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VIFF 2015 Interview: HURRICANE, A WIND ODYSSEY producer Jacqueline Farmer

by Jason Whyte

"HURRICANE is the story of the birth, life and death of one storm, called Lucy. She travels from Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Islands to end her life in America, wreaking havoc and destruction on her way. But more unexpectedly she also brings new life to the natural world and understanding to the men and women who cross her path." Director Jacqueline Farmer on HURRICANE: A WIND ODYSSEY which screens at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?

Yes to both questions!

So tell me a little bit more about yourself!

Cyril Barbancon, the director and I both come from Natural History film-making backgrounds. We have been working together, off and on, for many years. This is our first feature film and we both share a desire to move towards fiction, linked to the realm we are passionate about and the natural world.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

HURRICANE was a long and ambitious project. It began with a common and challenging desire to make a film about something invisible...the wind. And because that wasn't difficult enough, we decided to shoot it in 3D. So began a five year journey, of technical research and development and shooting 3D in the field. We took our cameras into storms, underwater and into the skies. Key collaborators were our local producers in Senegal, in Puerto Rica, in Cuba, in the US and our cinematographers, camera assistants and sound. Not everyone wants to be part of a film crew in the eye of a hurricane. It takes rather special people to do that.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you?

Magic moments. Moments that take your breath away. When everything is just there unrolling itself in front of the camera and you know you've got it. Like the sandstorm we filmed in Senegal. We didn't even script it, because we knew the likelihood of filming a sandstorm, of being in the right place, at the right time, with the 3D cameras rolling was practically zero. And suddenly there it was, right in front of us. And it was scary, because we had no idea what was going to happen, whether the sand would get into the cameras and kill them, whether we would be able to breathe, but it was exhilarating at the same time. Those moments made all the rain, and the wind, and the cold, and the mud and the flat tires worthwhile.

Sounds like you had a lot of challenges. What would you say is the biggest one?

There were so many ! Production, artistic, technical. One of the toughest was the logistics and getting the crews into the storms. We would sometimes have only an hour or two to take the decision to send them or not, to find fixers in places we had never been to before, to do virtual recess of the locations, to find flights, vehicles; sometimes we would send them and the hurricane would not make landfall, or it would make landfall but not where it was supposed to, or it would make landfall at night and then there would be a power cut and we couldn't film. And sometimes the crew would be in exactly the right place at the right time and we would spend the next two days biting our fingernails, worrying about their security.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

My favourite moments are, in retrospect, the looks. The looks exchanged between us in the field. Just a flash, and you knew whether we had to get out, fast, or not, whether the situation was critical, whether we had the shot. We came to know and trust each other so well, that a look was enough for the other to know. That is a beautiful thing.

I would love to know about the tech side of the film and the 3D, and how you put that all together.

We were working closely with NASA, as we have a lot of space scenes in the film. We also have a lot of underwater footage and forests. All these environments are really good in 3D, because they put the spectator there. However we were obliged to spend months and months designing and building practically everything; our 3D rigs which we had to storm proof, our time-lapse camera system, the underwater rig and the project required specific camera solutions.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at VIFF?

This will be the first time the film has been shown to a North American audience, so we are really looking forward to the reactions. Hurricanes are a phenomenon that people are familiar with here.

Where is this movie going to show next? Any theatrical release?

The film is going on to several more festivals, in Rome, Mexico, the US and Cuba before being released in January of next year.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

Well maybe they're texting their friends to say they are watching a great movie! Cinema is a shared experience. That is why it is so wonderful and will never die.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

If you love it, really love it with a passion, to the point that there is nothing else you can do with your life, you will make your films

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

That is a very hard question. We have seen so many courageous, moving films at festivals and discovered so many cultures and countries through them. Perhaps Emir Kusturica's UNDERGROUND. It was a shock. A journey.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 24th to October 9th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the VIFF app for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 10/03/15 19:13:39
last updated: 10/03/15 19:14:53
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