"The premiere was a shear delight”, says producer Peter Freedman. “We hope Baa Baa Land will be this year’s sleeper hit.”
The world premiere of Baa Baa Land, the eight-hour slow-motion film entirely starring sheep that made global headlines when it unveiled its trailer and poster in July, just took place at the Prince Charles Cinema in London’s West End..
The film’s sheep stars walked the red carpet, wearing tuxedos and evening dress – and secured a place in movie immortality by planting their hoof-prints in “cement” [mud] outside the cinema – on the same day that Calm released the movie online.
For those who lack the time to sit through an eight-hour epic, the world premiere event started with the premiere of a five-minute, condensed version of the full-length film.
In case anyone attending the premiere had trouble sleeping during the screening, the cinema was sprayed with Sleep Mist, Calm’s new lavender-based spray and natural sleep aid – to create a new type of multi-sensory, immersive cinema experience and insomnia cure.
September is a month when many Oscar hopefuls hold their premieres. “The only Oscar that Baa Baa Land has a chance of would be one for dullest movie”, says Michael Acton Smith, its co-executive producer and co-founder of Calm.
Baa Baa Land is described as “a contemplative epic”, with no plot, dialogue or human actors. It also has no car-chases, explosions or star names. All it does have is sheep and fields.
It won global attention when it was first announced in the summer, generating a swell of anticipation for its forthcoming premiere and webcast. “One critic hailed it a ‘shear delight’”, says Freedman.
Its makers were hoping, at least, for that its premiere will get a better reception than the one which greeted the premiere in 1964 of Empire, another slow-paced, eight-hour film – made in its case by Andy Warhol, the late American avant-garde artist and film-maker, and featuring eight hours and five minutes of static, silent footage of the Empire State Building.
“At the premiere of Empire”, recalls one biography of Warhol, “people walked out, booed and threw paper cups at the screen. Another account recalls a crowd of 30 or 40 audience members storming out of the premiere after 10 minutes, surrounding the box office and threatening to destroy the cinema unless their money was returned.
“Not everyone loved Empire at the time”, says Acton Smith. “But it’s now considered a classic.”
The American-financed, British made film is an example of “Slow Cinema”, a genre of art films known for long takes, slow pace and lack of action or narrative.
We believe Baa Baa Land “is itself a meditation, a dream, an enchantment ... a tonic for the soul”.
“It’s better than any sleeping pill – the ultimate insomnia cure”, says Alex Tew, the film’s co-executive producer and co-founder of Calm. “We’re hoping it will be a sleeper hit.”
Is it also the dullest movie ever made? “We think so”, says producer Peter Freedman. “We hope that audiences will too.”
Like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones movies before it, Baa Baa Land is financed with American money but made in the UK by mainly British talent (and entirely British sheep). It was shot totally on location on a sheep farm in Essex, a few miles from London.
For those who lack the time to watch even the five-minute version of the film an 87-second trailer blog gives a taste, while a voiceover explains its rationale:
“In a world of constant stress and information overload, of anxious days and restless nights ... comes the chance at last ... to pause ... to breathe ... to calm our racing minds and fretful souls... to sit and stare ... at sheep.
“Baa Baa Land is the first screen epic entirely starring sheep. A cast of hundreds... all of them sheep. Count them if you can – but don’t stress if you can’t. Sit back, wind down, drift off ... to sheep.”
Long, loving takes – some up to an hour long – show the sheep in question, standing around in fields, doing very little.
“Nothing happens ... for eight hours”, says Acton Smith. “Glorious!”
While the average camera shot in Hollywood action movies like The Bourne Supremacy lasts two seconds, the average shot in Baa Baa Land last over 30 minutes.
Apart from some music over the film’s credits, the only soundtrack is the sound of sheep making ... the sort of noises that lend the film its name.
Baa Baa Land is no relation to La La Land, the recent Hollywood hit with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Its poster, however, does pay an affectionate tribute to La La Land’s and to a line associated with the latter, declaring, “Here’s to the ones who dream ... of sheep”.
It is, say its makers, more of a hommage to the films of Andy Warhol, and Empire in particular.
Baa Baa Land was conceived by its producer, Peter Freedman and directed, shot and edited on a “modest budget” by Garth Thomas, a British director of arts films.
It is both the first feature film produced by Calm – or any app – and also part of Calm’s broader strategy to diversify offline. “Our ambition is to be much more than just a meditation app”, says Alex Tew of Calm, which has also just launched its first offline product, in the form of Sleep Mist, a lavender-based pillow spray and natural sleep aid.
Baa Baa Land features the Welsh Half-Breed sheep of Layer Marney Lamb near Tiptree in Essex.
“No sheep were harmed – or consulted – in the making of this film”, state its credits.
“We’re in discussion about U.S. and wider distribution”, says Acton Smith. “We don’t expect Baa Baa Land to break box-office records but feel there is at least a niche audience for it – and a future for it on TV, as part of the growing Slow TV movement.”
Baa Baa Land’s length of eight hours makes it only the nineteenth longest film of all time – five minutes shorter than Empire, Warhol’s 1964 film. The longest movie ever made is Logistics, a Swedish experiential art film made in 2012, and lasting 857 hours or 35 days and 17 hours.
Baa Baa Land’s rivals for the title of the dullest film ever made include Paint Drying, a 10.5 hour movie about drying paint, rated last year by the British Board of Film Censors as “suitable for all”.
Looking for more ZZZ's?
We created a natural sleep aid, in the form of bedtime stories for grown-ups called Sleep Stories. These sleep-inducing tales mix soothing words, music, and sound-effects to help you wind down and drift off to dreamland. We're recording new Sleep Stories every week so be sure to explore our library regularly. Try one tonight! 🌙💤