By Charlie Ottley
In August last year my partner Oana and I started trying to raise money to make the last ever “Wild Carpathia”. The concept was simple: “White Carpathia” – a portrait of Romania filmed entirely in snow and ice. Our purpose: to demonstrate that this country is a go-to destination year-round and for one last time to showcase the wild landscapes, castles and villages and state the case for their preservation and promotion.
We needled, pleaded and cajoled our way into numerous boardrooms and executive meetings but no one offered to help except an incredibly kind lady called Angela. Months passed and on 21st December I received a message from Carrefour saying they could also help but we still had a third of what we needed. I decided to risk it and work the rest out later.
On the 22nd of December I jumped on a plane armed with camera kit and a bank transfer from our mysterious donor in London. I met the team in Bucharest – all of us, last minute had had to cancel Christmas with our families in order to capture winter in the Maramures. We started shooting White Carpathia the next day – Sunday 23rd – and every day since, travelling over ten thousand miles and visiting a bewildering number of breathtaking locations all across the country. Filming only finished on Sunday 31st March. We are battered and bruised, have dozens of new friends, well over a hundred hours of footage to sift through, and thousands of incredible shots.
These include stunning close up slo-motion footage of bears in the wild, after countless days spent quietly freezing in an assortment of hides. Dog sledding, snow kiting, tracking wolves in the Fagaras Mountains and the hills of Toplita. We have geothermal springs and waterfalls steaming in the sub-zero air, frozen lakes and ancient settlements carpeted in snow, the only signs of life being the lazy curls of smoke spiralling from their crumbling chimneys. We have children racing their sledges through Saxon streets, tourists on horsedrawn slays, being chauffered through wooden villages. We have sweeping aerial shots, brilliant interviews with an amazing cast of characters. In fact this could be the most beautiful film we have made to date. So let’s hope that we manage to raise the rest of the money we need to make it!
I am now going back to the boardrooms – seeking the funds necessary to cover the three months editing and post production. We also have a launch date of late September for our Gala World Premiere. Fingers crossed we will have a film!