Check out the finished Clip!
Read how the shoot went below
Linda and Paul from Green Life Soil Company got in touch about a year ago, just after they saw The Environmental Company with Craig Campbell video and were keen to have one made about their company, but weren't financially ready to go ahead at the time. Recently Dogs Go Woof had an offer for 50% OFF a short story video to raise some funds towards Permaculture The Documentary project. The offer was for small businesses to take the opportunity to tell their stories, that would not only be financially viable, but also a way to talk about what they are passionate about and share with people. If you haven't seen DGW video it explains why this is something I'm passionate about. When Linda and Paul from Green Life Soil Company saw the offer, they jumped at the opportunity.
I talked to each them over the phone about a week prior to shooting to understand each of their stories and about what their business is about. They explained to me that Greenlife Soil creates organic soils specifically for growing exotic plants in Perth. This was really interesting to me as I had never heard of anything like it before. It is these moments you look for as a filmmaker, something that sparks your interest and you just want to throw 20 questions at to find out the reason behind it all. So, when I heard the words "soil for Perth" I was eager to find why Perth soil has problems and why they felt they needed to do something about it.
Often when I am tracking back a story there is a subtle lead that pops up and it turns out to be a significant thread in the story. It's usually unknown and you become super intrigued, but is quickly dismissed, so I always try to hold onto it when I hear it. It becomes the 'something' that i must uncover. Digging a little deeper I discovered Linda & Paul are compelled by 'something' that is about encouraging people to grow their own plants. So, I make a mental note and continue chatting.
Paul and Linda had a lot of insight about Perth's soils and how challenging it is to grow food plants in. They believe this discourages people to want to grow plants because they will often fail.
I soon learned Perth soil's are some of the most sandy, hydrophobic and ancient soils in the world and it is really a big challenge to grow anything that isn't native to the region. Their goal is to change that and make it easier for anyone to grow the plants they want by sharing the knowledge they've gained over the 30+ years of experimenting and building soil for people. Eager to learn more, I forced myself to hold back and wait for when the camera is rolling. If there's one thing I've learned about documentary shooting; never ask the important questions off-camera.
At 6:30am 25th of Feb, I packed the car full of camera gear and headed out to Midvale to Greenlife Soil Company, so I would get plenty of 'Golden Hour' light. Well, that was the plan anyway. As I turned onto one of the main roads heading east towards the hills, I heard a pop followed by scraping sound coming from my car. I pulled over just as i got onto the on-ramp and saw my rear tyre was dead flat. That was the first tyre to blow since I had the car over the 5 year period. I had no idea where the tools were to change the tyre. After a scrounging around I found the instruction manual and half an hour later, I was back on the road and finally got out there. Not a great start, I missed some of the best light of the day, but I was stoked I managed to get out there only half hour later.
I called Linda and Paul ahead of time to let them know and they greeted me as I pulled in. I talked them through my plan of what we'd shoot first, which would be visual, followed by the interviews to make the most of the light we had. I really wanted to capture the making of soil as a priority, while the sun was low, as the definition really comes out with highlights and shadows.
It was super windy this morning. A strong easterly was rolling over the hills and the air was filled with a dusting of a light brown fog. Out from the dust roared a bobcat carrying a mound of dirt and tipped it into an empty containing section along a cement wall. I picked up the camera, threw it on the shoulder and started rolling. After a barrage of shots and angles of the soil being mixed, I launched the drone to get some aerials. I started with some high overhead passes and then dropped altitude to come in close, tracking the bobcat as it moved back and forth between different soil mounds. I positioned the drone at the same height as the Bobcat and started a slow dolly shot, but failed to notice the large mound of soil next to it. The drone clipped a propeller into the side of the mound and flipped, crashing and momentary spinning while I was trying to de-power it.
