Part One 

How It All Started


"The man had told him about a broken heart, the Rocky Mountains and of crocodile hunting. It was a story worthy of a film."

SWEDEN – I was nineteen, had just graduated, packed my bags and moved to London to work as an Au-pair. Back home in Sweden, I left my ambition of becoming an actor which was a dream I'd identified with since I was thirteen years old. My job was to drop the kids off to school and pick them up in the afternoon which meant I had all the time in the world to ponder about life (talk to my friends over Skype) during the days. It was perfect for someone who’s lost confidence and was looking to piece oneself together again during that last year as a teenager. I knew I wanted to work with film - as a director, writer, editor, producer or photographer – but I had no idea which. The longing for storytelling was there, sometimes so strong I could feel my heart ache. The problem was I couldn’t come up with a story... My imagination was as good as gone.

Henrik Sahl, backpacking in Australia.

One afternoon I told Elin of a story my dad had told me a few years earlier. On his travels around Australia he had met an old Swedish man whom lived by himself in a caravan without any wheels. The man had told him about a broken heart, the Rocky Mountains and of crocodile hunting. It was a story worthy of a film. Elins first question was “What was his name?”, to which my answer was: “My dad couldn’t remember”. Her second questions was “Have you Googled?”. That was the starting point. 

We started with our first clue; He had lived at a campsite in a village called Strahan. E-mails were sent out and soon we got replies from people across the world. One e-mail just read “Was his name Gus Hedin?”and after that we could start diggingin archives and sites. The goal was to be able to write a feature, but when we sat down and started discussing whether Gustaf had any siblings or not was when we realized it wasn’t enough with just mediocre research. During this time I got an email from an old couple who had been good friends with Gustaf. However, it was written by their grandchild who explained that her grandparents didn’t use the internet but that we were welcome to call and ask our questions.

When you realize that time is slipping by and something has to be done whether it's now or never, then there’s no alternative and a film had to be made. We got the advice to postpone the project and start making short films for practice to become good before plunging into a bigger project... But living stories won’t wait and with time, memories are forgotten. The film would have to be our learning platform.

After a year in London I went back home to Uppsala again. I worked two jobs to save enough money for my ticket to Australia. Meanwhile, we kept digging into Gustaf's story as much as we could. Quickly our research project had turned into a full-blown documentary about Gustaf's adventurous life. We wrote a treatment, filmed a trailer, applied for funding, got a 'Yes' from our local film fund and was able to buy a sound recorder, a Zoom H4n.

Nervous, excited and ready to take on the project of my life, I left my night shift at work and went straight to the airport at the end of December 2012, full of expectations and without any idea of what I had thrown myself into or what was to come.

– Viktoria Sahl