Dreaming big: when Alex Farrell went monster hunting for Seagate

How the speed, reliability and durability of Seagate drives help capture legacies for future generations.

Some shoots are far from ordinary – and under such conditions, you need hardware to cope. Director Alexander J Farrell has form in this area. A few years ago, he filmed Refugee, documenting the plight of a Syrian family as it fled from Syria to Germany. “I was a first-time film-maker on a tight budget, and we accumulated hundreds of terabytes of footage,” he recalls.

Fortunately, Seagate sponsored the project, supplying drives to ensure all captured footage was secure. This relationship, and the notion of safeguarding footage, would stand Alex and Seagate in good stead in what would become Monster Hunter.

The film began life in a remote log cabin. Alex and business partner/cinematographer Joshua Lunt were drinking whisky, trying to think of a cool way to promote Seagate products for the company’s anniversary. “Under my desk was an 8big, and we got on to the idea of dreaming big and there being more under the surface,” he says.

After an initial flurry of Googling, attempting to track down a research team the Scottish government had funded to find Nessie, the pair chanced upon Steve Feltham – a man who’d spent 40 years on the shores of Loch Ness, hunting for proof of the monster. All his footage was stored on big racks, to protect his work for future generations. It felt like fate.

Alex and Josh secured an interview, but the project quickly evolved into documenting Steve’s life in a “fantastical cinematic Hollywood way”. It would test crew and technology to the limit. On location, 4TB Rugged RAID drives were used, and 6bigs in the editing room. These choices would prove vital. “We were running about in all kinds of weather – in hurricanes – and up mountains. Bags were falling off of us – but the drives survived the entire ordeal,” says Alex.

With a tight budget and shooting schedule, Josh notes time was very much of the essence. “We were shooting 8K, and often out for ten or twelve hours. You can only do so much to prepare, bringing back-up cards to film on,” he explains. “Once they’re full, you must empty them, and the shoot grinds to a halt. But the speed of upload to these drives was amazing.”

He enthuses about the flexibility of the bigs, too: “We used some as super-fast RAIDs, and others as stripped-down backup units, in case anything went wrong. We could make separate partitions, so one computer would do all the archive or backup, without fear of data loss – or fighting for ports!”

For Alex, the tech transformed what could have been an ordeal into a far less stressful shoot: “We were creating loads of data in the middle of nowhere, and once footage was on the drives, it was super secure. That was important, because this wasn’t a narrative-based shoot, even though it looks like one. Steve isn’t an actor, and so improvised throughout, giving us gold!”

Even if your own projects don’t find you halfway up a windblown mountain, hunting Nessie, there’s a lesson here: you only rarely get that second chance at a perfect shoot, and so should ensure your data is secure. As Steve himself says in the completed film: “When my memory fades, my legacy will remain.” Ensure you have the hardware so your legacy is safe, too.

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