Field Notes Interview #38: Florent & Amberly (Of Two Lands), Filmmakers
Clear communication is key to any successful partnership. Whether it's a professional collaboration or a personal relationship, getting on the same page is absolutely critical. The filmmaking duo—and French/Australian couple—that make up Of Two Lands handle this balance between the two worlds with ease in their beautiful travel films.
Over the past week, we collaborated with Florent and Amberly on a series of films on our Instagram. Each 15-second film documented their travels to New Zealand and the interesting characters and scenery they interacted with. Each soundtrack provided a sense of wonder and awe within the vignettes and captured the spirit of travel.
We got a chance to chat with both Florent and Amberly about how they use music as a driving character in their compelling travel films.
M: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
F: I knew that I wanted to be involved in the film-making process in one form or another, since I was 12 years old when I first saw The Lord of The Rings. This is the first time that I wanted to know more about what happened behind the camera to bring the stories to life.
A: I always had an interest in films as well as photography, and meeting Florent fueled that interest further, so much so, that we decided to create films and stills together as a way of furthering our enjoyment of these mediums.
M: What's your favorite moment of the filmmaking process?
F: Finding a suitable location, and all aspects of shooting, from camera & lens choice, to angles and lighting.
A: Getting to know the subject (if it is a person, getting to know the character, and if it is purely landscape, getting to notice the finer details of the surroundings) Learning as I go, from mistakes as well as successes.
When we make a film together, we both have our strengths and weaknesses, and we learn a lot from each other during the process.
M: What do you think defines a filmmakers' voice?
OTL: Their choice of subject matter and the way in which it is portrayed, such as shooting style / editing / music, all play a big part in defining the voice of a filmmaker. The way in which the film-maker tells their story and conveys their message, and if they can get that message across clearly and move their audience even in some small way. A filmmakers background, lifestyle and past experiences can often shape their work and style, which makes for a nice variety as everyone is different and feels differently about a given subject.
M: Tell us more about your project?
OTL: At the moment there isn't one project in general, but we are currently editing footage from a recent trip to New York and Canada. Our focus at the moment is travel, as it is what we love to do, however we have recently made more personal ‘portrait’ style videos which we really loved and want to pursue more of in the future as well.
Of Two Lands was created as an outlet for us to share and to push us to tell more stories and discover more places and characters.
Our Marmoset project consists of 7 mini films (15 seconds each) and aims at providing short glimpses of different areas of one of our favourite countries in the world, New Zealand. The breathtaking scenery of ‘Middle Earth’ is unsurpassed by any other one place, and we instantly fell in love with the awesome mountains, glassy lakes and cascading waterfalls. We are hoping to make this beautiful place our home at some point in the future. Being able to be close to mountains, forests and landscapes that we love would be our ultimate dream.
M: Are there ever any happy accidents when filming?
OTL: Of course, we are constantly surprised by things we either hadn't noticed, or else hadn't anticipated. Even small moments we can learn from happen in all projects. Leaving the camera going for example (an old trick) can lead to some happy insights to a character being interviewed. If the weather isn’t quite how we’d hoped, but we get a different vibe and experience as a result. or even if we can’t quite shoot a subject in the way we had expected, but we have to adapt to a situation, it can lead to new angles and ways which we hadn't thought of shooting.
M: What role do you feel music has in film?
OTL: Music and audio in general is as important as the other elements which make up a film (visuals, story, characters etc). It can set the mood and tone, make you cry, make you happy / sad / scared, feel empathy for the characters in the story. Some of today’s best filmmakers such as Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, & Spielberg etc rely heavily, in different ways, on music to set the mood and tone of their movies, and are famous for it. It’s difficult to imagine Star Wars, Jaws, or Jurassic Park for example, without their classic theme tunes!
M: When do you know that you have something ready to show the world?
OTL: When we are watching it over and we don’t feel that we can add anything else that will further enhance the piece, or that we have reached the maximum impact we can (or when we are sick of looking at it ;). We try to imagine our films seen by other people or made by someone else and whether we would like to watch it ourselves, and view it all the way to the end. There is always room to improve, we are never 100% satisfied, but we try to get as close as possible to feeling content with what we have created.
M: How do you feel music is misused in projects?
OTL: Over-use of music in our view is a problem (i.e the same song in many different films). We often see videos which have what we feel is the wrong song, and can take away the quality of the cinematography and editing.
When we select music, we try to find a song / songs which suit the pace and atmosphere of the footage, and what we are trying to convey. We often see songs used purely because they are ‘on-trend’ rather than because they suit the video, and this can take you out of the viewing experience, and can remind you of work which you have viewed previously.
M: What's coming up?
OTL: For our next trip, we plan on setting off on another adventure, this time to the Arctic (Iceland / greenland); where we will (as always) document our adventures and try to do justice to the beauty and culture of these two unique places. Crossing the arctic circle has always been a dream, and we can’t wait to be able to make this dream a reality!