Snowglobe: Ascend To The Source, winner of the 2016 Blue2Blue Drone Film Festival, is a short magical story of a man’s journey through the mountain waters for a child’s toy. We interviewed its director Laure Muller-Feuga.
Laure Muller-Feuga is a film director and camerawoman from Toulouse, France, with years of experience in various fields, from photojournalism and consulting to music, sculpture, and theatre.
Her artistic and inquisitive nature, as well as endless optimism and passion for our environment, pleasantly reflects in all her work.
Her short film “Snowglobe: ascend to the source” is a great example.
In this film, Laure uses symbolic and dreamlike storytelling to express her concerns regarding the harmful consequences of an inconsiderate use of water – one of the most precious, fragile, and undervalued resources on Earth.
In the fall of 2015 “Snowglobe: ascend to the source” won first prize in the “Short Documentary” category at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival – an international event showcasing innovative independent cinema from all around the world It also won the “Best Short Film” category at Caselle Film Festival 2016, and the “Best Short Fiction” category of 2016 Blue2Blue Drone Film Festival.
- Laure, tell us a little about your background.
- What’s Snowglobe about and where did the idea originate?
- The opening is beautifully shot. What camera and format did you use for the bulk of the filming?
- You had quite a large crew working on Snowglobe. How long did it take to complete the film, i.e., how many days pre-production, production and post-production?
- What system did you edit on?
- We noticed some famous athletes in a film. Was it difficult to talk them into participating?
- How did you go about finding the right drone operators for the job? Did you know them beforehand, or did you find them online?
- What drones were used for the shoot?
- Is any of the sequence with the skydivers shot with drones or primarily helmet mounted cameras?
- Which of the drone moments were trickiest to film?
- Where did you shoot the sequences with drones, and did you need a location and flight permit?
- Did the extreme weather conditions affect the drone work or any of your equipment?
- Were there any initial ideas that sounded great at the start but could not be realized in the project due to technical issues with drones?
- In your opinion, what’s the main potential for drones in visual storytelling?
- Could you give any advice to new film directors that have an ambition to shoot with drones?
I have a rather atypical background. My parents were working on TV shows and theatre. I started to do video in High School. I also took some photography and theatre courses in France and Argentina. I lived and worked abroad in different sectors: communication, luxury, advertising, and photojournalism.
I made a return to video in 2009 through underwater video training. Since then, I direct, shoot, write and edit footage from above ground and underwater…
Snowglobe is an epic journey through mountain waters. One man travels back to the source for a child’s toy. The goal is to awaken the conscience of humanity to the fragility of our mountain water resource.
The idea comes from Serge Martinot, the director of The Water, Snow and Ice Foundation. This Foundation supported one of my projects with Aurélie Nurier: “Eaulala” in 2012, aimed at increasing people’s awareness about water in the mountains. The videos were broadcasted on snow…So Serge contacted me to work on his idea of a film. He sent me the main story, I liked it and turned it into a script.
I think we both like to talk about our main concern, water, but in a poetic and dreamy way.
We mainly used several Canon 5D Mark III. Solid, quite light and suitable for humid and snowy conditions.
There were 3 periods of shooting, following the seasons, and the different sceneries.
- July (4 days-shooting): We mainly shot in the iced lake after taking a helicopter to reach the Sea of Ice in Chamonix. This was the main expense of the film. We also did some tests on the pontoon + some tries on the river… to make a teaser.
- September / October (1 week-shooting), 10 days in total with the preparation (around the lake with the little boy, underwater in the lake, on the lake, cascades, fisherman, boat scenes,…
- January: the “white scenes” in the middle of the film (7 days preparation + shooting): runs in the snow and on an iced lake, iced cascade, shooting with Kilian Jornet and with Geraldine Fasnacht for the wingsuit scene…
We were lucky because, even if the team was different on each shoot, we almost made the whole film thanks to the volunteers involved and positive people. Each time, the energy was amazing!
In terms of technical support, we were rarely more than 5 or 6 crew on the shoots… 2 or 3 cameramen + guides, actors.
To save time, we sometimes split filming into 2 teams, mainly during the September session.
