When I read the book trailer script for The One Memory of Flora Banks, I was thrilled by the visual potential. Being a video maker for books requires a deep understanding of the source material and the script was right on point. Emily Barr’s novel tells the story of a girl with no short-term memory and her journey from the coast of England to the Arctic region of Svalbard. To convey aspects of Flora’s unstable memory, I imagined hazy, indistinct images, and a rhythmic repetition of shots.
How do you portray a journey across the Arctic when it’s springtime in Los Angeles? I was determined to shoot in real locations and real snow. Iceland began to make more and more sense. A number of popular films and TV shows were shot there, including Interstellar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Fortitude, and Game of Thrones.
By keeping the crew small, it was feasible to shoot this book trailer overseas. I recruited cinematographer and video maker Paul Theodoroff to share camera duties, and off we went.
|Anja Eichler and Colton Davie on location outside Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Paul Theodoroff.|
A key element of the book is Flora’s one lasting memory. The only thing that doesn’t slip through the cracks of her mind is the night on a black pebbled beach in England when she kissed Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend. It’s this one memory that spurs her on in her quest to find Drake in the Arctic.
Flora so romanticizes this thought that it seems to exist somewhere between memory and fantasy, and we needed a way to communicate that visually. The first step was to shoot this scene in silhouette and this created a sense of mystery and intimacy. Still, I felt another layer was required.
As a cinematographer, I am fascinated by lenses. No matter what happens in front of the lens, or what camera is behind it, everything is filtered and interpreted through this eye. Each lens interprets the world in a different way and these differences range from nearly imperceptible to quite dramatic.
Flora’s perception of the world, and this moment, is unique. I wanted to see this scene in a similarly unique way. So, I decided to build a lens myself, specifically for this project.
Flora’s memory of the beach scene, shot on Reynisfjara Beach, was the last thing we filmed. The homemade lens gave such a different look from everything we had shot prior that I wondered if it was the right choice. But we embraced it and took the plunge, and I am very glad we did. Here are some of the images we produced with this lens:
And check the scene out in context in the official book trailer for The One Memory of Flora Banks.
Colton Davie is a cinematographer who loves snow, optics, and sometimes directs book trailers. See his work at http://coltondavie.com and on Instagram @coltond719.