The Making Of Kullaberg
Jens first mentioned his idea to film songs out in the wild of Kullaberg in the spring of 2005, when we were on tour of Europe. Possibly in Italy (it might have been over the mountains of Austria). Either way, we had a talking car, things were quite surreal. I do remember it was all told in the dark. If you want someone to believe in an idea, you probably should tell it in the dark
Sometime just after midsummer's we set out to test how things would work on film: how to get the sound right. How many channels needed to be recorded at the same time. Jens had a good spot picked out for experimenting, a more or less deserted industrial area of Gothenburg. Here we tried whatever microphones we had handy. They did not perform well.
The sweetest spots for filming in Kullaberg were approximately 45 minutes walk from any source of electricity. I would have to manufacture smaller and lighter recording equipment to make it. Also, the sound of the camcorders kept distorting, I would have to find other ways of recording sound. Ways that could be carried for 45 minutes.
The forecasts kept telling tales of rain just up until after the Emmaboda festival. I tried our newly designed equipment with Jens and Sarah up at her place, and found I still needed to make modifications. Jens also told me that he ideally wanted the whole thing to be recorded in the span of one day. This meant more cameras, tripods and whatnots.
Long story short: I had no chance of borrowing enough cameras, I tried to buy some second hand, but could not get them in time. Finally I tried to buy from a large electronics outlet, but they wouldn't let me try stuff in the store -- the salesperson insisted I should try it in the privacy of my own home. So be it.
Many thanks to Torsten Larsson for the use of his stuff, but also to this electronics firm for their unplanned support.
The Emmaboda gig went well (in spite of continuous drizzle) and the next day we set out to meet Sarah, who was coming by train.
That morning the weather finally showed good behavior. Radiant sun, no wind, skies without a trace of cloud.
Kullaberg is unique in that it offers so many various locations in such short distance, many songs were tried at a couple of spots. Furthermore, DV cameras don't produce great pictures in bright sunlight so we started just at sunrise, scouted in the middle of the day, then continued in the evening up until we lost light and Jens' parents treated us to their seemingly endless supply of snacks.
Fantastic weather has drawbacks too. Although it cannot be seen in the final cut, we got an audience on some shots. Another thing you cannot see is that nice weather draws insects in large numbers. Jens got bitten by a tick.
On return to Gothenburg I returned the extra camera and got my money back.
Then I started to go over the mini disks and tapes. I had approximately 10 - 15 takes of each song, and while most could easily be used either soundwise or picturewise - the problem was to find ones where both light, images and sound worked. With no wasps crawling over anyone's face. Or no tourists in the background. Or no starting cars. Etc...
Jens got a rough cut just before leaving for the US tour and I got an email a couple of days later with what needed to be altered. The rush job I'd given him wasn't good enough by far. Mixes were off, sync was off, I had to redo quite a lot.
So, while he toured I tried keeping my day job while recutting at night. I knew he would return to Sweden only a few days before last submission date for the Gothenburg film festival so I kept at it.
Half a dozen recuts might be a charm, when he got home I had remixed all songs, recut most of the pictures and changed the order. This time it worked. He was to be off again and I got carte blanche to make some final adjustments before submitting.
Finally, here we are. Not a music video, but live performances of 5 unrecorded songs filmed in the beautiful wilderness of Kullaberg, Sweden.
Large pix for print (right click to download)
All photos © Jacob Stålhammar 2006