In the last few weeks, we have watched Addicted to Sheep on many screens (TV, desktop computers, laptops…) and each time it feels like a different experience.
For our final test before we said ‘that’s it we are happy with the sound mix and the colour grading’ we watched it on a Cinema screen.
The technician did all the set-up for us to make sure we got the screening format right and the sound levels spot on.
After 4 years of hard work, it felt like the first time we could really sit back and relax, and enjoy taking in the scenery, appreciate the sounds and music.
We have watched it many times, but this time it felt like we were all enjoying watching the completed film as viewers. Secretly, we all had a little tear in our eye!
We have now entered a few high profile film festivals. Fingers crossed they like it as much as we do! It’s the first step to taking our film out to the world. We have a few busy weeks ahead of us! As well as cutting a new trailer, we will be applying to more festivals as well as arranging a ‘sneak preview’ for all those who have supported us to get to this stage. Very exciting times ahead! Watch this space!
After a week of colour grading our 85 minute final cut, we’ve now checked it all on broadcast monitors to make sure it’s top notch for cinema, TV and online viewing.
Thanks to our friends at Meerkat Films we passed the test.
According to Magnus here’s what real life looks like on a colour grading monitor.
We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve watched the Addicted to Sheep but it’s looking good!
After many weeks of editing and watching Addicted to Sheep on computer screens, we decided it was time to see it on a big screen.
The thoughts going through our minds were: ‘woo, beautiful, powerful, very intense, so sweet, out of focus, too dark, too light….’ and it goes on. Basically, it was amazing to finally watch it in the cinema but impossible not to mark up adjustments to make it even better.
On a small screen it looks powerful but when watching it on a big screen, we realised how important it was to strike the right balance between making the pace of the film engaging but not too fast and not too slow. Sound draws you in and engages too.
So we went back in the edit and adjusted a few things so the story and the pace of the film is as memorable to watch on a TV screen as it is on a Cinema screen. After another round of edits, we decided to watch it again on the big screen and check we didn’t have all these thoughts in our mind again ‘out of focus, too light, too fast, too slow’ but instead only thought ‘woo, beautiful, touching, funny…’ and we did! So the next step is the final colour grading!
Filming for us is a joint venture between subject and crew. Before the start of filming, we discussed why we wanted to make this film and the story we wanted to tell. 4 years on, and with many twists and turns in between we hoped the final film conveyed the original themes and sensibility.
After lots of time in the edit, the team decided it was finally time to show the family a rough cut. We thought the film was at a stage that would give them a good enough idea of how the finished film would be. We wanted to make sure that they felt we portrayed their way of life and that of the community accurately and with integrity.
We were nervous. ’Are they going to like it? What do we do, if they don’t?’
Luckily for us they did! They laughed all the way through.
With their positive feedback in mind, we went back into the edit and knew that whatever we did next could only make a better film. With colour grading, music and the final sound mix to be completed we’re nearly there.
It’s been a rare treat for us to spend a day in the sound studio with Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading sound recordists. When we first heard Chris talk about his craft at a Royal Television Society event he took off his shoes and paced the floor in his socks. He’s very sensitive to ambient noise. Chris watched the rough cut of Addicted to Sheep and then suggested we have a coffee to ‘rest our ears’.
Over the next few hours we talked about engaging the viewer through sound. Silence helps. Taking out rather than filling up. Allowing for breathing space, moments of reflection and light and shade.
The North Pennines where we filmed is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and we wanted to establish a strong sense of place. Chris talked about creating a richer sense of perspective. We don’t always need to hear what we see on screen. We cut out the quad bike, created a sense of ebb and flow between skylarks and curlews and then heard snow falling on the washing line. It’s delicate artful work.
We left the studio and heard the deep hum of the coffee machine in a way we’d never noticed before.
Addicted to Sheep has 3 main characters: the people, the sheep and the landscape. Meet some of them. First, the Hutchinson family who allowed us into their lives for over 18 months of filming.
We also got to know a few of their colleagues and filmed at a wide range of locations.
John, Tom’s shearing partner
John, the sheep scanner
The School Children
The Swaledale sheep has proved itself to be a bold hardy sheep, well fitted to endure the hardships of exposed and hard lying situations. The Hutchinsons are passionate about breeding, showing and selling the very best sheep. As Tom says, it can be an addiction to try and breed the best. Find out more about what makes Swaledale Sheep special.
Capturing a sense of place in sound as well as vision is something we strive for. We’ve recently had the pleasure of working with two ‘special’ contributors. It’s been a very rewarding experience for our team and we’ve learnt a lot. Meet Chris and James.
Additional Sound, Chris Watson
Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena. His television work includes many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996. More recently Chris was the location sound recordist with David Attenborough on the BBC’s series ‘Frozen Planet’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012). Chris has provided us with additional sounds specific to our location and advised us on issues relating to sound design.
