THE SEA ROOM: Day 5

Today we wrapped our film. I still can’t believe it’s done. But it is and I am about to tell you what happened in the final day of our stay in Lithuania before myself and Sara had to fly back to London on the evening of the 17th January.

Since myself and Jonas started to discuss the initial ideas for the film back in October 2015, a lot has shifted in the storyline, the message, the theme, the basic ideas of what we wanted and didn’t want to showcase. But now, in January 2016, our film is complete and the nostalgia has already set in even though we were still filming two days ago.

Alas, on our last day which was the 16th January, we were exhausted by the conditions of shooting in Sventoji mixed with the two hour car ride back to Telsiai so we needed to recuperate our energy and we decided to draw out our credits for the film. It offered us the opportunity to connect more to eachother without having to be solely work related, although it was.

We began shooting early in the morning and we knew that the majority of what we needed was simply insert shots and cutaways of the house and outdoors. So we wrap our shoot before 12pm and pack everything up.

I feel so lucky that myself and Jonas found eachother again, after him being away in Prague for the whole of 2nd year, and that we reconnected and decided to work together again. I love the fact I got to share this project with him through which he has become one of my best friends. Sara, Zilvinas and Aiste have also become very important to me and I can’t for our screening in July so we can come together and see our film brought to life in front of our eyes.

Namaste,

Rita

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THE SEA ROOM: Day 4

It’s been four days since myself and Sara landed in Lithuania and we have bonded over sharing a room and have been connecting more and more with the rest of the crew as well.

We have become an unlikely family for which I am so grateful for.

But onto the shoot day in Sventoji: the road trip there was nearly two hours long and we made sure to pack all the equipment we might need along with heaps of food and a container with hot tea to keep us going through the harsh conditions.

As soon as we got to Sventoji, the conditions were quite steep as we made our way to the beach, with the equipment being inside my bright orange suitcase as it was strapped to a sleigh that was being pulled by our sound operator, Zilvinas. Good times.

Nothing could have prepared us for the beauty that was Sventoji. Even though the temperature and the intense wind made it hard to do anything really, the way the clouds perfectly diffused the light of the sun as it shined onto the water and the wind could be visibly seen twirling in the surface of the sand, we knew we needed to start shooting very soon if we wanted to capture nature in it’s prime.

So we shot, what we would hope to be, the opening shot of the film. Jonas in an extreme long shot walking along the water front dragging an empty sleigh behind him.

Sara and Jonas were slowly becoming one single creative being as they knew what eachother was thinking before they needed to say anything aloud. Zilvinas was struggling to get good sound as the wind proved to be difficult but he wasn’t detoured and spent most of the shoot on the beach walking along the immense lenght of it, to try and capture the essence of the amazing environment we were in. I tried to 1st AD it for as much as I could but since there was no dialogue in those sequences there was no need for me to use the clapper board so I just helped with the equipment and gave my opinions when I felt needed.

After nearly an hour on the beach, I knew I needed to shut down the production as we all were slowly falling into beginnings of hypothermia, so we made our way to the car and ate our food as we forced ourselves to feel warm again.

Later on, we made our way into the woods close to the beach, in hopes of finding an area where we could film Jonas and Aiste’s individual interviews, and we kept walking Aiste suddenly found the perfect area. An abandoned man-made swing made of some sort of sheet and rope that was hanging from a tree in the middle of nowhere. It felt mystical and magical for us to have found such a beautiful element here.

We firstly interviewed Aiste and the method myself and Jonas wanted to employ was that each of them would start and end their monologue when they wanted. It could last 5 minutes or 30, the sound recording would continue as long as they kept telling their version of the events of the first day they met.

Once again, the language barrier was not an obstacle for myself and Sara as the emotions Aiste transmitted through the tone of her voice made us feel we were there when the events happened. The same happened when Jonas took his turn on the swing and told his version of what he remembers from their first encounter. He then took out his tiny ukelele and started to play a song he loves on it by the end of his interview. As he played it, the distant sound of the ocean in the background combined with the incredible stillness anf silence of the woods surrounding us, made it a very nostalgic piece that I won’t forget for years to come.

When we packed up and made our way back to Telsiai, I felt myself fall gently asleep in the car with Zilvinas, Aiste and Sara whilst Jonas was driving and thought that these human beings were the best I could have asked for to share this experience with.

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Day 3

Hello!

Today, as soon as we woke up we took advantage of the time we still had until we had to travel four hours on a bus from Pagegiai to Telsiai (Jonas’s hometown) where we would stay for the next two nights whilst we went on a car ride to Sventoji, an area that possesses a beautiful beach that would be the scenario for one of the pivotal scenes in the film.