The pre-production lasted almost one year. The production + shooting around three months, and the post-production and music creation + sound design around 2 months.
We used Adobe Première pro CS6 and other post-production software used by Picsprod Visuals, our post-production company. We also used After Effects + Photoshop and Da Vinci Resolve.
It wasn’t that difficult since these athletes are members of the Water, Snow and Ice Foundation. They support the foundation and answered positively to Serge Martinot’s call.
However, as they are very busy personalities, we tried our best to organize the planning according to their availability.
Kilian Jornet and Géraldine Fasnacht were around Chamonix in January.
Kilian had an international competition 2 or 3 days after. However, he was so involved in the shooting that his feet were really iced!
And Stephane Tourreau was living in this area at that period (he comes from Thonon-les-bains), and sometimes had to come back from Egypt where he was giving freediving training.
Stephane has been very involved in this long-term adventure, and, as the main character, he showed a lot of patience and courage to brave the cold and the extreme conditions (5°C water, …)
Regarding Tony Estanguet, as he wasn’t available all the time, we had to double shoot the river scene in a small team (with Arnaud Broussoux and I) at a different period and place (in the Pyrénées, near Pau, his hometown). Tony was really visible, and shooting his scenes was also a beautiful mini adventure of the film. Hopefully, the editing did its magical part, and you can’t really tell there are 2 different persons and places!
Jean-Marc Favre, the drone operator, is also part of the Foundation. He had been involved in aspects of the project from the beginning, either in photography or video.
He knows the different places where we shot very well and I remember how Jean-Marc couldn’t wait to play with his new drones !!….
We shot in 2013 and 2014 with DJI S800 drone and SonyNex7.
We used both drones and Go Pros.
Philippe Jean, Stephane’s stunt double, was amazing and agreed to fly for the film with Géraldine. Freddy shot them with a helmet mounted camera.
Several moments were really tricky.
For instance, the weather forecast was not very favorable the first day we scheduled to shoot the wingsuit sequence. Yan Giezendanner, a professional meteorologist who is also a member of the Foundation, was advising us on the best “window” to jump and shoot.
Thanks to her experience, Géraldine helped us to finally decide to shoot the wingsuit sequence.
Once at the Top of Brevent, the conditions were ok. But Roch, the first stunt double, hurt his eyebrow arch on a jump. We were really worried about him, but in the end, the injury was not so serious.
Roch was replaced by Philippe Jean, and then, we had this amazing shot with our drone! The second try and last one for this sequence …
We mainly shot in Chamonix and the Brevent. Of course, we asked for authorizations…We wanted to comply with laws and local regulations especially when it involves people’s lives!
By the way, we all know that practicing mountain sports is very dangerous. This movie is also dedicated to personalities of the mountains who lost their life, as in the case of Stéphane Brosse in 2012.
Or Philippe Jean who very sadly did his last flight last year…
The second trickiest moment was during the ice climbing sequence. Philippe Batoux, the hero’s stunt double, was climbing while we were shooting him. It was lightly snowing.
All of a sudden, the drone didn’t respond and clipped against the icefall…No broken boom! Only 3 broken rotor blades!
We would have loved a zenithal overview of Annecy lake, but the drone was broken. That was the end of the shooting with a drone…
To give new points of view and new ways of considering the scenery…or even actions. It allows us to think even more in terms of perspective, and allows us to mix between the vertical and horizontal…
One of the biggest human dreams is to be able to fly, isn’t it? The drones do that for the audience. Stories are “rebuilt” according to these new perspectives. They become even more ‘experiential’, which perfectly corresponds to the current requests, expectations and therefore technologies (3D, VR…)…but without VFX.
Be careful with the conditions. Double the scheduled shooting time ( I also do that for underwater filming). Here, nature decides!
Give your best to create what you have in mind. Be respectful of nature and animals’ way of life…and make people dream!
Sometimes, imagination and daring are better than a good performance…
So, let your imagination fly!
We love “Snowglobe: Ascend To The Source”, and the meaningful story behind it.
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Laure! Cannot wait to hear about your new projects!
Find Laure Muller-Feuga on: