Five years in the making, Twice Above the Atlantic is a coming-of-age documentary
celebrating the spirit of youth, challenges of travel, and pursuit of the great American road trip.
The film is being made entirely by myself, from shooting on a Canon 550D in 2016 to editing, colour grading and sound design from the start of 2020 onwards. The movie tells the story of my year as an exchange student in America, fixing up two malaise-era automobiles, and attempting to complete a 10,000 mile road trip in the final 36 days. As a musician, the soundtrack is a major focus of the project, inspired by the music I was listening to at the time, and releasing on all digital platforms as a forerunner to the film. Working entirely through the internet mid-pandemic, co-composer Aiden Appleton and myself found eight featuring artists to lend their vocal talents, five of whom are based in Nashville, TN.
Writing the soundtrack to a movie you are also "directing" creates a uniquely convenient editing workflow: after reaching a stage of the film where music is required, I would pause, work on a song with Aiden for a few weeks, then continue once it was ready.
For each track I wanted to create something that reminded me of the place or the people I was with, and in order to create the feel of a 'compilation' album there should be multiple artists throughout to keep the mood fresh and pace of the film moving forward. After journeying through Spotify and YouTube playlists, we eventually found eight artists who were kind enough to lend their vocal talents, and by sheer coincidence, five of them happened to be from Nashville, one of the final stops of our journey. In order to avoid confusion, each track was first recorded with temp vocals performed (poorly) by myself, allowing the featuring artists to easily match up the lyrics to the melodies as well as implement some creative touches of their own.
I'm a composer, songwriter and producer who has been writing music for a living since graduating uni in 2018. I love video as an additional creative outlet, and have filmed my own music videos, tutorials and travel documentaries to go with my musical work.
Twice Above the Atlantic is completely new territory for me (both geographically and musically speaking) and has lead to the purchase of several instruments including a 12-string guitar and an Irish bouzouki... neither of which I claim to be any good at.
"It was QUITE CLEAR He'D HAD A MENTAL BREAKDOWN. AS THE POLICE PULLED HIM OVER HE PRETENDED TO BE ME, THEN HE PRETENDED THE CAR BELONGED TO HIS GRANDDAD..."
Attempting to cover 300 miles a day, in 40-year-old car, with a budget of $200 makes for a fairly interesting experience. Setting off from New York in late May 2016, my soon-to-be lifelong friend Connor Read and I headed through Chicago, across to Seattle and down the Pacific coast to San Francisco. From there we headed east again: through Las Vegas, Colorado via the Grand Canyon, then finally looping through Memphis, Nashville and Philadelphia. Connor's flight from New York back to the UK was one day after the journey was scheduled to end.
We could only afford accommodation for about half of it, the rest had to be improvised, which lead to sleeping arrangements such as a beach in Oregon, a Las Vegas parking lot, and a quarry in Ohio. Breakdowns were numerous, but so were the people met along the way who (for better or for worse) took a shine to us. I'd still like to express my gratitude to the man in Wisconsin who gifted us his GPS. If you're reading this, thank you - we couldn't have done it without you.
BEHIND THE SCENES
I have worked on this project with no representation whatsoever - in fact, that is the way I have always worked: no publishers, agents or labels. In the world of music I somewhat understand, I have maintained the best method of making headway is not with managers, merch or social media posts, but by writing good music.
Twice Above the Atlantic is entirely different. Filmmaking has always been a hobby for me, something I have done as an addition to my music and for the fun of another creative pursuit that gives me a break from audio work for a while. This is the first time I have attempted a commercial endeavour with a movie I have made, and without the decades worth of experience I have with music, it is quite a daunting task.
FINISHING LINE: FILM FESTIVALS & DISTRIBUTION
Twice Above the Atlantic is the first feature-length film I have ever made and the first to tell a story of an experience I will probably never have again. The scale of the journey, setting, and timeframe in which it takes place is something not easily recreated - and the reason this movie has been a work in progress for over five years.
I hope this story is one many will relate to or find some nostalgia in, as despite its technical limitations, the retelling of a great American road trip is something that will always bring back memories or aspirations. After a private screening for friends and family in London, it is my dream to have the film premiere at a festival, followed by release on VOD. If you have read this far then I hope you will consider being a part of this, and if you have any questions feel free to email me at the address below. Thank you.