We Are All Film Directors Now

A WHILE BACK while out sailing I met up with one of the best broadcasters in Britain. He is called Dylan Winter and right now he is spending quite a lot of his time on a madcap scheme to sail his small and very ugly boat round every last inch of the British coastline, what he calls the slowest circumnavigation in history. I ended up making a short film for him.

by Richard Walker

Dylan is an experienced cameraman with time on his hands. Result: he has many hundreds of hours of film from his circumnavigation project, which he distributes through his idiosyncratic website Keep Turning Left. And as Dylan says, there are a surprising number of middle-aged men all around the world who like nothing better than watching hundreds of hours of footage of a small and ugly boat going into muddy creeks, and sailing around muddy creeks, and then sailing out again.

Together we thought we might just be able to turn some of this video into something more like a commercial TV project. Dylan gave me the use of those hundreds of hours of film – all hand-held, naturally-lit and very immediate, not to say a bit shaky – with the idea of producing what in the industry they call a ‘taster’ video. That means some ruthless editing down to no more than three minutes of moving pictures designed to excite the interest of a commissioning editor.

Needless to say things didn’t go quite as planned with the TV commission, for reasons that are complicated and nothing to do with the merits of the project. But we were pleased with the taster video. By the way, it was made on my ancient Macbook using Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7. Normally I would have used Avid which is a better editor, but it happened that I didn’t have access to the Avid studio, and Final Cut is easy to learn. The musical theme was recorded on an upright piano using a Sony Walkman and then edited in Audacity, a free software sound studio. Ten years ago this kind of project would have been unthinkable without the use of a pro studio and many thousands of pounds worth of editing hardware. Now it is routine. It would be nice if YouTube’s upload software didn’t always de-sync the sound, but you can’t have everything.

Here’s the taster …

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