Joshua Holko (photographer): “The product of more than two years of planning Ghosts of the Arctic was filmed exclusively in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in the depths of Winter. It is my hope that the film will impart some of the haunting beauty of this incredibly precious and endangered polar wilderness; as well as give you some insight into my life as a Polar photographer. I hope you will take six minutes out of your day, set your display to full screen, turn off the lights, crank up the volume, and allow Ghosts of the Arctic to transport you away to one of the world’s most spectacular polar regions; in it’s rarely seen winter veil. Please Enjoy.
My most sincere thanks to both Abraham Joffe and Dom West from Untitled Film Works who worked tirelessly for a week straight putting in eighteen hour days in freezing temperatures to shoot and produce this film. My thanks and gratitude also to my friend Frede Lamo who likewise worked tirelessly with good humour and whose assistance with expedition logistics simply made the impossible, possible. Without the dedication of this team this film would simply not have been possible.
It would be remiss of me not to also provide a little insight into what it was like to make this short film. During the shoot we experienced temperatures that were never warmer than -20ºC and frequently plummeted down as low as -30ºC + wind chill factor. We were exposed to the cold and elements for up to sixteen straight hours a day. Many days we drove over two hundred kilometres on our snow mobiles in very difficult terrain and conditions as we searched for wildlife. The bumpy terrain left us battered, bruised and sore. We experienced three cases of first and second degree frostbite during the filming as well as a lot of failed equipment and equipment difficulties as a result of the extreme cold. We had batteries that would loose their charge in mere minutes, drones that wouldn’t power up and fly, cameras that wouldn’t turn on, steady-cams that would not remain steady, HDMI cables that became brittle and snapped in the cold, frozen audio equipment, broken LCD mounts, broken down snow mobiles and more. We existed on a diet of freeze dried cod and pasta washed down with tepid coffee and the occasional frozen mars bar.
It is hard to put the experience into words, but just the simple act of removing ones gloves to change a memory card in these sort of temperatures when you are exhausted comes with a serious risk of frostbite. In my own case, I removed my face covering for one three minute take and suffered frostbite (from which I have not fully recovered) across the entire right hand side of my face. And whilst not all of this will come across in the film, I think I can safely say it was without any shadow of a doubt the toughest film shoot any of us have done.
For the technically inclined: Ghosts of the Arctic was shot in the 2.35:1 cinema ratio in 6K+4K resolution.
Absolutely no wildlife was interfered with in any way shape or form during the filming and everything you see is totally natural behaviour.