A Voice Once Heard

Alone in a vast forest, a sound recordist attempts to capture the communications of the trees as they converse through the mycorrhizal fungi deep within the soil. Their words hide beyond the perception of humans or technical equipment, but their voice may lie hidden within the sounds that flow throughout the landscape. The sound recordist searches in the wind, the rain, in the animals that live amongst the forest, and within the final whispers of fallen trees, small echoes of this concealed realm break through along the way. As night begins to fall and the last beams of light flicker through the thick forest canopy, the perspective of the sound recordist slowly shifts into one that is far beyond our own, where the inner world of the trees seeps out of the bark and echoes through the night.

  • Andy Heath
  • Beth Turton
    Key Cast
  • Andy Heath
    Key Cast
    "Sound Recordist"
  • John Tod
    Additional Camera
  • Colm Higgins
    Additional Camera
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 10, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Edinburgh College of Art
Director Biography - Andy Heath

Andy Heath is a 24-year-old filmmaker from Staffordshire, UK. He has graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a Distinction in MA Film Directing and previously graduated from Liverpool John Moores with a First-Class degree in BA Film Studies. He was also awarded the Linda La Plante Fund Prize for practice as research for his mixed-media dissertation, that consisted of the short film As Huge As He Had Been and a written piece discussing the ways in which landscape can be utilised in cinema to convey elements of nature that lie beyond human perception. Throughout his work Andy has created multiple sensory-based short films in both Fiction and Documentary that focus on nature, landscape, and the ecological connections between humans, animals, and their surroundings.

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Director Statement

Through this film, I intended to craft an experiential way of understanding the relatively recent discovery of how the trees in a forest are able to communicate with one another through mycorrhizal fungi within the soil. Rather than communicating these concepts through traditional documentary approaches I instead opted to convey them through a more poetic, sensory-driven form of filmmaking, where the aesthetic elements of the film take centre stage.

The film’s structure was in part inspired by the writings and work of Peter Wohlleben and David George Haskell, in that they propose the various ways of listening to trees and their own phenomenological interpretations of such sounds. Through the recording of various elements of the natural world interacting with the trees, like the wind, rain, or animals, distinct sounds that are individual to each tree or location begin to emerge. These recorded sounds are presented in the film as the sound recordist’s attempts at capturing the communications of the trees. As the film progresses, the perspective of the sound recordist shifts into an unanthropocentric perspective, where the ineffable inner realm of the trees is presented through an aurally and visually manipulated sequence. It is common within cinema, and especially documentary film, to be centred around and be from the perspective of humans, with their surroundings being demoted to the background. However, in this film, I aimed to break free from this limitation and create, through the aesthetic and narrative approaches within the film, transcendental non-human perspectives that an audience is able to experience. I strived to approach the different realms of the humans and the trees as equally important and valuable, with the attention being to bring the plants and animals, that often reside in the background into the foreground.

I was fascinated by learning of the discovery of these complex mycorrhizal networks but a part of me was almost unsurprised. Looking throughout our human history through mythology and folklore it seems as though we have always known. The trees’ commanding presence in our stories and our spiritual and emotional connections to each other and our world have been felt seemingly throughout our existence. This ‘connection’ conjured up by this presence is difficult to articulate in words that don’t lose its immense importance, but I believe that one way in which it is preserved is through experience. Through cinema, perhaps more than any art form, lies this powerful possibility to craft and share these essential types of experiences and conjure up lost connections with these invisible realms within our world.