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Feature length time-lapse video & audio collage of Iceland's diverse landscape via the Hringvegur (Ring Road) that circles the island.
Feature length time-lapse video & audio collage of Iceland's diverse landscape via the Hringvegur (Ring Road) that circles the island.
93 backers pledged $5,705 to help bring this project to life.

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Hringvegur: A Time-Lapse Circumnavigation of Iceland

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Hringvegur is an experimental film, the record of an exploration, and the possibility of a gallery video installation.

April is World Landscape Architecture Month, to celebrate I am launching this Kickstarter project to fund my second feature film about experiencing the landscape via time-lapse photography.

Iceland – the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic – is one of the most volcanically and geologically active places on Earth. 

This small European country has been described as if "someone put the American West in a blender: California's poetic central coast, the Nevada desert's barren expanses, Alaska's glaciers and Yellowstone's geysers". The 828 mile (1,333 kilometer) long Ring Road (Route 1) – aka the "Hringvegur" – that encircles the island and traverses these dynamic landscapes, has been characterized as the ultimate road trip.

Who Am I?

My name is Evan Mather, and I am a landscape architect with AHBE in Los Angeles. I'm also an award-winning filmmaker working on films that communicate the landscape in unique ways. These can be viewed at my website, Hand Crafted Films.

In 2013 I used Kickstarter to successfully fund From Sea To Shining Sea – a feature length cross-country time-lapse video and audio portrait of the American landscape via the Interstate Highway System. 

In 107 minutes the film takes you 3,200 miles, from Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, to the Golden Gate Bridge on the Pacific Ocean. In April 2014, the film premiered at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. A spirited q/a after the screening raised additional possibilities about using video to communicate landscape.

The Project

My second feature film, Hringvegur (the Icelandic name for the Ring Road), is a time-lapse video and audio collage of a circumnavigation of Iceland. 

I have dubbed this genre of experimental film the land-lapse. It is about using video to immerse the viewer in a landscape to achieve an experiential quality. The use of time-lapse video compresses the journey into both a manageable length and allows the viewer to observe the dynamics of shifting landscapes. Finally an audio collage (wild sound, music, interviews, commentary) is added to provide a layer of cultural landscape interpretation.

The land-lapse films I have created include 12 Minutes To Vegas (Los Angeles to Las Vegas), Westbank To Westbank (Baton Rouge to New Orleans), From Sea To Shining Sea (Atlantic to Pacific), and S,M,L,XLA – a circumnavigation of L.A. created for a group installation at the Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles.

Hringvegur will be filmed with an iPhone mounted from the rearview mirror – the same process used for my previous land-lapse films. I plan to be shooting in 4K video, a significant jump in quality from my previous works.

2K versus 4K
2K versus 4K

The Route

I plan to shoot the film over three days in early-August 2015, when the days are long and the weather is relatively mild. Starting in Reykjavík, we travel east across the lava fields along the North Atlantic and views of Vatnajökull glacier to Höfn; then heading north by northwest along fjords and blind curves, ascending a bit into the gravel fields of Iceland's interior to Akureyi; then west through lava fields and fjords along the Norwegian Sea, and then through Hvalfjörður Tunnel back to Reykjavík.

Route via US Army Corps of Engineers map (1952)
Route via US Army Corps of Engineers map (1952)

The Budget

My total project budget is $8,000 USD; my Kickstarter goal of $5,000 is for the initial production costs only (about 2/3 of the budget); I plan to cover the rest with personal savings.

The largest chunk is for the airfare from Los Angeles to Keflavik International Airport near Reykjavik. The project requires (at least) two alternating drivers; one manning the controls of the car, the other manning the controls of the camera and monitoring for errors. During the production of From Sea To Shining Sea, the second driver was also responsible for recording the audio (wild sounds and interviews).

The remaining production costs assume an overall stay in Iceland about about 5 nights – one night before and one night after the trip itself to account for setup – and include the car rental (round trip from Keflavik); three nights accommodations in Reykjavik, one night of Höfn, and one night in Akureyri; gas (at $8 USD/gallon); and meals (five days for two people). Post-production costs (music, film festival submissions) are not covered in this campaign. Note the allowances for contingencies (the unknown known) and the 10%-ish Kickstarter fees.

The Rewards

I want to make it affordable for you to help make Hringvegur a successful project. Although technically, you can give whatever you want, consider that for the minimum pledge of $1 USD, I am going to make watching the film online exclusive to my Kickstarter supporters through 2016

  • $1 USD = online code to watch Hringvegur through 2016.
  • $8 USD (the cost of a gallon of gas in Iceland) = your name in the credits. 
  • $25 USD = an Icelandic themed postcard to put on your fridge.
  • $50 USD = a beautifully packaged DVD of one of my most popular short films, A Necessary Ruin: The Story of Buckminster Fuller and the Union Tank Car Dome.
  • $100 USD = hand-pressed copy of Hringvegur on DVD.
  • $200 USD = an opportunity to participate in the audio collage (commentary) that accompanies the film.
  • $250 USD = I make a short film about you!
  • $500 USD = you will be listed as one of the film's "producers" in all promotional media.
  • $1,333 USD (the length of the Ring Road in kilometers) = you will be listed as the "executive producer" of Hringvegur in all promotional media.

