It was to be a journey in Central Asia with animals to carry our gear and no map to keep us on any path. The objective was to have a great adventure, and that was it, pure and simple. Then, along came the idea of filming it and things just started tumbling out of control. Film it for what? Pretty quickly we were talking about the mountain film festivals such as Banff and Kendal and that was all very well but then somehow TV became involved. Discovery Channel were vaguely interested and dollar signs flickered into play. To make a film good enough for the festival circuit these days, let alone TV, picture quality and sound have to be good, not necessarily so much so that the lenses just have to be by Carl Zeiss but certainly at a level requiring the best kit one can afford. Well, we can’t afford squat and I’ve spent the last week getting into more and more of a head-spin over balanced microphones, digital audio recorders, Juiced Link pre amps, Dead Cat windshields, focussing issues at f1.8 and, lens adaptors, ND filters and the f-ing cost of it all!
The digital filming revolution, so exciting at first for one who still remembers the agony of a 37kg rucksack and big box of cassettes hanging on a chest karabiner has done nothing but lead me into a cul-de-sac of despair as the potential camel budget shrank first to a mule and then to a bigger rucksack. Self-filming an ‘observational documentary’ on a DSLR camera turns out to be significantly more complicated than just heading off into the field with a Sony PD100 and a couple of good mikes used to be. And blowing 80% of the expedition budget on kit is a big risk when I haven’t actually shot a film for over a decade and we don’t even have a definite story to follow.
So we not going to. We’ll still film it and I still need to get a nice zoom for the job, but my eBay searches are considerably less agonising all of a sudden. Our sound is probably going to suck, but I’ll be recording it from my camel and it’ll be OK for our own little film. We’re going to shoot a showreel for the next journey without a map and to hell with the rest.