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© 2017 The Girl From the song

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Chapter 01

DO WE REALLY BELIEVE IN THIS?

(April, 2014)

Getting this project off the ground took us a great amount of faith. 

In the very beginning we were just a group of film students with a crazy idea; an idea which obviously rose skepticism in our surroundings.
Who was going to believe that we were going to shoot our first film in the middle of the most unconventional event on the planet, in the other end of the world, with no money? 

We wanted the school to believe in the film but they were not sure how serious we were about it, and to be fair it was possibly too ambitious. This made us question if we really believed in it ourselves. 

That was the moment we decided to “put our money where our mouth was”

We figured we would go to Burning Man that summer and maybe even try to shoot a small teaser. We needed to know if it was even possible to shoot a film there. 

So we took all our savings, booked our flights and did everything we could do to find tickets for the five of us: Ibai (director), Marta (producer), Elisabet (co- writer), Oriol (d.o.p) and Alex, the documentary director who was going to follow us on this attempted journey of shooting a film at Burning Man. 

Chapter 02

OUR FIRST BURNING MAN

(August, 2014)

 

Nothing could have possibly prepared us for our first Burn. 

We had read everything we could read about it, we had gotten ready for survival in the desert, but it really is true what they say about how “trying to describe Burning Man to someone who hasn’t been there is like trying to describe a color to a blind person”. Very, very difficult.

Our first burn started with the most fun 7h-traffic- jam we could’ve possibly imagined, 7 more hours waiting at will call to get our tickets, 2 hours to find a camping spot at night, and 2 more hours to build our tents in the dark, go to sleep at 5 a.m in the morning and wake up to rain and mud. A few hours later, the sun came out, the mud dried, and we set out to explore one of the most magic places on the planet. 

 

Burning Man has the duality of being the most incredible place in the world but in one of the harshest of environments. 

One of the reasons you probably enjoy it so much once you’re there is because of how difficult the preparation for self-reliance is. It is a place that exudes the incredible power of human will. 

If an entire city can be built in the middle of the arid desert simply through the will of the people who create it, where is the limit? 

That incredible feeling accompanied us the entire week we spent discovering the event. As of today we are convinced that this realization was the spark that made us believe that we could actually shoot the film. It would also become the fuel that would keep us driven when things would inevitably start to fall apart... 

THE 10 PRINCIPLES OF BURNING MAN

)'(

Immediacy 

Radical Self-Reliance 

Radical Inclusion 

Radical Self-expression

Participation 

Gifting 

Decommodification

Communal Effort 

Civic Responsibility 

Leaving no trace

)'(

 

Chapter 03

THE BIGGEST BLOW

(January, 2015)

We came back from the desert convinced we could achieve anything we set our mind to.

But except for some very rare exceptions (to whom we will always be grateful), and even if we were convinced and managed to spread our enthusiasm, the financiers and partners that we were trying to get on board couldn’t get past the fact that it was too risky.

“This is an execution dependent film” 

Who can blame them? It was true. Luckily our little adventure had managed to convince the school that we were serious about it. We started preparing everything and devised a strategy to try to get the film off the ground. 

We started reaching out to film schools in the US and the UK, and were lucky to find partners (like Regent’s University in London) without whom this film wouldn’t have been possible. 

 

As we did this, we were waiting on an answer from Burning Man Organization (BMOrg) regarding our interest in shooting a movie there. 

And so as we were starting to put everything together we got an email: 

 

“We have not approved to shoot fictional stories on the Playa and don’t intend to in the future” 

 

That blow really was one of those key moments where your determination is put to test. 

We had two choices: give up on the idea of Burning Man, stop spending our money, push the reset button and restart the project set somewhere else; or we could give it everything we got and be able to say “we tried everything”

We went for the second option. 

 

Determined to at least try everything, we took a plane to San Francisco (Ibai & Marta) to have a meeting at Burning Man Headquarters (BMHQ). Walking into BMHQ felt little stepping into a little corner of the playa. 

 

To this day we still don’t know how it happened. But at the end of the meeting they told us that we could apply to the Media Application and that it wasn’t a “no”. We were ecstatic! We were going home with a “good maybe” and it was both amazing and terrifying. 

 

It meant we needed to buy all the tickets for the Burning Man event, begin the casting process , put together the crew, and basically start the preproduction of the film with no guarantees of actually getting the approval to shoot. 

 

It was a risk we were willing to take, but this was the moment we realized we needed to fragment the film into two parts.
It was impossible for us to raise the required sum with the risk involved and we figured: 

 

“If we have the money for Burning Man and we don’t come back with a good enough promo to raise the remaining funds it will mean that we haven’t come back with the story; in which case, why throw away more of everybody’s money?” 

 

With this in mind, we submitted our application, we started the production of the film and hoped that everything would work itself out during the process.

Chapter 04

ALL OR NOTHING

(February, 2015)

Determined to at least try everything, we took a plane to San Francisco (Ibai & Marta) to have a meeting at Burning Man Headquarters (BMHQ).

Walking into BMHQ felt little stepping into a little corner of the playa. 

To this day we still don’t know how it happened. But at the end of the meeting they told us that we could apply to the Media Application and that it wasn’t a “no”. We were ecstatic! We were going home with a “good maybe” and it was both amazing and terrifying. 