Conclusion

In the end, what I am trying to achieve with Hringvegur, is to give the viewer a transformative experience of engaging with the Icelandic landscape with this land-lapse genre. I want to viewer to walk away with the impression that they have actually been to Iceland.

Thank you for your consideration – and happy World Landscape Architecture Month 2015!

Risks and challenges

I've learned a lot of lessons from previous land-lapse projects: the proper camera and software settings; picking a car without windshield cracks and working power plugs; keeping the windshield clean so the camera doesn't focus on a bug; driving into the sun tends to lead to blurry footage; and divert the air conditioning to the camera to keep it cool. But there are always risks and challenges.

One risk is the Ring Road itself – according to Wikipedia:

"Although paved, some portions of the road are still the original 1940s country roads, and contain hazards such as blind curves and blind summits, single lane bridges, and narrow passes. In winter, icy roads and sheer winds, 15 m/s for cars with trailers, 25m/s for cars without trailers, can make travel hazardous, as elsewhere in Iceland. Currently, 32 km out of the 1,332 km are unpaved."

The second is meteorological – we plan to shoot in Summer 2015 when days are long, roads are clear, and weather is generally cooperative. However, as we learned in "From Sea To Shining Sea", inclement weather happens – and is part of the journey.

Lastly, what we cannot account for is the unforeseen, the unknown knowns – i.e. the bolts that flew from a passing truck and miraculously bounced off the windshield during the filming of "12 Minutes To Vegas".

However, the route and planned stops have enough leeway in them, that if it is necessary to backtrack a bit to recapture certain shots, we have that opportunity.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    The Ikea Reykjavik cafe is the most popular restaurant in Iceland, but if you want your food to go, a box costs 150 kr – which is about $1 USD.

    Pledge this amount to watch HRINGVEGUR – available exclusively online to Kickstarter backers only through 2016.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $8 or more About $8

    Iceland is an expensive place to visit, a gallon of gas is around 1100 kr – which is about $8 USD.

    Pledge this amount to get your name in the credits of HRINGVEGUR, my second feature film.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Would you like an Icelandic themed postcard with a hand written note of thanks to put on the fridge? Perhaps of Björk eating a hot dog while sitting on a glacier?

    Pledge this amount and get the postcard in question mailed to you from Iceland + your name in the credits of HRINGVEGUR, my second feature film.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    POLAROID!

    Pledge this amount and get an exclusive Polaroid 600 print photograph of the Icelandic landscape taken during the production of HRINGVEGUR + your name in the credits.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    My 2009 Graham Foundation funded short film A NECESSARY RUIN: THE STORY OF BUCKMINSTER FULLER AND THE UNION TANK CAR DOME is the most watched video on my site – Hand Crafted Films.

    Pledge this amount and get a copy of A NECESSARY RUIN on DVD – a beautiful shrinked wrapped package with an essay by Matthew Clayfield set in Berthold Akzidenz, Bodoni Poster, and Clarendon + your name in the credits of HRINGVEGUR, my second feature film.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Pledge this amount, and get a copy of HRINGVEGUR on a hand-pressed DVD + your name in the credits.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    The 2014 premiere of "From Sea To Shining Sea" at the National Building Museum and sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects, was followed by a rousing q/a that not only discussed the film, but also the land-lapse medium itself.

    Pledge this amount, and I will show you a rough cut of HRINGVEGUR in Fall 2015, then record a discussion with you about the film (probably via phone) to include as running commentary in the accompanying audio collage + get your name in the credits + a copy on DVD.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    I love making films! This reward is a short film about you and I will shoot it when I am in Iceland filming HRINGVEGUR + the hard-pressed DVD + the postcard + your name in the credits.

    Your involvement will be limited to a conversation we have via phone or email before filming begins. The final product – probably a minute or so long – will be posted to my Vimeo channel for all the world to see. It will be ready in time for Xmas 2015.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Pledge this amount and be presented as a "producer" of HRINGVEGUR in the film itself as well as in all accompanying promotional material (website, IMdB, etc.) + participate in the audio commentary collage + a copy on DVD.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,333 or more About $1,333

    Route 1 – the national ring road that encircles Iceland – is 1,333 kilometers long.

    Pledge this amount and be presented as a "executive producer" of HRINGVEGUR in the film itself as well as in all accompanying promotional material (website, IMdB, etc.) + participate in the audio commentary collage + a copy on DVD.

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Funding period

- (30 days)