The Silence of the Goats

Yesterday I went to Gävle to see the goat.

Not just any old goat, but the famous goat of Gävle, the Julbocken, the goat that has put Gävle on the map and set the place alight. I was there with Al Pitcher to get a bit of goat-based footage for the film we are working on. The goat was first built to attract tourists to the town, but soon became a magnet for pyromaniacs with a thing against goats.

In the years since it was first built in 1966, the goat has been burnt to the ground 36 times, which is why we had to act fast to get some pictures of the goat while it was still standing. When you make the decision to go and film a straw goat that has a reputation for being set alight, every second counts. We made plans on the Thursday, bought our train tickets and crossed our fingers for the goat's well-being until we arrived there on Monday morning. 

As this was a last minute plan, Gustav, he of the camera skills and steady hand, couldn't make it. So it was down to my good eye and artistic temperament to do the filming. I picked up the camera and sound equipment on Friday, and received definitive, idiot-proof instructions on how to use them.  

Next stop - Gävle. Monday.  And we set out to film that goat which perhaps due to good luck and perhaps due to the wet weather had not yet caught fire. Lens cap off, headphones on, all good. We began filming, I got some great shots and asked some groundbreaking questions, the answers to which were profound, enlightening and had the power to change the way we see the human condition. Good work Al and Ben. 

Lunch. And time to check what had been recorded. I checked the sound recorder and the dial stood at 8 seconds. My heart sank. I listened back and listened to my own voice saying "Good. That's recording. I'll just put it in the bag and we can go..." Then silence. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. ... As I had put it in the backpack, I'd obviously also managed to pause the recording, which explains why I could monitor the sound, but not realise that it wasn't working.  

Not a complete disaster as we still had some good shots, but had to run back to the goat and try and recreate the moments of pre-lunch brilliance, but this time with sound. 

What have I learnt? Always check the sound equipment twice and never try and film, direct and record sound on your own. I also blame the goat and I hope somebody burns it down! 


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