Listen: Pond Cover Morning of The Earth
Big Sky Wire
Interview by Michele Lockwood
The Spirit of Akasha project is in its second year of production and as a bystander looking in, the process has been rather fascinating; witnessing it evolve from a conceptual dream into a multi-layered collaboration of filmmakers and musicians from all over the globe. And now, as its production side is coming to a close, the second phase of it being shared with the rest of the world is inching ever nearer. And so it will begin it’s next cycle of life.
Inevitably when the phone rings in our house one of the first questions that gets asked is, “How’s the film going?” So I thought I’d bowl out a few birds by making the answers to all those questions public. Here goes.
Bali Waters – Pond
CW: So how’s the film going?
AK: Well, I’m still editing. All the music has come in and all the filming has been done and I’ve got probably about 60% of the editing finished.
Is the editing getting easier or more difficult as you approach the finish line?
I am trying to weave this tapestry of stories and make it succinct. So it is getting interesting to make it all fit together just right. At every turn you’ve got an option as to what you can do next and you are trying to make the right decision - to make the narrative clear because like the original, there is no dialogue in the film. But I’m lucky in that I’ve got this original template to draw inspiration from which I can also use in the new film to make it cohesive, like a suggestive idea, like using a shot from the original to tell the story within the new film.
Can we expect to see much of the old film within the new one? How closely have you stuck to that way of storytelling?
No, its subliminal but it helps the narrative of the new film, it’s there as a reminder of the original. That is what we’ve been doing for the last two years, creating a film and soundtrack that celebrates Morning of the Earth. We made a decision at the start of the project that we would stick to the original formula, with no dialogue allowing the music will play an integral role in telling the story that way.
MOTE holds a special place in the hearts of many people, they feel a sort of ownership of the film because it means so much to them personally and making a ‘celebration’ of that is setting up so much expectation. Would you say you felt a lot of pressure with this project, of how it will be accepted?
Not really. Maybe I should. But the work that has been submitted has been so generous and so respectful, the photographers who have contributed and the musicians that have brought the new vision to life have just wanted to honor what it was. Mick Fanning said way back when we first asked him if he’d like to be involved, “I’d be honored”. And it’s been like that with everyone that’s been involved.
Morning of the Earth has touched people and inspired people and the people involved have been able to show how much it means to them through the work they’ve contributed. I guess we’ve all been really lucky to be able to express what it means to us in this way.
How has the soundtrack evolved? What has your role been in it creating it?
The soundtrack has been a fascinating part of the project, working closely with some of my favorite musicians, customizing songs that they think represent what MOTE was. Having those songs come through and getting to hear all these unique contributions and interpretations of the original material.
Besides recruiting many of the artists on the bill, I, along with Chris Moss, the film’s producer, have been a sounding board for the songs as they’ve developed. Sometimes we’d work with the artists and ask for things to be a little more tailored to suit the project, which they were all more than willing to do, other songs came in and were so unexpected but absolutely perfect. It was fascinating to hear what the film has inspired these people to make, to hear what came back in and how they wanted to honor it. Working with all these different musicians has been the most fun part of the project for me.
Can you reveal some of what will be on the soundtrack and who were some of the exciting people you worked with on it? Also how aware were they of the original film/soundtrack prior being approached to create sounds for Spirit of Akasha?
Well, going back and forth with Andrew Van Wyngarden (MGMT) was really fun. Hearing about what he wanted to do, he had a number of ideas and he really has a deep love for MOTE and then how his original song played out in the movie was kind of magical. Working with Will Oldham has been great because I knew he had a real appreciation for the original soundtrack. He chose to cover, “I’ll Be Alright” and it is such a spectacular version of it, when he sings it you tend to think that lyrically it was his song from the start. Working with Mick Turner from the Dirty Three, he covered ‘Morning of the Earth’ with the opera singer, Oliver Mann doing the vocals; they just made it sonically awesome. When Alby heard what they did, he really loved it, seeing his face when he heard that song made the whole thing worthwhile. Also what Nick Allbrook from Pond did… his love of Taman Shud and the original soundtrack really came through in the songs Pond recorded. For a young guy Nick really surprised me, just his musical knowledge of the obscure and underground, he knew all about Tim Gaze (Taman Shud’s guitarist) and Tim’s contribution to music, it was a really cool full circle interaction. No doubt that’s why Pond makes such interesting music. The project has been full of this kind of serendipitous activity. I mean the list can go on and on...
How much of a role did The Windy Hills play?
We wrote an original song that will introduce the film, when Warner first began conceptualizing the project, I had this idea for a song about the longing for youth as you get older, it kind of related to watching the original film and reminiscing about how good life was back then… we cut the song and I edited it to scenes from the original to give the people from Warner some idea what they could be dealing with. They really loved what it was and put their full support behind the project after they saw it. Our drummer Jay Kruegner has played a big role, he has his own studio and recorded a lot of the material, it’s been great, as we’ve really been able to customize the work with Jay. Holly Rankin aka Jack River recorded her songs with Jay, they are so beautiful. Another highlight, just to be on hand and watch the creation of her version of ‘Open up Your Heart’ is mesmerizing.
When will the film and soundtrack be released?
The new soundtrack will be released along with the tribute recordings of the originals as a double album on the 1st of November. The film will be premiere in Jan 2014. A Directors Cut Preview will be shown at the San Sebastian International Film Festibal in September, which is just around the corner, really. The producers want to run it at some international film festivals, potentially with some of these acts playing live… the whole thing is a big idea, and potentially a journey of it’s own in the future for live performances and projections.
Big Sky is the property on which Andrew Kidman and Michele Lockwood live with their two children in Northern New South Wales. Once a week they speak to writers, photographers, surfers, artists and musicians for Coastalwatch's Big Sky Wire. To follow Andrew Kidman's film celebrating 40 years of Morning of The Earth, head to the Spirit of Akasha blog and to check out Michele Lockwood's blog click through here.
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