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“OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY” director, Michael O. Scott

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, Jan. 17, 3:00 pm — Temple Theatre, Park City]

Over the Hills and Far Away is a piece of true magical realism. A family struggles to cope with their son’s autism. In an act of inspiration and desperation combined, they travel to Mongolia and journey through the country on horseback in search of mysterious shamans who they believe can heal their son. It’s hard to believe that this is a documentary and not a dramatic narrative. It’s a filmmaker’s dream to be able to work with such material. So for me it wasn’t a question of finding or manipulating the story, it was a question of how I was to capture this journey and return without serious injury. This film would not have been possible without the advent of new, compact, high-resolution cameras. As I galloped on my horse, camera in one hand and reins in the other, weaving side to side, up and down, lurching forward, attempting to keep up with the family, holding the camera as steady as is possible while mounted on a huge, bouncing animal, I had to give many moments of thanks to the small Canon HDV that I was filming on. The trip was definitely the most difficult I have ever filmed, but I can’t even imagine what it would have been like with a 16mm or a full-size video camera. The gift that this new technology gave me was true vérité moments in an unlikely situation. We were able to capture more than just stunning landscapes and wide travel shots. I was able to get into the story, close to the subjects, separated from my sound guy by a wireless transmitter and receiver, who, by the way, was also on horseback, mixers mounted on the saddle bags, boom in hand. In many ways, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to cinema. I love to work with actual film — the emulsions, the crystals, the hands on, physical reactions taking place. But in this case, the incredible story eclipsed style, and in return, created its own style, which, ironically, ended up being the most honest representation of both the story and the state of cinema today.

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