Recently, a new documentary has been released. The Documentary Beyond The Limelight, tells the story about violinist James Ehnes and his 2016 tour. The documentary consists of heart-warming footage and interviews about one of Canada’s most talented musicians. (Photograph from left to right: Nate Bower, Pianist Andrew Armstrong, Violinist James Ehnes)
HNMAG : What was it like shooting the documentary?
Nate Bower : Shooting this documentary was the most fun I’ve had while making a doc, but also the most challenging. I knew I’d have to travel a lot to be able to cover all the locations and make this a real ‘cross-Canada’ doc, and it was going to be expensive. I had a second camera op on the Vancouver, Halifax, Washington segments, two camera ops for the Brandon segments and recording of the concert, but I was just myself for the Yellowknife segment and the entire Florida segment where I recorded the interviews with Jimmy, his wife, sister and parents, and all the Florida cover shots. So it was tough, as a one-man shooter/director/producer/sound person. Overall, I’m super happy with how it turned out though.
HNMAG : Were there any major challenges you had to overcome while shooting?
Nate Bower : The largest challenge while shooting the doc was getting the live/walk around interview/talking while also shooting. It’s so much easier to be the director with a separate camera op and sound recorder and just be able to conduct the interview. Having to wear so many hats at the same time is always difficult, and especially with the way I wanted this doc shot – some sit-down interviews, but also a lot of walk-and-talk – without a host.
HNMAG : What was the process of the documentary being financed?
Nate Bower : Financing was actually one of the more straight forward aspects of this doc. In Manitoba we are blessed to have MTS TV – a regional tv provider. They work with broadcast licences for local stories, so I was able to finance the film strictly with that licence. I retain all the rights for the film, so will be shopping around for a second window, distributor and international. With Jimmy being a world-class violinist, I’m really hoping it has a larger life.
HNMAG : What equipment was used for filming and making the documentary?
Nate Bower : There were a number of camera used for the filming, which made post-production challenging. The majority was shot on a Canon C100 MKII, with a Panasonic DVX 200 as the main second camera, a Sony FS5 as the third camera for the concert recording, and then there were a couple smaller Canon 6D camera for 2nd interview shots and b-roll. Sennheiser lav mics and a Sennheiser shotgun mic were the audio recorders straight to the C100 MKII. The show was editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, with audio mastering in Pro Tools and coloured in DaVinci Resolve.
HNMAG : What was the best part of making this documentary?
Nate Bower : The best part of making this doc was getting to reconnect with Jimmy after so many years. We’d grown up together and were great friends, but for the last 25 years, he’s been away and so busy that we didn’t get a lot of time to see each other anymore. We got to spend a lot of time together again with so much production and in such close quarters. It was also great to see parts of Canada that I haven’t seen before. I’d never been to Yellowknife, Ottawa or Halifax before, and seeing it in this context, where we were getting a lot of scenic/postcard style b-roll, I was able to see so much of each place, rather than just hotels and concert halls.
HNMAG : How many crewmembers did your team consist of?
Nate Bower : The crew varied by location from just 1 person, to 5 for the concert shoot. Mainly it was a two-person crew for the bulk of the shooting.
HNMAG : How long did the shoot last?
Nate Bower : We filmed for about 6 weeks in total. Each location for the performances across Canada was a 2-3 day shoot because of the scheduling, and then the Florida shoot was a full week, plus all the travel time. I think it was close to 30,000 kms traveled for the whole production.
HNMAG : How long was post-production?
Nate : Post production lasted for 3 months. Right after wrapping photography on this doc, I was in Europe for a month as a camera op for another doc, so i wasn’t able to dive into post on this one until September. There was such a mountain of footage to go through that it took longer than I’d anticipated, but the end result was worth the extra time.
I wish the best of luck to Nathan Bower in the future.
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