Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Post Production in Saint John

June 2006

Out of al the jobs and aspects of the filmmaking process, editing is the process I am most passionate about, of course I love traveling and directing my ideas into pictures, and I enjoy cinematography just as much, but there is something about bringing all the elements together that makes me very excited. Putting music and pictures together is truly a magic experience when the marriage works, I edit with a rhythm, a groove. Even if there is no music in the timeline I am still editing to an unheard beat…I guess being a drummer has had a lot to do with my editing style and rhythm.

I was quickly able to edit together a rough cut of the Martin Guitar segment as well as both of the motorcycle segments. We have hired a music composer who will recreate the music that I have chosen after the final edit. This saves money as it would cost way too much to use the songs by Tool, Allman Brothers, The Slip and Keller Williams that I used to inspire my edits for these first segments. I was really happy with how the whole thing turned out for the first episode. The only thing missing is an owner of the Martin guitar, no an easy task as there are only 35 made and owners of that guitar are not quick to reveal themselves as it is such a valued instrument.

London, England

June 2006

After a long flight across the Atlantic I met up with my Director of Photography for the European leg Alistair Mieux. I have known Al for quite a few years and was excited to do some shooting with him. He had just shot a concert DVD for The Who live at Leeds the day before. London is truly an amazing city, so much to see, do, eat and drink. I was a bit shocked to find that the pubs where closing at 11:00pm when went in to grab a pint…of course my body was set to 7:00 pm so I was in no place to put myself to bed. Alistair toured me around his previous home base London (he moved to Canada a few years back). One of my highlights was a small and packed Cuban pub with machine guns hanging on the walls, Cuban music blaring and people partying in and out on the streets surrounding it. Alistair and I ended up testing our bodies’ threshold for Mohitos…what a great and tasty drink a Mohito is!!! We had a couple days off before our next shoot at Huntsman and Sons tailored suits so I picked up a ticket for the O2 Wireless music festival at Hyde Park and met up with my old friend from Saint John Heather Tufts. Heather moved to London a year ago so it was really nice for both of us to se familiar faces. We saw Metric (one of my favorite Canadian bands), Gnarls Barkley, Flaming Lips (2nd time this year, such a great live show) and Massive Attack. It was a fantastic lineup at a real cool music festival in the City. The next day we met again and Alistair treated us all to a fine bottle of Dom Perignon…I have never sampled a Champagne of this value before…I soon realized that this trip may create a few stories to tell of VERY EXPENSIVE food and drink…Scotland’s Whisky Trail is coming up next week, time to start saving the per diems.

Huntsman and Sons Bespoke Tailors

I certainly have never considered my self a fashioned male, but before this trip I decided to buy some “nicer” clothes, I spent about $300 bucks on polo shirts, button up dress shirts, nice pants…clothes that I don’t usually feel that comfortable in, but When in Rome…

Now I realize that $300 in London won’t even buy you a cab from Heathrow to the Hotel and a lunch. (Cab = 70 quid, sushi lunch = 60 quid). I heard Tokyo was the most expensive city on earth, and I have spent time in Hong Kong, I never realized London would be so over priced!!! However when it comes to the bespoke tailored suites at Huntsman and Sons on Saville Row, nothing can compare in price (and quality of course!).

We had a great day filming the process of these suits that range from $7,000.00 to $30,000.00!!! The artists who worked in the overheated basement of the custom shop are true artists, and extremely friendly. After seeing the cloth and the detailed handwork that goes into these suits I can now see how someone who could afford it would spend such prices on a piece of clothing. I’m sure if I bought a Huntsman I would ruin it with a red wine spill the night I bought it! They respectfully didn’t tell us who some of their customers are but you name a millionaire, rock star or celebrity, there’s a good chance they own a Huntsman. David Bowie, Bono, and even Ralph Lauren are walk in customers of Huntsman.


The Macallan

June 2006

When the researchers finalized a list of items that we where going to document, I was ecstatic to find out that I would be doing the piece on fine scotch whisky. I have only recently in the last few years began to enjoy scotch, and I must admit it is one bottle that I will always have in my house ready for special occasions (finding out I was doing this piece in Scotland was one of those times!). Alistair and I flew into Aberdeen, Scotland after a very frustrating time in line t BMI airlines…all frustrations left however when the jagged cliffs and rolling hills of Scotland appeared below us as the landing gears engaged in the plane. Because Alistair lived 40 years in London without a drivers license it was me that had to rent and drive the car…the first time on the left side of the road with the stick shift to the left of me…very unnerving experience! After Alistair showed me the right way to use a roundabout (Canadians do it wrong, they are too polite and stop in the middle of the circle which congests traffic…the right was is yield to the entry of the circle then gun it!!!), and after I drove on the right (wrong) side of the highway one too many times and almost got creamed by speeding Scots I finally got the hang of it.

We drove through incredible country side, castles everywhere…beautiful jagged cliffs on the shoreline, lush bens and glens (mountains and valleys) and ruins of old stone churches, homesteads, farms and distilleries made the drive one of the prettiest I have ever driven. The village (or as Al says, the hamlet) of Duftown looked like it probably was 200 years ago, all stone buildings, smoke trickling out of the wood fire chimneys with a huge green mountain peaking over the slate shingled rooftops. We where driving on what is know as the Whisky Trail…every little village has at least one distilleries if not more, Whiskey truly is the lifeblood of this area. The Glenfidich, Glenlevit and, Chivas, distilleries are all within 15 minutes of each other, there where so many other distilleries that I have never heard of scattered throughout the area known as Speyside. They say that Whisky from Speyside is the best whisky on Earth because of the water that comes from the River Spey.

