I don't think I'll experience anything quite like filming the documentary 'Cosmosapiens'. In 2002/2003 while I was completing my final years of university I was approached by fellow uni student and Adelaide based filmmaker Matt Shannon to lens a documentary he was directing/producing.
Entitled 'Cosmosapiens' the documentary focussed on a French artist named Karom Thomasson and his creation of a giant fire sculpture in a field at Encounter Bay in Victor Harbour, South Australia. The 300 metre long and 120 metre wide sculpture was created using traditional Aboriginal burn-off techniques with the assistance of the local CFA. Karom's visit to Australia and creation coincided with the bicentennial celebrations of the meeting between explorers Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders at Encounter Bay. The figure was designed to bring harmony and understanding.
Armed with nothing more than a Sony PD-150 and a tripod I was let free to capture as much of the process involved in mapping out the crop sculpture and the burning off technique. You can only imagine some of the beautiful shots I was able to capture from of the dry crop grass burning, to the smoke settling off the ground and of course Karom pondering in awe of his creation coming to life. This mixed with traditional Aboriginal dance ceremonies, interviews with Karom and local artists as well as beautiful scenic shots of the completed sculpture made for a truly magic documentary.
The crop sculpture from The Bluff at Victor Harbour
The documentary garnered the attention of the ABC network in Australia, it screened at the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival and even a well known independent film festival in New York City. I was lucky enough to fly over to New York to support the screening of 'Cosmosapiens' in 2005 with the director Matt Shannon and two other key creatives, Adam and Peta. This trip also took us to the south of France where we visited Karom in his home, a old tobacco mill tucked away in the countryside. Each room of his home represented the 5 continents of the world, it was certainly an artists paradise. During our visit we filmed Karom in and around his home interviewing him about his art and his fascination with the female form and how this was represented in his sculptures and art. We also got to meet a lot of his local artists friends and even presented the 'Cosmosapiens' documentary to the local fire fighting service in Karom's home town. The aim was to produce another documentary with the footage we shot with Karom once we got back to Australia. Sadly not long after our return to Australia Karom passed away as unbeknownst to us he had been battling an illness. The second documentary was never made.
I'll aim to upload a short teaser from the documentary in the coming months for all of you to view.
French Artist Karom Thomasson
The camera I used to film the documentary 'Cosmosapiens' - Sony PD-150