Composer, James Burrell
James Burrell is a London based composer, songwriter and music producer, specialising in children’s television, feature documentary films and the development of recording artists. His track record, particular empathy with our film and his sensitive approach towards bespoke composition for the moving image attracted us to work with him. It’s the first time we’ve worked with a composer.
The Addicted to Sheep team have been working hard for a long time. It’s time to introduce ourselves.
Directed & Filmed by Magali Pettier
I’m a farmer’s daughter, originally from Brittany but have lived in the UK for over 14 years. I’ve worked in the industry for over a decade but Addicted to Sheep is my debut feature and has been a passion project. I filmed for 18 months, mostly self-funded to make sure the day-to-day reality of farming and being brought up on a farm were as authentic as possible. No big crew, just me. I’ve discussed my motivation and approach to making this film in our press pack Q&A which you can read here. Favourite Documentary The Story of the Weeping Camel by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni.
Co-Produced by Jan Cawood
I’m a film-maker who loves a beautifully shot story. When I first saw the turkeys hung up on the wall I was hooked! I’ve got a film history/marketing background and know good things when I see them. It’s been a pleasure getting to reach out to funders and audiences and being involved in shaping the film too. We have high hopes for Addicted to Sheep and aim to screen at high profile film festivals in 2014/15. Favourite Documentary Grey Gardens by the Maysles Brothers.
Editor, Matt Dennis
After completing a degree in Fine Art, I began splicing film at the BBC many years ago. I’ve cut lots of films over the years but real storytelling is something which is a collaborative process. It’s like moulding clay, you get a shape and begin to build it up in an intuitive way. Since watching the footage I’ve also taken up dry stone walling! Favourite Documentary Etre et Avoir by Nicolas Philibert.
We’ve also recently had the pleasure of working with two very ‘Special’ Contributors. More about them coming soon.
Stats, Structure and Seasons
So much has happened we’ve kept a log of our approach so far.
33 days observational filming over the course of 18 months. 62 hours of footage to view and notes made over the course of 2012/13. We’ve also edited trailers, pitched for funding and developed our website and reached out to our audience in between.
We’ve logged the footage which means we know where everything is – every cough, sniff and dog bark! We’ve even transcribed the formal and informal interviews (about 15 hrs in all) so it’s easy to find what we most like. We have one major lever arch file jammed full of notes to refer back to.
Winters in Upper Teesdale can be long and it feels the same in the footage. We’ve chosen to follow the four seasons largely because we want to tell the story of the sheep as well as the family and wider community. It’s hard to go from lambing to shearing if you don’t follow a seasonal order.
We’ve chosen to tell the story from the children’s POV as much as the adults. Our family are at the centre but the wider community are interwoven throughout. The 15 pupils who attend one of the remotest schools in England are key to sharing the child’s POV. We learn from the children as much as the adults which give the film more depth.
The seasonal order, the mix of adult and child’s POV and the story of the sheep makes for a very interconnected edit. Each dependent upon the other.
Mainly observational, small details speaking louder than words. We see the family at home on the farm, at auction sales, the children at school. We also meet people beyond the family, those who come to the farm and those in the wider community – at the annual community show and so forth. Filmed within the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the interdependency of landscape, animals and people are obvious throughout.
The rough cut
From 62 hours we’ve now edited all the daily rushes and gone through a series of scene selections. From a 12 hour timeline of favourites we’ve gone down to 4 hours then built up the themes we want to share into a 2 hour rough assembly. The story begins in winter and ends in the autumn. So far it’s looking and feeling like a film. It’s exciting!
It’s a great feeling. We’ve reached our goal. And now, with a wave of goodwill towards our film, and the edit in front of us, will you please help us imagine an even more successful campaign? If you wanted to be part of it but haven’t had the chance to yet, you still can!
Post-production isn’t the final step in making a film. After the film is made, there are still festival submissions to pay for, legal, distribution and promotional costs to name but a few. Our post-production budget was small and largely based on a lot of good will from our small team who have all put their heart and soul into the film. If we can achieve a higher goal in this campaign right now, that just means a finished film without seeking out other funds further down the line. It means we could share the finished film with the participants who have waited 4 years to see it sooner. It also means we could submit Addicted to Sheep to international film festivals with the care and attention it deserves, to give it the best chance to reach its audience worldwide.
There is a fine balance between asking too much or too little when running a crowd-funding campaign and we felt a £7,000 target was attainable, but we always thought we would need more funding later in order to meet the final costs. So, if you want to be part of our journey and can still help us that would be really great.
Even if you can only donate after our 30th of April deadline, you will still be able to do so as we have run the campaign from our own donate page on the Addicted to Sheep website and will keep our support page open for a while longer while we are editing the final film.
With about 8 weeks of post-production in front of us, we aim to complete the film by July 2014. We’ll be posting weekly ‘tales from the edit’ so please keep checking on our progress and sign up for the Addicted to Sheep’ newsletter on our home page to make sure you don’t miss anything. It would be really great if you could join us as we want you stay on our film-making journey all the way to the big screen!