Martin on Train

The Last Leg of A Filmmaking Journey

I am typing this on the train, en route to Amsterdam, to see my filmmaker friend Martijn Veldhoen. He will help me with the final sound mix of my film ‘Purpose’. Martijn has made many documentary (mostly short) films, many of which have won prizes at film festivals. He is a fairly unique filmmaker in that he does all parts of the production and post production work on his films himself — he is his own producer, director, cameraman, editor, colourist, sound designer, special effects expert, and sound mixer. Since he has all these competencies, we decided to work with him for the finalisation of our film, to simplify the process.

The result of this coming week will be a high quality mp4 file that can play on most computers and in many screening settings. We can create it with a regular computer and Adobe’s Premiere Pro editing software. It’s the file I will take to Reykjavik, Iceland, for the premiere on June 11th at the Wellbeing Economy Forum.

This trip, then, marks the end of an incredible journey: In early 2108, I took the (somewhat silly) decision to shoot a documentary feature film about a complex political subject: How to change our economic systems. Silly because I had never made a proper film before, let alone a complex and demanding one. But ignorance can be a good ally when you want to venture into the unknown. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s easier to be fearless. I thought it would be a straightforward thing — we would “simply” document what our two remarkable protagonists were doing in their incredible political projects. What could go wrong?

In some sense, my prediction wasn’t so far off — the process of documenting their work was less complicated than one might think. (If we leave aside for a moment how many of our shots were really totally unusable … but we did get better towards the end.) What was way more complicated was getting it done afterwards, turning all that footage into a story that did not only make sense, but that was compelling and thought provoking. And then, also, finding ways to sell the film — or fail at selling it. I have learned an incredible amount about the strange and sometimes even bizarre world of film business, and about the fact that it is almost impossible to independently make and market a good documentary film.

Every such film that does make it into the world is a sort of miracle.

But one thing is clear to me after this experience: If you truly try to bring to the eyes of the world something hidden, invisible, unknown, by packaging it in a documentary film, you are pursuing a worthwhile endeavour. While the world is getting louder, crazier, weirder, and more insane than ever, we need to keep looking down narrow cracks, into unlit corners, peer into crevices where those remarkable things happen that no one is taking note of. We need filmmakers who allow us to do that.

I am hoping ‘Purpose’ can make such a contribution. And I am happy that we got to this point — where I can find out if it actually will.

After the premiere, I will return to Berlin and focus on one creative job and a few more technical ones which remain: the technical onces are creating a German version of the film, and then the cinema versions of both the German and English version. For cinemas, a so-called DCP is needed — a “Digital Cinema Package”. That’s a collection of files needed to play the film in actual cinemas. It requires specially equipped studios that can create those.

The creative job, importantly, is to make a trailer. So I can advertise the film — and many people will feel inspired to organise screenings with me.

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