Posted by & filed under DVDs/Books, Urban Projects.

by Frank Gapinski

Editor’s Note: A few days ago I shared the latest on the Urban Permaculture DVD. Frank, who is the video genius behind our DVDs, gives his own inside view of working with Geoff in this latest creation, below.

It’s been a whirlwind trip over the last six months putting the pieces together for what is to become The Urban Permaculture DVD with Geoff Lawton.

Nothing goes quite according to script and yet making a video like this is a bit like herding cats. It’s chaotic — like walking into a jungle of vines, monkeys and snakes, you are not sure where you are heading or if the whole project will sink into a disaster.

Permaculture is a bit wild and rampant and just when you think you have it all figured out, neat and tidy-like and have it organized and in the bag — a spanner gets thrown into the works and you realize there is so much more to the story that can be told in 90 minutes.

We haven’t even scratched the surface. So what’s it like herding cats with Geoff Lawton? There’s always a surprise in store. It’s like taking an adventure walk into the forest or a trip in a canoe down a mysterious river that no one has seen before.

An Example: We visited a community garden the other day to talk about growing food in tanks. Shooting that segment was going well when Geoff noticed something growing wild in the corner of the field. He picks up an insignificant little plant with a small number of pink flowers. “This is Herb Robert.” he whispers, “We can discuss this if you’re interested in putting this in the film.”

So we do, and he gives a rave on the medicinal power of three insignificant looking plants that most people would overlook or trample on – like I did – and why we should grow them in our Urban Gardens. This becomes a small chapter in this film on the power of growing your own medicinal herbs. So that’s what it’s like filming with him. Happy accidents abound like serendipity. You have to be in the right spot to see them – and take advantage of what they have to offer.

And so it goes with Geoff. If I write a script – he wont read it or says he’s too busy. Occasionally he will paraphrase it in his own words and improve the idea spontaneously in front of the camera. But what you are getting isn’t a pre-written massaged permaculture textbook spiel that’s been nutted out days before and delivered mechanically. That’s not how it works – but something that is spontaneous and unrehearsed, wild and instinctive. Geoff says he doesn’t know where the words come from. But his impact jumps out on the screen. One minute he talks about the aphrodisiac effect of eating quail eggs and the next he’s got his hands covered in azolla and extolling the virtues of algae. That’s Geoff Lawton. The camera likes his untidy and scruffy appearance. From out of all this chaos – order is formed. Or is it in the edit? (We can’t give him too much credit.)

Geoff admits we are nature. We are part of it all. We are not separate from that very essence. He also loves fishing. He prides himself on being a good fisherman. Making a film with him is like going fishing. You are not sure what “catch” you’ll bring back as you set off for a day’s adventure. But, coming home after a day’s filming, and looking at it all on the editing timeline, the haul is always unexpected and interesting. Dark and mysterious….

The film is 98% done. Geoff would like to show it first at a special screening at the 10th International Permaculture Conference in Jordan later this year. Look out for it when it comes out around September. It’s packed with good ideas. We are also editing a bundle of extras to go with it, on Geoff planning a few backyard gardens.

3 Responses to “The Making of the Urban Permaculture DVD”

  1. purplepear

    I am excited by the thought of it’s release and see that something that inspires us to discover for ourselves is perhaps more important than a text book on something that changes by the second and by the situation.
    I love Franks work and am sure that Geoff has something to do with that though the edit is probable the real trick.
    Herding cats is a great phrase.

  2. alex seton

    I love these videos immensely; Geoff Lawton is a legend. I can’t wait to see it!


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