Many thanks for the call
Thanks for the opportunity to sit down and brainstorm around this project. We have worked for many environmental orgs across the state and beyond but this project presents unique challenges and we are looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective. Our goal as a company is to work especially for environmentally minded organizations so this opportunity gets us more than a little excited.
This project calls for a delicate mix of macro and micro storytelling. By interweaving intimate character vignettes and omniscient narration over sweeping aerials we will be able to achieve a balance of big picture information about the state of Maine and intimate personal experiences from real Mainers. Each of these character vignettes will illustrate a different aspect of the public/private collaboration experience which you seek to highlight at this upcoming conference. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, here is a quick intro to Timber & Frame.
The T&F Team
Timber & Frame is an EMMY award winning boutique production company that makes films around the world and lives on the coast of Maine. We specialize in working with nonprofits and especially environmentally focused organizations such as The Trust for Public Land, National Geographic, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy. The T&F team has filmed in challenging environments from Cuba to Bosnia from the Ecuadorian Amazon to the border towns of Mexico.
We pay our bills making commercials for the likes of Motorola, Country Crock and Unilever and spend our extra time creating feature length documentaries about issues we are passionate about. We are currently making a film, The Mountain and the Magic City about the creation of the controversial national monument in the Katahdin Region.
Watch some of our past work here:
Now back to the idea..
Here are the two main pillars we will use to create the film:
We will conduct interviews with each subject and film scenes of them interacting with partners in conservation, recreation or business as well as with the land. For instance imagine Jim Robbins moving through his family’s saw mill in the early morning, dust floating in the sun and you hear his voice describing what it is like to be a multi-generational steward of the land. We hear him speak of his father and grandfather before him and the legacy he wants to leave his children. He goes on to describe the collaborations he has had with public organizations and how they have helped protect the forest for future generations. Maybe we see him meet a Fish and Wildlife official and they share a moment with Jim showing him around the mill or welcoming him into his home.* Through the individual experiences of these real people we will achieve a sense of authenticity that scripted narration alone can not replicate.
*(*disclaimer: I do not know the nature of Jim’s relationship with Fish and Wildlife, I am using this as an example and defer to the knowledge of the client as to which collaborations are appropriate to document)
Our scripted narration will interweave between our character vignettes and bookend the video. It will serve to provide a larger context for the film. It will allow you as the client to insert the specific messaging you want to convey. Imagine the facts about the scale of the wilderness, the amount of public land in Maine, etc. being told through a weathered voice while you see sweeping visuals of the Penobscot river at sunrise or trees stretching as far as the eye can see.
In this way we get the best of both worlds, intimate emotional driven testimony from real people and straightforward, fact driven narration to provide the bigger picture.
Look & Feel
We are a professional documentary team and we will bring a documentary style to this project but that doesn’t necessarily mean, run and gun without regard for composition and lighting. Building on the fundamentals of the documentary form we will be adding a cinematic sensibility. Low depth of field and primarily backlighting will create a sense of the ethereal. By focusing our shooting around the “magic hours” of natural light that happen in the hours just before and after sunrise/sunset we will achieve the golden quality that many films try to fake with big lights. There is a realism and a power to using natural light that is hard to fake. My team’s speciality in working with natural light will serve us well in the ever changing light conditions we will face from Portland to Brookton.
Interviews will be filmed but our emphasis will be to not show talking heads and instead to show our interviewees doing things, interacting with people and illustrating the points they are making in their voice overs. Aerials will be pivotal to juxtapose the intimate moments with our interviewees with the sweeping landscapes of the state. We will utilize z-axis camera moves using a gimbal camera stabilization system instead of pan or tilts in order to achieve a more engaging and cinematic sense that will bring our audience on a journey into the Maine woods.
We will travel across the state, over 500 miles total with a 2-3 person documentary team (more than 50% of whom would be born and bred Mainers and Ben the New Hampshire guy..) to chronicle the stories of four key individuals (as selected in the creative brief) who would be interviewed and then filmed in a variety of scenes.
Programming footage will come from either staged scenes organized by T&F to be filmed while on location or from the archival resources provided. For example Josh Royte from TNC could be interacting with the public or have a member of one of the partner organizations (Maine Fish and Wildlife possibly) be interacting with Roger Milliken or Jim Robbins, this would illustrate the public/private partnerships in a visual way. Any other specific programming footage that we want to include would come from archival resources already provided by client in the references. The same will be true of recreation footage which would come from a mix of the T&F archive (snowmobiling, canoeing etc) and the archives of the client organizations.
The T&F Archive
We have a substantial back catalog of already filmed footage of the Maine woods that we will utilize for this project. The majority was shot for our feature documentary about the Millinocket region that we have been working on for the past year. It includes aerial footage as well as z-axis gimbal footage in the north woods in winter, fall and summer (specifically in the Millinocket/Patten/East Branch Penobscot areas). Being able to utilize this back catalog gives us the ability to show many seasons at the same level of production value that we are bringing to the project and not needing to use footage collected from other sources all the while keeping the production costs within budget.