Two Pictures a Day in Siberia: first week

From 25 to 31 January 2015

by Gilles Porte AFC newsletter n°253

[English] [français]

Gilles Porte, AFC, is currently filming on location in Siberia. Like he did during Summer 2014 while shooting Mai Masri’s film 3000 Nights, he has offered to send us two snapshots from the daily photo journal he is keeping while working on The Consolations of the Forest, directed by Safy Nebbou. Although this time around, he is asking other members of the team to provide one of the two daily photos, whose legend he will write himself. Take a look at these images from their first week on location.
Siberian Slippers
Siberian Slippers
This is the last Sunday before I leave… My daughter wants to practice maths with me today! Go figure! Between two sets of equations, I suggest we take a break so that I can recount the socks that are going to last me for the next three months… Even though Syrine thinks my Siberian slippers (recommended by Vanier) ridiculous, she has a hard time taking them off! (Gilles Porte, Sunday 25 January)


Teddy’s Cabin
Teddy’s Cabin
This is the first photo of the main location of the film that I saw… It was taken by Arnaud Humann… He is the location manager for this film and has been living in Siberia for the last 23 years… Sylvain Tesson dedicated his book, The Consolations of the Forest, upon which our film is based, to him. Arnaud is definitely the “main man” of our film… His humour, his generosity, his willingness to help, his perfect knowledge of the area and the Buryats help us to overcome the obstacles we encounter. Photo by Arnaud Humann, location manager, Sunday, 25 January


Ti’gnous
Ti’gnous
This evening, there is an extraordinary board meeting for the NGO Clowns Sans Frontières, which I am a member of, and which cartoonist Tignous also used to be a member of… I can’t be there because I promised Syrine to spend my last evening with her and her mother, who is of the opinion that shared custody with a director of photography is not always quite “shared”…
Very late in the evening, I receive a phone call informing me that a majority of members of the Board of Directors of CSF has decided to take off of the internet the films I had directed that show Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, and Tignous drawing on a sheet of glass, a year and a half ago, to commemorate the 18 year anniversary of the foundation of Clowns Sans Frontières. That day, Charb had drawn a red bomb in the place of the nose of an Islamic fundamentalist… I understand the men and women who say that that drawing might be misunderstood by a portion of the populations that CSF is trying to help… Shouldn’t CSF be able to continue to put on shows in Burma where assemblies of more than 10 people are forbidden, and, at the same time, speak to Bosnians and Serbs, whether bearded or not? I also learn that the red noses of CSF will from now on be called “Tignous”.
(Gilles Porte, Monday 26 January)


The Camera Cases
The Camera Cases
The weather conditions in Siberia during winter and the fact that it will be difficult to have equipment shipped to us have made me decide to leave with three cameras, despite the film’s limited budget (annex 3). (Photo by Anne-Angèle Bertoli, 2nd camera assistant "data manager", Monday 26 January)


Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Expression
In the plane that is bringing me from Paris to Moscow, I come across a magazine, written in Cyrillic, which, by exhibiting a number of drawings in homage to the Charlie team, also pays homage to freedom of expression. I had already come to Moscow as a assistant camera in 1991 to film the first democratic elections in Russia at the behest of Jacques Perrin… Is it really possible to laugh at all anymore in Putin’s Russia? (Gilles Porte, Tuesday 27 January)


Frozen Lens
Frozen Lens
In order to see how the cameras and the lenses react to the extreme cold, we subject them to a temperature of -40°. Cables break, monitors die, batteries drain… It’s the opportunity for us to perfect our individual setups. (Photo by Marie-Sophie Daniel, 1st camera assistant, Tuesday 27 January)


Landing in Siberia…
Landing in Siberia…
Irkutsk Airport – at the crack of dawn… 8:13 a.m., -31°C (Gilles Porte, Wednesday 28 January)


Self Portrait with Toothbrush
Self Portrait with Toothbrush
(Photo by Safy Nebbou, director, Wednesday 28 January)


I… R… K… O…U… T… S.. K…
I… R… K… O…U… T… S.. K…
We’ll be filming in Irkutsk for a few days… That’s why we’re scouting a hotel, a train station, a marketplace, and streets with tramways…before we leave tomorrow for Lake Baikal. (Gilles Porte, Thursday 29 January)


Artistic Poses and a Splint
Artistic Poses and a Splint
While Louna and Safy strike poses in the snow, I suffer in silence… It will take me three weeks to admit to Safy that during these scouting trips, I had sprained my ankle when I had a motorbike accident on the Avenue de la Grande Armée (Paris 16th arrondissement) while I was going to…the film’s insurance company’s doctor a week earlier! Safy was shocked to see me wearing Timberlands when everyone else was wearing cosmonaut boots! They were the only pair of shoes I could fit my splint into… (Photo by Cyril Gomez-Mathieu, set designer, Thursday 29 January)


Lake Baikal!
Lake Baikal!
This will forever be my first impression of Lake Baikal… After 7 hours in a minibus, we arrive at dawn and will sleep on the banks of the lake before going to Olron Island where we’ll be living for a few months… (Gilles Porte, Fridai 30 January)


Miguel Ribeiro Retires
Miguel Ribeiro Retires
I met Miguel when he was working for Alga, in Vincennes… Before retiring, he would make us batteries in coolers in order to protect them from the cold… Every time we film we will think of him and all of the other technicians who work in the shadows so that others can enjoy the spotlight… (Photo by Marie-Sophie Daniel, 1st camera assistant, Friday 30 January)


80km at its widest point… 45km average width… 1,640m at its deepest point… 800km average depth…
80km at its widest point… 45km average width… 1,640m at its deepest point… 800km average depth…
This time, we’ve arrived! The snow that fell during the night makes the ice visible only at certain places… A single gust of wind and the lake will be transformed into a mirror… (Gilles Porte, Saturday 31 January)


First Wheel on the Baikal...
First Wheel on the Baikal...
(Photo by Frédéric Sauvagnac, production manager, Saturday 31 January)

(Translated from French by Alex Raiffe)