In my mind, I had been planning this trip ever since the first time I visited Africa, 18 years ago. There is something addictive about this continent. The food is good, the people are kind, and no matter how many times it happens, you never get bored of seeing an Elephant.
Our first stop was Cape Town, South Africa, where we spent five days with a friend, (thanks Neill) before setting off on our epic road trip that would take us through 5 different countries across the South West of the continent.
We spent the first week and a bit travelling north out of South Africa and up the spine of Namibia until we reached Etosha National Park. We then turned south into the Kalahari crossing into beautiful Botswana. We spent three days in the bush on an island in the Okavango Delta (without a doubt the highlight of the trip) then onto the Makgadikgadi salt pans before finally passing into Zimbabwe and Victoria falls. Here, we said goodbye to our tent, that had been our home for the previous month, and headed south for a bit of luxury in the Hide, Hwange National Park.
After three days of some of the most memorable wildlife encounters I have ever experienced we crossed the Zambezi river into Zambia and flew from the town of Livingstone to Zanzibar, via Nairobi Kenya. Ten days of seafood and lazy days on the beach followed before we packed our bags and headed back to Ireland.
Before we even boarded the plane for South Africa I had an idea in my head of what I wanted this film to look and feel like, by the time we landed that changed and continued to change until a few weeks into the trip.
I think every videographer has a folder somewhere on their computer of songs, videos, sound effects and words that they either take inspiration from or hope to use in their own films one day. I too have such a folder.
Alan Watts (the words you hear in the film) has had his lectures and talks used in many videos before this and will be used many times after. Before going to Africa I had no intention of using the words you hear in the film, but a week or two into the trip, while watching a particularly epic sunset in Spitzkoppe, Namibia with Louise by my side, an audio track from my vault of random videographer files popped into my head.
It was a 45 minute talk Alan Watts gave on how humans struggle to find meaning in their lives, and how when you take away all the distractions in your life and find a place of calm, you can find significance in the most simple of things, like a sunset.
Over the next few weeks I chopped the 45 minute talk down to a 3 minute audio file that I built the rest of my shots around.
The song you hear in the film is by an artist called Jónsi. I actually first heard it in a wedding film a year ago and knew I had to use it in a film of my own one day. It’s one of those songs that no matter how many times you listen to it it still gives you goosebumps.
The majority of the sound effects you hear in the film were recorded either in camera or on a zoom h1 audio recorder that lived in my pocket for the duration of the two month trip.
The film was shot on a Canon 5D Mark IV, with a 24-105 F.4, 70-300, 50 1.8 and a GoPro Hero 4. Aerial shots were a mix of DJI Mavic Pro or the Mark IV from helicopter. Audio was capture on Zoom H1. All edited in Final Cut Pro X.