We’ve been working in some wild and beautiful places recently – Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, Ethiopia – but every now and then we are asked to produce in places that are new to us and its always exciting to see the footage that comes back. One such place recently was Newfoundland, a Canadian province on the North Atlantic coast and location for Netflix’ ‘Frontier’ series.
We were asked to gather content remotely for an international maritime series and knew that it wasn’t going to be straight forward. We had previously produced for this project in the Falkland Islands in their winter and seemed to follow the bad weather North. We had to find someone local who could move with breaks in the weather to get what we needed but who also understood how to get the best out of the location visually.
The island of Newfoundland has started booming as a filming location and its capital, St John’s is filling up with all the production capabilities you could need. However, our subject was in Embree, about 7 hours by car. Fortunately we found via recommendation Jim MacDonald, based in the stunning Rocky Harbour, on the North West of the island. Jim is a fantastic DOP, producer, time lapse photographer and master brewer seemingly juggling his time between a range of media projects and helping develop business for the Western Newfoundland Brewing Company.
He took the brief and ran with it in a way that made the whole process seamless. He researched the subject, secured access, had all the top spec equipment and a comprehensive knowledge of everything Newfoundland which made him the perfect choice for this. What he delivered went the extra mile with drones, time-lapse and the offer of underwater footage. The material was beautiful and extremely tight making the edit a really pleasant experience.
“Shooting in Newfoundland, especially rural Newfoundland, is quite a different experience from when I was based in Toronto. While the province’s capital St. John’s, is home to a growing film industry replete with equipment options and trained personnel, the rest of the island requires an operator to be more or less self sufficient. In my time here I have operated as camera operator, director, producer, audio recordist, local fixer, editor, colourist, and anything else that just plain needed doing. It’s the kind of place where you have to take some joy in stepping out into 100km/hr winds, heavy rains at freezing temperatures, and ugly winters. But it’s all worth it if for nothing other than when the clouds part. As rough as the island’s climate can be, the calm times are particularly serene and can make shooting feel like an otherworldly experience.
We have an abundance of wildlife here and the island is home to a number of substantial bird colonies. It’s easy to get out into the Newfoundland backcountry and find places that are truly untouched by human interference. For example in certain parts of the island the moose population density is higher than the human density. My personal best for moose sightings in an evening was over 30 as I drove to the northern tip of the island. Caribou are frequently feeding in herds in the marshes and plains, the tops of some of our mountains are considered arctic tundra – (https://vimeo.com/100905524).
ALL IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE COPYRIGHT JIM MACDONALD