given | FEAtURE film
GIVEN (Formerly the Goodwin Project) is the story of a legacy that takes one unique family on an adventure from their home in Kauai around the world. Told through the memories of a child, Given is the simple yet powerfully contemplative story of a unique family legacy come full circle. Told through the visceral experience of a 6 yr. old, Given follows legendary surfers Aamion and Daize Goodwin from their island home of Kauai through 15 countries in the quest for surf and to fulfill a calling handed down through generations. Set in wave after wave of stunningly visual earthscapes, Given blooms into a tender yet stirring exploration of a young boy's understanding of life through his familial bonds and their reverence for nature. Deeply moving, Given gives us the humbling contrast of a small voice voyaging through a big world as it finds its way home again.
Shooting the film Given was unlike any other project I’ve worked on. We shot in 15 countries with a crew of 5 (Director Jess Bianchi , producer Heron Calish-Dolen, DP (Me), camera assistant David Bourke, sound / still photographer Cody Welsh) traveling non-stop for a year and a half. When we wrapped I wasn’t the person that I had left as. Before this production I had done very little international travel. Growing up my parents couldn’t afford to take my brother and I on international trips so we spent most of the time camping in the southwest. I felt that that experience prepared me for the ruggedness of what we were to face but it did not prepare me for navigating the people, cultures differences and travel challenges we would face.
The biggest challenge for me as a cinematographer of this film was pre production. When we set out on our journey all I knew were our 15 destinations and that’d we’d be filming a family of surfers in these locations. We were basically scripting the film as we went so all I had to go off of was my own imagination for the types of situations we might be getting ourselves in. I started researching each country. Figuring out the basics like, What kind of electricity would be available if any? Would it be necessary to run solely on solar power and generators? How long might we be without electricity? Would we be shooting in vehicles? What kind of lighting could we travel with? What kind a rigging might be necessary for that lighting? Would we have access to a helicopter and Cineflex for the aerial shots? If not, where would it have to travel from? How do we deal with media and hard drives for such a long journey in such extreme environments?
I didn’t sleep much in the 2 months prior to the shoot. Looking back now, what we embarked on, I could have never fully prepared for. I operated Steadicam on the back of an elephant (Who does that? Couldn’t feel my legs. It was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been while holding a camera), strapped my body and camera to the front of a tractor (terrible idea, almost died), we shot in the Favela in South America and townships of South Africa, worked at high elevation in the Himalaya’s (Whole crew ended up bloody and covered in Leeches) and mountains of Peru (Spent a lot of time gasping for air at 12,000 feet) swam with a water housing in Class 4 Rapids of the Trisuli River in Nepal (We flipped our raft and almost got swept away). The camera ended up rigged to buses, on jet skis, boats, motorcycles, cars, SUVs, RVs, underwater, overwater, in the rain, dirt, dust, smoke, scorching desert temperatures and freezing mountains. We were covered in flies in the Outback of Australia, eaten alive by Midges in Ireland, I pooped my pants on multiple occasions in multiple countries and was throwing up out of our production vehicles on a regular basis. My mouth and throat swelled up in Pokhara, Nepal and needed immediate steroids to keep my air passage from closing. I think that might be it. Oh, I came inches away from a striking King Cobra in Thailand and I was almost eaten alive by a lion on a game reserve in South Africa when I left my tent at night. There were a myriad of other ailments, food poisonings, black eyes, boils, near drownings and other close calls. We’re all lucky to be alive. I’m not writing all of this to brag but merely to explain the extremes we put ourselves through and the poor decisions we all made to pour our hearts into something we really believed in.
The film, soundtrack and children’s book “Given and the Big Fish” are available at www.giventhemovie.com and the film is available for streaming on NETFLIX, iTunes and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!
Director: Jess Bianchi
Production Company: Avocados and Coconuts, Good Wolf Entertainment
Producer: Dalia Burde, Heron Calish-Dolen, Paige Livingston
Executive Producers: Dalia Burde, Jess Bianchi
Director of Photography: Devin Whetstone
Sound / Still Photographer / Art Director: Cody Welsh
1st Assistant Camera: David Bourke / Mimi Cave
Editor: Dana Shaw, Jess Bianchi
Writers: Jess Bianchi, Malia Mau, Yvonne Puig
Story Advisor: Ted Reckas
Supervising Sound Design: Pascal Garneau
Soundtrack: Greg Rogove