Noma: My Perfect Storm – Director’s Q&A

Noma The Perfect Storm dessert

Photography by Pierre Deschamps (Documentree Films) for Noma: My Perfect Storm ©

It’s the last week to help fund a documentary featuring chef Rene Redzepi and his Copenhagen restaurant Noma.

There’s a pretty exciting documentary in the making that should delight all foodies from around the world if everything goes according to plan. Noma: My Perfect Storm is a feature-length documentary by director Pierre Deschamps about chef Rene Redzepi and his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Noma, which has topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times.

Deschamps, who is also a trained chef, had exclusive access to film Redzepi and Noma over three years, capturing more than 100 hours of intimate, behind-the scenes footage which is now ready for post-production. To complete this phase, Deschamps has launched a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo to raise $50,000 to prepare it for its theatrical release this summer.

Here, Pierre Deschamps discusses how the production came about, the most dramatic moments captured on film and why the Noma story couldn’t have been told any other way but through film.

On gaining ‘access all areas’:

“I met Rene Redzepi for the first time in 2007 while shooting a documentary at Noma called Looking North for a Gastronomic Revolution. It is from that time spent together that my new documentary Noma: My Perfect Storm has its roots. He gave me his book Noma Nordic Kitchen which became an added inspiration for this documentary.

I found it truly amazing what this young man was achieving, cooking with ingredients solely from the Nordic region. That dogma of limitation and that self-imposed challenge really impressed me.

I reached out to him in 2011 and told him of my idea to shoot a feature documentary to better understand what was going in the mind of the man behind the best restaurant in the world. He agreed and we signed an exclusivity agreement that would give me the access needed to be able to make and complete such a documentary.”

Noma The Perfect Storm. Rene Redzepi

Photography by Pierre Deschamps (Documentree Films) for Noma: My Perfect Storm ©

On capturing the highs and lows:

“As you can imagine when filming for such a long period of time, there are many poignant, dramatic, inspiring, joyful and sad moments that were captured on camera. I filmed during the most complicated period of Rene’s and Noma’s life, during a period of many ups and downs. One that particularly stands out to me is the case when the Norovirus broke out in the restaurant and the fallout from this.

With this documentary I hope that I have created something which the viewers will be able to connect with on an emotional level. This has been one of my main goals as I believe it can sometimes be hard for documentaries on food and the restaurant industry to trigger a personal and emotional response from the viewer.

I believe that this documentary really gets into the mindset of Rene and what it’s like to run and work at Noma. It’s filled with interesting and emotional moments from three years’ worth of filming.”

On film as the only medium of choice:

“My goal was to shoot this film as a silent observer who would become part of the team, trying to be as invisible as possible. I prefer this approach to TV shows where you can feel that the camera is in the protagonist’s face all the time.

I have tried to observe those chefs featured in the documentary with as much discretion as possible working from a distance with tele lenses of very wide lenses. This gave me, and therefore the viewer, a better overview of the situation, of their work, actions and expressions. I also wanted to make sure to not break their workflow and rhythm just because of my camera. I think that the result is stunning.

Different media drives different emotions; a still photograph will freeze a moment in time from a specific situation. A book will detail an identical moment using many or few words to give a sense of that specific situation. A film takes the viewers on a journey into the same moment using moving images and tools like sound and music to evoke a wider array of complementary emotions than the other media options can provide. It is up to the Director/Director of Photography to capture the specific moment with his/her own emotions, feelings and style. In the end, the idea is for the viewer to make their own interpretation from a specific moment or scene.

I decided to shoot with a RED EPIC, a super high resolution camera because I had an end product goal which was for a theatrical audience. I therefore wanted the audience to be able to enjoy crisp images on a big screen and a lovely slow-motion that I could capture originally with the camera without using editing software in post-production, and the RED was at the time the best option to me.

Unlike a book or a photograph, my filming of situations reflects my own feelings and shooting style, giving the viewer a unique view of Rene and Noma in general. Then it was up to me to capture it with my own feeling of the situation and my shooting style. I captured what was presented to me at the time. I never asked them to redo or fake a situation, if I succeeded in capturing a certain moment, fantastic, but if the moment was gone, well too bad.

By shooting on location for a long time you create an intimate relationship with your main protagonist and with the crew. That enabled them to relax a little bit more because they knew me. It’s not like a TV crew coming in for few days and ‘shoot shoot shoot’ and they are gone, here it was a long-term relationship and I think that you feel this both in the pictures and in the final cut.

I also worked with embarked cameras like GoPro so that the audience can view situations through the perspective of Rene himself. For example, whilst Rene is walking in the forest foraging, or whilst at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2014, both of these moments were shot from Rene’s point of view.”

For more information on Noma: My Perfect Storm, see the Indiegogo campaign.