It meant we needed to buy all the tickets for the Burning Man event, begin the casting process, put together the crew, and basically start the preproduction of the film with no guarantees of actually getting the approval to shoot.

 

It was a risk we were willing to take, but this was the moment we realized we needed to fragment the film into two parts.

It was impossible for us to raise the required sum with the risk involved and we figured: 

“If we have the money for Burning Man and we don’t come back with a good enough promo to raise the remaining funds it will mean that we haven’t come back with the story; in which case, why throw away more of everybody’s money?” 

 

With this in mind, we submitted our application, we started the production of the film and hoped that everything would work itself out during the process. 

 

 

 

Chapter 05

GETTING READY FOR THE DUST

(March-July, 2015)

 

Even if a lot of things were uncertain we were fortunate the project inspired passion and, little by little, we created the adventurous family with which we went to the desert.

 

When we reached out online we were overwhelmed by the amount of people who contacted us to offer their camps, their art cars or their sculptures. 

This film could never have been done without the gifting nature of the burner community. 

In fact one of the most memorable shots of the movie is an aerial shot which we managed to do thanks to someone who offered us to go on a plane during the Burn and shoot from the sky. 

During this preparation we also carried out the entire casting process and we couldn’t have been luckier.

The cast that chose to embark on this journey with us are warriors.

They defended their characters in the most hostile environment with passion and relentless dedication. Without them, we would have been doomed. 

The project received BMOrg approval in June 2015. One month and a half before starting to shoot. Which meant that everything we had needed to hold back ’til approval was finally greenlit. 

 

How could we be sure we were READY? 

We had collected as much information as we could, got every supply we could think of and managed to be as ready as we thought we could be.

Specially given that only five of us had ever been to Burning Man and we had no idea how to prepare for the radical self-reliance of 21 people in the desert for 15 days while shooting a film at the same time. 

 

 

 

Chapter 06

SHOOTING ON THE PLAYA

(August, 2015)

 

We had gotten ready for it.
Our camp was small but self-reliant. A functional RV for the actors, a couple of trucks, tents for the crew, a kitchen made out of two camping stoves, a lot of coolers and there we had our set; and also the place we would all be living together in for the next 15 days. 

We needed to be ready to change the shooting schedule at all times, we were always at expense of the weather and learned to be patient with the fact that things in the Playa always seemed to take longer. Loading our equipment into our bikes and pedaling to the next set became part of our everyday life and at least allowed us to enjoy the beautiful view. 

On a normal day things would be hard but manageable. 

 

The hard days were really hard days. 

We had been surviving in the desert for 7 days, the event still wasn’t open to the public and we were already exhausted. 

We had been hit by the worst dust storm we had ever seen. It took apart our camp, blew away our set and shower, and stole from us the only free day of shooting we had. Nights were starting to get colder and everyday we ran into a problem made more imminent the moment we would need to start cutting scenes. 

And then the event started, and with it came 70.000 people. 

Possibly, the only reason this film ever got to the finish line, against these odds, is because of the family who stood together defending it. 

 

This film could never have been done without the selfless nature of the ENTIRE CREW. 

 

If it took longer hours, more work or anything that was really up to them, the crew did it gladly. We were all in this boat together, and were all trying to keep at bay the many problems that threatened to affect the narrative and REALLY jeopardize the film. We all carried around the horrible feeling of knowing that, even if we WANTED to, we didn’t really know if we could make it. 

 

I felt that no matter how tired I was, I couldn’t give up. I didn’t want to disappoint this family. I felt a responsibility towards them to give it everything I had.” - Ibai, the director - 

 

In the end the Playa provided; even if it pushed us to the edges of our limits. We managed to have very brief encounters with the community which felt like a breath of fresh air. Among them was the only moment we managed to salvage so that everyone truly stopped to live the event: The burn of the Temple.

And, as it burned, we all contemplated the fire and joined in on 70.000 people HOWLING.

The end was near. 

 

Chapter 07

ROAD TO NASHVILLE

(September,2015 - April, 2017)

 

When we got on the plane back home, after having returned from the desert, we couldn’t believe we had made it.
We were excited about the footage but we also knew there was still a long journey ahead. We were still missing the entire beginning of the film. 

The perk of doing this film in the frame of a school like ESCAC is that they allowed us to take our time. The people who had taken the risk of investing in us supported us, and the fact that nobody else had taken the risk of getting involved now gave us unique freedom.

It allowed us to explore with the editing, the sound and the music. It allowed us 9 months to find the funding to shoot the second part of the film and summer to arrive to London. And it put in our reach every possible tool to allow us to finish this movie. 

After Burning Man, we always joked that the London shoot would be like a walk in the park.

It wasn’t. (We were even struck by a Thunderstorm) and postproduction was a whole new world on it’s own. Now we can hardly believe we made it to the end of the line. 

We do not know what awaits 2.000 miles from now, or what the future will hold. We only know that we embarked on this journey and ventured into the unknown and ended up having one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. 

The film was born from a girl who shook someone out of their comfort zone. It was only natural that ultimately the way to make this film would require the same of us. 

 

If there is one thing all of us understood in that journey is that Burning Man is a state of mind that you take back home with you and bring into your everyday life“ 

- Ibai Abad - 

THANK YOU

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