Kauri multimedia: the storytellers



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Kauri multimedia: the storytellers

Kauri Multimedia are Ian Clark and Diego Vivanco. Together they make up the award winning duo who have made films about lighthouse keepers, ping pong and trees. Quite simply they tell stories, beautifully. But what’s unique about this pairing is that they live in completely separate countries, utilising modern technology and their own unique, creative minds to their complete advantage. True to form, we caught up with them over Skype ...

Kauri Multimedia isn’t exactly a conventional set up. How did you both meet and start working together? 

Ian: We were introduced by a mutual friend when I moved to Spain in 2005. I was working as an editor and Diego had just started out as a photographer. I offered to cut him a short promotional video for his website, which went well. Luckily he saw the potential in collaboration and after a weekend of persuasion (and cold beer and great tapas) in his home town of Zaragoza, he convinced me to join him on a storytelling venture. We made our first photo film about a handball team in Zaragoza and haven’t looked back. We’ve since made 11 other films together. 

There are so many different approaches to film-making and storytelling. What's yours? 

Diego: After a few years working together we arrived at the line 'Everybody's got a Story' - which we use to clarify our thinking before every piece. We were noticing that a lot of short docs and photo films were focusing on extreme situations and extreme characters. As entertaining and valuable as they are, we felt they weren't a true reflection of us; our interests and basic philosophies. We enjoy building a story out of smaller moments, taking the everyday and trying
to create an interesting, emotional film out of it - where a viewer feels like an observer passing by at that moment, being given a glimpse into the everyday lives of others.

How do you conceive your ideas? 

Ian: Having been friends for over 10 years now, we both share similar interests and general outlooks on life.  We would never consider a project that isn't first and foremost interesting to us... 

Diego: Yes. Looking at the subjects of our films: Football, Hot Air Balloons, Lighthouses, Trees, Bikes, Sketching etc, they are basically things that we like about which we'd like to learn more ourselves. That’s where we find our ideas and it seems to work well for us. 

Tell us more about your creative process and how you both work together being in two completely different locations…

Diego: Skype, WhatsApp, Dropbox and Wetransfer are absolutely fundamental in allowing us to achieve what we do.  After we settle on an idea, we chat at length about the story at its heart.  After that we discuss shooting and edit style. At an early stage we will brief in our friend who composes all of our music. Then when shooting is done and all the files are sent from Spain to England, we begin the editing process, which thanks to lengthy pre-production discussions is largely a fluid process, aside from arguing about favourite shots to include or not!

Ian: That’s right. However experience has shown us that it’s far easier and quicker when we are both in the same room at the same time - but we don't let that stop us.

(left) 'Ralliers' poster (right) Diego shooting 'Baskets & Burners'

What are the key values and traits that you have together that allow you to succeed creatively and as story tellers? 

Ian: It’s a hectic world right now with people seemingly busier than ever, but we both recognise that no one is obliged to live life at such a pace. This influences all of our thinking at every stage of our projects.

As a small independent film company, in what ways are you bringing attention to your work? 

Ian: To be honest, this is a problem area for us.  Neither of us are naturally engaged with social media and would have to admit to an aversion to marketing, press and publicity. To date we have relied on word of mouth, festivals, winning a few prizes and interviews such as this one.  

Diego: Our 'breakthrough' film 'They Are the Last' was given a staff pick on Vimeo and won a prestigious award in DC, screening in cinemas across the States as a result. Havana Bikes has been viewed over 150 thousand times and toured festivals around the world.  This gives us a lot of confidence in ourselves and our films when we approach publishers and we're slowly seeing results, with people taking us more seriously as storytellers.

What can be achieved in film that can’t be done in other disciplines? What is special about the medium?

Ian: A film allows you to honestly reflect a situation. Whereas other mediums rely on certain degree of imagination to piece together the story, film allows us to be mere observers. The possibilities of sound and moving image are limitless, there are no rules - you can do whatever you want with it.

As technology evolves and storytelling becomes more and more accessible to people, what advice would you give to young creatives?  How can they can stand out from the crowd?

Ian: Forget the tools, the latest equipment and current trends.  Believe in your stories and be honest as a person, drawing as much experience as you can from daily life.  In my day job in advertising we're constantly told to 'know your audience’. Over our time making short films it's become clear that what is more important is 'know yourself'.  Develop a style and vision and be true to it. Don’t consciously try and stand out from the crowd.

Finally, as you continue to grow, what’s the goal? Where do you see Kauri in 10 years?

Diego: These films are immensely satisfying to create. As long as we are still able, we will keep making them, it would be great to make a living from them, but what is more important to us, is to create a body of work which reflects us, our lives and experiences.

  • Ian & Diego were Interviewed by Samuel John Weeks
  • Edited by Alex Mills
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