Making: A Tour of the Findhorn Foundation Community

The Findhorn Foundation's famous Original Caravan, as it looked when we started filming in early spring 2015.

The Findhorn Foundation's famous Original Caravan, as it looked when we started filming in early spring 2015.

One of The Findhorn Foundation's famous 'giant cabbages'

One of The Findhorn Foundation's famous 'giant cabbages'

When looking for a presenter we found Michael Mitton to be an ideal candidate for the job. Brought up in the community as a child and currently working at the Foundation, he also had experience with television. He starred in Channel 4's series on the community The Haven (2004) and spoke in Markus Werner's Follow the Rainbow to Findhorn (2010).

The initial idea was that Michael would narrate the tour from a script, illustrated with video and photo. During early spring in 2015 we had several recording sessions, but it turned out that he did not do so well with microphone alone, he needed an audience. Instead, we tried having Michael walk and talk through the community..

Lego Jack Sparrow to the rescue.

Lego Jack Sparrow to the rescue.

The first video shoots happened in spring. There were a lot of takes because, while he had a lot of experience on camera, he was used to talking to an interviewer. Direct to camera was very different, the large lens being was nothing like a human face. It was the reaction from an audience that he relied on. We decided it would be a good idea to have something more friendly to talk to - like a toy bear. So, at the next shoot Michael surprised us with a lego figurine of Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean which we attached to the top of the lens.

By the summer a rough draft was completed, very similar to the one you will see in the final movie. Temp music was used from Harry Potter (for Cluny Hill) and a lot of music from John Renbourn, who's music worked perfectly for the era the community was formed in.

The showing of the first draft to the Findhorn Foundation management team went well. We nearly called it a finished film in September. However, we thought it might be best to ask a longer member of the community for their opinion. Judy Macalister checked it through and, with her head in her hands, she explained that there were quite a few things which were incorrect. For example, Michael had been saying for years that it was the sweet pea that Dorothy had first 'communicated' with in the early days. We had been searching for days to find sweet peas for the video, only to discover that it was the garden pea. It took a lot of takes to get Michael to say 'garden pea'.

Still: the Original Garden in summer. 

Still: the Original Garden in summer. 

Re-recording happened in the summer, with the Original Garden in full bloom. We got hold of a reflector for the sharp light of the sun, having experienced serious panda eye in the spring footage. In order to have Michael's face fully lit we needed to blind him so, considerate people we are, we decided to compromise, leaving some shadow.

The project came to a halt from late summer to autumn. It was during this period that we were focusing all our efforts on The Real Macbeth, King of Alba in order for its premiere to coincide with the premiere of Macbeth (2015) starring Michael Fassbender in October.

Editing the Findhorn movie tour continued along side other work in late autumn and over christmas - sometimes cutting a single word here or there to remove many of the myths that had made their way into the facts.

For people who's first language is not English we believed that subtitles, even just in English, would be of great help. Since we had a next to zero budget for this movie we decided to take the DIY approach to subtitling. Writing out the SRT files took a surprisingly long time. Watching the 45 minute movie back to check them several times felt even longer and required a lot of focus. We may extend the subtitles to French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese in the future.

The DVD body and cover design were designed by us and sent off to be manufactured, arriving a couple of days before the premiere at the Universal Hall which was held on 15 January. We decided to go all out: clowns, balloons, candles and song about bananas. The showing of the movie was followed by a Q&A discussion session with people representing different areas of the community.

Information about this movie and where you can purchase it can be found on our movies page.