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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #43: Orlando Von Einsiedel Goes to Congo for ‘Virunga’

Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #43: Orlando Von Einsiedel Goes to Congo for 'Virunga'

Orlando von Einsiedel is no stranger to documentary-making, having covered everything from the origins of snowboarding to hawkers in Nigeria. But in his own words, he told Indiewire, “I’m just an average guy from south London who’d like to believe that a film can actually make a difference.” Einsiedel’s documentary takes us to the midst of renewed civil war and a scramble for Congo’s natural resources. The feature follows a courageous group of individuals risk their lives to save the world’s last mountain gorillas. 

Biggest challenge in completing the project? Everything about this film has been a challenge from the moment it began – from the ever shifting security situation to the geography and daily filming conditions in eastern Congo. That all said, it’s quite possible that the challenges that we will face on release of this film will be the biggest of all. Bombs and bullets flying overhead were bad, but we may face worse to come…

Did you crowdfund? Not yet, but we really hope to do so to make sure this film is seen by as many people as possible.

What cameras did you shoot on? This project was shot on a huge variety of cameras – Canon 5Ds, 7Ds and C300s, a Sony F5, an Arri Alexa, a Panasonic AK HC150 and then a number of very small and wearable cameras. Our poor post team has had a nightmare conforming all of the formats.

Did you go to film school? Nope. I used to be a pro-snowboarder and learnt how to make films filming my friends snowboarding. Of course that doesn’t prepare you for filming in conflict zones, which somehow I keep finding myself doing from Afghanistan to Ivory Coast.

What films have inspired you? For “Virunga” films that have really influenced me have been Mads Brügger’s “The Ambassador” and James Longley’s “Iraq in Fragments,” two films I love. The film also borrows from many narrative feature films (believe it or not, this film is a bit like a real life “Avatar”) and that really came to life in working with our fantastic editor Masahiro Hirakubo. He’s worked on some brilliant features and we really wanted an editor that could bring a more dramatic feeling to this film, even though it’s a documentary.

Anything in the works? I’m excited to think that this film is only the beginning of the work on the wider Virunga project. We have a defined distribution and outreach campaign on the film and that will be my sole focus for the next few months. After that, who knows. I’d like to find something else that could top this.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about
their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and
what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up
to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.

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