You previously collaborated with Mark Ronson on the music video Cash in My Pocket so you knew what you were getting into but did he?
I never actually met Mark on ‘Cash in my pocket’ as he wasn’t in it… So when we got together on Coke, embarrassingly, I had to get my producer to remind him I had done that video for him. Thankfully he was like ‘yeah I love that video’, which was a relief and a good note to start on. Mark’s cool to work with, he is pretty relentless in his pursuit of his craft and that’s inspiring. He is even more of a workaholic than me, always stretching himself. I like that.
It’s a little tricky imagining the original brief. What was it and did your initial ideas differ a lot from how you eventually realised the film?
The original concept was to make a pop song with Olympic sports sounds, with many manifestations of that – ads, documentary and music video. How that was going to happen was very much up in the air when I took it on, and it really was one of those projects that constantly evolved. I had to be open to that process from the very beginning.
For me, the main thing was to make sure all the parts talked to each other and they had the same fresh tone, honest feel and strong production value throughout.
My original treatment involved shooting elements of each athlete separately, and bringing them together on screen in post. I had found out that an Olympic athlete’s schedule is as insane as a pop star’s, and getting them all together at the same time was near impossible! But there was such a desire to have them meet for real and genuinely connect, and I am thrilled that we pulled off that feat to bring them together for real in the concert. That changed everything.
Did you pre-prep everything before hand with storyboards and treatments or did you evolve the script as you filmed?
Everything was extremely planned and extremely unplanned.
I storyboarded and scripted what I’d hoped would happen and then was generally thrilled when I got all that and more. The live feel of everything was real and, but a live audience and real people, there is only so much planning you can do. There was a moment during the gig, when Mark Dj’d and I caught myself dancing by the monitors … and I was like ‘shit, you’re working Kim! Look at the monitors’. But I think that genuine fun vibe was really infectious and comes across on screen.
A documentary which has already been screened on Chanel 4, a stomping trailer and tvc adds up to really good mileage for the content. The editing is very sharp and different in all forms. Did you work closely with the editor as you filmed? Were there miles and miles of rushes?
There were indeed miles of rushes (I think terabytes) and a marathon edit, so I worked with several brilliant editors at TRIM, each of whom mastered different parts of the project, in a kind of edit relay.
With the documentary, at heart the story has little inherent drama, so the editing was key to making it interesting, and keeping the film moving. We wanted the whole hour to be cut with the precision of a music video, while still having emotional impact. This took ages… and we went about a month over on the edit schedule (whoops!), but I knew it was worth it as we used almost every scene we shot.
It was also really important to me that the edits and sequences from each piece were interchangeable so we had a common server that the editors worked from and drew on what each other created. I lived between 4 edit suites for about 3 months, and by the end they told me I started to dress like an editor (?!)
We can imagine it’s your tenacity that helps to get the footage you want. Do you know when you’ve got the shot you want in camera? Are you often surprised at what you’ve captured when you preview rushes?
I’m relentless and no doubt annoying to my team in that I never stop, and have endless energy. Even when I know I’ve got the shot, if I have time I like to try other things, find another magic moment and squeeze everything I can out of the set up or situation.
Making a documentary is really interesting as in some ways you have an infinite shot list. Inevitably I exhausted my crew (sorry guys)…
You were, in a different life, a creative at Mother with whom you’ve made this film. Did they give you considerable creative freedom?
Having worked at Mother before, I have very special relationship with those guys and it means we can actually work in tighter, more free-flowing way. There are less boundaries between us, so it’s an intimate working relationship, and very collaborative.
This does give a creative freedom as (I think) they trust me, so when needed I could go off and experiment.
This is you first documentary isn’t it? What were the key lessons you learnt from making this longer form?
I learnt to go with the flow. When situations change in a way that you don’t expect (or necessarily like) you have to be malleable and make the best of them. No shoot scares me now, as the doc was so hardcore. We would arrive in countries and immediately hit the ground running, dealing with a multitude of problems as they were flung in our faces. I now have no fear… Well at least until the next challenging shoot.
What’s on your agenda now?
Dancing, something completely different again…
|Somesuch and Co.|
|Exec Producer||Tim Nash|
|Director of Photography||Ross McLennan|
|1st AC||Edward Jones|
|Sound Recordist||Diego Sanchez|
|Sound Designer||Henning Kneopfel|
|Associate Producer||Jessica Ludgrove|
|Directors Assistant||George Belfield|
|Singapore Production||The Momentum|
|Russia Production||VW – Media|
|Mexico Production||Spectrum Films|
|USA Production||Fixer Films|
|Live Event Second Unit|
|Director of Photography||Ben Magahy|
|Sound Recordist||Pasha Shilov|
|Executive Producer||Stephen Butler|
|Executive Producer||Lesley Williams|
|Executive Producer||Al MacCuish|
|Co-executive Producer||Andy Medd|
|Co-executive Producer||Jen Murphy|
|Creative team||Hermeti Balarin|
|Creative team||Ana Balarin|
|Creative team||Paddy Fraser|
|Creative team||Jasmine Loignon|
|Sound Designer||Henning Knoepfel|
|Producer Music||Storr Redman|
|Producer Music Assistant||Daniel Gay|
|Sound:||Unit Media Ltd|
|Dubbing Mixer||Rosalie Wilson|
|Junior Editor||Nyco Dyszel|
|Executive Producer||Julie Evans|
|VFX Supervisor||Yourick Van Impe|
|VFX Artist||Bruno Fukumothi|
|VFX Artist||Byron Van Woofinden|
|VFX Artist||Fraser Cleland|
|Head of Data Management||Kerri Aungle|
|Additional UK Production:|
|Production Manager:||Luke Tilbury|
|Production Assistant:||Elizabeth Doonan|
|Camera Car Driver:||Gary Smith|
|With Thanks To|
|East Denver High|
|East London Gymnastic Club|
|Story by Mother & Kim Gehrig|