FILM = adventure. Temujin Doran: Videos about Ben Saunders (interview part 2)

Temujin DoranBen Saunders: Living on Ice
maja@tnf: In your first short film about him, Ben Saunders says that “there is something addictive about the Arctic Ocean and [that not many things in the world] can compare to the experiences that you have out there”. In the video “Living on Ice”, he points out that the harsh environment of the Arctic makes your life ‘simpler’ and give you the feeling of being “unplugged from society” in a positive way, as you actually have to focus all your energy on surviving. Do you share any of Ben’s feelings about the Arctic? How did it all look from your point of view as a filmmaker and human being?

Temujin Doran: There really is something addictive about polar extremes. There aren’t many other places in the world where you can feel as if you’ve truly “escaped”. But life in the Arctic isn’t necessarily simpler – it just seems less cluttered with trivialities. A lot of what happens when you’re there is just subsistence, but it’s also really fulfilling. I think realizing how much effort goes into surviving in such extreme conditions, can make you question how satisfying the activities you normally fill your time with really are. The problem with being a filmmaker in such conditions is that you are constantly reminded of the society you left behind – it happens every time you use a digital camera, edit on a computer, or find yourself carrying a handful of batteries in your pocket. Because the urge to document remote landscapes is so strong, I rarely headed out without my camera, but one can at times become too obsessed with how images look through the view finder.

maja@tnf: Every polar expedition requires careful planning. What special preparations did you have to make for traveling with Ben and shooting your films about him?
Temujin Doran: A lot of the preparations had to do with equipment, namely making sure I could use my camera in extremely low temperatures (about – 40° C ). Though the manufacturers were skeptical and quite apathetic, the camera I got worked out okay.
maja@tnf: Tell us about some problems or funny situations from the film set:

Temujin Doran: When I was filming in the Arctic, the flip-out screen and view-finder of my camera started acting up, and eventually stopped working completely. Fortunately I could still film okay and, after about an hour of being back inside, both of them started working again.

The best thing you can do to protect your camera from the cold, is to let it gradually adjust to temperature changes, which helps prevent condensation on its sensor and electrical parts. So before coming in from the outdoors, I would wrap the camera in a small towel, put it in a zip-lock bag [take it inside and leave it the bag for about half an hour], and that seemed to work fine.

maja@tnf: Your documentary filmmaker’s “Ten Commandments”:

Temujin Doran: I’ve only been doing it for just over a year – so I feel justified in offering only one: I don’t believe all those people who say that if you want to get into filmmaking, you have to want it more than anything else. I’ve heard so many people from the industry giving these lengthy speeches about how filmmaking requires extreme dedication, and how you must sacrifice all your other interests in order to do it.

In my opinion, a part of what makes one a good filmmaker is all the things they do outside of their filmmaking. Of course filmmaking require dedication, but any other creative or adventurous things you do will help to improve your films, be they documentary, narrative or experimental, infinitely more than just learning about filmmaking processes or camera settings.

Interview in parts

Full interview

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