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  • The Circle
  • Off-the-grid
  • The Pilgrim's Way
  • Forget Your Past
  • Take Better Travel Photos
  • Ich Bin Ein Berliner
  • Living Root Bridges
  • A Word in Your Shell-Like
  • Comic Relief Desert Trek
  • The Industry Standard
  • Boys to Men
  • Bayaka Honey Gatherer
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Gerewol
  • Pa aling Fishing
  • Take a Deep Breath
  • Human Planet TX
  • 2010 My Year in Pictures
  • Nagaland
  • Tent City

The Circle

A Mongolian Adventure

A journey into the unknown

In June 2018, myself and Thom Cytry took off on a 6 week journey to Mongolia. Part of that trip included an exploratory reccy across the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia which I had planned in order to test the viability of a trekking route to Mt. Khuiten (Mongolia’s highest peak) across a very remote area of Tavan Bogd National Park. If successful, the plan was to offer the itinerary as a future expedition to our client list of adventurous travellers who have been joining me on unusual and dangerous bespoke trips across Western Mongolia for the last 10 years.

Thom and I had originally met one another in the U.A.E. earlier in 2018 during TAPSA, my photography Scholarship that he had been selected for. We hit it off during the scholarship and as a result I asked him if he would be interested in joining me in Mongolia to film our trip. After a few discussions, one thing led to another, the idea evolved and we both ended up deciding to pack a rucksack full of filming equipment in order to document the journey I intended to make together with a group of old Mongolian Kazakh friends of mine.

Two years later, the result of our efforts is a one hour ‘no expectations’ travel film that we will be releasing as a premiere on Youtube in just over a week’s time.

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Crossing the Potanin Glacier

Everything about this film was an experiment. My original offer to Thom was that I would cover all of our costs for the 6 weeks but that neither of us would get paid for producing the film. It was also very well understood that we would be travelling on a very tight budget which meant that, along with the costs of production for the expedition itself and payments to our staff and friends in Mongolia, the budget for the film was less than $10,000.

Throughout, we used our own rudimentary equipment for filming… Thom’s main camera was a Panasonic GH5 DSLR, and mine a Canon 5D mk IV, along with my Canon Powershot G7X mk II, a Mavic Pro drone and our Apple and Samsung mobile phones. The mantra for filming was simple: Try and shoot a professional looking film but with the understanding that content was more important than production value. It was an ethos that I had decided to try out after watching too many youtube videos shot on iPhones that were garnering huge audiences online.

Truth be told… I found the whole filming experience really liberating. No preconceived story boards, no reshoots and very few set up shots… just grab the nearest and best camera and get as much quality content as you can. It was a really fun way to work.

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Post production on this film was itself a journey into the unknown. With about $1500 left to cover everything, Thom succeeded in achieving the unachievable by editing the film himself whilst managing to find everyone else through online marketplaces for freelance services. Believe it or not, this even included a bespoke original score, written and performed by a very kind and sympathetic composer in Baltimore who we only ever met over the internet. The whole process has been a huge eye opener for me.

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So what did we end up with? Well, its not going to win any awards, but nevertheless, I love its honesty as a simple first person travelogue. I am also especially fond of the fact that watching it brings back lovely memories from that Summer in Tavan Bogd which will now be available to everyone involved for ever more on the internet.

Inevitably, in the edit, I did sometimes find myself wishing that we had taken filming a little more seriously during the trip. However, now it’s all done and dusted and with the benefit of hindsight, I’m happy that our work ethic did not get in the way of the fact that this project was always supposed to be a just a fun film about a group of friends having an adventure in the mountains… I hope that this comes across in the film.

Western Mongolia is a place that I have come to hold very dear to my heart over the years and I truly hope that this film stands as a small testament to that.

You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBYi3kC3g9g

…or watch the full movie here: youtu.be/O59DuGXdCbM

Special thanks to The Six Horses, especially Thom & Nur.

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Colour Grading: PETER PICHNOR


Original Score: BRIAN FREELAND

Traditional Music: KOGERSHIN & ERKEJAN