So before we needed to be at the bus station, we had a few hours to kill and we decided to go on a sightseeing trip around Kaunas so myself and Sara could soak in as much of the life (and coldness!) of the city as we could!

Afterwards, when we got to Telsiai and settled into Jonas’s parents house we had a wonderful vegan dinner cooked by Jonas’s mom and as we ate and drank and chatted amongst each other we felt like we had lived there our entire lives. His parents were the kindest and the cherry on top of this dinner was when Jonas and Aiste told his parents that they were engaged to be wed.

I can only say that in that moment, the language barrier that separated myself and his parents was non-existent as the emotion that overcome them needed no translation.

So after an intense first dinner in Telsiai, we went out on the town for stroll around the area Jonas grew up in and after we settled in a nice coffee shop down the road from the house, we started to discuss the plans for the next day for Sventoji.

All of us are buzzing, as we sip our hot peach teas, for what’t to come tomorrow. The only thing that isn’t exciting is the estimate -16 degree weather for tomorrow. Oh darn.

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Day 2

Hello!

Today began the first part of the filming of “The Sea Room”, as we started with the most intensely emotional and personal bed sequence where we shot the recreation of the moment Aiste told Jonas about her struggles with bulimia. This was the first scene filmed within less than 24 hours of Aiste knowing who myself, Sara and Zilvinas were and the way she completely opened herself up to how she felt was unbelievable to see, to the point where I felt like I needed to look away as I felt I was intruding on such an intense moment.

Sara was filming it handheld as Zilvinas was situated on the opposite side of the bed, strongly holding onto the boom microphone placed above Aiste and Jonas and I was on the couch making notes of the shot sequences, as I embraced the 1st AD role.

After this intense moment was filmed, we all jumped onto bed with them and hugged Aiste and Jonas as to us they were more than subjects in a film, but our friends and people who are so comfortable opening up about their struggles and are not ashamed of it. They are beautiful souls.

Afterwards, we moved outside and the freezing -12 degrees temperatures immediately proved difficult for all of us to cope, from Sara not being able to use the camera properly due to her fingers becoming stiff, to Zilvinas having to be mindful of the microphone so it wouldn’t get wet due to the snow to myself having to constantly wipe the slate board as it kept freezing up whenever I needed to slate for the next shot. Oh the struggles.

But by the end of the day, we had a viewing party of the footage we took throughout the day and we could all unanimously see the beginning of something special that could potentially be something amazing.

Onwards to tomorrow!

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Day 1

Today myself and Sara have arrived to Lithuania and it’s magical! It started snowing soon after we’ve arrived, as soon as Jonas, the director, and Zilvinas, the sound operator, came to pick us up from the airport.

Today marks the beginning of a, hopefully, amazing journey for all the people involved in this experimental film.

After we made our way, through the immense snow that made it quite dangerous to drive actually, to Aiste’s, Jonas’s girlfriend, apartment in Pagegiai and we got to finally meet the lady behind the heart of this film! She proved to be the kindest soul as she hugged us and kissed us and embraced us from the start, as we stepped into her home.

After we got through the initial pleasantries  we started to discuss what the next plan was in regards to what we intended to film first and where in the house and after we decided on the plan for tomorrow we decided to go on a small trip through Kaunas, the capital and get to know this city where we would live for a week.

I’m already excited as I feel like I have a strong team who cares about this film as much as myself and Jonas do, so I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

I’ll be in touch!

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Found a sound operator!

My hunt for a sound operator proved to be a difficult task as the initial idea of having Peter Williams be our sound operator was quickly dashed away because of schedule incompatibility, I started looking into recent graduates of the Film degree that might have either majored in sound or were quite efficient at it.

I then came across a guy called Zilvinas Puras, a recent graduate from 2015, that majored in Sound Design from Middlesex University. And he just so happens to also be Lithuanian!

I quickly came into contact with him and briefly explained the project to him and what we intended to do with it. He seemed interested so we organised a meeting in downtown Camden, in a nice coffee shop. We met and hit it off right away, as he became more and more interested in the film myself and Jonas wanted to make.

We agreed to pay for his plane ticket, transportation and food and free accommodation once in Lithuania.

Jonas was beyond thrilled that I managed to track down, not only a great sound operator but also one that is a native Lithuanian, which makes perfect sense since our film will be entirely recorded in Lithuanian.

I don’t believe in coincidences so having discovered Zilvinas was indeed meant to be.

Namaste,

Rita