what was going on, 2) what was going to happen and 3) where my luggage was. I had to deal with one normal person, one moron, one incredible asshole and two really nice people who, contrary to stereotypes, were the security guys. I arrived home at 5:30 AM, and the following (same) day I spent 3 more hours going back to the airport and finally getting my luggage (from the nicest person ever). Lotsa time wasted and hundreds of euros lost in a non-refunded London-Helsinki flight and a last-moment-booked and therefore very expensive Budapest-Helsinki flight.

Anyway. On Sunday 26th, everything happened as originally planned: Pillau and I arrived at Helsinki and went to sleep at Nikky's place. There I saw, for the first time, the Heritage box set. We also got to meet Pirkko.

"She's really long!" -Pillau

We were talking until a bit after 2:00 AM (we had arrived at half past midnight or so) but we didn't get to see the night. A proper night. It was a lazy night all the time. Not really nighty. And soon it was day again. Like at three. At 9:00 we were awake again.

Monday. Pillau and I left for the train station to get the car we had rented. We chose a car with a big boot (station wagon aka estate aka una ranchera que ni las de Chavela Vargas) because we need to fit all the equipment. Then we bought a SIM card and the horriblest thing happened: I lost my dinosaur pin!! It's not funny at all because I had had it since I was 10 years old or so. I have no idea how it happened but it did. At least I lost it in a grand place and moment: "in Helsinki while preparing for filming a documentary about Moonsorrow."

After losing that very dear possession, we went to get the equipment. We spent a SHITLOAD of money on that. More than on 4 people's planes (cancellation included), accommodation and car—combined. We went there, got soaked because of the crazy heavy rain and lack of umbrella (seriously, Finland? Was that necessary??) and spent almost two hours at the rental place checking everything. When Pillau was done inspecting machines and poles, he started playing Tetris to fit everything in the car; I tried to help him but he slapped my hand and screamed "Director!! My job!!!" (disclaimer: this may or may not be slightly dramatised). In the meantime, Leo arrived from London, but he didn't meet us; instead, he went to the apartment directly.

The pro and his toys

Then we did uninteresting things such as discussing things with the owner of the apartment, having lunch, etc. Leo and I had to discuss the state of the budget, which we did in a bar that, according to him, "either only men go for evening drinks in Finland, or this is a..." and that's how I had my first experience in a gay bar. The toilets, despite there being two separate ones, didn't have the man/woman sign on the doors, it was curious. After that, we picked up Pillau from home and headed towards Nikky's place again, to discuss with Mr. Director when she will be with us (she has to work on other stuff, so she isn't available all the time). After that, we met Mitja, who lent us a monitor, and we went for a beer together: Mitja, Leo, Pillau and I. This was a great conversation because we confirmed a lot of cool stuff concerning boats and islands, we agreed on how the interviews would be conducted and how they should be approached under documentary settings, he offered us all kinds of archive material, and countless etceteras. Really cool. And after that we went back to the apartment. After midnight I went to the station to pick up Alexis, and the team was complete.

The headquarters

The sky of Helsinki at 0:49 AM

P.S.: But where's the story with Mitja's boat? In the next post!

P.P.S.: Remember you can subscribe to this blog if you enter your email address in that box near the top of the page. Remember you really, really want to subscribe, you've just been stopping yourself for some reason.

P.P.P.S.: Bonjour Mme Orseau, ravi d'avoir votre intérêt !

Friday, 17 June 2016


Syntyville, kuoleville,

If you're reading this, you probably know what this is all about: a documentary about the Finnish metal band Moonsorrow, titled Home of the Wind. A History of Moonsorrow and financed through a crowdfunding campaign. After more than a year in pre-production, and having raised over €23,000 (original goal: 19,000), at the end of June and the beginning of July a team of filmmakers will be in Helsinki doing what the compound word “filmmaker” clearly implies: drinking, partying and making cellphone videos of each other sleeping wasted while the others paint dicks on their face with a permanent marker.

The time is getting closer. Thanks to your support, next week we will fly to Finland and film a documentary. Two of us will arrive on Sunday 26th, two more will arrive on Monday 27th, the fifth one lives there already, and on Tuesday we will start recording. On July 9th we'll travel with the band to the Jalometalli festival in Oulu, and on Monday 11th we will realize it's fly back home day and we aren't even finished with test takes.

Now, who's “we”? Meet the production team:

Leo Aragón, director. The founder of Jörmungandr Media, the guy who started it all. The whole documentary project was his idea. You have seen his videos, all the teasers and the pitch video were done by him—with other people's help in specific areas, but the whole editing is his. The leader of the pack, a Jack-of-all-audiovisual-trades who masters (at least to a degree) the areas everyone else will cover, he will be co-ordinating the rest of us. Argentinian, based in England.

Grilo do Demo (aka Abel), scriptwriter. The author of the Unofficial Moonsorrow Biography and Moonsorrow-savvy, will take care of the interviews. Can hardly tell a Nikon from a Seat but writes acceptably. Spanish, based in Hungary.

Alexander Pillau, director of photography. The authority on everything image-related. He can list seemingly nonsensical camera features and characteristics and models in an unbelievable speed. He's so good he was a part of the team months before he even knew about it. You can see some of his previous work at German, based in England.

Alexis Orseau, sound technician. The Pillau of sound, to cut it short. He sees lots of numbers and parameters where a simple mortal just sees a fucking microphone. A last-minute addition to the team, after his great work with the teasers during pre-production. French, based in France.

Nikky Holmes, photographer. With a great eye for detail and photographic opportunity, she will graphically document the most meaningful moments, both during filming and behind the scenes. Able to make art out of the dullest scene. Check out her work at Nikky Holmes Photography and HelRocks. Australian, based in Finland.

Our schedule is pretty tight and I can't promise I will write a proper diary, or even a proper “weekary,” but I will do my best. Also, you can see in the layout of this blog that I wasn't born to be a graphic designer, or anything visual-related; Leo will probably want to do something about it and realize he doesn't have time and get frustrated and not sleep and spend the night preparing a better layout only to have me fuck it up the next day with a stupid internet-stolen unedited image embedded in a poorly formatted post while he can't work properly due to the lack of sleep from the previous night. So back to booze and permanent markers. Crowdfunding backers will probably enjoy the result anyway. I mean, come on, it is funny footage.

By the way, we had planned some cool leather digibooks if we reached €24,000 in the campaign, which we didn't, and several people have asked what will happen with them. Well, we won't be making any digibooks this time. We were really looking forward to them, but you know what? After all, we're happy the campaign ended this way. We raised enough funds for adding a sound technician to the production team and we can afford the best of the technical budget options we had on the table, all of which will improve the final product greatly. Leather digibooks would be cool, but we think it's way more important to have a better documentary rather than a prettier container for an inferior film. Besides, we have had some ideas about a different, separate book, to be worked on when the documentary is finished, and way cooler and “deluxer” and more complete and with more interesting stuff. We will see. Let's focus on one thing at a time, though, because now—it's documentary time!

Because everyone is probably expecting inside info and general gossiping from a production diary, I will end this post with the dialogue the scriptwriter and the sound technician held when the crowdfunding goal of €19,000 was reached in the evening of Friday 10th, 2016. Find the full transcript here.