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BUREAUCRACY!

Technical issues were nothing compared to the administrative problems the crews had to overcome. Jean de Trégomain explains that in each country, "we had to grasp local culture and their way of working, and fit in with it." Several levels of permission were often required depending on the "security" demands of each country, with India indisputably among the champions of bureaucracy. "We had to make an initial request to the Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry, Embassy, Army and Air Force, all at the same time," recalls Dorothée Martin. "Once we had cleared that from Paris, we traveled to scout the locations and provide exact GPS references for areas we wished to film. Then we had to wait for a reply..." A year's prep work in all, for two and a half minutes in the movie, under constant surveillance.
"When we were shooting, a security official was on board with us to check the flight plan, the GPS references and what we were filming. That evening, he viewed the footage with us. I wasn't allowed out with the tapes. I had to leave them with the censor. Out of fifteen tapes, two and a half came back wiped clean.” These precautions were due to the Cineflex's zoom capability, which would make it a very efficient spy camera. Some countries, such as Syria, ban the use of it completely.


WRITING THE SCRIPT... HALFWAY THROUGH

Another original aspect of the project—and quite a fundamental one—is that the shoot began without a script. After a year's shooting, Yann Arthus-Bertrand asked Isabelle Delannoy, a journalist and one of his loyal collaborators, to write the story with him. "In the end, I think it was a good thing because the pictures tell their own story at their own pace," she says. By watching the footage, they were able to pick out the narrative thread. Isabelle Delannoy comments: "I remember the shock I felt seeing a shot that captured the alliance between water, sky and the Earth. Yann and I realized then that it's the unshakable bond between the elements, between humans and the Earth that fascinated us. It led us back to the origins of the Earth because the iron in our bodies comes from the stars that exploded over the Earth billions of years ago!"

Another vital prerequisite was "not to fall into the trap of gloom-mongering, which isn't very stimulating. The film's message can be summed up by a paradox—we have never been so dependent on natural resources and yet we have never cut ourselves off from nature to this extent. We've gone dramatically astray in our choice of model and we have to change now. We can only change if we all realize and understand that it's vital. The aerial footage demonstrates that fact, while providing the necessary perspective to think about the issues."

Isabelle Delannoy's educational approach extended to the voiceover, which she wrote with Tewfik Fares and which concludes: "It's up to us to continue our story. Together."


THE EDITING

Given the scale of the project, and because Yann Arthus-Bertrand couldn't be at every location, the footage was viewed the same day that it was shot. A compilation from each assignment was then sent to Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who could then adjust his requirements from other locations.

This pre-selection also made the job of the film's editor much easier. Nonetheless, she had 488 hours of footage to view. Joining the project in September 2007, Yen Le Van started work five months after shooting had begun. She watched what had already been shot and put it together to give an initial overview "choosing to play on the contrasts rather than the effects."

THE END RESULT

"It's the first ever movie that is 100% aerial footage, which is Yann Arthus-Bertrand's trademark. This film really is the culmination of everything he has seen over twenty years and our objective is for it to be seen by as many people as possible."
(Dorothée Martin, 1st Assistant to Yann Arthus-Bertrand, “HOME”)

"The film shows the genius of human beings and their ability to adapt to their environment... or to adapt it. And the big question is, 'How do we choose to exploit our genius?"
(Isabelle Delannoy, Screenplay Writer “HOME”)