From the earliest stages of planning the Carpenters Without Borders project, I almost knew I’d be writing a book all about it. It was sure to be too unique a thing not to share with our readers. I wanted as many people to experience hand hewing, joining, and raising a frame as possible.
But as I started planning the book, I knew words alone would never be able to capture the thud of the axes on the logs or the graceful movements of skilled hands at work. This is the kind of thing you need to see for yourself. So we started pondering what a film documentary would look like alongside the book, but we knew right away that wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Mike and I have produced our own full-length instructional videos, but a documentary was uncharted territory for us. We needed someone with a lot more experience in the film industry. I called my brother, Sam Klein.
Sam is a filmmaker who recently moved from Los Angeles to New York City. He’s been doing grip work for various projects over the years in addition to making his own independent short films. He’s worked on quite a range of styles – everything from sci-fi and horror to comedy. I knew he would be up for working on such an unusual project.
Sam was enthusiastic about the idea right out of the gate. Though his schedule was tight during that week of the build, he captured hours and hours of film the first several days, and Mike took over the camera for the final few. It was great to see Sam dive in to understand the foreign world that is pre-industrial timber framing. Not being a woodworker himself actually turned out to be a huge asset to the film because he made sure to get crystal clear explanations of the construction process, not assuming the viewer has prior knowledge of piquage or any of the other technical aspects.
Back home with all the footage, Sam sorted through hours and hours of clips, and began to send over sample edits. I got goosebumps seeing those beautiful shots – They were so vivid and rich and captured the heart of the carpenters’ work so well. Not only did he make a compelling presentation of the work on the carpentry site, but he so artfully brought in the human touches of unique personality, shared laughter, and feasting. Yes, even the significance of the food was covered. Sam has put together a holistic and unbelievably compelling presentation for us all to enjoy.
We have been getting emails and comments from those of you who have watched the film since it was released last Friday, and to be honest, it is the most enthusiastic feedback we’ve ever gotten about anything we’ve put out. People seem to be pumped about the film, saying they’re planning to watch it over and over.
As I was writing the book, Sam was sending me clips. When I saw what he was putting together, the complementarity of the book and the film together struck me, and I realized that these two should be conceived of as a pair. Although there is some crossover in that they both cover the same event, they are two very different presentations. The film shows you what happened (sights and sounds), and the book tells you why it happened and reflects on what it means for us as makers today.
I’ve been sending Sam a bunch of the praise from our customers and he greatly appreciates it. It’s been suggested that he enter this film into the festival circuit. I’m encouraging him to do so – I know it will be loved everywhere it’s shown.
One of our customers just sent us this gushing note:
“Words cannot adequately express the joy I had in watching this superbly done video. I wanted it to go on for hours. The cameos by all of the carpenters, the details of the food production, the tools and methods used, the lobster bake at Pumpkin Island lighthouse, the viola and violin music by your wife and her friend at the raising, and so much more, all were just so delightful to see and hear. I will watch this multiple times as I am sure that at each viewing I will appreciate something that I missed before. The lovely harmony of these carpenters working together, and from so many different Countries, was very refreshing to see.
Thank you and all those persons responsible for producing this remarkable film that all of us hand tool woodworkers can enjoy time and again. I am looking forward to the accompanying new book with great anticipation as well, just as I do my M&T magazines.”
Sam deserves every bit of this praise. The film is incredible.