Filmmaker Peter Middleton Explores the Senses Through a Transformative Blizzard
Traffic comes to a slow halt, iridescent headlights are muted and residential city blocks go quiet as a blizzard obscures the urban landscape in Snow, an immersive short by Peter Middleton. Narrated by John Hull, an Australian-born academic who has written extensively about his late-in-life loss of sight, the film captures the effect of the weather on his daily life, transforming his surroundings beyond tactile recognition. “John’s diaries contain so much rich and evocative imagery, articulated in a language that is wonderfully cinematic,” explains Middleton of the journal entries that inspired his visual retelling of Hull’s story, in which blindness is described as “the borderland between dream and memory.” This view partly informed the director’s decision to shoot on 8mm film, “to capture something of the ethereal experience of blindness, and create a world that traverses the line between the familiar and the unreal.” Filmed in the United Kingdom during the infamous winter of December 2010 and again in February 2012, Snow was the starting point for Middleton’s upcoming feature about Hull, Into Darkness. Based on more than 16 hours of audio recordings kept by Hull when he first began to lose his sight, the documentary, co-directed by James Spinney, was also the source of Rainfall, which premiered on NOWNESS during this October’s wetter, fall weather.
Filmmakers Glen Milner and Ben Hilton Witness the Greenland's First Dawn of the Year
Set against the expansively beautiful and iridescent landscape of Northern Greenland, Glen Milner and Ben Hilton's subtle and touching short visits the annual sun-welcoming ritual of the country’s Inuit population, which celebrates the dawn after more than 40 days of complete winter darkness. Following the daily routine of an Inuit ice fisherman and his son, Return of the Sun examines the affects of the changing climate on their livelihood and community, and pays tribute to the locals’ innate adaptability. “While we were there our fisherman lost hundreds of pounds of fish due to ice breaking away and lines being lost, rare for this time of year,” explains Milner. “The fishermen were already thinking of new ways to hunt and the Inuit attitude in such a harsh environment proved inspiring.” Although the pair had previously worked together on diverse projects including Rwandan genocide prisoners and a short on experimental rock band Rolo Tomassi, filming in Greenland’s harsh environment offered unique new challenges. “Filming in such low temperatures with high winds is grueling. Keeping the camera out of the battering snow, keeping it warm and getting sound away from the winds was really tough, and it's so dark,” says Hilton. “But emotionally, you see nature at its most inspiring and its most intense.”
STATS FROM ON SET
Longitude and Latitude
69° 13 min N; 51° 6 min W.
Average daily temperature
Average daily wind speed
5.6–11 km/h (Force 2, Beaufort Scale).
Affect of changing climate
Ice depleting by up to 15 meters (49 feet) per year in Ilulissat, meaning 20 billion tons of iceberg break off and pass out of the Ilulissat fjord annually.
Hours of darkness per day while filming
Days of total darkness per year
Average sunlight per year
On balance, 1,878 sunshine hours––approximately 5.1 sunlight hours per day.
Traditional first annual sunrise
January 13 (13 minutes before 13:00).
Sunrise in 2011
Number of inhabitants
1 x 4x4, 6 x planes, 1 x small fishing boat, dog sleds.
Number of dogs per sled
Sony F3 with Zeiss ZF lenses.
Length of shoot
Two days traveling to location, six days filming, two days traveling back.
Clothes worn while filming
North Face everything.
Average number of layers of clothing
Arctic skincare packs and lots of ChapStick.
Food during filming
Equal mix of fine dining and Pot Noodle.
The Michelin-Starred Bo Innovation Chef Takes Us to the “X-treme” Edge of Cooking