John Martin – The Hidden Notes

This short music documentary takes a look behind the scenes at home, and in the studio with John Martin, an incredible musician who has dedicated the last 4 years to unearthing a unique sound world for the saxophone.

I’d been wanting to make a portrait of John Martin for sometime and so when I heard that he was engulfed in this huge project my ears pricked up. John was creating something unique and so I wanted to ghost that idea with what we produced.
This was very much a collaboration with John. We talked in great detail about the project and from that a script was born and we began.

It’s always a pleasure being in the studio with talented musicians and to have the opportunity to be present during the recording of ‘The Hidden Notes – Spirit of Adventure’ was a real treat. When musicians of this caliber gather for such occasions you know something good is going to happen.

The studio is always an intimate space to work in and so filming alone is always the preferred option.

Being in the room whilst the recording is happening means you have to be silent, and invisible, which is pretty hard when you have a camera in your hand and you have to tweak lights, change lenses and positions to try and capture things in the best possible way. I knew John, he is a friend but the other musicians I had not met before. You have to earn trust quickly or risk not getting the right footage, or you could ruin the session itself. The tracks are long complicated jazz pieces and they are looking for one take to use as a master. One fart or a trip over a wire and your presence will be frowned upon.

The studio footage was shot over one day with our workhorse Canon C300 and a bag of Canon primes. We had an Astra 1×1 panel, a couple of dedo’s, an Arri fresnel and some small led pencil lights that were moved around depending on the shot.

We spent another day with John hanging out at his home where we captured his master interview, some actuality and some of him playing. We were lucky enough that the day we chose was the day he took delivery of his finished albums.

The Hidden Notes record made one of the best Jazz albums of 2016.