I finally shut off the engines and ran over and picked it up. The props were covered in a fine black dirt powder, a bit of a nightmare for electronics. That was the first time I had crashed the drone. Another tally on things for the day, but in this business, the show must go on. Paul ran over and asked if it was ok. I laughed trying to hide my worries of replacing parts and said,"yeah it should be, things just aren't going my way today. I must of walked under a ladder or two this morning." I spun a rotor and all but one swivelled freely. I sighed with bummer, but Paul's eye lit up, which was super confusing to me as I couldn't understand why he'd be excited about the whole drama. He said, "I've got an air gun you could spray it with" and his excitement became totally justified. We shot some compressed air in the holes and rotors and wallah, she was good to go for the final flight of shots. I started to think my luck might have turned, but as the saying goes; most things come in three's, unfortunately.
After lunch we planned to shoot the interviews with Paul and Linda separately to tell two different stories and bring them together later in editing. This would be a great way to compliment each other as they could bounce from one-another to explain how they got to where they are now.
I setup some lights outside and found a great spot amongst the plants in the organic nursery for the interview. Paul put his hand up to go first and we started chatting. Finally, we can start talking about the 'something' and discover what compelled them to be so passionate about wanting to help people grow plants in Perth.
I always like to sit with the camera headphones on during an interview, as the camera picks up all those noises you wouldn't normally hear and these can make and break your audio later in post. Luckily for me I followed this strategy this time round, as ten minutes in and a roaring sound rumbled in the background. A industrial train of about 50 carts passed just 500 metres behind us and we had to stop recording and wait 5mins for it to pass by. Dang! Where were we? I hit record again and tried to continue from where we left off. Did we segway from that last bit, or do we need to go back and start again? These are all questions that run through your head in an interview when its interrupted when I trace back the 'something'.
We chugged on chatting for another 20mins and I discovered Paul and Linda always loved nature since they were kids. Their parents used to grow plants - I gasped (mentally) a connection to the 'something' we are going there the rhythm is back on track. Just as we said that, the bobcat started up. Another interruption. I waited and hit record and started the questions again, but more focussed, "So, you grew up with nature. Why do you think you had an appreciation for it?" I saw it in Paul's face, "Why are we talking about this again?" He's becoming fatigued, but it's important that we keep on following the 'something'. I asked Paul how was his bringing up different from other kids and he mentions in England that a lot of the other kids weren't as into it, as the country side had very little wilderness. When he moved to Australia he saw vast forests and was amazed by the the amount of wildlife. I knew we were on track and the path started to become clearer to where things took a turning point.
Linda revealed she was a fashion designer and met Paul studying as he too was learning to become a graphic designer. She went on to having a successful career in the fashion industry in Perth and visited China to see their garments being manufactured and the whole industry turned her off. She saw the pollution in the waterways and the conditions people worked in and couldn't support such exploitation. She quit and started her own clothing company with a friend that would be environmentally friendly and not exploit human labour. Like when you are driving and realise you were in auto pilot we are snapped out of the story as a truck pulled in to the drive way. It is expecting to pick up a soil order.
Paul recounts asking Linda to marry him and they decided to build a house. Financially and timely things were a struggle for Linda to continue to make ethically sustainable clothing and she decides to sells out.
They buy a house and this is where things become really interesting. Without giving too much away as this will be the film; in a twist of accidental realisation when they built their first home, they realised the importance of nature and it ignited their passion and motivated them to not only start working towards rehabilitating nature, but encourage others to do the same - BOOM! we found the 'something'.
They started Greenlife Soil and start turning dirt into soil, or "living soil" as Linda puts it. A soil company that is about sustaining the natural environment, sharing knowledge and encouraging others to do the same. They see knowledge as an investment, not a money-making exercise and the more people they can help, the more they can empower. They might be a small cog in a changing world, but doing your part, I believe is the best and only way to really make a positive difference. Linda and Paul are on that journey. I am really looking forward to sharing this story in the coming weeks. So stay tuned.
- The next phase is editing! An update will be coming soon -