With COVID, Permaculture The Documentary's shooting schedule going on hold, it left me thinking a lot about the story of the film and how I was going to intwine them together. I am ambitious and plan to bring a beautifully crafted documentary which not only tells the story of Permaculture like never before, but to show how you can live sustainably anywhere you are by simply reconnecting with nature in a modern world. A simple statement to write, but much harder to execute. There are so many details and threads within Permaculture, how will I encapsulate it into something that is fresh, exciting, beautiful and compelling?
About a year ago I released an extract of how Permaculture Started from the interview shot with David Holmgren. We received such positive feedback from the short film it really solidified I was on the right path to making this film and I became determined to tell a compelling story of Permaculture.
The next interview I was planning to shoot was with Geoff Lawton. Geoff was mentored by Bill Mollison and side-kicked with him as a teacher before he passed. Geoff, now an expert in the field, holds much of Bill's philosophies which are integral to the film, but as COVID
spread across the globe shooting had to be put on hold and I was was left thinking of what would be next?
As our cities and towns went into lockdowns, my priorities switched. With so much uncertainty of food and services as shops were raided, I put the film aside and focussed on trying to grow as much food as I could at home. I luckily had made a few hot composts previously and made a huge batch to fix the sandy soil in our backyard to grow the veggies. We used only waste materials around us: grass clippings, prunings from bushes and trees, old newspapers, coffee waste from the local coffee shops, manure from a wool processor and any scraps we had in the kitchen. I was surprised to see how good the soil became and how much food we could could grow. We grew enough fruit and veggies to not buy any from the shops and it was a great feeling knowing we were more self sufficient at home.
Not long after and my sister got in touch. She was keen to do the same and asked a bunch of questions. During one of our conversations she suggested I should make some videos about how to do it, so other people could learn too. I thought, yes! Great idea. It was a great positive project to focus on. So, I got to work creating How To Grow Food From Scratch series.
We started shooting 3 episodes. The introduction, home composting and hot compositing. Once I we finished the 2nd episode we needed to shoot the third which was Planning Your Garden for Success. In the middle of editing the third episode I hit a snag. It was a very complicated, ambitious episode that ran for 35mins. We told a story and re-enacted it as well as conveyed a whole lot of info about planning a garden. The content was dense and it was a huge struggle to keep people engaged from an editing point of view. I completed it and it went out into the world and people seemed to enjoy it for the most part. But despite it's success, it didn't seem to sink in. It was enjoyable and 'watchable', but it lacked something. Sure, there was a story at the start, but besides this, the rest was informative information, which is hard to digest over long period of time. I became concerned that the length would cause a problem with Permaculture Documentary. I hadn't edited anything longer than 35mins and if the episode wasn't 'amazing', how would I make the film AMAZING!
I though over it for a long time. I recounted the short films that were so successful. Why were they successful? What were different about them compared to episode 3? It hit me. Episode 3 was missing a full journey. Sure, there was a mini-story at the start, but over-all the journey was lacking. In all the other short films, I created a full journey from start to finish. It was a story.
Permaculture The Documentary will need seamless stories told from start to finish. Stories that immerse you and reveal the secrets of the world bit by bit, as you discover things. To tackle the Macro, not the Micro and show how nature works as a whole through beautiful stories. So, I discovered what I needed to do but, how would I go about crafting a story for such a long duration throughout the whole film?
At this same time of my revelation, a documentary editing mentor of mine Paddy Bird, announced he was starting an online Master's Degree on the Craft of Narrative Editing in London. I immediately applied and a short time later I received an email that I was accepted into the course.
I am over the moon. This is exactly what I was searching for. To have the opportunity to learn how to craft beautiful cinematic stories and make Permaculture the Documentary the most immersive, beautifully crafted journey. I can't wait to put what I learn to practice and craft a new scene for the film to share with you.
There are numerous stories to shoot here in Australia and luckily in Western Australia where I am based, we are not restricted by COVID,
More to come soon.