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Production Journal

Filmmaker Adele Horne talks about working with Global Recordings Network and the difficulties of filming without access to electricity.

POV: You spent a great deal of time, much of it in remote locales, with members of GRN. Tell us a little bit about the ground rules you established with them. Did you encounter differences of opinion over the handling of the film's content? If so, how did you manage those situations?

The Tailenders - Filmmaker Adele Horne sets up a solar power generator that will charge her camera's batteries in the Solomon Islands, where most villages are without electricity. Photo credit: Rebecca Baron.

Filmmaker Adele Horne sets up a solar power generator that will charge her camera's batteries in the Solomon Islands, where most villages are without electricity. Photo credit: Rebecca Baron.

Adele Horne: In making the film, I promised Global Recordings Network that I would turn off the camera at any time they requested during the filming of their activities. It was only requested once or twice, but it was a valuable ground rule because it allowed the group to decide when they wanted private time to talk without being filmed. I also agreed to show them the film when it was finished and to listen to and consider their comments and responses. In the summer of 2005, before I did an online edit, I met with about a half-dozen key staff members of GRN to show them the film. Their responses were mostly positive, with a couple of small suggestions. Ten months later, as the POV broadcast approached and more people in the organization watched the film, the organization contacted me to discuss some new concerns that various staff members had expressed. We met and discussed them. Ultimately, I felt the areas of concern centered on interpretive issues rather than factual errors and did not warrant a substantial revision of the film. While it was sometimes an uncomfortable process to discuss differences of opinion, I found it a valuable experience as a filmmaker to listen to responses and to talk about how each of us interpreted the film.

POV: Tell us how a filmmaker makes a film out in the "middle of nowhere," as it were.

Adele: One of the biggest challenges in filming in the Solomon Islands was that there is no electricity on many of the islands. It was possible that we might encounter the occasional generator during our travels but I couldn't count on it. I needed a way to recharge my camera batteries. I called a lot of cinematographers to ask advice. I even stumped a National Geographic cinematographer, who said they always used vehicles to charge their batteries, using an adapter attached to the cigarette lighter. Most of the islands where we would be traveling have no cars. Of course, solar energy was the obvious way to go, and I eventually found a great place in Massachusetts to rent a solar panel — about the size of a cookie sheet — and 12V battery rigged with an adapter for charging camera batteries. Wherever we stayed, I laid the solar panel out in a sunny spot on the grass for a few hours to charge my batteries. I also traveled with a water-tight camera case that had silica gels inside to help absorb moisture from the humidity, which can interfere with the camera's operation.





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