Our journey ended at a quaint little 6 stone-house and 2 pub town called Craigellachie. The hotel we booked into was certainly the fanciest and most atmospheric that I have ever stayed at. We where greeted at the door with a complimentary single malt and a tour of their world famous 12 by 18 foot pub and 900 fine whisky bottle collection. I have never seen so many old scotches, I had no idea there where so many distilleries, and the ages of some of these dates back into the mid 19th century. We get about $100 per day for food and entertainment when on the road shooting for television (per-diem). Some days you spend absolutely nothing, other times you spend twice your allowance, it always seems to even out in the end though if you are responsible. Al and I, living the “When in Rome” mentality decided to concentrate all of our per diem to sample the finest whiskies in the pub. The most expensive (that we didn’t try) was 138 quid for 1 drink, that’s about $280.00 Canadian. We both bought whiskies from the years we where both born…Al’s was a bit more expensive! Ha ha. At the end of 2 nights we had spent over $500 on about 10 drinks. That’s the cost of living like the Romans. We had a great stay for 3 days here and I can’t wait to go back someday and explore the region more.

The next day we met with Alexander and David Cox of the world famous, and mystical Macallan Distillery. The history of this place is very rich, they still grow their own Golden Promise barley, they still have long haired highland cattle in the fields, a world famous salmon fishing length on the shore of the River Spey, and most historically the original house of Easter Elchies which has become the defining symbol of the Macallan on every label of Whisky produced. Many of the distillery workers actually live permanently on site, there is a school and a church on the estate even.

The process of making fine whiskey is very precise and complex. Every process is carefully monitored from the barley in the fields all the way to the pre selected wood that eventually forms the casks that the whisky will age in. The Macallan tries to keep to the traditional ways as closely as possible, they are one of only a few distilleries using open flame under the copper stills, in contrast to inner coils. The feeling I had after shooting the process was that this is truly a hand crafted whisky, so much time, care and passion goes into every bottle of The Macallan.

The reason we chose The Macallan distillery is for its supreme quality and taste, and for value of its old bottles. They recently bought back collections of old bottles and have a full selection of fine and rare Macallan scotches. These bottles range from 175 all the way back to the 0 year old famed 1926. The 1926 bottle of fine and rare was released with bespoke labels, one of which had commissioned art from Peter Blake, the artist who designed the Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers album cover. The world record for most expensive bottle of scotch to ever be sold at auction was a bottle of 1926 sold recently to a Korean collector for 37,000 pounds, that’s about $76,000 CDN. I had the honor of being able to see Macallan’s only 1926 bottle in its protected glass box in a locked up store room in a protected warehouse. This will end up being 1 of 2 of these rare and expensive bottles of 1926 Macallan that I will be able to see this week (read on...)

Bologna Italy

June, 2006

After my memorable experience in Scotland I didn’t think any place on this journey would compare…enter Italy. Fine fine fine wine, breads, rare cheese, and PLENTY of perfectly sliced truffles and hundreds of dollars worth of old scotch is what Al and I where treated to by our very gracious host, and next subject Giuseppe. Giuseppe is an incredible man with an incredible life who is living his passion as a professional whisky collector. He said many times over that he likes buying far more than selling, he is a true passionate collector. We filmed in his sanctuary which is a very large room with over 9000 bottles of rare and aged whisky. He doesn’t know the value, he doesn’t care. Whisky is his love and you can se it in his eyes. He was never interviewed on camera before but when talking about his passion, you would think he was a host for a whisky TV show. Giuseppe was the perfect subject for this segment as an owner of more Macallan rarities than Macallan has. In fact much of Macallan’s fine and rare collection was bought back from Giuseppe, you can imagine how much that costed the distillery. In the middle of the room on top of a pyramid of Macallan fine and rare bottles stands 2 bottles of the ridiculously expensive and rare Macallan 1926.

After a great day of interviews with Giuseppe and great shots of the old city of Bologna Giuseppe led us in his Ferrari Super America 30 minutes out of the city into the rolling hills, olive trees and vineyards of this northern Italian landscape. We ended up at a small family run restaurant and ate a meal unlike anything I ever had before in my life. I have never had truffles before, trust me I would never spend $5000 per kilo of mushrooms dug by pigs, but admittedly they tasted fantastic and went incredibly well with our local red wine…and of course our after dinner bottle of rare Macallan Whisky. The bottle that Giuseppe opened for us was a bottle that no one else on Earth has because Giuseppe bought the whole collection, there is no price tag on this bottle, it was bottled as a celebration of the marriage of Price Charles and Diane Spencer…very rare. Now I understand why people love this country so much. To add to the ambience, Italy was playing Ukraine in the world cup, so everyone in the restaurant screamed, sand and waved the Italian flag every time Italy scored…they ended up winning 3 nothing. Driving back to the hotel the streets where filled with fans in celebration of Italy’s win. Already we where in England for the England vs. Ecuador match in Germany, then we where in Italy for this match, and tomorrow which happens to be Canada Day and my friends Ray and Kim’s wedding which unfortunately I can’t make it to, we will be in Portugal just in time for the Portugal vs. England match, Alistair will have to hide his British accent! Currently I am flying over the beautiful French Alps, they are all covered in snow and I am really appreciating my life and my career and this job! Alistair and I managed to find our way into first class, he is stretched out over 3 chairs sound asleep and I am writing with a glass of 2005 Dornfelder Rotwein trocken...

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